6/18/07 at Shea Stadium

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It was another day of begging for balls at Shea. The only difference was that my girlfriend Jona was with me to experience the first baseball game of her life.

We started off in the right field Loge, and when it became clear that none of the Mets pitchers were going to throw me a ball, I gave Jona the corner spot and begged her to beg for balls for me. She didn’t know what to say, and it didn’t matter. That’s the beauty of being female. Baseball players are dogs, and their ears perk up whenever they hear a melodious voice in the stands. Want some proof? During Joe_smiththe first 10 minutes of batting practice, I asked Joe Smith several times for a ball in the most polite of ways. Not once did he even look up at me. But when Jona yelled his name, he immediately looked in our direction, and when she made an ordinary request for the ball, he threw it to her. Naturally, I reached out and made the catch and then pretended to hand it over.

I should’ve gotten my second ball of the day tossed up from the bullpen by Tom Glavine. I was in the right spot along the side railing, I was the only fan who even noticed that there was a ball lying off to the side, and I made a polite request. But Glavine’s first throw fell short, and his second throw was lazy and sailed to another fan. Jona got to experience me cursing at a baseball game for the first time in her life.

Things got better when a right-handed hitter on the Mets (not sure who) sliced a ball that bounced onto the grassy slope next to the Dreamseats. Jona was nice enough to hold my corner spot and take photos of me after I ran down to the field level to snag it with my glove trick

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Unfortunately, the ball was half-buried in long grass against a wooden board, and I couldn’t get the edges of my glove to drop around it. Oliver Perez saw me struggling and walked over.

“Can you give me a little help?” I asked.

He moved the ball six inches closer.

“Can you toss it up?” I asked.

“You said a LITTLE help,” he replied and walked away.

“Okay, okay,” I yelled, “That’s fine. I appreciate it.”

It wasn’t fine. The grass was still too long, and I was sure that stadium security was going to kick me out of the section, but no one said a word. One minute later, I got the ball to stick inside my glove.

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I went back up to the Loge and got another ball tossed by Ruben Gotay. It was my third ball of the day, and all three had interesting smudges on them.

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Earlier in the afternoon, I’d warned Jona that I was going to be running all over the place during BP. She wasn’t fazed, but just to be safe, I drew her a diagram of Shea Stadium and mapped out my plans. She never used it. Instead, she wore comfortable shoes and ran around with me.

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Our next stop was the first base dugout. I squeezed into the front row just before the Mets came off the field and got my fourth ball of the day tossed by bench coach Jerry Manuel.

After that, Jona followed me up to the left field Loge and kept taking photos. She captured the moment when I reached out to catch a ball thrown by Twins pitcher Ramon Ortiz, and soon later, she got zack_catching_ortiz_ball.jpganother action shot as I used the glove trick for a ball lying on the grassy slope 20 feet below. When I reeled it in, I was disappointed to discover that it wasn’t an Official Major zack_using_glove_trick2.jpgLeague Baseball. Instead, it was a cheap ball made in China with a logo that said, “Donated by the New York Mets Foundation,” and I decided not to count it in my collection. On 9/22/05 at Shea Stadium, I found four Foundation balls in the seats didn’t count those either. I think they’re charity balls, literally donated by the Mets to underprivileged kids (who are privileged enough to play new_york_mets_foundation.jpgat Shea). I’ve still never seen one of these balls actually being used by a major league player, and that’s why I don’t count them. Training balls are different because they ARE used during BP.

Pat Neshek was jogging back and forth on the warning track, and when he paused for a moment, I told him that I love his blog. He waved and smiled, and a few minutes later, he threw a ball to me–except his aim was off. The damn thing went TEN feet over my head, and some old dude in a Hawaiian shirt got it. Jona understood the suckiness of the situation. “He’s a pitcher?” she asked?

Boof Bonser had better aim in throwing me my sixth ball of the day, and I got another from hitting coach Joe Vavra at the Twins dugout after BP.

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The highlight of the game was getting selected as the “Barbados contestant” for the Mets’ home-run inning. I didn’t win, but it was still cool to see my name on the Diamond Vision screen and then root like hell for a longball. If anyone on the Mets had gone deep in the bottom of the 5th, I would’ve won two plane tickets to Barbados and hotel accommodations. Jose Reyes led off the frame with a deep line drive to right-center, but it was hauled in on the warning track. Paul Lo Duca followed with a single. Carlos Beltran bounced into a fielder’s choice. David Wright singled. Carlos Delgado flied out to left field, and that was it. Bleh.

The rest of the game was great for the hometown crowd. John Maine allowed one run in 7 1/3 innings to earn his seventh win and lower his ERA to 2.90. Wright finished 3-for-5 with two doubles to raise his batting average to .287. Reyes stole his major league-leading 38th base. Delgado and Ricky Ledee hit home runs (in the 2nd and 8th innings, which average out to the 5th). The Mets had 15 hits and beat the Twins, 8-1.

Aside from the bottom of the 5th, Jona never really got into the game, and that was fine. I didn’t expect her to. Baseball is a tough sport to watch, especially for someone who didn’t grow up watching it. It was just fun to be together and give her a glimpse of my madness.

STATS:

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

• 471 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 18 consecutive games with at least four balls

• 3,080 total balls

• 20 days until I’ll be at the Home Run Derby…

22 Comments

Sounds like a pretty sweet day, I can’t wait for the Twins to make their one and only stop in Toronto in late July.

I’m gonna try to add to my collection 2morrow, but I have never seen the Dodgers in my life so any advie or pointers would be perfect.

how did you get selected? thats really cool!

jona’s the masseuse rite?

stiks boyt the barbados thing.

whens ur next game

Are you still going tonight?

JIMMY-
I haven’t seen the Dodgers much over the last few years, but I can tell you that they were always one of the snottiest teams in baseball. They have some talented rookies now, so you might want to focus more on getting autographs.

MR MET-

I have no idea. It probably had something to do with the fact that I actually bought a good seat (two, actually) in a visible spot and then stayed in it. Some Met official with a clipboard just walked over and told me that I’d been selected, and she asked for my name and hometown. Maybe some other official spotted me and pointed me out to her? Or maybe it was totally random? Hmm…

BCIMONS-

Correct, although she prefers to be referred to as a “massage therapist.” My next game? I’m leaving in 90 minutes for Shea.

GREG-

You betcha.

As a member of the Pat Neshek Fan Club, I must defend his throwing. He missed me last year, I think his highly effective pitching motion is tough to use when throwing upwards.

hey drosenda:

are you this guy brother?

“I think his highly effective pitching motion is tough to use when throwing upwards.” C’MON y would he use his “highly effective pitching motion” in BP, and if he did, and he missed you, then it wouldnt be very effective.

Zack, too bad they didn’t ask you a trivia question. You’d totally nail that. Although, the prize is usually only a $50 gift certificate to some steak house, but that’s still better than nothing.

I give Jona a lot of credit for sticking it out with you all game!

I’ll be at Shea on Saturday (A’s), next Monday, and next Wednesday (both Cardinals). Going to any of those games?

I figure if you could still refer to her as your girlfriend at post time, your madness must’ve been manageable.

I’m 90% sure I’m going to the game tonight(shortly), my 13th Met game of the season. Don’t hog all the good balls. ;-)

I always wondered about the Barbados thing. Maybe they just walk around and select someone at random and ask for their info. Or they only select people that purchased tickets with a credit card with their name on it. Maybe they pick the person they think looks most in the need of vacation.

Hey Bcimons
Have u ever seen Neshek throw?!?! He has to pitch side arm because of an arm injury that happend wen he was in high school i can easily see drosenda’s point about how it would be hard for him to throw upwards!

Get your facts straight!

Good stuff on the snaggign recently Zack. About your last post at yankee stadium you shoudl know by now that your guarenteed a ball you shoudlnt haev been so nervous even if it were Yankee stadium.

Also you’ve recieved quite the bashing on Nesheks blog, I doubt you want to check it out though. Im pumped for when he comes to Toronto hopefully what you did will work for me to. (Except have it throw to me).

yes, but if hes not pitching, y would he throwside arm?

well mayb i did sound sorta rude.

and i have ssen him pitch, but i have not seen him throw in bp, and i know from experience, that even if you pitch sidearm, you dont always throw that way.

sorry drosenda nad any other fan club member i may have offended.

im not a pat neshek hater!!!

it was just the way he put it, that made it sound sorta corny(no offense). because this is typed, and i cant tell when i read a comment if someone is trying to b serious, or snotty. as i now realize, people were serious. i read it the wrong way.

im NOT a pat neshek hater!!!

oh and BTW, i won my ll championship, so hope you hade fun at Shea zack!!

DROSENDA-
The way I see it, a major leaguer (especially a pitcher) should have good aim regardless of the arm angle or required trajectory of the throw.

PSU-

Dinner for two (or even one) at a steakhouse wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world, but I’m glad I was selected for the Barbados thing. It was big money. I was excited.

CEETAR-

I bought the tickets with cash, so are you saying that I look tired and stressed? Good point about the madness.

MAUER MANIAC-

At Shea earlier today, I saw Neshek long-tossing with Joe Nathan, and he (Neshek) was throwing over the top. Hmm…

TRUE PLAYA-

Thanks, and you’re right…I’m not interested in reading a bunch of negative comments on someone else’s blog.

JJHARDY-

Continuing what I said above to True Playa…if someone has an issue with me, they’re welcome to take it up with me directly. Otherwise, I really don’t care what they have to say. I’ve read a bunch of negative stuff before, and it was 90% untrue.

BCIMONS-

Congrats on the championship. I should’ve gone to YOUR game to snag. Shea was really tough today.

EVERYONE-

I’ll get started on the new Shea entry soon, and I’ll have it up at some point tomorrow. Maybe even late tonight before I go to bed. Not sure.

Zack, I went to the midwest league all-star game today, and didn’t get there till first pitch (best I could do)

And didn’t get any balls… I blame the strict “security”

I could have easily had 3-4.

hey BC congratulations man!

Neshek throws overhand when he is warming up and he also tosses balls into the stands overhand. But I saw him long tossing with Nathan in Minneapolis with his sidearm release. I don’t know what everyone was getting worked up about anyway. No one said anything bad about Neshek in the first place.

hey mike, my dad explained to me that the yanks were like a limited parter_______. i forget the last word. he said, that in order to buy part of the team the Boss has to invite you to purchase 5% or whatever amount. thats y some people refer to Geworge as the General Partner.

dad, could you clear this up?

P.S zack u should have snagged at my game. we must’ve went through 2 dozen ball. there were 3 homers, and foul ball everywere. but the LL wants you to return the foul balls, and you’re supposed to give the HR ball to the kid who hits it.

CUBS-
How strict was it? Did they stop you from going to the dugouts, or what?

NICK-

Thanks for clearing that up. Hey…give us the link to your blog so we can all read about your trip.

BCIMONS-

So, snagging at your game would be like going on a fishing trip where you catch lots of fish and throw ‘em all back. No thanks. I only catch baseballs that I’m going to eat.

Actually, there were all by the walls (kinda hard to explain, but it was behind the home plate seats) and anything that hit the wall and bounced back, they caught.

And almost everything hit that wall, due to the small size of the stadium

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