7/24/07 at Citizens Bank Park

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I picked this game because I figured there’d be a small crowd, but no, there were 40,108 other fans who were interested in seeing the Nationals on a Tuesday night. Good for the Phillies. Good for Major League Baseball. Bad for me and my mom. We hadn’t been to a game together since my 28th birthday. That was at Shea Stadium. This was the first time that the two of us had taken a road trip to a game. No special occasion. The weather was gorgeous, and we were both free, and it was a good excuse to hang out for 12 hours.

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The left field seats started filling up fast, and there wasn’t much action. Within the first five minutes, however, I managed to stretch across the flower bed (in front of the first row) and use my glove trick to pluck a ball off the warning track.

Ten minutes later, a righty on the Phillies crushed a deep drive toward the foul pole. I sprinted through an entire row of seats as the ball sailed 20 feet over my head and bounced to the back of the section. Two fans lunged for it and missed. The ball hit a metal beam and ricocheted to the side. The fans chased it through the last row and were about to snatch it when the ball trickled down one step and into my waiting hands. I love gravity.

Soon after the Nationals took the field, I had a chance to get another ball with my glove trick in left-center when an old man with a cup trick appeared out of nowhere. I was annoyed, but quickly accepted the fact that he had as much of a right as I did to go for it. The ensuing competition was fair and good-natured and lots of fun–and interrupted by Nook Logan who walked over and stuck the ball inside the cup.

“Nook! How could you do that to me?!” I said.

Nook looked up, saw my Nationals cap, told me he’d get me a ball, and did. Thirty seconds later, I was eyeing another ball on the warning track when I sensed the people around me getting ready for King_youngsomething, so I looked up and saw a ball flying right toward me and reached out and caught it. It was a homer. I have no idea who hit it…and 30 seconds after that, all the fans in the front row started yelling yelling at Dmitri Young for the ball on the track. Unfortunately for them, it wasn’t Dmitri Young.

“Ray King!” I shouted. “I know your name! How about a ball?!”

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He threw it to me without hesitating, and all the fans protested. I was tempted to protest, too, because the Nationals were using those cheap blue training balls.

I got my sixth ball of the day from Mike Bacsik in right field and got my seventh from the ever-dependable Manny Acta.

My mom saw me get every ball because she’d been following me from section to section. She was such a good sport…she even got up and moved around with me during the game, which was great because our seats were in a lousy spot, and I didn’t want to abandon her.

We started on the first base side of home plate, then moved to the third base side, then got kicked out of the section and went back to the first base side, and we ended up about a dozen rows behind the Nationals’ dugout.

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I was rooting for the Nats, but Aaron Rowand untied the game with a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth. Final score: Phillies 4, Nationals 3.

I got my eighth and final ball of the day at the dugout after the game. It was flipped up from underneath the roof so I have no idea who tossed it.

What a great day. The two-hour car rides were nearly as fun as the game itself.

STATS:

• 148 balls in 21 games this season = 7.047619 balls per game.

• 476 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 98 consecutive games outside of New York with at least one ball

• 650 lifetime balls outside of New York

• 15 balls from Manny Acta since 2003

• 3,109 total balls

18 Comments

Great game Zack!

I went to the Mets game at camp today, but they lost pretty bad to the Pirates.

CitiField is coming up way faster than the new Yankee.

Zack your not gonna believe it. There was this guy on the field today by the bullpen who looked like rick peterson and had on a mets jersey with perterson on the back but he wasn’t wearing a jacket. So I looked again and it was rick peterson he wasn’t wearing his jacket i couldn’t beleieve it. It was truly a historic game.
– Gavriel

hey zack it was nice meeting you at shea

Sounds like a “perfect game” to me! Great post. Great pics. And OMG – you’re going to be 30 this year!! We should be able to have a little fun with that! ;)

yeah gavriel, i noticed that too. i was shocked

Zack, two questions:

Do foul balls normally land in the green section?

Are fans allowed to bring in fish nets, because I didnt see one fan with them who was sitting above the netting?

Zack, I was searching Google to see where the Rockies ball boy sits, and your Gustavo picture with the line through his face came up.
Can’t figure out why though.

Puckcollector – Coors Field has no ballboys down the foul lines. Instead, they have guards (without gloves) sitting on stools. By the way, if you have any more questions about Coors, I’m happy to answer them.

zack is there anywhere where i could look up the names of the ball boys and bullpen catchers and stuff?

Excellent Job Zack!! It sounds like you had a great time! Do you have any tips for Fenway Park??

Chris

Zack, I guess you were smart enough to pronounce Nook “Don’t Call Me Nuke” Logan the right way (rhymes with look). Congrats.

PUCK COLLECTOR-
What color shirt were you wearing? I was watching on TV and saw one camp group wearing pink. Was that you? Lots of foul balls land in the Mezzanine (green seats), but usually only in the first half-dozen rows, or so. If you’re going up there, you better not be above the main aisle because balls probably won’t reach you. Not sure about nets. Every security guard at Shea seems to have his own set of rules, but anyway, nets are for sissies. Just use a glove. As for the Gustavo pic…I don’t know what to tell you. Perhaps you searched for a word that was in one of my entries that used the same word…or it might’ve even been a word that appeared in one of the comments.

GAVRIEL-

I need photographic evidence to believe it. As for a site to look up those names…I’m not sure. There was a great site a few years ago called “MLB Roster Central” but the guy who ran it stopped updating. Some of his old lists might still be there, and some of the guys on those lists might still be around.

ANDREKIMJR-

Nice meeting you as well. I forgot to ask…is your first name, in fact, Andre?

SURFNUSA-

Thanks. Thanks. But no age talk, unless it’s absolutely necessary.

GREG-

You da man. BTW, I’m thinking of flying out to Milwaukee just for the day on Tuesday. (That IS when Glavine is pitching next, right?) It’s tough enough to compete with you for balls at Shea. I don’t want to fly all the way to Miller Park and have to do it there.

CHRIS-

Thanks very much. I sure did have a great time. You should ask Greg about tips for Fenway. He was just there recently and got a bunch of balls and gave someone else on here some excellent advice. (Greg, a little help for Mr. Chris?)

WCIMONS-

No nukes. Just nooks and crannies.

ALEX RODRIGUEZ-

Thank you very much for not hitting your 500th home run last night. You’re too kind. Really.

EVERYONE-

I’m still thinking about going to Camden later today. What should I do? The weather is iffy, and I’m afraid there won’t be BP ever if it’s nice because the teams are playing an extra inning and a half in order to complete their suspended game from way back. I would hate driving for seven hours (total) to have no BP and be in a packed stadium.

It’s up to you… but I think you need a break! you’ve been very busy lately… well good luck if you do decide to go.

There might be no Bp, but you could catch A-Rod’s 5–tyh, so I would go.

Greg, thanks for that info, and i actually do have another question.

When the entire stadium opens at 5:30, I can use the main isle to go behind the rockpile and go to right field to look for balls that landed in right field, or does security pick those balls up and throw them back onto the field?

Zack – Aww, thanks. (Yeah, he’s pitching Tuesday, unless there’s a Mets rainout before then). Also, there’s a 75% chance I’ll be at Shea tonight. The weather might be bad, and it’s merengue night, so I’m kinda hesitant.

Puckcollector – No problem, and yes, you can walk behind the rockpile/waterfall display in CF. The groundscrew doesn’t pick up all the balls in the display until the end of BP, so keep watching for balls landing in there and have your glove/cup trick ready. But be really careful of this usher underneath the second deck in RF with a big white mustache. His personal philosophy is that you can’t get those balls unless they’re tossed up. If you get a chance, tell him “remember that kid from the Mets series who you stopped twice from using a ball-retrieving device — yeah, well screw you, he got eight of your precious balls”. Just kidding, don’t get yourself in trouble.

Chris – I’ll give you some Fenway tips on your blog.

well what are you actually going for? to get yourself a few more balls or to see a-rod hit his 500th homerun?

Greg- Thanks. Im hoping that the evil usher wont be there, and that I can get some balls that land before 5:30 in right field, which doesnt open til 5:30.

I saw an article and it said that if A-Rod hits a homer in the continued game today, that due to a certain rule in baseball, that that will be counted as HR 493, but regared as 500 by the people, and the HR he hit in KC will statistically be HR 500. So He’ll have hit HR 500 twice.

Heres the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/27/sports/baseball/27homerun.html?_r=1&ref=sports&oref=slogin

CUBS0110-
A break! Yes! What a concept! Thanks for understanding.

GREG-

The weather’s looking pretty good right now. I wonder if you’re there and hoping you’re not suffering.

TSWECHTENBERG-

First of all, I would’ve been going to CATCH his 500th home run, not just to SEE it, but still, it’s only worth going to a game (of any magnitude) if I know I’m going to enjoy myself, and if there’s no BP and the the whole day is a struggle, then…yeah.

PUCK COLLECTOR-

Pretty crazy. Thanks for the link.

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