January 2008

2007 Yankees playoff tickets

BIG thanks to my friend “Father Puck” for donating the following to my ticket stub collection…




Normally I’m only interested in owning tickets for games I actually attended, but I make exceptions when something extraordinary comes my way.

(Meanwhile, I’m not surprised that Johan Santana is coming to Queens. The Mets aren’t interested in becoming a better team; it’s just a conspiracy to generate hype and make Shea Stadium as crowded as possible so I won’t snag as many baseballs.)

My first book

I got LOTS of emails in 2007 from people who were trying to find a copy of my first book, How to Snag Major League Baseballs. If you’re one of these people, I have two pieces of good news:

1) As of this second (3:43pm ET on Saturday, January 26), there are 10 copies available on Amazon.

2) I have officially begun working on a new version of the book.

208 pounds

It’s been a while since I blogged about my rubber band ball, so here it is:


It currently weighs 208 pounds, and its diameter is about 22 inches. (I put my book in front of it for perspective.) Whenever people see the ball in person and guess how much it weighs, they’re always way off. No one ever thinks it weighs this much because it’s so dense and compact. At this point, when I add a pound of bands, the diameter increases by just a tiny fraction of an inch. (By comparison, if you were to add a pound of bands to a plum-sized ball, its diameter could double in size.) The reason is that my ball has a lot of surface space, so a pound of bands doesn’t come close to covering it. To prove it…the last pound of bands I added was all red, and you can still see the tan ones underneath, as well as a few blues and greens.

And that’s pretty much it.
Dorkiness + physics = fun.

Leon Feingold

I played catch yesterday with a former minor league pitcher named Leon Feingold. It was fun and scary. First of all, he’s 6-foot-5-and-a-half. Secondly, he can still hit about 90mph on the radar gun. Third, we were throwing in a small gym that was barely longer than the distance from the mound to the plate. Fourth, the white cinder-block background made it tough to see the ball coming out of his hand. Fifth, he was throwing an assortment of pitches with nasty movement (tailing fastballs, splitters, knuckleballs, change-ups, and curves). One of his fastballs broke the webbing of my glove. Luckily, my face wasn’t behind it at the time. So yeah, fun and scary. It makes me wonder…if a guy who struggled with a shoulder injury in the lowest levels of the minors 13 Leon_feingoldyears ago is still this good while goofing around in a cramped gym in the middle of the winter, what would it have been like to stand in the batters box against Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson in their primes? Now THAT is scary.

When I first showed up at the gym, Leon (who still pitches professionally in the Israel Baseball League) was finishing a pitching lesson with a kid who looked to be about 10 years old. Before the kid left with his mom, Leon introduced me as a “famous baseball expert,” which was kind of embarrassing. Peter Gammons is a famous baseball expert. I’m not. What did I do next? Duh. I grabbed my wallet and flipped it open to the bathtub photo, and as soon as the kid saw it, his eyes lit up. “Hey!” he shouted. “I’ve seen you on TV! You get all the balls at Shea Stadium and you switch hats and speak different languages!”

If I were genuinely famous, the kid would’ve recognized me without the wallet–and he would’ve known my name. But I’ll take it. I’m still young, and anyway, fame isn’t my ultimate goal anymore. Don’t ask me what is. I’m still trying to figure it out.

Best/Worst of NYC

The best of New York City = seeing Richie Havens the other night:


The worst of NYC = the subway home smelling like a toilet:


Gotta love this town.

Mystery autographs

Every now and then, I get random emails from people who need help identifying autographs. Here’s the latest:

Hello Zack!

Quite an interesting hobby you have there :)
Well, let me first introduce myself. My name ist Stanislav and I live in Germany for
about 9 years now. Previously I lived with my family in Greece, Athens.

Why am I writing to you? I need your help!

As we lived in Greece, my father was working at an former US-army base.
During his work there he found an autographed baseball under the ground.
He brought it home and gave it to me as I was just 10 years old.
I never paid attention to it, but since 2 years I try to find out whose autographs there are
on the ball.

The ball looks quite old and used and I think it’s before the 1970’s. I counted a total of 7 or 8 autographs.

I have attached some photographs in hope that you will be able to help me.
I would be happy to hear from you!







I have noooo idea who any of these autographs might be. Anyone want to take a stab at identifying them? (Anyone have an extra Futures Game ball from 2005? I recently heard from another guy who’s looking to buy one.)


I ate breakfast yesterday at a restaurant. The waitress was 5-foot-10 and blonde and thin and cute…and from Poland. Did I ask for her phone number? No. I asked her to teach me how to say “Please throw me the ball” in Polish. (I need help.) She tore off the bottom of the check and wrote the phrase–in Polish–in black ink. Then I asked her to say the phrase (about 10 times), and as she did, I wrote it phonetically in blue ink.


As you can see, it’s pronounced “POE die mee PYOOK-uh.”

I suppose I should’ve written “dye” instead of “die,” but you get the point, not that it even matters because there are no Polish-speaking major leaguers, as far as I know.

For the record, I can now ask for a ball in 32 languages.