9/18/08 at Yankee Stadium

I don’t even know where to begin…

Yesterday I woke up way too early with way too little sleep and spent the entire morning and afternoon attempting to blog. It was impossible to write more than a couple sentences at a time because I was on the phone nonstop, mostly with people from the media asking me when I was free, and I was also trying to keep up with the steady flow of emails. Here’s a (partial) screen shot of my inbox from earlier this morning. Keep in mind that these are just the messages that I haven’t yet had a chance to answer…

inbox.jpg

I spent most of my time talking to a producer at CBS, who told me that “The Early Show” wanted me the next day at 7:30am. (Damn, that IS early.) I talked to other TV people, a few radio producers, and some newspaper reporters. I can’t even list them all.

I was supposed to meet a member of the Japanese media at Yankee Stadium between 4pm and 4:15, but I ended up running late and calling him and pushing things back to 4:30. I was trying to finish my blog while shaving and gathering my stuff for the game while getting calls from CBS and the YES Network (and a few other places) while updating my publicist while checking my email. I truly can’t convey how crazy it was.

I left my apartment at around 3:45pm and RAN seven blocks to the subway at 72nd and Broadway. Just before I was about to head underground, I remembered I had to return a call from a guy at Newsday…so I called him and got him on the phone, and he immediately started interviewing me. Then I got a call on the other line from a guy with the local NBC news. He wanted to meet me at the stadium, and we made a plan to do the interview at 4:45pm outside the bleacher entrance. (Batting practice was going to start at 5pm and I didn’t want to miss any of it.) I switched back to the Newsday guy and said I had to get taxi_to_stadium.jpg
to Yankee Stadium ASAP and asked if we could talk after BP…but no, he was on a strict deadline, so it was now or never. I put my MetroCard away and ran over to Amsterdam to hail a cab. That was the only way to get to the stadium AND have cell phone reception at the same time. It took a few minutes to find a cab, and then I was off. We talked nearly the whole way up. Twenty-five dollars later, I was dropped off near the players’ entrance and RAN halfway around the stadium, where there was already a line of fans waiting to get into the bleachers. Luckily I knew a guy (from Shea) at the front, and he let me stand with him.

PHEW!!!

I had a couple minutes to spare, so I ate my chicken sandwich (with mayo, lettuce, tomato, and provolone). Dozens of people recognized me as THAT GUY who caught the two home runs, and lots of them asked to take pictures with me. One guy even asked me to autograph a mini-bat for his kid. I did all this with mouthfuls of food. (Charming.) Then the NBC crew showed up, and I handed my camera to the nearest fan and asked him to take a few pics while I was being interviewed. Here’s one of ‘em:

interview1_NBC.jpg

Oh, I forgot to mention that the Japanese guy (whose name is Hideo) was late, and he showed up AS this other interview with NBC was getting underway. I thought this was going to be a problem, but it wasn’t. Hideo (who’s filming a documentary about the final days of Yankee Stadium for a public TV station called NHK) was glad to get some footage of me talking to the other TV crew…and when I wrapped it up with NBC, he came over and asked his own round of questions. I didn’t get anyone to take a pic of me during the NHK interview so as soon as it was done, I asked Hideo if he could hold up his video camera and point it at me (you know, to recreate the interview from my perspective)…which he did…while cracking up…and this is the pic I got:

interview2_NHK.jpg

The stadium opened at 5pm, and when I ran inside, I got a ball almost immediately. It was a home run by Hideki Matsui. (Yay, Japanese people!!) It landed in the empty benches behind me and took a nice ricochet back into my waiting glove. Thank God. I was relieved to get that first ball out of the way.

My cell phone rang. It was a photographer from Newsday who asked me where I was and then headed out to the RF bleachers. He found me easily because of the bright yellow “Homer” shirt I was wearing. Just as he was getting ready to start shooting, I got a call from a high-ranking official (who’s also a friend) at the National Scrabble Association who’d seen my Scrabble T-shirt all over the news and just wanted to say “hey” and “thanks.” (I was wearing the shirt when I caught the Johnny Damon homer. Here’s the footage again, in case you missed it the first 79,000 times.)

Back to the Newsday photographer…

interview3_newsday.jpg

He had me pose this way and that, and at one point I had to take a one-minute break to reel a ball out of the gap with my glove trick.

The photographer finished up a few minutes later. Then I caught an A-Rod home run on a fly. Then a three-member crew from the YES (Yankees Entertainment & Sports) Network showed up and took me to the back of the bleachers for a five-or-so-minute interview, which aired a short while later on the Yankees pre-game show. Here they are:

interview4_YES.jpg

In case you’re wondering, Kimberly Jones (holding the microphone) was very nice. After the interview, I handed her a card and told her to give my love to Michael Kay.

I probably missed a ball or two because of the interview (and photo shoot), but whatever. It was obviously worth it.

My first three balls were all commemorative:

three_commemorative_balls_09_18_08.jpg

My fourth ball, which came via the glove trick, was just a regular ball, so as soon as I got it, I handed it to a little girl who was standing on my left…and I’d just like to point out that yes, she was wearing a glove. (Bring your gloves, people!)

The bleachers were very crowded by the end of BP…

bleachers_during_BP.jpg

…and I didn’t snag any more balls.

After BP, I managed to find a few f
ree minutes (when I didn’t have to be on the phone) and took a picture of the Jumbotron as it showed highlights from the previous game…including my celebratory dance:

zack_jumbotron_09_18_08.jpg

After the highlights were done, half the people in sections 41 and 43 were staring at me, so I recreated the dance and got a bunch of laughs and cheers. Throughout the night, people asked to take pictures with me. It never got old.

As for the game…
There was only one home run that landed in the bleachers. It was Bobby Abreu’s second homer of the night–the first one went into the upper deck–and it sailed 10 feet directly over my head. Wow. If he’d swung a millimeter (or something like that) higher, he would’ve hit the ball a little bit more on a line…and it wouldn’t have traveled as far…and I have no doubt that I would’ve caught it. Can you imagine THAT?!

Worse than not catching the ball was the fact that I dropped my five-dollar-and-twenty-five-cent hot dog during the scuffle. And then, for good measure, someone stepped on it:

zack_loses_hot_dog1.jpg

It was a very sad moment indeed. I *had* managed to take a bite before gravity got the best of it, but I was still hungry so I bought another. I gave the vendor a 75-cent tip each time–one rule of ballpark etiquette is never to ask for coins back from a vendor–so in effect I paid $12 for a hot dog, or two dollars per bite.

The Yankees, as they’ve been doing all week, flashed a message on the Jumbotron that urged fans not to dismantle the Stadium. I just thought it was cool, so naturally I took a picture of this as well:

dont_damage_the_stadium.jpg

Once the game became official in the middle of the 5th inning and the “MetLife regular season countdown” changed from 4 to 3, I got a picture of that as well:

three_games_remaining.jpg

By the late innings, my ex-hot dog wasn’t looking too good…

zack_loses_hot_dog2.jpg

…and by the time Chris Britton retired Juan Uribe for the final out, my two-game home run streak had ended.

Final score: Yankees 9, White Sox 2.

I stopped in the bathroom on the way out and heard a guy in a stall behind me say, “Final piss at Yankee Stadium.”

His friend said (with a heavy New York accent), “Ya want me t’get my video camera?”

“Whoa!” I shouted. “I didn’t know it was gonna be THAT kinda party!”

“It’ll be a very short story,” said another man.

“OHHHH!!!” we all shouted, and that was that. (Thankfully.)

I met up with Hideo outside the bleacher entrance, and we discussed dates/times for a follow-up interview. Thousands of fans were filing past us toward the subway, and many of them recognized me. A bunch of people came over and asked to take pics with me, so I got Hideo to get some shots with my camera as well.

Here’s one of the photos:

zack_and_random_fans1.jpg

Not great. Not bad. Right?

Well, it got better…

zack_and_random_fans2.jpg

Eventually I made it to the subway, and before I got on the No. 4 train, I took one final pic of the New Yankee Stadium:

new_yankee_stadium_09_18_08.jpg

I’ll be back at the old one tonight with my girlfriend. Look for me/us in the right field bleachers.

STATS:

? 4 balls at this game

? 490 balls in 64 games this season = 7.7 balls per game.

? 560 consecutive games with at least one ball

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

? 3,767 total balls

…oh, and one more thing. The Newsday article is out. It’s in the actual paper today (Sept. 19), on page A69 in the sports section, and it’s probably online as well. I got a hard copy, and I’ll scan it and share the link as soon as I get a chance.

OH! And I was on “The Early Show” today, and I’m meeting a TV crew from FOX at 2:30pm. I’ll share all the details (and photos) in my next entry.

26 Comments

Nice. I caught you on the Early Show this morning good stuff.

Also, great tip about not asking for quarters back from your vendors. As a vendor, we appreciate it. (I vendor at Fenway.)

Last night, on Baseball Tonight, Orestes Destrades said he was going to try and find you at a game this weekend. Haha. So look out for him.

You should have got your famouts “Two girl” kiss from those 2 in the photo above.

Good luck tonight.

Greg
http://thevendahhh.mlblogs.com/

Z

Marvelous, marvelous piece of writing. The men’s room scene is one of the funniest scenes I have ever read. You’re a great observer of the American male. This stuff ought to be in your next book. Congratulations!

Nice write-up Zack.

By the way, sometimes a hot dog is just a hot dog, but if one focuses on only the left side of the first image of your fallen frank, its looks a bit …. umm … (as does the bun)

Nice write-up Zack.

By the way, sometimes a hot dog is just a hot dog, but if one focuses on only the left side of the first image of your fallen frank, its looks a bit …. umm … (as does the bun)

Zack, I’m glad you’re getting so much press out of this. Best part of this experience has gotta be the baseballs, but a close second will be all the new fans you’ll get! Congratulations!
~Matt
http://bloggingboutbaseball.mlblogs.com/

awesome i saw it on TSN in canada and tols the tale around the office…..amazing and hop that the tradition continues in the stadium :D

Dmac

http://www.macnesa.com

That sucks. I was really hoping you would have the last home run EVER at Yankee Stadium. That would be awesome. I’d get to say that that the guy who caught the last homer at Yankee Stadium ever acknowledged me (when you replied to my comment on your book). WHo knows, maybe you can catch one tonight. Are you going to the last game at Shea (regular season anyway, EVERYONE knows they’ll be in the playoffs, heh heh)? Your last ball there has to be really special.

But seriously, after all this is said and done, regardless whether or not you get the final homer, you are going to be really famous. Not that you weren’t already, but I mean like B-List celebrity. I feel like you are some kind of god, and its really amazing that we can all read your blog.
http://metsmainman.mlblogs.com

sounds like you’re a busy man!
it pisses me off how all the media is saying you “knock over little kids and elderly women” – Michael Wilbon…and get balls when there are only 12 people standing in the outfield..

ughh…i’m going to dolphins stadium tonight for one last harrah this season AND TO BOOOO THE PHILLIES…hopefuully ill reach double-digits

First, let me congratulate Zack on the unreal stuff he’s been doing the past few days, it really is phenomenal. Anyway, my first (and only) experience at THE Yankee Stadium was absolutely amazing. Soooo different from what I expected going into it, it really does feel like a large minor league stadium. Between the small, tucked in concourses under the main field level seats, how on top of the game you are wherever you sit, the decaying upper deck, and the overall history of the place, I absolutely loved it (and must say it’s just a tad different from what I’m used to in South Florida at Dolphin Stadium). Also, a big thanks to “puckcollector” for letting me grab the corner spot during the opening minutes of BP, as it paid off when Aceves threw me a PERFECT (might have been its first or second time hit) commemorative ball. After that, I was able to relax, wander, enjoy the game, and watch Zack catch a homerun from about 600 feet away. Good luck tonight man, thanks for everything……P.S. H n’ H is da shizzzzz

Now introducing the most famous MLB fan…

Zack Hample > Jeffrey Maier

Oh yeah i forgot to ask… did you get to meet jessica simpson?

Nice Zack,, You know that last game people are going to be tearing stuff apart.. Steiner Sports will be crying (Steiner is the worst thing that happened for sports collecting) anyway nice interviews Zack.
http://thet206kid.mlblogs.com/

Zack, don’t forget the little people that still love your blogs! Congratulations on everything! Brian

I say we start a write-in campaign to get Zack an ESPY award! Keep that publicity train a-rollin Zack!

Hey Zack…

I met Jessica Simpson and Tony Romo when they stayed at my hotel this summer. You DON’T want to meet Jessica Simpson, so I hope you didn’t. She’s not nice. Also, those two girls aren’t that great. Look at the nose on the one on the right. No thanks. Remember the CA girls? You can do better. I saw the CBS piece this morning after work. Not bad. I was a little worried about the glove trick when the ball rolled but you saved it. Nice. That second Abreu homer was CLOSE. Too bad on the trajectory. You should head to D.C. tomorrow. Padres vs Nationals in the battle for last place and the first pick. It’s the perfect storm for snagging. NO ONE was there tonight or will be tomorrow. You could probably get 30. Well, good luck tonight. Looking forward to the next episode.

Leigh

Zack,

It was great seeing you tonight. And it was even better finally meeting Jonah. She is a very pretty, nice lady and you are very lucky.
Anyway, I did not get a commemorative tonight. I did salvage the night by getting a ball from the O?s Brian Buress. I guess there is something to be said for that. I am not disappointed because I believe that whenever you get at least 1, the night can not be bad.

I gotta tell you, I know you take some grief from those that think you are just a ?ballhog? but don?t ever listen to them. You giot me crazy with this snagging thing. I am having a blast!!
You have a passion, which gives you a connection to the game. Keep it going no matter what any one else says.

I am anxiously awaiting your update on tonights game. I did not see much going into the bleachers. I hope yopu did well!

Lastly, I will be thinking of you on Monday and Tuesday next week as I snag at the Rangers ballpark in TX.

Tell Jonah I said hello.
Oh, my son Patrick says hello. And he says the juggling on the Early show was cool.

Your friend Brendan (Helmet Guy

hockey guy: even if i woasnt gonna let you get the corner you woulda got it cuz i got held up w/ my bag.

EVERYONE-
I just got home from Yankee Stadium. This has felt like the longest day ever. There were lots of ups and a couple downs, but overall it turned out okay. (I have almost 200 unanswered emails, so I apologize if it takes me a while to get back to you.)

I FINALLY got a Mets Commemorative at Turner Field tonight! It was my last game of the year, but a large crowd was expected, so I wasn’t optimistic.
During Braves BP, I left crowded right field and went along the line. A ball was quickly hit in that direction and I got Mike Hampton to toss it to me after a polite request.
My 2nd came during Mets BP when a lefty hit a homer to right. I was surprised by how much room I had, so I scurried over and got the loose ball. It was my last ball of the season and one I had been hoping for all year long. I think I snagged 4 or 5 last season, but I do know that my total is 29. Thirty would’ve been nice, but 29 is my favorite player’s number, John Smoltz.
*Counting down to April 10*

Tonight I went to the Indians vs Tigers, and despite arriving at 6:30 and nearly taking out Cliff Lee when my glove tipped a 3rd out ball (which I should have had), I still had fun with the first fight I have seen. It was the first game I have snuck into the fancy seats, and I had a great view. When Carmona came off the field, I was the only one within a mile had he thrown his hat or glove into the crowd (which he has done) Oh yeah, I taped the CBS morning show and that was a cool interview!

wow. amazing what a couple of homerun balls and the cabbage patch can do for a guy.

Who will be the 1000th different player or coach to throw you a ball? Hmmmmm

Aaron
http://districtboy.mlblogs.com/

Is anybody going to any of the following games?:

-Monday at Citizens Bank
-Tuesday at Shea
-Friday at Shea
-Saturday (the 27th) at Camden Yards

I’m not sure which of them I’m going to, but I’ll be at at least two of them. I need eleven more balls this season for 300.

Greg
im going to shea tuesday

EVERYONE-
I’m about to start writing a MONSTER blog entry about yesterday. I’m hoping to finish it before I go to bed. I’m already really tired, but I’ll try to write fast. It’ll take me a couple hours at least. Maybe by 1 or 2am (eastern time) it’ll be up. Don’t miss it…

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