7/29/08 at Yankee Stadium

My snagging nearly got off to an early start. Check out this pic I took in the subway on my way to Yankee Stadium:

ball_on_track1.jpg

Here’s a close-up:

ball_on_track2.jpg

This may surprise you, but I did NOT make an attempt to snag this ball. It’s probably still there. Go for it. Grand Concourse at 149th Street. No. 4 train platform. Let me know how it goes. Watch out for the rats.

I had to deal with a few human rats in the bleachers, but that goes without saying. Late in batting practice, after I’d changed into my Orioles cap and bright orange Orioles T-shirt, a 40-something-year-old man (who was so fat that he had to leave his Yankees jersey unbuttoned) told me, “You’ll be lucky to make it out of here alive.” He wasn’t giving me a friendly warning. He was issuing a threat, and several other fans joined him in harassing me. I resisted the urge to tell the guy he’d be lucky not to die of a heart attack before the seventh inning stretch.

The rest of BP was great. The stadium had opened at 5pm, and by the time the clock said 5:07, I’d already snagged three balls. The first was tossed by Jose Veras on that little platform in front of the bleachers. (Security was nowhere in sight for the first couple minutes.) The second was a home run by Derek Jeter that landed on the batter’s eye and somehow rolled close enough to the side fence that I was able to reach over from the seats and grab it. The third was a home run by Bobby Abreu that I caught on a fly. I was standing in the aisle, and the ball came RIGHT to me. I didn’t move an inch. All I had to do was reach up two feet over my head. (Of course I first had to judge the distance that the ball would travel and then make a split-second decision whether to stay put or run back.)

bleachers_07_29_08.jpgThe bleachers kept getting more and more crowded, but I wasn’t done. I kept positioning myself differently for every hitter, moving toward right-center for some guys and staying deep and toward the foul pole for others…like Jason Giambi who launched a deep fly ball behind me and to the left. Most of the nearby fans didn’t move until the ball had landed, at which point I was in full stride, and I grabbed it as it quickly started rolling down the steps. FUN!!!

A few minutes later, I found myself standing in the aisle at the front of the section when Wilson Betemit ripped a deep drive in my direction. I quickly determined that the ball was going to travel too far, so I spun around and put my head down and focused on NOT tripping as I bolted up half a dozen steps next to the tunnel. Two seconds later, when I figured the ball was about to land, I turned back toward the field and looked up and got temporarily blinded by the sun but then spotted the ball zooming toward me. It was still a little too high, and it was heading for the middle of the tunnel to my left, so I took one more step and reached as high as I could and lunged over the slanted railing to my glove side at the very last second and made the catch in the tip of my glove over the tunnel. Ohmygod, it was beautiful–easily one of my all-time Top Ten catches–and because I wasn’t yet decked out in Orioles gear, the whole section erupted with cheers and applause.

I used my glove trick to snag two more balls from the gap–one before the Yankees left the field and the other during the Orioles’ portion of BP–and would’ve been able to use it twice more if my friend Greg (aka “gregorybarasch”) hadn’t been there. Of course HE would’ve been able to use his cup trick twice more if not for me, and he also would’ve gotten the Veras ball. We just happened to end up in the same section at the same game so we made the best of it and agreed to share the balls that dropped into the gap.

We sat together during the game and didn’t snag any other balls. Nothing came close. Jeter doubled off the wall about 40 feet to our left, and A-Rod hit a home run that Veras retrieved in the bullpen, about 80 feet to the right. Bleh. The biggest highlight of the game was seeing a fan reach too far for a foul ball, tumble of out of his luxury suite, and briefly get stuck in the netting just below. Final score: Orioles 7, Yankees 6.

After the game, as fans were filing out of the stadium, I took a baseball out of my bag and waited in the concourse. Thirty seconds later, I spotted a deserving recipient: a little kid, not more than seven years old, who was with his dad and still wearing his glove, which appeared to be empty. “Did you catch anything today?” I asked, and when he said no, I handed him the ball. You could say he was pretty excited.

With just a few minutes to spare before security would be kicking everyone out, Greg went to the left field bleachers to look for ticket stubs, and I photographed my six remaining balls:

the_six_balls_i_kept_07_29_08.jpg

STATS:

? 7 balls at this game

? 270 balls in 38 games this season = 7.1 balls per game.

? 534 consecutive games with at least one ball

? 121 consecutive games at Yankee Stadium with at least one ball

? 3,547 total balls

My next game?
Tomorrow night.
Watch With Zack.
Fenway Park.

28 Comments

Breaking news: Manny to the Dodgers, prospects to the Pirates, and Jason Bay to the Red Sox. Did anybody see that coming?

Anyway, I think I’ll be in Philly next Wednesday, then Shea on Friday (and possibly Tuesday as well).

By the way, you made that little kid really happy with that ball after the game on Tuesday. The smile on his face was awesome. Nice work.

Manny can now be Manny and get more attention on the dodgers…it will be a loss for the sox once they play the yankees. im looking forward to seeing jason bat produce.
nice snags those balls look minty fresh

Would that ball from the train station have even counted in your collection? And doesnt it make you wonder how it got there?

and why didnt you try for it? the glove trick could have worked

Griffey to the WHITE SOX?!?!?!?!
I didn’t see that one coming. I knew the White Sox would do something because the Twinkies are pounding on their door. But I never imagined Griffey going to the ChiSox. The Twins better win this series tonight.

Maybe you’ll catch the first Jason Bay Fenway home run..

Zach,

Just back from Rogers Centre. What a great time snagging. Got 2 baseballs in about 5 minutes and had a nice conversation with Edwin Jackson. He promptly proceeded to run out to center field after we spoke, grab a loose ball, and throw it about 150 feet to my son. all I got was the 2, but you know how it goes when you are with someone. they now cover the bulpens so the glove trick was out.

Again, however, I met someone in right field that actually knew about you!. He saw you at YS in the upper deck afew weeks back but was too shy to say hello. I told him you were cool, and next time at YS, if he sees you, just say hi.

Greg…see you at philly on Wednesday. I am staying in the area becasue I have to visit a client in Cincinnati the next day and my flight out of philly is early. Yes I am going to the Reds game thursday night.

Lastly, the Mets have a day game on August 11th. do you think there will be BP?

brendan

aefeq- I doubt the mets will take BP that day. Most of my Saturday day games they do not take BP especially if its a 12:10 game.

GREG-
Thank you for being my news source. I heard it from you first. Crazy stuff. NOW where the hell am I supposed to go to catch a Manny homer?

RAMONES18-
Minty fresh…nice way to put it. They were indeed all pretty much brand new. Manny is an idiot, but the man can hit, and I think he WILL be missed in Boston.

JOSH’S AUTOGRAPHED CARD COLLECTION-
It would not have counted (though I considered it just for fun), and I’m sure it was just some random ball that some kid dropped. I doubt it’s a major league ball. Why didn’t I try to get it? Are you serious? It was scummy and nasty.

DB3PAR-
I didn’t see this coming at all either, but once the news became official, I celebrated by buying tickets to five White Sox games (not in Chicago).

CEETAR-
My seat will be in the fourth row down the RF foul line, so I doubt it.

BRENDAN-
Great story about Edwin Jackson. He was chatty in Orlando when I was there earlier this season, but he wasn’t particularly generous with the balls. Sorry about the bullpens. Who was in them? Players? Security guards? Cool that you met someone who knows about me. Whoever it was…he definitely should’ve said hi when he saw me. I’m not mean.

EVERYONE-
You know those guys called the Long Haul Bombers who hit softballs as far as baseballs at major league stadiums? They’re gonna be in Washington, D.C. this weekend. Here’s a link you can check out:
http://buysoftball360.com/index.asp?PageAction=Custom&ID=14

how hard do i hafta try to get a ys ball?????????? i want one soooooooooooooo bad.

the trades were ridiculous. wow. and the mets got—-wait for it—oh wait, nobody.

aefeq-both games are at 1, sunday and monday, they prob wont take bp sunday day after night but day after day monday i think they very well might. i may go. ill be at shea tuesday or wednesday.

Zach,

Just so you know, the Dodgers still have to come to Philly for a 4 game series later this month so you can have a chance to catch a Manny Hr then.

Zack, sounds like a good game 7 at Yankee thats pretty good, the catch sounds awesome too, I made one like it in D.C, Tuesday, I gambled by going to RF but it paid off there was just a family and they weren’t even trying to get one, Lastings Milledge hit one oppo into RF and I was too shallow so I ran back to about the 5th row and still too shallow so I leaped caught it and ended up in the 6th row, hurt a little but was worth it. I ended up getting 8(1 game) which was a foul ball off of Pat Burrels bat it was my first gamer in a while. Glad you and Greg didn’t kill eachother, Good luck and have fun in Boston,

Drew

Zack,

Went to a game the other night, Nats Phillies game 1. Suffice it to say, watching games here in DC is much more about ball snagging than the games I am observing. But this game stood out due to an excellent play that was so good, a Phillie’s pitcher, Ryan Madson commented on my “extremely quick hands,” and Jimmy Rollins said something awesome, but I’ll say it later. Its pretty sweet that I got a nice compliment from a few Major Leaguers!

The 3rd baseline foul territory is a favorite spot of mine when the whole stadium opens. The opposing team’s pitchers are warming up and I camp out waiting for BP fouls and errant warmup throws. I know they often use Nats gamers from the night before in warmups, so I am often trying to snag one of those that may roll over. In this situation, while warming up, I was looking towards home plate for the next pitch, and I heard from the field “HEADS UP!” I turned just in time to see that Madson was not going to catch a ball thrown a little off line, but it was coming fast as it was in the long toss portion of warmups. I happened to be near where the ball was headed, to I took my eye off of home and made a decent reach to my left and snagged the ball. Madson looked at me and said “That’s my only one, can I get it ba…” I was getting ready to toss it over when he stopped and somone yelled “HEADS UP!” again. Someone (not sure who) had hit a very sharp line drive that was hooking low and foul right at my area. I dropped the ball from my glove to my hand and made a quick move and backhanded grab, then I noticed that I had just saved the back of the little kid’s head who was standing to my right. He had a glove, but the ball was coming so fast he ended up turned with his glove in the air and not at all looking at the field. I got a little applause from the crowd, gave the ball to the little kid, got some more claps, went to toss the other ball back to Madson, who was still waiting, and then heard “HEADS UP!” yet again. This time, another line drive hooking foul, but it was going to drop short. I was in the front on the rail, and I noticed it was going to be very close to the ground right in front of me on my back hand side. So doing my best O’LAY, I timed the bounce perfectly, the ball jumped into my glove, and in one motion I put my skills playing 2nd base from the agev of 4-24 into action and back hand glove flipped the ball that I had just caught to Madson about 10 feet away just like I was turning a DP from deep behind the bag while ranging to my right.

I sort of surprised Madson with the effort, but he grabbed the ball and said “Wow, thanks man”. Jimmy Rollins was standing to his left and had looked to see where the ball was headed and saw my grab and flip and said “Did I just see that, did the ball bounce of the padding or did you make the flip?” Madson then said “No, that’s right, he just glove flipped it to me, and he just saved that little kid’s life right before that.” Then Rollins said “If Chase doesn’t show up today, you and I can work up the middle together.” I then nodded and said, “I’m sitting in section 135, please let me know if I’ll be needed, but if something goes up the middle I’m flipping to you, there is no way I can make the throw.” He laughed and sort of walked away laughing saying “In all the year’s I’ve seen fans bring their gloves…”

So all in all, it was a nice day, and a good effort. It was by far the best 10-15 seconds worth of balls getting hit my way, and everything just worked out.

Also, Zack, Dodgers are in DC for 3 the last week of August, and the HR porch for Manny might give you a decent shot.

Good luck getting Pudge RodS 1st Yankee Hr,and Texeira s 1st as a Angel,ask for a paid trip to Anaheim for Nyy next weekend..include Disneyland . Angels no hitter ?lackey sunday ,see you on espn ,where was waldo shirt when you caught Millar H?r

What a crappy week for me,, my car is pretty much dead,, it crapped out on me on the highway last night,, thank god my friend is driving us to Shea this Tuesday Mets vs Padres. I will be wearing the New York Knights hat from the movie the Natural and prob my mlb.com white t-shirt or some met shirt, anyone else going??

i should be there, i might go wednesday instead but i may go..i better get a freakin allstar ball and my luck better start to turn…i had a big april, decent may, solid june, and horrific july. august needs to work out for me.

ive said it before and i’ll say it again….. look at those PERFECT commemoratives!!!!!!!!

clif or greg-shea tuesday or wednesday? i found a lady selling picnic areas on craigslist for $38 tuesday…thats alot..ill try to sneak it or ill just go in the loge/field corners..

njmetfan — I think I’m going to Shea on Tuesday. Maybe that lady would sell us two picnic area tickets for like $50-$60? I mean, presumably she got them for free, right? Should I ask?

i don’t know if i’m going to either tuesday or wednesday. im going thursday though for the day game

That’s a great story, Alex. No snagging for 2 weeks :(
I hate these dry spells, and when I go back, it will be crowded with Cubs fans.

Hi Zack…

I saw one of those softball guys hit a softball that was SOFTPITCHED 482 feet in PETCO. It hit the DiamondVision in LF on the fly. It is still the longest ball I have seen hit in PETCO. Second longest was Andruw Jones. About 460ft to left. This week I’ve added Tony Clark and Aaaron Rowand to my list of BP homers caught. It’s funny that I didn’t catch any Tony Clarks when he was on the Padres, but when he goes to Arizona I catch him. Funny. Looking forward to catching a Manny HR in PETCO. Hopefully, in a losing Dodger effort. Doubt it though. Padres are NOT GOOD. Good luck in your next game. Check out the Pads at Shea this week.

Leigh

hey zack, i don’t know what lengths you will go to to take batting practice on a major league field but check this out:

http://kansascity.royals.mlb.com/kc/fan_forum/batting_practice.jsp

The Royals will have live batting practice for men over 30 years old this september 13

NJMETFAN-
Still no Yankee ball for you? Damn.

TOMD8670-
Thanks for the heads up, but I can’t do weekend games out of town because my parents use their car…and I can’t go to the game on Monday the 25th because I think I’m going to have “Watch With Zack” clients at Shea.

DREW-
Thanks. Sounds like you’ve had a pretty good run going as well.

ALEX-
That is one of the most incredible ball-snagging stories I have EVER heard. Oh my god! Seriously, that is amazing. Thanks for sharing the details…and congrats. My Lord. As for the Dodgers being in Washington, I can’t make the game on the 26th because I think I’m gonna have WWZ clients at Yankee Stadium. I can’t make it on the 27th because I’ll be in Baltimore. But the the 28th IS open. Hmm.

TRACYCOLLINSBECKY-
Pudge-Schmudge. I’m not concerned about that one. I want an A-Rod homer. I only wear the Waldo shirt if I’m sitting in (or standing near) my assigned seat.

METSFAN2001-
Wow, that sucks. I’m not planning to be at Shea on Tuesday.

GOISLANDERS4-
I actually would consider going to KC for that, but it’s my birthday that weekend, and I already have other plans. Thanks for the link, though. Let me know if you see anything else like that.

LEIGH-
A softball?! Four hundred eighty-two feet?! I can’t even comprehend that.

EVERYONE-
I haven’t yet started writing my Fenway entry, but I’ll be getting to it soon. That place is pretty and historic and all that good stuff, but it’s TERRIBLE for snagging. I think I actually prefer Yankee Stadium.

Zack, see the Griffey #600 home run ball sold at an auction this past Friday for $42,000? It didn’t get mentioned that much in the news because it was the same auction that some guy spent almost $2 million on a Honus Wagner card…..

Hey Zach,
I just started a little light ballhawking this year at the Metrodome. It is tough stuff, but I have been getting a ball a game or so after getting shut out for 8 games in a row. I don’t go to the extremes that you or others do, but I do show up early for BP and ask for balls, including in Spanish.

There are so many friggin kids to compete with it is crazy. After reading your blog, I bought a big glove and that thing rocks! A White Sox player borrowed it the other night to shag balls for 20 minutes. He let me use his glove in the meantime. I heard I was on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight last week and they commented on my glove. The local commentators have also talked about the glove. It causes quite the stir. I have actually gotten pretty good at catching with it. Carlos Gomez has the custom of firing his warm up ball into the centerfield stands after the 9th inning warm ups. I was sitting left-center and he saw the glove and fired it about 125-150 to me. It sailed high, but I jumped and too be honest I thought it went over my head until everyone went wild and I looked and saw that the ball got caught snow cone style in the web. It was a lot of fun. Keep up the good work! I love reading the blog.

Hi there… so generally, I am no good at snagging balls, but I did manage to grab one at BP during the Nationals-Phillies game this past Weds. in DC – the balls are marked for the inagural season of the park…got a photo of it here… http://philliesphollowers.mlblogs.com/archives/2008/07/phillies_swat_the_nats_in_dc.html
Before that, I tried to get one of the Nats pitchers to toss me one, but they wouldn’t give it to anyone wearing Phillies gear :o) Of course, what was funny about that was that there were like NO Nats fans there to toss to! This pitcher had 3 balls in his glove at one point and he was wandering back and forth looking for a Nats fan to toss to and couldn’t find one! He finally gave up and just started passing them out to kids. Funny stuff. Anyhow, just wanted to say hello! Enjoy our blog very much…have a good one!

Jenn
http://philliesphollowers.mlblogs.com

That last picture is such a frickin’ tease.
– Chris

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