Players taking part in this year's ninth annual player survey include the 2018 Paul Owens Award winner OF Austin Listi, slugging first base prospect Darick Hall, Class A All-Stars (CI/OF) Jake Scheiner and (SP) Will Stewart, Triple-A reliever Tyler Gilbert and short-season rookie level backstop Logan O'Hoppe. Additionally, taking part is Double-A Reading Fightin Phils broadcaster Mike Ventola.
Questions and answers listing each individual’s holly jolly holiday favorites are listed below…
-What is your favorite Xmas movie or TV special?
Austin Listi: For the longest time my favorite Christmas movie has been The Santa Claus 2. However, I love just snuggling up on the couch with my wife and crushing Hallmark's Countdown to Christmas. They play Christmas movies all day everyday until Christmas is over.
Darick Hall: A Christmas Story is my favorite Christmas movie.
Jake Scheiner: I got to say Elf. I love Will Ferrell. It's always on TV around Christmas time and I watch it every year. I've seen it so many times, but it doesn't get old.
Tyler Gilbert: The Polar Express is my go-to!
Logan O'Hoppe: Christmas Vacation's up there for sure. And The Polar Express is always one that I watched when I was younger.
Will Stewart: We watch all the Claymation ones at my house. My mom loves those. We always watch The Grinch. We love The Grinch at my house.
Mike Ventola: This is tough, but I'm going to go with A Charlie Brown Christmas. Linus nails the true meaning of Christmas 3/4's of the way through the movie and for me that gives it the edge over my honorable mentions listed. Honorable Mentions: It's a Wonderful Life and The Year Without a Santa Claus.
-What is your favorite Christmas song?
Listi: It might have to be Mariah Carey “All I Want For Christmas is You."
Hall: "Oh, Holy Night" is my favorite. (He really likes Sister Hazel's version)
Scheiner: I like all the songs, all those are great and get me in the holiday spirit.
Gilbert: Let's see. I mean, you put on Frank Sinatra or Micheal Buble's Christmas playlist and I'll get it going. Yeah, anything by them.
O'Hoppe: My cousin Anthony and I would always like to sing "Happy Holidays" (by Andy Williams). It was just something that we always did from a young age, so that's the only song that would stick out.
Stewart: The Grinch song, the one about the Grinch, I love that song! It's amazing. I love that one. It's my favorite movie too, so it's phenomenal.
Ventola: My all-time favorite Christmas song is Lou Monte's Dominick the Donkey. It's my favorite Christmas song because of its fun-filled melody. Plus, Lou Monte is legendary in the Italian-American communities!
-What is your favorite thing to eat around the holidays and who makes it?
Listi: I can’t say I have one favorite meal. I love to eat so I just crush it all.
Hall: My grandma consistently makes some of the best desserts during this time of year! I always have to watch how much I'm eating when I see her (laughs). She makes a lot of red velvet cakes, homemade rice krispie treats, toll house pan cookies and pies. Her apple pie is my favorite food to eat during Christmas!
Gilbert: Just the mashed potatoes and gravy. You know. That's pretty common, but my parents make that pretty well, so I get excited for that. Nothing like it.
Ventola: My all-time favorite thing to eat are my mother's Christmas Cookies. If I said anything else, I wouldn't be allowed back home to visit (laughs)!
-Does your family have any traditions that are a big deal?
Listi: We are all Christians, so celebrating Christmas means celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ! Without him there is nothing. Something else we do is meet up at the family ranch. We hunt and spend quality time in God’s great outdoors. It doesn’t get better.
Hall: One of the big traditions we usually do but have slightly got away from is huge family Christmas's! We usually have all of the family I have I Colorado, Arizona and Texas come down and stay at my great grandparents house and celebrate Christmas together. We would usually have about 18 people in the house. It was very cluttered but was so much fun the catch up and see everyone!
Scheiner: We do a little bit of everything. There are some really nice houses in Santa Rosa, California and there's some really good light shows, so we always go drive by and check out the lights. This year, we're going to Lake Tahoe, so we're going to have Christmas in the snow, which will be fun. I would say just being around family, hearing Christmas music, I actually love the snow and Christmas trees, so I look forward to that and we do play a lot of games. We always play Monopoly and I do not lose in Monopoly. So (my family's) not looking forward to that, but I am.
O'Hoppe: We do. There's a couple, actually. My cousins they have a huge Christmas party every year. My uncle has two-to-three hundred people at their house every year. So, that's a big highlight of the year. We'll spend the weekend there. And that's a good time. More important than that, my cousins, we celebrate "Christmas Adam", so it's the day before Christmas Eve, because Adam came before Eve, so that's where the name comes from. We'll spend-- people will pop in and out all night, but I'll be there from probably eight (o'clock) till probably four in the morning. My family, we're big into food, so we'll cook all night into the next day. That's definitely, for me, the highlight of the year, for sure.
Stewart: My dad's from Louisiana, he's Cajun, so he does the whole Creole thing, he uses all types of Cajun and stuff like that, so my dad has this book that it's The Cajun Night Before Christmas and he reads it to us and it's got Santa Claus with 12 alligators and he's on the roof in the swamp and he reads it to us in his Creole voice and stuff like that. It's been a tradition since I was four.
-Is there a standout Christmas gift from childhood that is the most memorable for you?
Listi: I can’t say there is just one gift that is above all. I loved all my gifts. With that being said, I remember waking up one Christmas and I had a brand new basketball goal for the driveway that was absolutely awesome. I also got a BB gun one Christmas that made me excited as well. My brother Michael and I would have wars in the backyard all the time.
Hall: My uncle last gave me a .243 Remington 700 rifle for Christmas and I still have it until this day. I love it and I will eventually pass it on to my son one day. Very special gift!
Scheiner: I've had a lot of good gifts over the years. Probably baseball stuff. My whole neighborhood was full of kids, so we would all run outside after we opened our presents and play and I would just say getting a really nice baseball glove.
Gilbert: I was about eight or nine years old when I got a baseball glove. It was definitely memorable.
Stewart: My parents did it big for Christmas every year. It was a big time thing, so there was a few...we got a trampoline one year, which was amazing. We got a pool one year. So, they put in a pool that year, that was cool! I think the best one though, it's not some big, fancy gift, but my mom my senior year of high school, my mom got me a necklace that had a baseball pendant on it with a gold chain and she gave it to me. And I don't think I've taken it off since that Christmas. I think the only time I take it off is if I'm going through airport security. I wear it during my games. If you look at any pictures of me on the mound, it's on!
Ventola: As a family we used to go to Walt Disney World every year during the summer growing up. I remember when my parents took my siblings and I during Christmas the very first time. It was a lot of fun!
-Do you or your family have a Phillies ornament on your Christmas tree?
Scheiner: You know what, I might have to surprise them with one this year. I do not.
Gilbert: A little mini Phillies flag! They've got that.
O'Hoppe: Our family friends have gotten us one, so there is this year.
Stewart: No, we do not! We have so many Alabama ones, it's ridiculous. We have LSU. Pretty sure we have a Dallas Cowboys one. My dad's a Cowboys fan.
-Do you recall finding out the real deal about Santa and is there a story that goes with it?
Listi: I really have no idea when I found out the deal about Santa. I wish I could remember but my brother Michael told me he remembers when my dad told him and thinks I was there with him. He’s four and half years older than me...so I must have been pretty young.
Hall: I was never a believer in Santa. I always grew up celebrating Christmas knowing that it was the birth of God's greatest gifts to the world, Jesus Christ!
Gilbert: I caught my dad eating (Santa's) cookies late night once, when I woke up, and I was kind of confused, you know? I asked him the next day, "What were you doing? Those weren't for you!" And he told me, "I think you were dreaming, son." That's when I kind of thought, "I don't know if he's real anymore."
O'Hoppe: There's a little story. My dad blew it for me. It wasn't a big thing. We were just in the back yard one day and that came up and then he told me the sad truth. That was when I was maybe 11.
Stewart: Oh, yeah. My dad was always the type of guy that said, "If you ask me a question, I'm going to tell you the truth." So, I was about ten years old, I walked into my parents' room and it was probably a month and a half before Christmas and I looked at my dad and I said, "Hey, so is the big guy real?" And he was like, "Do you want me to answer that?" And I said, "Yeah! What's up? Is he real? Does he have all these reindeer and stuff? 'Cause I stayed up plenty of nights and I ain't never seen him." And he said, "Yeah, buddy. No. He's not real." So I was crushed for like a month.
Ventola: What do you mean real deal about Santa Claus? Is everything okay? I hope he'll still make it to my place on Christmas Eve night. I'm hopeful for a few gifts this year.
Previous editions of this survey include answers from Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins, J.P. Crawford, Dylan Cozens, Adam Haseley, Scott Kingery and loads of others.
Those editions of this holiday survey can be viewed at the following links- 2017 survey, 2016 survey, 2015 survey, 2014 survey, 2013 edition, 2012 edition, 2011 edition and 2010 edition.