6/11/09 at Camden Yards

F-R-U-S-T-R-A-T-I-O-N.

That pretty much sums it up.

I started out in left field and snagged four balls during the first round of batting practice. (What’s so frustrating about that? Keep reading.) The first one was thrown by George Sherrill…

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…and the next three were home run balls.

The first of those homers tipped off my glove (as I made a leaping attempt to catch it) and bounced right back to me off a seat. Even if it hadn’t taken a perfect bounce, I still would’ve snagged it because the seats were gloriously empty.

The second homer came right to me and I easily caught it on the fly while drifting slowly through an empty row.

The third homer was hit by Adam Jones. (I don’t know who hit the others.) It was a high fly ball that barely cleared the wall in left-center. It bounced off some guy’s bare hands and conveniently landed in the empty second row where I was standing.

It was only 5:12pm. The stadium had been open for about 10 minutes. I was all set to have a MONSTER day, but then the Orioles stopped taking BP. Bam! Just like that. They all jogged off the field.

Fifteen minutes later, while the Mariners were stretching in front of their dugout, the entire grounds crew came out and sat on the rolled up tarp:

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(The guy who’s sitting fourth from the right is playing with his gum, in case you were wondering.)

I heard a voice crackling out of one of their walkie-talkies. It said, “Stand by for BP breakdown.”

Why?!

WHY?!

WHY?!

WHY?!

Because it started raining, JUST as the Mariners started hitting. That’s why.

This was the result:

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John Wetteland, the Mariners’ bullpen coach, started signing autographs IN STYLE along the left field foul line. Check it out:

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It’s official: my new life goal is to have someone hold an umbrella over my head while I sign autographs. Or maybe my goal should simply be to experience ONE rain-free game at Camden Yards.

This was the dreary scene on Eutaw Street:

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Right before the game started, I got Jamie Burke to toss me a ball at the Mariners’ dugout. Then I ran around to the Orioles’ side and got another ball (No. 4,039 lifetime) from Brian Roberts. Check out this “action” shot of my snag from afar:

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Roberts always tosses a ball to that spot before the game, but he always tosses it to a little kid. For some reason, though, at that moment, there weren’t any kids in sight, so he had no choice but to toss it to me. Ha.

The game started on time, and for the first couple innings, I moved back and forth between the standing-room-only section in right field and the seats in left-center.

This was the view in left:

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Nothing special, right?

Well, look how empty the seats were to MY left:

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Did any home runs land there?

No, of course not.

It’s incredible. I’ve positioned myself in so many great spots and given myself so many chances to catch a game home run this season, but it’s just…not…happening.

You know what DID happen?

More rain:

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The game was delayed 27 minutes in the third inning. Fabulous. I spent about 17 of those minutes standing in line for pizza at a concession stand which was run by exceptionally incompetent employees. There was a taco bar next to the pizza area, and there was one employee at each. NONE of the people on line wanted a taco, so what did the taco lady do? She stood there and watched the pizza guy slowwwwwwly cut slices and slowwwwwly put them in boxes, one by one, rather than helping him out and speeding up the process. It’s like she wasn’t allowed to go near the pizza because it wasn’t a taco. And the guy! Oh my God, it’s like he was just learning to use his hands for the first time, and then when he couldn’t find a spatula, he tried using the pizza-slicing wheel thingy to scoop up the slices. But you see, he wasn’t smart enough to keep the boxes near the pizza. No, THAT would’ve made too much sense. Instead he kept scooping up the slices (each of which he touched with his hands so they wouldn’t fall) and carrying them to the boxes, and on several occasions the cheese dripped off the side and landed on the floor. Normally the Orioles do a great job of running the stadium, so I’ll let it slide this time.

Back to the game…

There were two home runs. Luke Scott, who bats left-handed, hit one over the Bud Light ad in left-center (naturally I wasn’t there) and Russell Branyan, who also bats left-handed, hit the sixth longest home run in the history of Camden Yards. That one reached the back off the seats just to the right of dead-center. (Naturally I wasn’t there either.)

About halfway through the game, I gave up on left field; whenever a bunch of righties were coming up, I went for foul balls behind the plate instead. I should’ve caught one in the 6th inning. There was a high pop-up that nicked the facade of the second deck and landed RIGHT in the aisle about five feet away from where I was standing. The aisle had been empty all night. The paid attendance was less than 13,000 *AND* there had been a rain delay. Get my point? Not too many fans. But. of course, at the exact moment that the foul ball was hit, a woman in a wheelchair rolled in front of me and blocked the aisle. She even stopped rolling when she saw the ball go up. Then, after the ball smacked off the pavement (essentially right on the other side of her chair) and bounced far, far away, she looked up at me and said, “Oh, sorry, I just didn’t wanna get hit.” Fine. Fair enough. I won’t make a wheelchair wisecrack or deny her right to cower in fear. I’m just saying: I’m having the worst luck.

Okay, maybe not THE worst luck. I did end up getting a foul ball in the bottom of the 8th. There were two outs. Mark Lowe was pitching. Ty Wigginton was at bat. The count was 1-0. The ball sailed high in the air and landed in a staircase on my left, and I grabbed it off the steps. Here I am, standing at the bottom of the stairs with the ball:

10_zack_ball4040_location.jpg

That made me feel better. The day was not a total loss, but man, the standing-room-only section really let me down. Nick Yohanek (aka The Happy Youngster) was out there too, and we were both disappointed. He *really* had some bad luck earlier on. Man oh man.

Anyway, that was basically it. The Mariners won, 6-3, so I went to their dugout but didn’t get anything there. Nick and I said goodbye (no telling when we’ll cross paths again) just after he took this photo of me and Jona:

12_jona_zack_postgame_06_11_09.jpg

On my way out, I found the cutest kid in the stadium and stole a ball from him:

13_zack_stealing_ball_from_kid.jpg

(I hope you know I’m joking. I really was GIVING a ball to that kid in the photo above.)

SNAGGING STATS:

• 7 balls at this game

• 220 balls in 28 games this season = 7.86 balls per game.

• 597 consecutive games with at least one ball

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

• 129 lifetime game balls (not counting game-used balls that get tossed into the crowd; those are way too easy in my opinion and don’t deserve to be counted in a special category)

11_smudge_on_ball4040.jpg

• 30 lifetime game balls outside of New York

• 200 lifetime balls at Camden Yards (the Wigginton foul ball, pictured here on the right, was No. 200…the extra-dark mark on the ball came from hitting the black paint on the edge of one of the steps)

• 4,040 total balls

CHARITY STATS:

• 109 donors (click here if you’re thinking about making a pledge)

• $24.06 pledged per ball

• $168.42 raised at this game

• $5,293.20 raised this season for Pitch In For Baseball

Next game for me? Tuesday, June 16th in Kansas City. If there’s one day that I really really really need the rain to hold off, that would be it. And by the way, assuming I get at least one ball every day in KC, the game on June 18th will be the 600th of my streak.

22 Comments

I dunno Zach. The kid seems pretty terrified of you. If I didn’t know any better…

Zack- What TERRIBLE luck you had. Seven baseballs and 1 being a foul ball, but thats bad luck. :) joe

Did you get Wetteland’s auto?

Puck- do you need tickets for tuesdays game? i have two to sell for cheap

Hey Zack!
If you come out to Seattle sometime, you’ll be praying for rain! Batting practice is guaranteed because of our sweet roof and attendance is low when is ain’t sunny outside!
Max V

I have a feeling you will catch a D-Back homer in KC. I’m going to guess either Justin Upton (who, by the way, is super-nice) or Eric Byrnes. I wish you luck in your next trip and am hoping that my hometown team treats you well.

Zack,
Despite the rain, it sounds like you had a nice trip to Baltimore. Good luck in KC

Erik
http://countingbaseballs.mlblogs.com

You had a ok game!!! I heard you streaked was snaped when you went to yankee stadium can you explain that

wow luis castillo dropped a routine pop up to lose the game……how embarrassing

Joe, it depends- where are the seats?

1st row in the upper deck. 10 apiece. i have right field homerun seats, ill try to get u in during bp, if u get them

EVERYONE-
There’s been some chatter about how my streak ended recently at Yankee Stadium. It’s stupid. My streak didn’t end. I bought a ticket for a game, but never went inside the stadium because it started raining at 3:30pm. Case closed. Streak intact. Thank you.

DANNYMB87-
Good thing you *do* know better. :-)

JOE-
Yeah, it’s bad luck because I should’ve had 20.
So…we’re on for July 6th?

JOBAJR26-
Nah. I didn’t have anything for him to sign. Didn’t want my precious baseballs defaced by his writing.

MAX V-
I’m going to try to make it to Seattle next year. I’d say it’s 50/50 at this point, and if I’m there, I’ll definitely pray for rain.

DNESBITT14-
I hope you’re right.

ERIK-
Eh, it was okay.

LADOD4EVER-
See the top of my response.

YANKEES42294-
I have no words.

was at yankee stadium last night..

got a ball from cc over the netting behind first base
and one from mike pelfrey in right field

the homers werent happening. the mets are using TONS of 08 world series balls. carlos beltran threw me one but missed and it was so crowded i couldnt move for it, and with my awful luck the 3 homers that landed near me in bp were scooped up by other people..all 09 world series style.

on to the game….why? what did us mets fans ever do to deserve this? yankee fans have gotten EVERYTHING they have ever wanted, especially in the recent past, we couldnt even have this one game? especially losing to that lying cheat a-rod, ugh. words cant even explain. a pop up. it was pure hell walking out of there (proudly) wearing mets stuff. i cant begin to tell you how many people got in my face, tried to start fights, and told me to take that mets stuff off. well maybe thats what you would have done, mr frontrunning yankee fan, because mark my words, this team will eventually lose 95 games again, and that place will be EMPTY. stay classy yankee fans, your true colors really showed last night. (this is not a shot at all of you, this is for the ones who cant name a single yankee player pre-1995 who isnt in monument park) and one last thing-as soon as reyes comes back, luis castillo better not let the door hit him on the way out. im talking to you omar.

Zack
I don’t know if your watching the mets vs yankees game right now but gary sheffield hit a home run into the general area of where that grumpy old man flipped you off and was really obnoxious, etc. I thought it would be funny if they happened to own those seats and if they couldv’e caught the homerun. well they zoomed in on the fan that caught it and it was the old man and his grandson!!! ****!

Goislanders- I saw that game too but I didn’t recognize them till you brought it up. Wow how ironic. I hope it hit one of them in the head or something >=D

Btw nice game zack. 7 games at a game with 1/2 BP

yooo whos ever familiar wit dolphin stadium got any tips cuz im goin to the game next saturday

I bought Watching Baseball Smarter for my brother-in-law for Christmas… and I ended up reading it all day yesterday. I loved it. Just by the way.
Also, love the last picture. Too cute.
Kylie — http://kylie.mlblogs.com

Hey Zack!

Do you happen to know how early Angels Stadium’s gates open?

And BTW, sorry about your last couple of games…or lack of…

figgi — The Angel Stadium gates open two hours before first pitch (at least on weekdays).

hey goislanders,
I read your comment and watched the replay of Shef’s homer on mlb.com. Anyway, I love noticing things from Zack’s blog on TV.
Max

Hey man thats class what you did for the kid

GJK2212-
Cool about Sabathia. I’d love to get a ball from him someday. Had a chance last year when the Indians were at Coors, but he completely ignored me. (Nice rant, BTW.)

GOISLANDERS4-
Are you serious?! That was really them?!

YANKEEKID-
More like 1/8 BP.

YANKEES42294-
Did you read my entries about that place from last year? It only opens 90 minutes early (assuming that rule hasn’t changed) and backpacks are NOT allowed. Bring a drawstring bag. That’s all you can bring inside.

KYLIE-
Thanks for letting me know. I’m so glad to hear that.

FIGGI4LIFE-
Looks you already got an answer about the gates. Thanks for feeling my pain.

STONEHOOKSFAN1-
Hey. Thanks. I give a ball away just about every game I go to. It just so happened that Jona was with me this time and snapped a pic as it was happening.

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