6/19/07 at Shea Stadium

I asked Jerry Manuel for a ball and he laughed. I asked Ricky Ledee for a ball and he accidentally threw it to another fan. I asked John Maine for a ball, he said, “You just got one.” It was THAT kind of day, and when the Mets finished batting practice 50 minutes after I’d entered the stadium, I still didn’t have anything.

I got the corner spot in the left field Loge, figuring I’d cash in on the Twins pitchers, but when I called out for balls, they all looked at me as if they recognized me from the day before–and of course there wasn’t a single ball hit anywhere near me.

Batting practice was so slow that I took out my journal and started writing. I might’ve looked relaxed, but I wasn’t. I felt helpless. I’d been inside Shea for an hour and 20 minutes and STILL didn’t have a ball.

fatboy_slim.jpg

The highlight of BP was hearing a young Mets fan heckle the Twins. His funniest insult was directed at Dennys Reyes (245 lbs.) and Ramon Ortiz (175 lbs.) as they walked by: “You guys should learn to eat from each other!”

Chris Heintz must have missed the heckling–or maybe he agreed with it–because he threw me a ball soon after. Other than the fact that he saved the day, there was nothing special about it. The ball was sitting on the warning track, and when he started walking toward it, I shouted his name and said “please” about 1,000 times.

After I caught the ball, the kid on my right (who looked like a wannabe 9th grade bully) turned and said, “You better watch out if another one comes up here. I’m gonna have to play dirty.”

Luckily for him, there wasn’t another one. Unluckily for me, the ball from Heintz was the only one I got in 100 minutes of batting practice.

By the time BP ended, I was standing in the front row behind the Twins’ dugout. When all the players and coaches walked off the field, Ron Gardenhire flipped a ball over my head. Everyone reached and jumped for it, but I jumped the highest and grabbed it with my bare hand–and that was my athletic moment of the day.

mike_redmond_playing_catch.jpg

Twenty minutes before game time, Mike Redmond and Joe Mauer began playing catch in left field, and when they finished, Redmond tossed me my third ball of the day.

With Johan Santana making the start for the Twins, I expected the Mets to hit lots of foul balls, but no, the game was just as dead as BP had been. It was weird. Santana was “pitching to contact” and struck out just one batter all night. He was still dominant and incredibly efficient. He threw 27 total pitches through the first three innings, 36 through four, and 50 through five.

The Mets were already losing, 9-0, by that point and had more errors (4) than hits (3).

I like the Mets. They’re my favorite team, but I don’t call myself a “Mets fan” because of games like this. I’d been rooting for Santana for years, and I wasn’t about to stop just because he happened to be pitching in Queens. I’d never seen him pitch in person (or if I had, I don’t remember), and I wanted to see him at his best.

Ron_gardenhireBy the end of the sixth inning, he’d thrown just 59 pitches, and when the seventh inning wrapped up, his pitch count was 67. I really wanted him to go the distance, but because of the lopsided score, I wasn’t sure if Gardenhire would leave him out there.

He did, and Santana ended up pitching the fourth shutout of his career. Four hits. No walks. 92 pitches. 40,000 disgruntled Mets fans.

After the game, Gardenhire tossed me another ball at the dugout, mwahaha.

STATS:

• 123 balls in 17 games this season = 7.2 balls per game.

• 472 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 19 consecutive games with at least four balls

• 3,084 total balls

• 19 days until the Home Run Derby…

19 Comments

Yess… go Twins

congrats again zack!

do you have a backup plan if you don’t get ANY balls when the game ends?

like beg ushers or something?

Zack,
Hey i am a 13 year old boy living in NJ. This has nothing to relate to your latest entry though. I am a huge Phillies fan and my dream is one day come home with a ball. I have been to batting practice at CBP and i know all the players names. but the OF’s during BP never seem to throw it to me and foul balls are hard to get where i usually sit. So what do you suggest to get more balls. I catch a ball at every single

MILB game i go to, (Trenton Thunder, i caught 7 balls there once) but at MLB games i can’t even get one…. Any segestions? Thanks for your time….,

Colin

You touched as many balls as Met bats…impressive, or sad. Whats YSOP mean?

Ugh, what a poor game last night. I had to check my ticket to make sure it wasn’t 2003.
http://www.pickmeup.mlblogs.com/

hey everyone…im going to safeco on monday and tuesday to seee the redsox and mariners play. Does anyone have any advice on who is nice and who to avoid? And who the good ball throwers/autographers are on the teams (mostly the sox)? Any help is appreciated! Thanks

So I just got to go to Barnes and Nobel… and I bought your book!!!! I’m so excited to finally get to read it!

–Ethan

I haven’t been reading your blog very long but I can’t help but wonder something. Wouldn’t it be great to say “Buy the book!” every time someone asks you how to snag balls. I know I would (buy the book, that is!). I know you’re working on it but it’s obvious the demand is there…

NICK-
Ouch, your Twins pounded the Mets again last night.

CUBS-

Since when do ushers carry balls around? Ushers ask ME for balls all the time. But to answer your question…no, I don’t have a backup plan.

COLIN-

Thanks for writing. If you get to Citizens Bank Park when it opens at 4:30pm (for night games, that is), you’ll have a very good chance of catching a home run ball out in left field. Beyond that, my best advice is to read all my old entries about that ballpark so you can see exactly what I do when I’m there. Have you done that yet? Do you know how to find them?

CEETAR-

Yes, that’s true. The “YSOP” on my shirt is not too interesting, I’m afraid. It stands for Youth Service Opportunity Program.

ZOE-

Or 1993. (Or 1962.)

REDSOX-

Ichiro is awesome about throwing balls into the crowd, and so is Manny. I think you should focus on those two guys. Not sure about autographs, but I do know that Manny hated signing even in high school.

ETHAN-

Awesome! So glad to hear it.

SURFNUSA-

First of all, I know I owe you an email. Secondly, it WOULD be a wise business move for me to try to get people to buy the book…but I guess I can only say that I’m not in it for the money. I don’t get paid to write this blog. I just like to share my stories and help other people learn how to get balls for themselves. I might come out with a revised version of “How to Snag” in a couple years, and yes, I’d make some money from that, but I really AM doing this for fun.

lol, I meant to get you one from the dugout :P

i bet some mets players would hook you up if you were in dire straights.

Zacker:

It’s a good thing that you didn’t have to play dirty with the grade 9 bully.

I heard that you learned a few new moves last year when you attended the WWE wrestling camp with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.

hey zack, u know who this is. new MLB account.

im soooo upset. the islanders moved their game times forward to 7:00. that means warumps start at 6:30, which means i need to leave my house at 5:30- 5:45, which means my dad has to leave work VERY early. im afraid my streak mite come to an end. i had high hopes for this year, but know i dont know.

Pacman will nver play again

thanks zack, ill try to get one from manny or ichiro and i will let u know how it goes.

zack
i was at shea last night (6/20) for my 6th mets game this year. got in for bp at around 5. i got nothing, my dad got a foul bp shot off the loge that bounced right down to him. anyway, i stood in left field, right by the dream seats, for all of twins bp. boof bonser was the most rude, selfish person EVER. he must have had 20-30, maybe more, balls to him throughout bp. all shots down the line. not 1 found the crowd. he had a few where he would look up, lift his arm as if to throw it into the crowd, then throw it back in. it made me so mad. time for a boof bonser curse.

CUBS-
Ahh, from the dugout…right. Dave Racaniello, the Mets bullpen catcher, would probably hook me up if he knew the situation and had a ball, but it would be so loud at the Mets’ dugout that he probably wouldn’t even hear me…and he might not even be part of the dugout postgame crowd. He probably stays out in the bullpen all night and heads straight to the clubhouse through the underground maze of tunnels.

MIKE.LOS-

Man, word spreads fast!

PUCK COLLECTOR-

Nice new email address. That’s pretty rough about the new game times. I had to deal with the same issue last decade when the Mets moved all their night games from 7:40 to 7:10pm.

RED SOX-

You’re welcome. Another really good guy is Mike Lowell. If he’s throwing in front of the dugout before the start of the game, you should definitely hang out there and ask him for the ball.

GJK2212-

I’m surprised to hear that about Boof because he’d been throwing lots of balls into the crowd two days earlier. Shame on him. And I’m sorry it cost you. Anyway, take comfort in knowing that he doesn’t need to be cursed; he’s a lousy enough pitcher as it is (and he’s got a stupid name).

btw zack, i was just looking through your pictures…it looks like yesterday was the anniversary of you first ball…june 20, 1990? happy anniversary!

Oh hey! I didn’t even realize that. Thanks.

Ok, you asked for it! I’m going to be at Yankee Stadium on July 20th. How do I snag balls? Just kidding, of course. I’ve learned a few things from reading this blog. I’m just going to sit there and look pretty!

Sometimes that’s all it takes.

:-)

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