Gift ideas for the old-school sports nut
BY ANDY FRYE For Sun-Times Media
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Shopping for your favorite sports nut can be as simple in 2013 as point-and-click, but it can also be much more of an adventure.
Sports-nut basics, such as official game day gear, are relatively easy to find. A number of shops such as Clark Street Sports and The Main Event, both in Wrigleyville, offer Blackhawks, Sox, Bears and Cubs jerseys starting in the $75 range as well as accessories, from purses and bracelets to slippers, socks and pajamas. Other full-service Chicagoland sports stores such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, with locations in both Niles and Glenview, sell NF Legends jerseys for Hall of Fame players, such as Troy Aikman, for an even $100.
Evanston, home of the Northwestern Wildcats, has its share of top sports shops. Campus Gear, located at 1717 Sherman Ave. in Evanston, is the place to go to satisfy your fix for anything Wildcats. Northwestern T-shirts in white, grey or purple start for less than $20. For the diehard, Campus Gear also sells authentic Northwestern Football helmets for $229 online or in the shop. Those who frequent Evanston on game day can also find stadium swag such as Wildcats umbrellas, megaphones and portable stadium seat cushions.
The winter season doesn’t have many of us usually thinking about baseball. However, for the diehard Cubs or White Sox fan, America’s pastime is an all-year-round obsession.
The Baseball Card King (www.thebaseballcardking.com) — with locations in Oak Lawn, Plainfield, Downers Grove and Joliet — is one of Illinois’s most reputable sports card and memorabilia specialists and one of the best places in the suburbs to stock up. Along with full-set baseball card packs from well-known names such as Fleer and Topps from 2013 going all the way back to the 1970s, Baseball Card King also has in stock individual vintage and autographed cards, not to mention binders and protective gear. Better yet, if baseball isn’t your holiday fan’s only sports hankering, the store also has plenty of cards and card sets for basketball, hockey and football, too.
Another special find in Chicago’s near northwest suburbs is Around The World Cigars and Gift, situated at 31 S. Prospect Ave. in Park Ridge. First and foremost a cigar shop, Around The World might also bring out the Ditka in you with its array of signed game balls and sports desk toys such as mini-helmets and bobble heads. It also has a nice rotating stock of high quality framed classics such as photos of Bears greats including Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers.
A trip deep into the city can be worth it to find a rare treasure. The Good Old Days Antiques, located at 2138 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago, is a two-story shop that stocks a variety of inventory for both the history buff and nostalgic sports-lover. Among some of the finds were vintage copies of Sports Illustrated and other sports magazines that go for $5 apiece, as well items to create your own sports wall-of-fame such as sports team neon lights, old-fashioned felt pennants and a range of framed photos of sports heroes.
“A lot of what we have in terms of photos comes from some original negatives we use to have access to,” said Good Old Days owner and proprietor, Mark Bailey.
This is also the case with many of the prints, as well, which are mostly black-and-white photos of local heroes such as Ernie Banks and Bobby Hull. The shop also has, for $48, a framed black-and-white picture of a 16-year-old high-school star from Wilmington, N.C. named Michael Jordan.