Ben Jenkins played one season of professional baseball: 41 games for the 1996 Martinsville Phillies of the rookie Appalachian League. One of his teammates that season happened to be Jimmy Rollins, who was just getting his feet wet in pro ball. It will be interesting to see what Rollins remembers of Jenkins, his one-time double-play partner, because while only one of them made it further as a ballplayer, they both wield important bats and “colorful” personalities today.
I was looking at Coach’s Father’s Day collection of gift ideas for men, and was especially inspired by the story of their dip-dyed bats. If you watch the video about the bats there, made by Warstic for Coach, you will see the story of Jenkins, in his own words.
Those words are a great example of this blog’s focus on Heritage Baseball, a father and a son playing catch and then a seed planted that becomes an inspired creativity. The bats are $248 each and would be a pretty cool Father’s Day gift, with several different colors in stock. Here’s what Jenkins had to say about his passion:
“Two things that I’ve always been most passionate about in my life would be baseball and making art for design. As early as I can remember playing catch with my dad, I was also drawing and painting, making things with clay. I was always doing those two things. Even up to the point where, during my early 20s, I was playing Minor League ball and designing in a hotel room.
“I don’t see myself much as an inventor-type designer. I’m more of an improver. I think as I get older I keep getting more and more minimal. It turns out that that creates more meaning. I love simple things, strong authentic design stands the test of time versus things that are overly complex.
“Design is in my blood, it’s not something I’ve decided to do, it’s just something I’ve always felt like I’ve needed to do. It’s kind of a fever type thing, where I get this feeling that: I need to make something, I need to make something, I need to make something. Design becomes like a therapy to getting that out of my system. It’s nice because I end up having made something.
“The designs are simple, bold and strong, and I think that’s what really resonates with people. Baseball is such a mental sport, and hitting a baseball is all about confidence and believing that you can do it. It’s just this feeling of, ‘Hey, this isn’t just a bat, this is my Warstic, this is my bat.’ Where Warstic and Coach really come together and see the world in the same way is that design is about simplicity, and it’s about essential, and it’s about creating something beautiful in the most simple way you can.”
It is Coach’s first collaboration with the Texas-born designer, who was undrafted but given a shot at a baseball dream, one he turned into an opportunity. He turns 39 in August. His is a limited edition collaboration of classic craftsmanship and modern style, and a good Father’s Day idea. Maybe he can get Jimmy Rollins to swing one at least in BP.
Here is the video of the bats’ story, in Jenkins’ words:
Each Father’s Day we show our appreciation for everything our fathers have done for us. We give symbolic gifts, as we know that actually paying Dad back for everything he has given us over the years is impossible. For many, an appreciation for the national pastime is an important part of their father’s legacy.
It starts from a young age, typically with a father sitting down with a child to explain a game on television, or in the stands at a Major League or Minor League game. The pace of the game is perfect for these teaching moments — initially rules, then fundamentals, and eventually strategy. Soon the teaching is happening in the stands at the ballpark, accompanied by a sundae in a miniature helmet. We learn to watch the game the way our fathers watch it.
The baseball education isn’t limited to discussion, as soon our fathers transition into the role of coach. This can be as simple as playing catch together in the back yard or practicing hitting in the park. As we grow, our fathers might lend a hand coaching our t-ball or Little League teams, or could simply lend support from the stands during games and advice afterward.
The vast majority of us transition to fandom over the years, but a select few get the opportunity to play on for a living. For a fan, it’s great seeing the son of a former player making his Major League debut. From father-and-son combinations like the Griffeys, who actually played together in the Mariners outfield, to three-generational Major League families like the Boones, there’s a lineage on the diamond as well in the seats.
I was looking around at possible Father’s Day gifts for my own Dad, and I noticed that Coach’s Heritage Baseball collection is designed with fathers and sons in mind and a good idea to share. Inspired by the sport that inspired Coach, it features eye-catching regulation gloves, colorful hand-dipped bats and wallets and baseball paperweights made with their iconic glove-tanned leather. So you could give Dad Color and Craft this Father’s Day, some luxury that combines his favorite tradition.