8/1/06 at Yankee Stadium

ticket08.01.06.jpg

Attendance: 52,237

Tier Reserved: sold out

Cheapest available ticket: $42

Zack Hample: sucker

When I ran into the right field seats for batting practice, there were already 50 little kids wearing gloves and adorable, green Little League jerseys. Five minutes later, the section was so full that I had to say “excuse me” before moving anywhere. It was THAT kind of day. I wish I had some wild snagging stories for you. I wish I were writing about leaping for home runs and interacting with future Hall-of-Famers, but instead, I can only report that I got four balls…all with the glove trick.

yankeestadiumBPcrowded.jpg

I got help on the first ball from a guy named Nelson who’s been reading this blog. He had spotted me an hour earlier outside GATE 4, and we talked for a while before going inside. I told him I’d be relying on the glove trick, so when he saw some fans drop a ball onto the warning track, he called me over. Nelson was in the front row (where he later caught a home run), and I was buried 20 feet back. That’s why I hadn’t seen the fans drop it. I wouldn’t have gotten the ball without Nelson because there was another kid with a ball-retrieving device. This kid was lurking with one of those cup things, and when I was reeling in my second ball, he shouted, “DROP IT!!!” I informed him that he wasn’t being sportsmanlike.

Five minutes later, a man approached me and asked, “Are you the guy that wrote that book?”

“That’s me.”

“Well,” he said, “I want you to know that you’ve made my life miserable.”

I had an idea of what he was getting at, and sure enough, he explained that because of me, his 12-year-old son is now obsessed with collecting baseballs.

ball2869imprint.jpg

One of the balls I got has the imprint of a bat. Last year, on June 15, I caught one with a similar marking which contained Derek Jeter’s signature. This one doesn’t appear to be as interesting, and I have no idea what it says. Any theories? Could some of those letters be part of the bat’s model number? Is there a team or player’s name hidden in there? The ball came from the Blue Jays, but who knows, it might’ve been hit/imprinted by a team they played two weeks ago.

Another ball was 10 feet from the wall, so I had to swing my glove out and yank the string at just the right moment so the glove landed on the ball and knocked it closer. It took several attempts, and the fans loved it. Unlike my last trip to Yankee Stadium, people were actually stepping aside so they could see me use the trick again and again.

As I was carefully reeling in a fifth ball, Blue Jays pitcher Gustavo Chacin walked over and knocked it out of my glove. Just like that. Totally unprovoked. But you know what? As bad as that was for me, it’s gonna be much worse for Gustavo, his family, his friends, his fans, his lovers, his pets, his plants, and his agent, for he has officially earned himself the Hample Jinx.

I went to the third base side after BP (where I took the photo of the imprinted ball) and nearly got Vernon Wells’ autograph. If he’d signed one or two more, I would’ve have him. Crap!

After that, my Night ‘o Wandering began. I photographed the concourses, the ramps, the way-too-fancy-for-a-baseball-game Club Level, and the view from the Loge…

wandering1.jpg

Then I looked down at the latecomers before checking out the view from the last row of the upper deck. I ran into the famous “Freddy Sez” (take a lesson, cow-bell man) and snapped a pic of the anorexia-inducing main aisle. Seriously, who designs a stadium with an aisle that narrow?

wandering2.jpg

My next stop was the top of the upper deck in left field. From there, I got a great view of the bullpens, the back of the facade, the crappy fields in the shadow of the stadium, and the overhang. I was so far from home plate that Superman on steroids couldn’t have reached me. Of course, there was one little kid up there with a glove, getting an early start to a life of disappointment.

wandering3.jpg

The stadium was so crowded–in case you forgot, there were 52,237 people–that it took 20 minutes to reach the right field corner of the upper deck. On the way, I ate the worst slice of pizza that $4.50 can buy. Then I got some shots of the foul pole, the bleachers, and the last wisp of sunset. It was the bottom of the fourth inning, and I sat down for the first time all night because the Yankees had something going. Jeter drew a leadoff walk, stole second, and moved to third on a wussy single by Jason Giambi. A-Rod followed with an RBI double to right-center. (The fans who’d cheered him before his first at-bat and booed him after he’d struck out now decided to cheer again. Idiots.) Bobby Abreu, playing in his first game with the Yankees, drew a walk, Jorge Posada struck out, and Bernie Williams came through with a three-run double.

wandering4.jpg

I headed down to the field level and took another pic of the concourse/ramp weirdness. Since there were only 52,237 people instead of 54,000-plus, I was able to find an empty seat on the first base side of home plate. It was a good foul ball spot except for the fact that no one hit a kylefarnsworth101mph.jpgfoul ball there. By the ninth inning, I’d worked my way into the precious ($105 apiece) and heavily guarded seats behind the Yankees’ dugout, from which I saw Kyle Farnsworth mow down the Jays with a fastball that topped out at 101mph.

Final score: USA 5, Canada 1.

STATS:

Competition Factor = 208,948.

• 119 balls in 16 games this season = 7.4 balls per game.

• 443 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 69 consecutive games with at least two balls

• 2,871 total balls

• 2 very tired feet

50 Comments

Excellent report. You really capture the spirit of the place, stuffed top to bottom and sideways with baseball fans. Next time you’re there (if there is a next time) please take a photo of Monument Park, where I’ve never been. Puzzlement: what kind of player, highly-paid and revered for merely being a major league athlete, wantonly takes a ball away from a fan, The Baseball Collector at that? Your description of the Hample Curse is hilarious & masterful; let’s hope that you kick the creep’s asspirations and the baseball gods make the H.C. come true.

Hey Zack I wish I had my camera handy when you had your first look entering Yankee Stadium!!! You reminded me when a guest on “Lets Make a Deal” chose the boobie prize behind curtain number two instead of whats in the box!!! Anyway Zack it is a great war story; you gutted it out! Take care my friend!

Zack–you must tell me since I go to yankee stadium like once a month and sit all the way in the outfield (but on the main level, not loge or upper deck) how on Earth you get into the precious 115-110 dollar seats during a game. How do you get passed security?

BOODLEHEIMER-
Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the entry. Unfortunately, I’ll probably never get to see Monument Park because it’s open only during batting practice (excluding stadium tours when the Yankees are on the road), and I’m not going to give up any snagging opportunities in order to be a tourist. Why don’t YOU go and take some pictures for ME? I have no answer to your puzzlement. I can only reiterate that Gustavo is done.

NELSON-

Funny, and yet not. It was a real shock to run in and see all those kids. Man. What a rough day. But hey, between the two of us, we got five balls. See you soon…

YANKS FAN-

I don’t want to get in trouble by using this blog to teach people how to undermine stadium security, so send me a private email (as a reminder), and I’ll tell you a couple things. Right now, I’m running off to work.

Very nice entry, Zack! Hope you have a good day.

LEAVE GUSTAVO ALONE!

JimmyJoeJoeJr-No way!
Zack-Thank you for placing the hample curse on Chacin

Everyone-Hey guys, now that the trading deadline has passed, can you guys tell me who is good/bad/so-so for autographs and balls and such on the rosters of the Nationals and the Phillies

In the one Nationals game I went to the good people for balls are Livan Hernandez, John Patterson and I also got one from Saul Rivera after he saw me give a ball to a lottle girl. Autos I would say Livan Hernandez and not sure about any1 else cause I only got Livan to sign.

YANKSfAN-DONT EXPECT THE YANKEES TO BEE TIED WITH MY REDSOX FOR LONG!red SOX WILL WHOOP EM.
zaCK-NICE ENTRY

gOT TO GO PAY ATTENTIO TO BATTING PRACTICE NOW.

-KAYLEE

I don’t know if the Hample Jinx affects fans of Chacin as you say, but it might have affected me. The Jays always have GM visits and so far they’ve had several well known Jays come in for autograph sessions, from Gregg Zaun, BJ, Overbay and Tony Fernandez. This week however the guest of the auto session, which is really close from me is John McDonald.

hey zack, this is my first comment, but i’ve been reading for sum time. great blog! i’m living in Florida, but i love yankee stadium been there twice,, crowded true,, but it only adds to the magic of the yankees. i go to sum of the marlins games. real crappy stadium, u been? any tips for ball snagging? thnx

I don’t know if its the Jinx or something else cause the Jays are stinking it up on the road but they’ve been doing that a lot lately so if you can reverse the Jinx to not affect the Jays.

i would also have two very tired feet if i sat in the nosebleed section. good effort to earn four balls, and yes he should be very afraid of the hample jinx

LEster was not on his game for us(the red sox) tonight was hee?
-kaylee

but we are wimnning that is all that matters JIMMY-can we kiss the playoffs goodbye for the jays or it to early?
-kaylee

Jimy where were the jays bats tonight???????????

**** IT!!! THE 2ND COME FROM BEHIND WIN IN A ROW FOR THE ****** *** ****!!!

I know yanksfan Aint they wonderful……….just wish i would have watched more of the game even though i was at the game…..I only watched when the sox were winning which was not long!
-kaylee

haha i told u, we never fail to come through in the clutch. cuz the yankees stink!

“Yankees Stink”Yes they do you got that right
-kaylee

excuse me the yanks do not stink. They won today by more than the red sox won, and we are tied for 1st. We are on a hot streak…the Red Sox are just getting by now on clutch hits

yanksfan we both won but we took the hardd road the come from behind road!!!!Wait til october when the yankees are out of it!
-kaylee

BALL MARKINGS

If you flip the photo of the ball for a mirror image, you can definitely make out RONT BLUE in the bottom line, thus TORONTO BLUE JAYS.

You were in right field, so I’d gather it was probably a lefty.

Then there is an A followed by either an L or B or D in the top line. This is probably in the last name.

I would guess Frank Cat-AL-anotto.

What do I win?

Great Photos Hampilito!

DANNY-
Thank you. The day was indeed a good one.

JIMMY-

I will not leave Gustavo alone. He didn’t leave ME alone. He’s in biiiiig trouble, and therefore, so are the Jays whenever he pitches. Sorry.

YANKS FAN-

You’re welcome. Good ball-throwers on the Phillies are: Cole Hamels, Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell, and coaches Bill Dancy and Ramon Henderson. On the Nationals: Livan Hernandez and Marlon Anderson.

KAYLEE-

Thanks. Hope you enjoyed the game.

NYYFAN-

Thanks for finally commenting (and for reading the blog in the first place). I haven’t been to the Marlins’ home since April of 2000, so I really don’t remember any specifics. The main thing that stands out (which isn’t a tip) is that despite the small attendance, it’s really hard to get balls there because it’s simply a difficult place. And from what I hear, the rules have gotten stricter in recent years. True?

RAMONES-

I really don’t understand why people would sit in those sections. You can hardly see the ball.

RICHARD-

Oh my god, now that you mention it, I can see the “RONT BLUE”!!! Good call. Wow. How come I didn’t figure that out in the first place? There’s no telling when the ball got that imprint. It could’ve been on the previous pitch, or it could’ve happened the week before. Anyway, it wasn’t home run, so it might’ve been sliced into the corner by a righty. The Catalanotto theory is a good one, but there’s really no way to logically determine who hit it. What do you win? How about bragging rights?

CARL-

Thank you, sir. Sorry I haven’t looked at your (or anyone’s) blog in a while. I plan to catch up soon. I’ve been supid-busy.

Hey Zack great blog. I didn’t realize how much of a jerk Chacin is. He looks pretty ugly in his sunglasses I must say. Lucky you got to see the blue jays get beaten. UGH. Great blog Zack, later.

Z -

Okay, since you’re a true fan with a pure love of the game and fine blog, I will take photos of Monument Park for you next time I’m at YS.

Meanwhile, I see that I unwittingly called your Chacin Jinx a Curse. Hope this doesn’t interfere with your bad wishes for the rude dude.

For having 50,000 + people there, the stand sure look empty in the 9th inning.. that many people leave?

As always, great post and pics! Stupid Chacin..

http://strosbro.mlblogs.com

Well Chacin is currently in rehab so he won’t be pitching for a while.

LOGAN-
I appreciate it…and yeah, who the **** wears sunglasses for a headshot?

BOODLEHEIMER-

That’s a very kind offer. Don’t worry about Curse vs. Jinx. The guy is going down either way.

THOMAS-

Yes, a LOT of people left early. God bless ‘em.

JIMMY-

He’s gonna need another kind of rehab…

Zack,

Just found out the auto session I’m going to is gonna get better Johnny Mac and Ted Lilly are comming. Can you give me any tips on asking them for a ball or something really cool cause I’ll be going to the game the next day so I hope they remember me.

Zack, have you seen him pitching in games that are under the lights? He has his glasses on and he thinks he’s wicked and without the glasses he is still super ugly :-/.

Zack-

Woohoo!! Bragging Rights!

I haven’t given up trying to help you figure out the name on the ball.

Doing a little detective work. Typing the Blue Jays names with an A in the last name into work with the team name below it, and center justifying the text, I come up with only 2 options:

SS RUSS ADAMS (Sent down to AAA 7/29) (His A is a little off on the spacing when I try it. His S in his first name is a very close to the letter aboe the N in RONT, so a definite possibility.

Brings me back to:

OF FRANK CATALANOTTO (His AL in his last name would match up almost perfectly above the BLUE, and his C matches up almost perfectly above the NT in TORONTO)

yep, dolphins stadium is a nightmare.thnx anyway though. but its the only baseball i can watch live other than spring training. i usually cath the orioles in ft. lauderdale. (caught 2 balls already!)i used u’r tips from the blog.

I wanted to SEE Julian Tavarez pitch tonight for the red sox tonight!DANG YOU CHOO-Grand slam BUt we got 2 back-7-5 Indians!
-kaylee

YANKEESFAN:You happy yet?The Red sox lost yankees are in first now!
-kaylee

BUT dont get used to it the yankees will not be in first for long!
-kaylee

JIMMY-
You have the right idea. Just tell them that you’ll be at the game the next day and ask if they’ll toss one to you. You should wear something funny (like a rainbow-colored clown wig) both days so you’ll stand out.

LOGAN-

Yes, I’ve seen him, and it’s not a pretty sight. I feel bad for Mrs. Chacin.

RICHARD-

You’re a genius!!! Thanks for all your investigating. Let me know if you discover anything else.

NYYFAN-

It makes me happy to hear that my blog helps people get baseballs, and I’m especially glad to hear that that’s the case for you.

KAYLEE-

You tell him.

Interested in anyone’s thoughts about the No. 8 in baseball over at http://mlblogs.mlblogs.com

Mark

Kaylee-Yes I am happy. Finally, the *** managed to lose one. Thank god. If I had to sit through another day when the *** were losing going into the bottom of the ninth inning, I think I would have blow up. For the first time this year, the Yanks are where they should be: In sole possesion of 1st place. I could get all mushy-gushy, but I won’t.

Anyway, the game is done and I’m back home again. For those who want, I can make copies.

oh yeah, when I say ****, I mean “Sox” I was just replacing the “o” with a “u”

from now on, I’ll just write Red Sox, therefore I can say I am being respectful.

also, I like the Sox losing when they go into the Bottom of the 9th, I forgot to add that I don’t like when they come back to win it.

Yanksfan:i am glad you are happy now but dont get used to the yankees bein in first for llong!The red sox are going to come back!
-kaylee

**** now the sthe red sox backup catcher Mirabelli is hurt-kaylee

MARK-
Cool idea for a story. I’m already thinking…

YANKS FAN-

Great news about the game. But now what? Are you going to mail me a copy? Do you need my address? The Yankees ARE looking pretty good these days.

KAYLEE-

I think the Sox are in trouble. But at least Manny got his 1,500th career RBI, so who cares.

Thanks for the advice Zack the only problem is that the Jays don’t take bp when the stadium is open.

zack-whats up? i havent posted in a while. that ***** what chacin did. i always liked him with those goggles and that funky delivery, but now, my goodness, what a loser. he must have seen you do it before and wanted someone else to get a ball, but still to do that unprovoked is really just lame.

second thing-

im going to the game sunday night, so wish me luck. im hoping that it wont be as crowded as it is a sunday (camp the next day, later game [8:05], etc.) so hopefully i can bring a few home.

ill recap on monday afternoon for you.

JIMMY-
That’s right! I forgot about that.***** Rogers Centre. They gotta start opening earlier. You don’t even get to see five minutes of Blue Jays’ BP?

JONELI-

Welcome back. Sorry to have to turn you against Chacin. I actually liked him, too, at one point. He had plenty of other balls to give to people, and in fact, after he stole that ball from me, he didn’t give it away. He just fired it back toward the bucket with all the others. He’s done. Good luck on Sunday. I’m already looking forward to hearing how you do.

Yanksfan, how are you going to distribute the copies of your game? By mail, or by the internet?

Does anybody know which redsox players are the most generous and are willing to sign? Does Big Papi sign at all?

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