By Michelle Miller
---- — Did you know Santa Claus has his very own baseball card?
The back of the card reads, “Known for his speed, Claus is not only fast on the bases, but able to deliver gifts to all the children of the world in a single night.”
Must be the man in the red suite played baseball in his younger years, because the card goes on to say,
“After his playing days, St. Nick went on to a successful career managing a team of elves.”
So what team did the man from the North Pole play for? The Red Stockings with famous teammates Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph, according to the card.
The card reveals one other fact about the jolly man — his birthdate is in the fourth century.
One young baseball fan was surprised to know the magical Claus had his very own baseball card. The story was shared with 8-year-old Max Porto of Cooperstown when he asked for a binder for his baseball cards during a visit to Santa’s cottage in Pioneer Park in Cooperstown Friday afternoon. Max was there with his mother and sister. It was 3-year-old Natalie’s first visit, and like many youngsters, was eager to see the man with the long white beard until she got real close.
Natalie marched right into the cottage and walked to Santa, but before Mom could get a photo she was scared and shedding some tears. From then on, the little girl was skeptical to get to close.
A steady flow of families came to visit Santa on Friday. It is the busiest time of year for him because he is making his list and checking it twice while final preparations are being made for his yearly trip around the world.
Many children leave cookies, milk and other snacks for Santa and sometimes even treats for the reindeer on Christmas Eve, but some bring gifts and homemade cards during their visits.
“It is not always all about a list of items children want,” Santa said.
Keenan Murphy, 6, of Cooperstown brought Santa cookies he had helped bake and a card during his visit on Friday. He and Santa read his card out loud and in it was the question, “How do you give every child a present in one night?”
Santa asked the young boy if he knew anyone in California.
“Grandma,” said Keenan.
“What time do you think it is there right now?” Santa asked.
“Maybe 20 o’clock,” the boy responded.
This got a chuckle from Santa and the boy’s parents.
Santa then went on to explain how time zones work. The boy nodded his head as if he understood.
“I guess that all makes sense,” he said.
Some of the items being asked for by children on Friday included ice skates, MP3 players, drum sets, toy trains, bikes, iPods, BB guns and Wii games.
“Electronics are always a popular request,” Santa said. “I generally look at parents for some sort of approval since the gifts should not be too expensive and ought to be age-appropriate.”
There was a request for a real dog.
Santa said that would require a lot of responsibility and looked at mom and asked if the children were ready for all that?
She said she thought so.
The Jolly Old Elf also tries to teach the children to think of others, not just themselves.
“It amazes me how many do things for those who are less fortunate,” Santa said. “It is a very caring and passionate community.”
The Danes said they helped a family that faced loss of employment decorate for the holidays.
“It felt joyful to be able to help,” said Emma, 11, and her younger brothers George, 10, and William, 7.
“We wanted to make sure that the family would have a wonderful Christmas,” Emma added.
Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived in Cooperstown on Friday, Nov. 23, and have had a hectic schedule ever since. A lot of work goes into preparing for the one magical night children go to bed early for, but according to Santa, getting prepared means getting one’s heart prepared.
“Every year we get visitors to the Hall of Fame that stubble upon us,” Santa said. “Then there are always those who come home to visit family for Thanksgiving.”
People come from near and far, according to Santa.
“I do not have to worry about the orders because the elves do that, but it is my job to greet all the children,” Santa said.
“Ho, Ho,” as many really young children call him, will be available for last-minute requests and visits up until the day he hops into his sleigh to make his journey from house to house. His cottage will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. Christmas Eve.
“Christmas Eve is one of the busiest days of the year for me,” Santa said.
Cottage hours are as follows:
• Thursday, Dec. 20, from 3 to 6 p.m.
• Friday, Dec. 21, from 3 to 6 p.m.
• Saturday, Dec. 22, from 1 to 5 p.m.
• Monday, Dec. 24 from 1 to 4 p.m.