Chasing Rickey and Rose and…Willie Davis?

I caught my first four balls in 1990 and added 14 more the following season. In 1992, when I first started going to games almost every day, I set my first goal: 100 lifetime balls. My parents thought I was crazy, the other kids in school made fun of me (even more than usual), and by October, my grand total was 146. That’s when I decided to go for 1,000, and four years later, I was there.

In 1997, I headed off to Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. Not only was I five hours from the closest major league ballpark, but there were lots of girls.
Playing my favorite sport was no longer a priority.
I wasn’t even thinking about going to games.
I got my thousand balls, and that was that.

rickeyhenderson.jpgThen my summer job fell though and I ended up filling my time by writing a book called How to Snag Major League Baseballs. The project rejuvenated my love for collecting balls and, with the Snag-O-Meter at 1,074, I got back into it in ’98. I couldn’t decide how high to set my next goal–2,000 seemed too far away–until I stumbled across the stats of one of my favorite players at the time: Rickey Henderson. He had 1,231 career stolen bases. I had to catch him. He finished the year with 66 steals, and I caught 192 balls. He was still winning, 1,297 to 1,266, but his lead didn’t last long. I passed him in May of 1999 and then went after his career runs total. That took five years, and I caught my 2,000th ball along the way. Getting #2,000 meant more than surpassing Rickey’s 2,295 runs, but it was more fun to chase a human than a lifeless milestone.

Now what?

williedavis.jpg

All season, I’ve been trying to come up with a new number to pursue, a number that’s historically important but within reach in the near future. When the Mets signed Pedro, I considered going after his career strikeout total (which now stands at 2,791), but Rafael Palmeiro‘s peterose.jpgcurrent pursuit of 3,000 has inspired me to climb my way up the career hits leader board.

Right now, with 2,548 balls, I’m in 76th place between George Van Haltren (2,532) and Willie Davis (2,561).

I have some serious work to do before I catch Pete Rose (who absolutely belongs in the Hall with his 4,256 hits), but it’ll be fun to leapfrog the game’s all-time greats along the way. Hopefully, the 46-year-old Julio Franco (2,496) won’t leapfrog me…

5 Comments

Hey bud, I posted a cartoon I thought you’de get a kick out of on my Blog page. Also put up a link to your Blog on my main website, http://www.baseballstrategies.com if you want to return a link to me awesome, but no biggie, just love your site and want others to see what your up to man. It puts the Fun back into ball for me, afterall somtimes I get carried away with making this game into such a way of life that its awesome when I see things like your collection and your hobby! keep it up and take care.
Branden Moskwa, http://www.baseballstrategies.com

Sorry man forgot to tell you were the link is at…

http://baseballstrategies.mlblogs.com

Nice cartoon. Thank you.

I was looking at your blog just the other day. Loved the chart of percentages for how likely a runner is to score if he’s on a certain base with a certain number of outs.

Are you an advance scout? Or do you watch amateurs and make suggestions for the draft?

So cool.

Hey Zack,
I’de love to be an advanced scout, one day, gotta work towards it. Right now my responsabilities are to focus on the Canadian Collegiate baseball Conference and make recommendations on players in there as well as talent in the BC and Alberta areas of Canada. Wish there was as much professional baseball up in these parts as there is around you. My collection focuses around my baseball trophies, an extensive older card collection including WIllie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Nolan Ryan. But as far as collecting in your realm, I try and collect baseballs from the games we play in other conferences, so its a limited but personel collection. Oh, I also scoop a little infield dirt from the important games like out first win of the season last year at Pima CC, put it into an empty chew container and label it. It was fun but found that I thought every game was a big one and had too many containers of dirt so trying to limit that hobby for a while…. Anyhow, I did collect a few balls at spring training this last year, and was lucky enough to Get Mike Scocia to sign it for me. but then he kept it cause he said that it was there ball. That said he came back to return it a bit later, citing that he was only kiding around. Anyhow, Lots of stories, and I got rambling there, keep up the great work.

Hey, scouting is scouting. The only recommendations I make that people take seriously are what pizza places to go to in my neighborhood.

You have stories and I have questions. Let me hit you with a few quickies…Is this a full-time job for you? Do you travel and check out winter ball as well? How long have you been doing it? Have you found any players that have gone on to play in The Show?

I love the infield dirt story. Sounds like something I would do…find something I love and then go overborad with it.

Keep up YOUR great work, too.

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