6/18/09 at Kauffman Stadium

Another day with Jona at my new favorite stadium…

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The weather was perfect–no complaints there–but I wanted to kick someone when I ran inside and saw this:

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The Royals weren’t taking batting practice, and they clearly weren’t in any rush to start:

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It really killed me. I pretty much had the whole stadium to myself, and I could feel my opportunities slipping away.

Finally at about 4:45pm–fifteen excruciating minutes after the gates had opened–the first batter stepped into the cage, and it didn’t take long before I got on the board. Kyle Farnsworth was shagging in right-center, and as soon as he fielded a ball, I shouted for it.

The following four-part photo (starting on the top left and going clockwise) shows what happened next. The three vertical arrows are pointing to the ball in mid-air:

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Yeah, that’s right. The damn thing sailed over my head, and since I was trapped against that railing in the middle of the walkway, I couldn’t move. If I’d been able to run to the back of the walkway, I probably would’ve been able to make a leaping catch, like an outfielder robbing a home run, but instead I could only watch the ball splash into the fountain.

No problem.

I whipped out my trusty water-retrieval-device…

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…and fished out the ball before it had a chance to sink. (The photo above is blurry because it’s a screen shot from a low-quality video. The video itself isn’t worth sharing because the ball was never in view. It floated right below me and hugged the concrete wall, and Jona wasn’t able to see it from her angle. The fan in the background is named Garrett. I wrote about him in my previous entry, and you’ll be hearing a lot more about him in this one. Also, FYI, the water is a bit murky, but since it’s only a few feet deep, you *can* see balls that sink to the bottom, but those balls seemed to be cleared out daily.)

I was in such a rush at this point to run over toward the bullpen and try to get Roman Colon to throw me another ball that I neglected to pose with the one I’d just snagged. Why is that a big deal? Because that first ball had extended my consecutive games streak to 600–a streak dating back to September 10, 1993, during which I’ve snagged at least one ball at every single game I’ve attended.

Oh well. I got caught up in the moment. What can I say? At least I got Colon to show me some love. Here’s a photo that shows the ball in mid-air:

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Perhaps I should’ve drawn a red arrow pointing to myself. In case it’s not clear, I’m standing just to the right of the fan in the red shirt.

It’s obvious why the Royals are struggling: their pitchers suck. Farnsworth had airmailed me and Colon’s throw fell three feet short. Luckily it traveled just far enough that I was able to reach over the railing and make a back-handed catch:

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I used the glove trick to snag my third ball of the day off the warning track in left field. Yeah, security had told me twice the previous day not to do it anymore, but this was a brand new day. Maybe the rules had changed overnight, and even if they hadn’t, I didn’t have anything to lose. This was my last game at Kauffman Stadium. I was done with all my TV interviews. I was going to be flying back home to New York City the next day. If I got ejected, so be it.

In the following photo, you can see me going for the ball. The vertical arrow on the left is pointing to a man who was leaning over the wall to see the balls below because he, too, had a device. The other arrow is pointing to the kid who caught that random ball flying through the air:

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Even while I was doing my thing, there were still lots of other balls to go around. Keep that in mind as you continue reading. I don’t want you to think that my snagging prevented other people from getting balls. That wasn’t the case at all. I missed out on countless balls because they were tossed to kids, and that’s how it should be.

Coco Crisp hooked me up with my fourth ball of the day in left-center field, and then I used the glove trick to pull two balls out of the gap behind the center field wall. Here’s a close-up photo of the first ball in my glove…

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…and here’s a shot of the second one, taken by Jona from the other end of the gap:

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Both of those balls were BP homers by Billy Butler, but whatever. Do you see all the other balls that were sitting down in that gap? GAHHH!!! It was maddening to see them and not be able to reach them. The photo above doesn’t even show all the balls that were down there. There were like…twice as many. It was insane. They’d been there for two days, and I’d asked several different ushers about them.

How often do the balls get cleared out?
Who actually goes and retrieves them?
What would happen if I jumped down in there?

No one had a definitive answer. One usher said that the groundskeepers probably retrieve the balls, but he wasn’t sure. It was strange, and it had me thinking, although I didn’t really know what to think. There was still one more ball down in there that I could reach with my glove trick, so I started going for it, and that’s when security shut me down. The guard didn’t threaten me or confiscate my glove or eject me. He simply made a polite request that I stop. He even apologized and insisted that the order had come from his supervisor. How could I argue with that? It was frustrating, of course, but at least I’d gotten to use the trick three times on this final day.

As I began untangling the string, the kid standing next to me inspected my glove…

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…and then asked me for a ball. That annoyed me. First of all, he didn’t even have a glove (which indicated that he wasn’t serious about snagging), and secondly, as a general rule, I never give balls to people who ask. The way I see it, other fans should focus on getting balls from the players and not from…other fans, especially during BP when there are tons of opportunities. Therefore, I politely told the kid that I was not going to give him a ball. Instead I gave him a few pointers to help him snag one on his own, and wouldn’t you know it, less than two minutes later he grabbed a home run ball that landed near him in the seats. I congratulated him and then saw him snag FOUR more balls after that!

Once the Diamondbacks started hitting, I changed into my red D’backs shirt and got Eric Byrnes to toss me my seventh ball of the day in center field. In the following photo, you can see the ball in mid-air against the dark green batter’s eye:

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A minute after I got the ball from Byrnes, I saw Tom Gordon walking toward a couple balls on the warning track in right field, so I sprinted around behind the batter’s eye and hurried down to the lower level of the Pepsi Party Porch, and I got him to toss one of the balls to me. Then, back in left field, a home run landed in the fountain. It was time once again for the water device. The four-part photo below shows me getting it ready and swinging it out…

…and here I am reeling it in:

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That gave me nine balls on the day, and it didn’t take long for me to reach double digits. Some righty on the D’backs (no idea who) launched a deep line drive toward the seats in left-center. 13a_ledge_that_ball4077_bounced_on.jpgI
bolted through the empty walkway behind the four rows of seats and watched the ball take a series of unlikely bounces. It’s hard to describe exactly what happened so I took a photo later on (which you can see here on the right) to help illustrate this story. Do you see the concrete ridge that extends perpendicular from behind the walkway into the fountain? Somehow, this home run ball ricocheted out of the seats, landed on the ridge (which is only about a foot wide), caromed off the back wall of the fountain, landed back on the ridge, took a couple small bounces, and squeezed back through the railing into the walkway. It wouldn’t have mattered if the ball had fallen into the water because I still would’ve snagged it. In fact, I was kind of disappointed that I didn’t get to use the water device, but it’s probably just as well that the ball stayed dry. Anyway, yeah, crazy bounces, and I grabbed it.

It was a challenge to keep up with my notes…

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…but I had to find moments here and there to keep a list of how I was snagging all my baseballs. Otherwise, I never would’ve remembered. (In the photo above, the guy wearing the long black pants is the one who gave me a hard time about the glove trick the day before. Watch out for him if you plan on using a device at Kauffman Stadium.)

About 10 minutes later, I caught two homers on the fly in the walkway behind the “102” sign in straight-away left field. I’m not sure who hit the first one, but I know that Byrnes hit the second. I caught them back-to-back within a 30-second span, and it had the whole section buzzing, but really there was nothing to it. Both balls came RIGHT to me, and okay, the seats were a bit crowded by that point, but so what? It really doesn’t get any easier than that.

14a_clay_zavada.jpgAt the end of my previous entry, I mentioned that I saw Diamondbacks pitcher Clay Zavada in Denny’s after the game. Remember? Well, I’d been hoping to get a ball from him for three reasons. First, his last name begins with a zee, which we all know is the best letter. Second, he has an awesome moustache. And third, after reading that New York Times article about him, I became an instant fan. The only trouble is, he’s not the most outgoing person. Over the previous two days, my few ball requests directed his way went ignored, but on this third day, I had an angle. I waited until he was about to pick up a ball in left field, then raced down to the front row and yelled, “Clay!! I saw you in Denny’s last night but didn’t want to bother you!! Any chance you could hook me up with a ball, please?!”

He ignored me, so I waited for him to chase down another ball and then I shouted something similar. It worked. He turned right around and spotted me and flipped it up, and let me tell you, it felt great to have gotten inside his head for a moment.

Toward the end of BP, I had another noteworthy interaction with a Diamondbacks pitcher. This time it was Esmerling Vasquez. At one point, a bit earlier in the day, I’d asked him for a ball in Spanish. He turned around and smiled but didn’t throw me the ball, so I responded with a crude but common curse in Spanish. As soon as he heard that, he whirled back around and looked at me and dropped his jaw in an exaggerated manner as if to say, “I can’t believe you just said that, and I hope you’re joking.” I immediately smiled and made a gesture to indicate that I was only messing around, and he seemed to appreciate my playful attitude. Later on, when 15_esmerling_vasquez.jpgthe D’backs were close to wrapping up BP, Vasquez jogged over to the warning track in left-center to retrieve a ball. I walked down the steps and got his attention and asked him for it in English.

“In Spanish,” he said so softly that I had to make sure I understood.

“You want me to ask you for the ball in Spanish?”

He nodded, so I made a dramatic request with lots of prayer-like gestures and a few English words sprinkled in. It went something along the lines of: “Por favor, senor, da me la pelota. Solamente una pelota and then I will callate.” The English translation of that ridiculousness is: “Please, Sir, give me the ball. Only one ball and then I will shut up.” That’s pretty much all I know how to say in Spanish. (Well, that and a lot of bad words, courtesy of an all-Dominican baseball camp staff that coached me for three full summers in the early 1990s.) But it worked. Vasquez smiled big and tossed me the ball–my 14th of the day–and that was it for batting practice.

Just before the D’backs left the field, I gave my heavy backpack to Jona and raced to the 3rd base dugout and got some equipment guy to toss me a ball as he was dumping all the balls from the basket to the ball bag. Hot damn. I’d snagged 13 balls at my first game of the series, 14 balls at my second game, and now 15 balls at my last game. BEST. STADIUM. EVER. And finally, it was time to explore it. I’d heard all about the $250 million renovation. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

Just as my stadium tour was about to get underway, I ran into Garrett and asked him if he wanted to wander with me. It was 40 minutes ’til game time. There wasn’t anything else to do, so he came along. We started by walking into the spacious tunnel that leads to the dugout concourse…

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…and I was very impressed with what I saw at the other end:

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I just felt bad that such a nice stadium was so poorly attended, but hey, from a ballhawking perspective, the low attendance was great.

Garrett and I walked through the main concourse behind home plate…

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…and headed up to the upper deck. Gorgeous! Look at the concourse:

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The whole stadium was clean and spacious, and there was lots of natural light, and best of all it was understated, unlike a certain new ballpark–ahem, in the Bronx–that’s sickeningly grandiose.

We climbed up the steps to the top row of the upper deck, and I took a few photos to make a panorama:

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Below are four more photos of the upper deck…

TOP LEFT: The huge “tunnel” that leads from the concourse to the seats. Brilliant stadium design. That’s all I can say about that. No other upper deck, as far as I know, has anything like it. People tend to appreciate light and air and space to move around. Kauffman Stadium delivers it. TOP RIGHT: The open-air portion of the concourse along the RF foul line. There’s nothing wrong with simplicity. BOTTOM RIGHT: The front row. Nice. More simplicity. There’s no reason for an upper deck to have two or three different tiers of seating. BOTTOM LEFT: A chain-link fence at the back of the seats. One word: quaint. All the architects out there can take their fancy facades and shove ‘em. I prefer watching baseball in ballparks, not palaces or malls or museums:

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I couldn’t stop raving about Kauffman Stadium. Garrett got a kick out of that.

We headed down to the main concourse…

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…and made our way around the outfield. Here’s the view from the top of the fountains in right field:

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The outfield concourse has an inner and an outer area. (Another great use of space.) The following photo was taken between the two…

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…and when I walked into the outer area, I couldn’t believe how much stuff was back there. The following SIX-part photo shows it all, starting on the top left and then going clockwise: 1) A concert stage. 2) Miniature golf. 3) A playground and carousel. 4) Batting cages. 5) A baserunning challenge. 6) A small baseball field.

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I loved these kid-friendly attractions because they weren’t in the way. You know what I mean? They were essentially hidden at a far edge of the stadium. I’d been at The New K for two days and didn’t even know that any of that stuff was there, so my point is: it doesn’t interfere with the baseball experience. It’s just there in case people want to go and check it out, but if you’re a true baseball fan and you’re glued to the game and you don’t want to be bothered with anything else, it’s not in your face. Most of the games back there cost a bit of money to play. You have to buy tokens. I’m not even sure where you’d buy them or how much they cost. I didn’t have time to investigate. The game was almost set to begin, so I hurried over to the 3rd base dugout and stopped along the way to take a photo of the cross-aisle that runs through the field level seats:

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Anyone can walk through this aisle at any time. It doesn’t matter where your ticketed seat is.

The stadium is so pretty and simple and laid-back. I was in heaven.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a ball tossed to me after the pre-game throwing (I picked the wrong end of the dugout), so I headed to the outfield just in time for the first pitch. I was dying to catch a game home run, and it seemed that my chances here were as good as they’d ever be at any game in any stadium. Look how much room I had out in left field in the top of the first inning:

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(Normally the ushers don’t let people stand in that walkway during the game, but they made an exception for me.)

Look how much room I had in right field in the bottom of the first:

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OH MY GOD!!! This stadium was built for ballhawks. The only problem was that there was SO much room to run that I ended up running nonstop and got completely sweaty. Embarrassingly sweaty. Just like the day before. Check it out:

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I didn’t realize until I saw the photo above that I was still wearing my D’backs cap. I didn’t want to offend the locals (not that anyone cared what I was wearing) so I gave it to Jona and got my Royals cap back from her. Here she is after we switched caps–this is where she sat during the game:

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Did you notice all the balls sitting in the gap behind her? Here, have a closer look:

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AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!

What in the world was going to happen to all those balls?

In the top of the sixth inning, I was hanging out on the RF porch with my new friend, Bob Buck, when Gerardo Parra lined a home run into the bullpen. Naturally I ran over to see what was going to happen to that ball, and to my surprise, no one bothered to pick it up. It just sat on the ground, right in the middle of the bullpen, as various players and employees walked back and forth:

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It’s like they were all trying to tease me. The ball sat there for a full inning! I couldn’t leave, and I was worried about missing other opportunities elsewhere.

Finally I shouted at the Royals’ bullpen catcher and got him to toss it up, but he flung it lazily and didn’t really AIM for me, and as a result, the ball sailed five feet to my left. Bob was standing to my left at the time, and he managed to get a hand on it, but there were a bunch of other people also reaching for it, and they all bobbled it, and the ball dropped right down into the aisle at our feet, but I WAS BLOCKED and couldn’t reach it. I’m sure there are some people who would’ve just plowed everyone over in order to grab that ball, but that’s not my style. All I could do was stand there helplessly and watch some gloveless fan snatch it. That really hurt.

In between innings, Bob asked me to sign a ball, and then his wife Kathi took a photo of us:

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(Two questions: Do you like my farmer’s tan? And…on a scale of 1 to 10, how much does Bob look like Alec Baldwin?)

In the top of the eighth inning, Eric Byrnes hit a home run into the D’backs bullpen down the LF line. When I ran over to see where it went, an usher told me it had rolled right into the bathroom. Another fan started shouting at Jon Rauch for the ball. Rauch was the closest one to the bathroom, so what did he do? He got up and closed the bathroom door and sat back down. What a guy.

My frustration was mounting. I’d been putting up huge numbers in BP, and I was doing EVERYthing it took to put myself in the perfect position to catch a game home run, but it just wasn’t happening. There was a grand total of three homers hit during this series: none the first day, one the second day (which I nearly snagged even though it landed a full section over from where I’d been standing), and two on this third day, both of which landed in the bullpens. Unreal.

In the middle of the ninth inning, just after I’d changed back into my D’backs gear, an usher came running over and told me that a ball had just landed in the fountain. WHAT?! I hadn’t seen a ball land there. Was he messing with me? I knew that the ball wouldn’t float long, so I didn’t question him. I just ran over and took a look…and sure enough, there was a ball bobbing in the water. I pulled out my device, flung it out, and reeled in the ball on the first shot. Here I am with it:

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It was my 16th ball of the day, and I learned later that it was Parra’s warm-up ball. He had thrown it to some fans but his aim was way off and the ball sailed all the way over the section and landed in the water. Bad for the other fans. Good for me. At that point, I was thinking that I still had a chance to get few more balls. Maybe three more? Maybe even FOUR more? Whoa…it occurred to me that I had an outside shot at reaching 20. I’d only snagged that many three times before, so this was a big deal. I wasn’t sure if it was possible, though. Since the D’backs were going to win the game, and since the umpires exit the field on the third base side of the dugout, I figured I could get a ball from the home plate umpire (that would be No. 17), then race back to the home plate end of the dugout and get a ball from one of the players or coaches (that would be No. 18). Maybe I could get one a couple minutes later from the guys coming in from the bullpen? That would be 19. And then…get this…out in that center field gap, there were two balls that were reachable with the glove trick–one on the left side of the gap and another on the right side. I wasn’t sure if I could get away with using the trick after the game ended, but it was something I’d been considering all night. I figured I’d have to wait until security was gone, or wait ’til they weren’t looking…but this was a major league stadium. Someone is ALWAYS looking. (I learned that the hard way on 9/2/08 at Dodger Stadium.) I was getting ahead of myself. First things first. I got into position near the dugout and waited impatiently for the game to end. Final score: Diamondbacks 12, Royals 5. (The Royals are
35_dale_scott.jpgabsolutely terrible, BTW. They have a glorious stadium, but most of their starters wouldn’t even be on the Yankees roster. I don’t like the Yankees. I’m just sayin’. It was like watching college baseball. The defense was indecisive and clumsy. But I digress.) I wasn’t sure who the home plate umpire was. (I learned later it was Dale Scott.) Jona had my bag, and she was waiting for me in the outfield…and in my bag was a complete MLB umpire roster. Damn! And then, to make matters worse, three kids ran down to the spot where the umps were going to walk off the field. I watched as the ump handed balls to all the kids, and then I said, “Hey, Blue, how about a ball for a big kid?” He looked up at me, took one last ball out of his pouch, and flipped it into my glove. Yes!

I raced to the other end of the dugout, just as I had planned, and right after I got there, someone on the team (I think it was Rauch) flung a ball well over my head and deep into the section. Crap. I turned around to see who it had been thrown to, only to realize that the seats were empty! I was trapped in the middle of a row, so I had to climb over the seats. There was one other guy on the aisle who was also running for the ball, and he beat me there easily. That deflated me. Now, even if I somehow managed to get both of those balls out of the gap (which seemed highly unlikely), I’d still fall short of 20.

Hmm…

I headed back through the cross-aisle toward the outfield. A security guard stopped me and told me I had to leave. I told him that I need to meet up with my friends in left-center field, and it was true. Jona, of course, had my backpack, and Garrett was out there too, along with Bob and Kathi. They all wanted to see how this was gonna play out.

My eyes lit up when I approached the left field bullpen. For some reason, the Diamondbacks had left TWO balls sitting on the mound, right below the overhang of the front row of the seats, but how was I going to use the glove trick and not get caught? A groundskeeper appeared out of nowhere and started walking toward the balls. There were a few little kids standing right near me, so I was pretty sure I was screwed. No way the guy was gonna toss one to me. I just knew it, and sure enough, the first ball was tossed up to the kid on my right. Somehow…miraculously…the ball fell short and bounced off a railing and trickled along a little concrete ledge, right toward me, on the center field side of the bullpen. That’s where I was standing. It’s kind of hard to describe, but anyway, I lunged over the railing, and scooped up the ball in the tip of my glove and immediately handed it to the kid. I don’t think I even took it out of my glove. I just reached over and opened the glove and let the kid reach into the pocket and grab it. Even though the ball wasn’t intended for me, and even though I didn’t end up keeping it, it still counted. It was my 18th ball of the day. After that happy twist of fate, I really felt like I had a chance, and then another miracle happened: the groundskeeper left the second ball sitting there. The other fans had asked him for it, but he said he couldn’t give it away (sure), so most of them left. It was just me and Jona and Bob and Garrett and Kathi and a couple other people who were still lingering. I moved over to the front row of the overhang and quickly unleashed my glove trick. Way off in center field, I could see a yellow-shirted security guard walking toward me.

“Form a wall!” I yelled at my friends as my glove dangled 15 feet below. “Form a wall and block his view!”

Jona and Bob both moved to the side edge of the bullpen, and they both took photos of me as I went for the ball. In both of the photos below, you can see that I wasn’t even looking down at the ball. Instead I was looking off to the side to keep an eye on the security guard…

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…and I managed to pull up the ball when he was less than 50 feet away. Phew! I had my 19th ball of the day. Just one more! I quickly coiled up the string and used my body to shield the glove so the guard wouldn’t even see it, and then he walked us all up the steps to the main concourse in deep left field. Once we all reached the top, the guard just walked off. He didn’t tell us we had to leave. (He just assumed that we would, I suppose.) So we found a bench and sat down and contemplated the next move.

There were still a FEW other fans milling about at that point. Mostly, though, there were just concession workers and seat cleaners passing back and forth. No one stopped to ask us who we were or what we were still doing in the stadium. No one told us to leave. At one point, we noticed a security camera mounted high across the concourse. That made us a bit nervous, but no one ever came out to confront us.

Deep breath…

I grabbed an extra Sharpie from my backpack just in case, then left my bag with my friends in the concourse and began my solo mission. I had to go alone. One person was less likely to be seen/caught than five, so they waited, out of sight, as I walked briskly down the steps, proceeded through the walkway behind the seats and headed to the edge of the gap on the left field side of the batter’s eye. I was there. No security in sight. So far, so good. It was showtime…like playing golf. No competition. Just me versus the course. I struggled for a couple minutes with the first ball. Not good. It was a few feet too far out for me to have a straight shot down, and it was also trapped up against a small rock. Still, I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t able to get the ball to stick inside the glove. This was the absolute WORST time for a malfunction. I’d used the trick hundreds of times. Why was it giving me a problem now? I had no choice but to raise the glove back up and readjust the rubber band. Maybe it was too loose? That had to be it, so I took a look, and nearly had a panic attack. The rubber band had broken and was dangling off the glove! It’s a good thing it hadn’t fallen into the gap because I stupidly hadn’t brought an extra one with me down into the seats. I had half a dozen bands in my backpack, but as I mentioned, the bag was
36a_rubber_band_fixed.jpgwith my friends in the concourse. I thought about hurrying back up there, getting a new band, then going back down into the seats, but that seemed insane. It’s like I would’ve been ASKING to get caught, so I took the band and tied the broken ends together. It was my only shot. And then I lowered the glove back down into the gap. Well, it took another minute or so, but then I got the ball to stick inside my glove! Twenty balls (with twenty exclamation points)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I thought about just getting the hell out of there at that point, but that one last ball was too tempting, so I headed up the few steps, walked quickly behind the batter’s eye, and headed down beside the right field edge of the gap. There it was, my potential 21st ball of the day, sitting there, looking up at me, waiting to be rescued. I hoped that the rubber band would hold…and it did…but once again, the ball was a few feet too far out from the wall, and in my attempt to knock it closer, the Sharpie fell out of my glove. Extra Sharpie! Thank God I’d brought it.

I didn’t know it at the time, but Bob had crept out of the upper concourse, just far enough that he could see me way off in the distance, going for this ball. This was his view:

37_zack_snagging_21st_ball_of_the_day.jpg

Did you see me in the photo above? Here’s a closer look:

38_closer_look_at_21st_snag.jpg

After another minute (during which I must’ve cursed about 20 times), I managed to snag the ball. Woo! Twenty-one!

Upon my return to the concourse, I posed with balls No. 20 and 21 and felt invincible:

39_zack_two_balls.jpg

I needed a moment to recover…to just sit there and label my last two balls…to add to my long list of notes…to think about what I wanted to do next. There weren’t any other fans in the ballpark, but there were still a few employees walking around. After a few minutes, we saw an entire group of people in yellow shirts walking out the gate in right field. It was the security guards! They were all leaving!

What to do…

I was thinking about those balls in the gap. There were still ELEVEN balls down in there, and it occurred to me that I might be able to get away with climbing down in there and grabbing them and then running like hell. Meanwhile, it was getting late. Bob and Kathi had to take off, so we said our goodbyes, and then it was just three of us: me, Jona, and the 17-year-old Garrett.

For the past two days, I’d been talking about climbing down into the gap, but it was more of a fantasy than a reality. I had to do TV interviews, and I didn’t want to jeopardize that by getting in trouble, but like I said before, this was my last day. My last night. There was nothing to lose. Well…if I got arrested and thrown in jail, that wouldn’t have been good, but it’s not like I’d be running out onto the field or vandalizing any property. It was just about the balls. And about the charity. And about doing something daring. And about breaking my one-game record! I had managed to snag 28 balls in one day on 4/10/08 at Nationals Park. I didn’t think that record would ever be broken, but now I actually had a chance to do it…and not just squeeze past it by a hair, but actually surpass the 30-ball plateau. If I climbed down into the gap and grabbed all the balls and managed to get away with it, would my record be tainted? Would it have an asterisk? I wasn’t sure, but I knew for a fact that several legendary ballhawks on the west coast, like T.C. and Lee Wilson, had snuck down after games into the gaps behind the outfield walls and grabbed actual game home run balls that they counted in their totals. And I know that some of the all-time great ballhawks in Chicago, especially Moe Mullins, used to climb down into restricted areas of Wrigley Field to do the same thing. I thought about all the balls I’d snagged that I didn’t count for various reasons, and I thought about all the balls that security had prevented me from snagging over the years. I thought about the guard at Shea Stadium, back in the mid-1990s, who would stand on the field, right in front of me in foul territory during BP, and kick the foul grounders away before I had a chance to reach over and scoop them up. I thought about the on-field guard at Yankee Stadium who once jumped up and swatted a ball out of mid-air that a player had thrown to me, simply because he didn’t like me and didn’t want me to catch it. I thought about every single injustice that I had ever experienced inside a major league stadium, and I thought, “Here’s my chance to make up for it.”

But wait, how was I actually going to pull it off? Would I go alone? Would Jona and/or Garrett come with me? Would I need help climbing back out of the gap? How would I carry all the balls? Would I take my backpack? Would I have to climb out with that heavy thing on my back? What about labeling the balls? Would I actually stop and mark each one as I grabbed them? Or would I put them into different pockets and pouches and try to remember which one was which? If I actually managed to climb down there and grab the balls and escape without getting caught, would I then talk about it on my blog? Could I get in trouble after the fact? I had reasons to go for it. I had reasons to chicken out. I had an endless array of questions and–

“I really wish you would just do it already,” said Jona.

Okay.

I was GOING to do it. I made up my mind. Now I just had to make some quick decisions about how it would all go down. First of all, I decided to turn my shirt inside out. That Mario logo was way too eye-catching. Secondly, we all decided that the three of us would go back down into the seats together. Garrett would toss my backpack down to me after I climbed into the gap and then he’d meet me on the other end and I’d toss it back up. Jona would follow us and film the whole thing. I didn’t know what I would ever do with the footage, but I knew it had to be documented. As for the issue of labeling the balls, I decided that I had to sacrifice that part of my process–that I just had to throw the balls in my bag as quickly as possible and get the hell out, but I knew I had to keep the last ball separate. I needed to know which ball was THE final ball…the record-establishing ball.

And just like that, we were off.

The following images are all screen shots from Jona’s video.

Here I am with Garrett, heading through the walkway at the back of the LF seats. The ground was wet because the fountains were overflowing, presumably on purpose as a way to clean the section:

40_breaking_my_record.jpg

Here we are heading down the steps next to the gap:

41_breaking_my_record.jpg

Then I climbed down into the gap:

42_breaking_my_record.jpg

Garrett tossed me my backpack, and I reached up to catch it:

43_breaking_my_record.jpg

I hurried to the middle of the gap and picked up the first ball:

44_breaking_my_record.jpg

Fist pump:

45_breaking_my_record.jpg

Every time I grabbed a ball, I kept counting: twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine! Then thirty. I decided to stick that one in my right front pocket. Then thirty-one. That went in my left front pocket. And finally thirty-two. That went in my back right pocket. If I’d remembered, I could’ve grabbed the Sharpie that had fallen out of my glove 20 minutes earlier, but my mind was elsewhere.

Here I am climbing out of the gap:

46_breaking_my_record.jpg

There were metal beams on back of the outfield wall, so I stepped on those and hoisted myself up without Garrett’s help. Ahh, to be young and fit! I normally take it for granted, but now I finally appreciated it and realized that when I’m 90 years old, similar shenanigans will be much more difficult.

Jona headed up the steps and hurried behind the batter’s eye to catch up with us…

47_breaking_my_record.jpg

…and then we walked through the upper porch in right field…

48_breaking_my_record.jpg

…and headed up the steps…

49_breaking_my_record.jpg

…and ran like hell through the concourse…

50_breaking_my_record.jpg

…and made our way out the open gate…

51_breaking_my_record.jpg

…and walked around to the back of the stadium:

52_breaking_my_record.jpg

We did it!

I had snagged THIRTY-TWO baseballs!

This was my reaction:

53_zacks_reaction_outside_stadium.jpg

Here I am with Garrett and the 32nd ball:

54_zack_garrett_32nd_ball.jpg

My God.

I hope I don’t get busted for blogging about this after the fact. In my defense, I was doing it for charity, and also, the way I see it, I did the Royals a service. Not only did I risk my own life, free of charge, to climb down in there and clean out the balls so that one of their employees wouldn’t have to do it, but I’ve simultaneously encouraged baseball fans all over the world to visit Kauffman Stadium. No joke. I’ve gotten at least a dozen emails this week from people who’ve told me that after reading my blog entries and seeing my photos of the place, they’re dying to go there.

Don’t you love my logic?

Two of the balls from the gap caught my eye. First (pictured below on the left), there was my 30th ball of the day, which had a really cool series of streak-like markings on it, and second, there was a ball (one of the eight that I didn’t label, pictured below on the right) that was rubbed up and un-scuffed, just as a game-used ball would be:

54a_two_cool_gap_balls.jpg

So the question is: Is it possible that I grabbed a game home run ball and don’t even know it? When I first entered Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday, June 16th, there were already half a dozen balls in the gap. Who knows how long they’d been there? Why couldn’t a game home run have landed there? Does anyone know if any players hit homers to dead center field in the days before June 16th? It would be interesting to know, and if the answer is yes, I might need to recruit a forensic scientist to determine if there are woody fibers on the ball that match the fibers on that player’s bat.

My 32nd and final ball of the day was not interesting in comparison to the two pictured above, but obviously it was the most meaningful, and I had to find a special way to photograph it. At first, this was the best I could come up with…

55_32nd_ball_parking_lot.jpg

…but then Garrett had an idea. He told me and Jona to get in his car, and he drove around to the other side of the stadium. It was well past midnight by this point. He had to be at work at 6am. Jona and I were exhausted and starving. I was tempted to take a few quick pics of the ball and go back to the hotel, but when I mentioned the option of using the balls to actually spell out the number 32 (aka “balligraphy”), Garrett convinced me to do it.

Here I am, setting them all up in the middle of the road…

56_setting_up_all_the_balls.jpg

…and here’s the fruit of my labor (and of Jona’s patience):

57_zack_32.jpg

Cool.

In case you’re wondering, the three balls on the right are in Ziploc bags because those were the balls I fished out of the fountain. They were soaked to the core, so I kept them sealed until I could properly dry them out. And of course there are only 31 balls in the photo because I gave one away.

Thursday, June 18, 2009: wow…

59_ticket_06_18_09.jpg

SNAGGING STATS:

• 32 balls at this game

58_kauffman_stadium_snagging_notes.jpg• 59 balls in three games this week at Kauffman Stadium = 19.67 balls per game. (My notes for all these balls are pictured on the right.)

• 279 balls in 31 games this season = 9 balls per game.

• 600 consecutive games with at least one ball

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

• 107 lifetime games with at least 10 balls

• 47 lifetime games outside of New York with at least 10 balls

• 4 lifetime games with at least 20 balls (all of which, surprise-surprise, were outside of New York)

• 4,099 total balls

CHARITY STATS:

• 110 donors (click here and scroll down for the complete list)

• $24.16 pledged per ball

• $773.12 raised at this game!

• $6,740.64 raised this season for Pitch In For Baseball

A few final thoughts…

1) It occurred to me that I probably would’ve snagged more than 35 balls if I’d been going for foul balls and third-out balls all night, but I did what I had to do. I was in a home run haven, and I stuck to my game plan, never even contemplating my one-game record until the very end.

2) It also occurred to me that this is the first time I’ve ever out-snagged my age. You follow? I’m thirty-one years old, and I managed to snag thirty-two balls. I’d have to say it’s pretty rare for anyone to out-snag their age. Think about it. How likely is it that a five-year-old could snag six balls? Not very. How likely is it for anyone to snag 15 or 20 balls? Or 30? Again, not likely. I’d say the only people who have a real shot at out-snagging their age are probably young teenagers. By the time someone is 13 years old, he (or she) is just getting big enough and athletic enough and strategic enough to be able to make some good plays and outsmart the competition. Have YOU ever out-snagged your age? I think we might have a new category here–something ultra-rare, like hitting for the cycle. I wonder if I’ll ever do it again.

3) This blog entry, for those keeping score at home, is 7,714 words and has 83 photographs (if you count the collage pics separately). These too, are records.

The End.

68 Comments

Wow Zach! NEW RECORD!

Here is my previous comment…

HI Zack! I am new to MLB blogs but I have been reading your site for 2 years! I am also a HUGE Reds fan and Zack Hample fan!

I am also a snagger. I am not very good, though, but after reading your site, I know how to snag balls easier!

I have snagged 5 lifetime balls… bad I know! I am only 11 years old, also.

This year I am going for a weekend trip New York. We are going to a Yankees game. We have seats for section 22 and a couple rows up. They are right by the visitor dugout.
My goal is to get a commerative baseball of the Inagural season of the stadium!

Maybe I could see you there!
Oh Yea, could you mention in your next post about my blog? That would be awesome! Thanks Zack!
-Redsfan101

My Site is: http://redsfan101.mlblogs.com/

ZACK!!!!!
CONGRATS! 32, That is unheard of. Of course it leaves you with 4099. Is the video of the final 11 going on youtube? Any chance you will be at citi field on thursday? GREAT JOB!!!

HOWIE
http://howie.mlblogs.com/

HOLY CRAPP!!!! WAY TO GO ZACK!!! THAT HAS TO BE A RECORD. GOD IF I KNEW SOMEONE FROM GUINNESS, YOUD BE IN. WOW. CONGRATS. This is Joe, i started a blog so the name changed.

This an open question for whomever can answer it. At Citi Field and Camden Yards can you stand in the outfield for batting practice? I mean are they seperatedfrom the rest of the park or can you just follow the concourse around to the outfield seats or do you need a seperate ticket to get into that section

Jesus.********. Christ.

Zack, that’s amazing stuff. I’ve actually had a couple dreams before where there were a bunch balls laying there for me to pick up, but I never thought it could actually happen for anyone. Awesome. I’d love to see that final video on YouTube too.
-CJ

Z

Maybe your best – or among THE best – blog entries ever!
Certainly the most exciting, which made us feel as if we were right there beside you – or maybe we WERE you!! Our hearts went bumpity-bumpity-bump in fear that we’d get caught.
Wow!
I may have to take a second job to be able to make good on my pledge to your Pitch In For Baseball charity.
Great snagging work, dude! Send the jumping/snagging in the gap video to YouTube.

OMG! My heart sank when I saw the picture of what you saw when you first ran inside. Well, you are the king of snag and you made it happen anyway! Congrats!
Max V

Wow. Zack, you kept us waiting awhile for this one, but it was 100% worth it. Congrats on breaking your record! Already thinking about going back this season? Haha.

Congrats again.

Wow – Zack! Congrats! A couple comments:
1) I have envisioned you in your hotel room plotting a scheme to wrangle those CF gap balls. I was thinking of something more device-oriented, but you did it!
2) Props to Jona for wearing your sweaty D-Backs hat after you switched to Royals gear.
3) Awesome picts of the stadium concourses, etc. Excellent stuff.
4) My son out-snagged his age at his first game. In fact, within minutes of entering the stands for the first time in his life, 7 month old Tim snagged literally the first ball hit within 200 feet of him. 1 ball at 7 mons. old. 10 Minutes later, an unidentified Blue Jay bestowed ball number 2 of Tim’s life upon young Tim. There you go, 2 balls at 7 mons. He more than doubled his age. Also, at that game we just saw you at in Baltimore, Tim tied his age — 3 balls and 3 years old. However, I’ll give it to you, 32 balls at 31 years old is much more impressive.
Congrats!
-Todd
http://cookandsonbats.mlblogs.com

Sorry, one more comment:
5) For a $9.00 ticket, that is $0.28 per ball. What a deal!

Nice Ninja Skills!!!!
The anticipation waiting for this blog entry was killing me. Congrats, you did not disappoint!

Zack,

It’s exciting to know that I helped contribute to your record breaking night by yelling for Parra to throw me his warm up ball in the 9th inning! Ball #16 sailed over my head and right into the fountain. It was awesome watching you retrieve it with your water device! Congrats on your huge night and thanks for putting the national spotlight on our renovated stadium!

I have snagged my age once, and never thought about it like that.

And HOLY ******* ****! YOUR ARE THE ******* MAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(32 exclamation points)
I started reading about everybody leaving, and was like, OMG he’s gonna jump in the gap.

and there are way more illegal things that can be be done to get balls at games, especially in NY.

(Speechless)

– Donnie
http://donnieanks.mlblogs.com/

Standing O.

Donny in Houston
http://lonestar.mlblogs.com

Nice entry! I am speechless. You are top-dog in ballhawking!

Wow. How long did you have to wait for all of the ushers to clear out? How high is the drop from where you went into that area behind center field? Did you see anybody else in the stadium besides you three? Do they count as thrown or easter eggs? That was amazing.
http://riveravenue.mlblogs.com
Alex

It was amazing zack!!!!! Your the ballhawking king!!!!! I think you would be looked for in kansas after that incident!!! Did you get my email

Zack,
You are definitely the SNAG MASTER. This blog will live in infamy. The BEST event date ever. I have read every single one of your blog entries and this is definitely #1.
Jona gets extra props. She is one VERY cool lady. (Smoking hot too, you lucky man…..).
Have you finished “Miracle Ball” yet? Hey, BTW what model of Mizuno glove do you use in the glove trick process…
Great job for the charity…
Mike in Detroit

simply incredible.
i havent commented in ages but had to comment on this “historic occasion”. hope you dont get in trouble with the royals if they find out. will the record have an asterik??

simply incredible.
i havent commented in ages but had to comment on this “historic occasion”. hope you dont get in trouble with the royals if they find out. will the record have an asterik??

Zach,
Great entry. I was curious when I saw your entry in the recent comments and I read the whole entry with anticipation. Good job. I am not into ballhawking but it is interesting how you guys do all this.
emma
http://crzblue.mlblogs.com/

Zack,

The last home run I remember going into the centerfield pit was hit by Jermaine Dye on May 29, 2009 off Brian Bannister. Video included?

http://chicago.whitesox.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=4787307&c_id=cws

I seriously doubt the Royals ever clean out the centerfield pit as I?ve seen those same balls in there for weeks if not longer. So, it is pretty safe to say that you have Jermaine Dye?s home run ball. I?ll check other videos to see if anyone else has hit there.

This was the most exhilarating piece of literature I have ever read. Truly, this game was your masterpiece, and this entry may be be your magnum opus. By the way, when I snagged seventeen balls I was thirteen.

Aaron
http://districtboy.mlblogs.com/

Great Post – excellent final act at the K! I hope you don’t wait another 8-years to return to Kansas City. It was fun watching you in action.

THAT IS THE MOST EPIC ENTRY I’VE EVER READ. 32 balls…no words man (or in your case 7700 words!) Well, I’ll be down at Rogers Centre for Reds game on Tuesday. I’m 16, so i’d have to snag 17 to outsnag my age? Probably not gonna happen, but fun to try. Last time, Podsednik tossed me a third out ball-my first game used ball-was exciting.

Zack,

First off, you need to add “1 lifetime game with at least 30 balls” to the end of your entry. Secondly, (this is gonna be a lot of “i told you’s, but in a good way) didn’t I say what a great stadium Kauffman is? It’s so beautiful, and nice, and friendly, and easy. It’s just simple. It’s great, I’ve been raving about it for a month now. Thirdly, the balls behind the wall. I wish I thought of climbing down there. In terms of snagging, you have the killer instinct. I’m so glad you got those balls. I should’ve gone after some on my own, but I’m really glad you did. And lastly, the security, or lack thereof. I told you how I just hung around aftert he game. No one bothers you, you can just wander the stadium freely. It’s phenomenal. I’m really glad this trip went so well for you. And I’m glad someone else can understand and share in my strong positive feelings about The New K.

Ben

Wow! Photographic and blogging evidence of what is perhaps criminal trespass, criminal mishchief, larceny and maybe even burglary! Well done. Has a warrant for your arrest been issed yet? Charitable intent could be a mitigating factor—but you know how tough midwestern law and order types can be.

You should be okay, unless you set foot in Missouri again! Of course, that orange jumpsuit will stand out even more than your Where’s Waldo shirt!

Congrats!

Given your paranoia, I thought I’d post again. I hope you know I’m teasing, but if you do decide to go back to KC, you may want to check with the Royals first. You never know how they will react.

Best Blog ever, and I have read each one on MLB. My suggestion to you to deal with running and sweat, is to get some fabrics that breathe like the players wear as under shirts Popular brands are Underarmor and Nike Dri fit. Cheap brands are available. You can get tshirts in any color, and would take care of your sweaty shirts. If you wear performance clothing, the moisture will evaporate.

Wow Zack! What a read! You would have been looking at some trespassing and theft charges had you been caught. That is if the Royals/Cops wanted to apply the letter of the law to you. They can conconcievably still send you a couple of tickets in the mail for the infractions, but that is highly doubtful. How was that Sheraton? That is where I was thinking of staying if I go there. If I was in a different line of work, I would have been real tempted to do exactly what you did. It must have been quite the rush.
Bob

hey zack this is absolutely unbelieveable!!!! U just snagged half of what i have snagged this season in this 1 game. Just a weird fact i kind of predicted this because i told my dad at your last game u snagged 33 baseballs ( just joking around to see what he would say ) and then the very next game u blog about u snagg 32.Ur the man!!!!!! haha. Do u think this is like a world record for most balls snagged in 1 game haha? Anyway great entry. Always love reading them. Also one interesting thing happened to me today at a game ( not as interesting as yours of course ) but i saw the Yankees play down here on fathers day and my dad and i each snagged a New Yankee Stadium commemoritive ball and then after the game i dont know if you saw the MLB players whereing those blue wristbands today for fathers day but a marlins player randomly tossed me his and it has the mlb logo on it along with a blue ribbon. Just thhought that was interesting because the players only where these once a year. Well good luck at ur next game.
– Michael from florida

I don’t know what I could say that everyone else hasn’t already said, but I truly am happy for you. I guess my 20 ball prediction seems rather trivial now. Who would’ve thought that! Enjoy the moment bro, for the rest of us aspiring ballhawks that are lucky to break double digits, don’t forget the little people!
Brian
http://txbaseballfan.mlblogs.com

Zack,

Now that’s what I call hawkin’. I’m so happy to see how much you enjoyed The K. It really is a great stadium. Moreso though I’m ecstatic that you broke such a record for ball collecting at our stadium. Here’s hoping you come back sooner (rather than years from now) and I’ll still have the offer of food and the like for you.

Keep hawkin’,
Brenda

Hey Zack…..

Wow! That was really a crazy night! I don’t know whether to congratulate you or scold you. I have conflicting thoughts after reading the entry. I can’t decide if what you did was a misdemeanor or felony? In FL and CA it would be a felony. Not sure about Missouri. You should do like the “Jackass” guys do on MTV and put a disclaimer on your blog for the KIDS out there to not try this at home. I wouldn’t want anybody going to jail or court trying to copy you. There is only one Zack. Well, awesome haul for yourself and charity. Stay out of the KC area until the statute of limitations run out.

Padreleigh

Congrats on a killer game. Did you have an extra suitcase with you for all those baseballs?

-Jonathan

Zack,

I researched and reviewed video of every home run hit into the center field pit at Kauffman stadium this year and only THREE home run game balls have ever been hit there. As I mentioned in my previous entry, I really doubt that anyone has ever climbed down there to clean it out. As such, I feel confident that you possess three home run game balls.

The first home run ever hit there came off the bat of Mike Jacobs, KC Royals, vs. Baltimore Orioles pitcher, Adam Eaton, in the bottom of the 4th inning on May 15, 2009.

The second home run hit there came off the bat of Jermaine Dye, Chicago White Sox, vs. KC Royals pitcher, Brian Bannister, in the top of 1st inning on May 29, 2009.

The third home run hit there came off the bat of Ramon Hernandez, Cincinnati Reds, vs. KC Royals pitcher, Joaquin Soria, in the top of 9th inning on June 13, 2009.

Based on the video replay, it appears the first two or three balls you picked up belonged to Jacobs and Dye. The Hernandez home run landed a little more to the right of dead center so it was probably one of the last couple balls you picked up.

Interestingly, Mike Jacobs actually hit two BEHIND that pit to deep dead center at the base of the scoreboard. Amazing shots. So, you almost had two more!

I’ll submit the video links in my next entry.

Tom

Video of the three home run game balls ever hit into the centerfield pit at Kauffman Stadium this year.

Mike Jacobs home run – May 15, 2009
http://kansascity.royals.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=4580097&c_id=kc

Jemaine Dye home run – May 29, 2009
http://chicago.whitesox.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=4776651&c_id=cws

Ramon Hernanhttp://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=5038487&c_id=cindez home run – June 13, 2009

Ay-May-Zing Zack. Just -Ay-May-Zing.
Can you imagine how many balls you would have had in those 15 minutes while the Royals were stretching!?
I would love to see that video.
Anyways, Great entry and Ay-May-Zing Game.
See ya’ around.

HOWIE- I will be at Citi Thursday.

Here’s a better link to the Ramon Hernandez home run. It was cut off in my previous entry.

http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=5038487&c_id=cin

I can’t get over that you got 32 balls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (32 exclamation points)

You are really awesome, Zach!

If anyone would like to know… I tried tying string to the sharpie in the glove trick to see if I could yank it out to prevent the ball from dropping. It worked, and the ball took a lot of force to be pulled out. Also, it helped provide better control over the glove to stop it from spinning. The string could be used in situations where you need to be worked fast (after the game) or where your rubber band is loose (or broken). And do you have any more trips you plan on taking?
http://riveravenue.mlblogs.com
Alex

Craziness, congrads Zack.
Kyle

Bold & Beautiful.

“Happy”

Zack,
beyond belief, and you did it old school….NO performance-enhancing substances…..just hard work and sweat.

EVERYONE-
Thanks for all the comments…and for reading this monster entry in the first place.

REDSFAN101-
If you want to share your blog with everyone here, just copy-and-paste the URL at the end of your comments. I see that you’ve done that so you’re on your way to getting some more traffic. Five lifetime balls isn’t bad at all. It’s five more than I had at that age. I don’t plan to attend any weekend games at Yankee Stadium (except one game next month for “Watch With Zack” purposes) so unfortunately I don’t think we’ll be running into each other. Hopefully next year…

HOWIE-
Not sure about the video. If I knew I wouldn’t get in trouble, then yeah, I’d post it. That’s my only concern. No chance I’ll be at Citi on Thursday. Sorry. I don’t do day games. But I hope you have a great time. Let me know if there’s BP.

JOE-
Cool blog. I checked it out. I wish Guinness would get in touch. Maybe someday.

MLBWHIZ-
At both places, you can get to the outfield with any ticket.

GREGB123-
Well. *******. Said.

CJ-
I’ve had dreams like that too.

BOODLEHEIMER-
Thanks. I’ll put the video on YouTube if you agree to pay my legal fees.

MAX V-
Thanks!

JOBAJR26-
Actually, yeah, I *am* thinking of going back.

TODD-
Well, what can I say? Tim is the man…or, umm, the boy. :-)

GRAHAM-
Ninja…I like it.

TJINK-
You totally did help. Thanks so much, and I appreciate all the links to the homers. I only grabbed one ball in the gap that was rubbed up like a gamer, so there’s no way I have more than one home run ball. So I guess it would have to be Hernandez, if anybody.

PUCK COLLECTOR-
Cool about your age. And thanks, of course.

DONNIE-
That’s an acceptable response. :-)

DONNY IN HOUSTON-
Heh, thanks.

ALEX-
I should have looked at the clock, but I didn’t so I have no idea exactly how long I waited. It had to have been at least 30 or 45 minutes after the final out when I went down into the gap. It was probably about 8 to 10 feet down. There were no other fans in the stadium at that point, just a few employees. I’m not exactly sure how to count them, but in the ballhawk league (as per Erik’s rules), they will count as batted balls. I’m not exactly sure what you mean about tying string to the Sharpie, so I hope you’ll show me next time we see each other. As for my next trip, I probably won’t be on a plane for at least a couple months.

LADOD4EVER-
Thanks. Which email are you talking about? Did I already answer it?

MIKE IN DETROIT-
Thanks so much, especially for the Jona comments. I did finish “Miracle Ball” and I was INTO it. Wow. What model glove? It says “3912 professional model” and it also says “super flex palm,” if that all means anything to you.

JOSHSCARDS-
Nice to hear from you again. I’m not sure about the asterisk. I’ll let other people decide.

EMMA-
I appreciate your interest. Thanks.

AARON-
Most exhilarating ever?! Thanks, but I think you might need to read more. :-)
The most exhilarating thing I’ve ever read is “Native Son” by Richard Wright.

QUINT2724-
I definitely won’t wait eight years to come back.

DANNYZ-
I think it’s impossible to snag 17 in Toronto. They’d need to open the stadium more than 90 minutes early.

BEN-
I like the “at least 30 balls” idea, and you were SOOOO right about Kauffman Stadium. I really owe a lot of my success there to you. You answered all my questions brilliantly.

FATHER PUCK-
Nice. Should I actually be worried about facing legal action? I’ve really been wondering about that.

TEXAS4-
Thanks for the suggestion (and thanks for reading). I’m going to look into it.

BOB-
If I get a ticket in the mail, I won’t fight it. I know I did something naughty, and I am willing to face the consequences because it was worth it. The Sheraton was nice. I’d stay there again. There’s also a Drury Inn nearby, which might be better because the Denny’s is connected to it. There is NOTHING to do anywhere near the stadium. Nothing to eat. So bring snacks or rent a car. Just be prepared.

MICHAEL FROM FLORIDA-
That’s crazy about the 33-ball claim you made to your dad. I’m not sure if it’s a record. I know there are people who’ve snagged twice that many at Spring Training games. Congrats on the commemorative balls and the wristband. Very cool. Did you ever get those goodies from Loria?

BRIAN-
I know, how DARE you insult me by ONLY predicting 20 balls?!

BRENDA-
You are too kind. Really…thank you.

PADRE LEIGH-
What IS the statute of limitations there?

JONATHAN-
I arrived in KC with lots of extra room in one of my bags, just in case.

KYLE-
Thanks.

HAPPY-
Word.

DRIYEFF-
Amen.

wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow. i read this a few days ago and almost died. the ending was just as exciting as reading about the washington game last year! man, going in that gap and picking up all those balls must have been great. Thats basically just like every snagging dream ive ever had. a dream about going in an open area on or around the field, and just picking up baseball after baseball after baseball. amazing.

about single A baseball? No you havent answered it

Zack all I have to say is woooooooooooooow and congrats on your new record of 32!!!!!!!!
Which yankees weekend game are you going to next month?

Zack- This is very tongue in cheek, but I’m admitted in Virginia and studying for the NY Bar–I have no idea about Missouri, but here’s the KC Municipal Ordinance
http://www.municode.com/resources/gateway.asp?sid=25&pid=10156
You really have very little to worry about. Even if someone wanted to do so, going after you is not worth the cost and effort and would probably bring a lot of bad publicity. The only thing I would be concerned about is if others try to repeat your act and point to the blog. That would cause the Royals to be a little bit tougher and perhaps necessitate putting signs on the area. Also, just as an aside, what if you happened to beat out a spoiled kid for a ball whose father/brother/uncle was with the DA–you just never know (which is why you should always be nice to everyone).

If you still feel nervous, I might suggest that you take the money you raised from the 11 balls (or more) and donate the proceeds to either a foundation of the Royals –or even the Negro Baseball Hall of Fame which is located in KC. How could anyone get mad at that?

Thanks Zack! That stinks you aren’t going to any games, but maybe next year like you said!

I will keep you updated on my ball snagging status! I am attending a game on the 30th, so I might have to blog about it!

Have you attended any Reds games at GABP? I know you have attended a game at Cinergy back in 1998…
http://redsfan101.mlblogs.com/

Well after reading the first three paragraphs on “Native Son’s” Wikipedia page…

Aaron

GOISLANDERS4-
Nice comment, especially the almost “dying part.” I was so nervous about the whole thing that I didn’t really appreciate the awesomeness of it at the time. It WAS dreamlike.

LADOD4EVER-
I’m on it.

47CARDSFAN-
July 26.

FATHER PUCK-
I like how you think, but you know…all the money from those eleven balls (more than $260) is already going to Pitch In For Baseball. You think I should make an extra/matching donation of my own money? I can’t really afford that.

REDSFAN101-
I was at Great American Ball Park in August 2005, so look back in my archives and you’ll find those entries.

AARON-
Well, now that the plot is spoiled for you…

Double Kudos are in order for you, Zack. First, for the 32 balls in KC. You outsnagged my total from last SEASON lol.
The other is for the awesome 8-bit Super Mario shirt. Forget Waldo and Homer, that is the best shirt lol.
We’ve got the obnoxious fan tri-fecta in Atlanta this week. One make-up game against the Cubs, then the Yankees & Red Sox back to back. I’m not really expecting to snag anything thanks to all the transplant NYY/BOS fans here.

Zack-

I’m amazed, you out snagged my lifetime amount, which is to embarrassing to mention, but just wow. 59 balls in 3 games isn’t too shabby! Congrats and now you can set your mind to 40.

-Lil Apps

Hey Zack,
it’s your accomplice Garrett here.
I’m still amazed at what you accomplished in one series at “the K”. It was nice seeing you at all 3 games. You really know how to make a game fun!
I hope you put the video of the final 10 balls on Youtube.
I look forward to seeing a game with you again!

-Garrett
(GO ROYALS)

Wow… that’s incredible! I am really enjoying reading about your exploits, and I plan to buy your book next time I’m out at a bookstore that carries it (damn Barnes and Nobles in Arizona)!

Just as a point of advice, coming from a fellow baseball fan of the Arizona Diamondbacks, when you try to get Clay Zavada’s attention, mention something about Illinois! It worked when I got my first ball at Chase Field this past month, and I’ve seen it work on him at least twice before. He enjoys chatting it up about his home state. I even got him to sign the ball Chad Qualls tossed me during that game because one of the fans next to me started telling him about growing up in Illinois.

If you’re ever in Arizona, look me up!

I reread my post, and forgot to add my blog: reperiovulpes.blogspot.com

wow 32 thats awsome !!you should put the final video on youtube

BRAVES04-
Thanks. I love that shirt, but unfortunately it’s a bit snug.

LIL APPS-
I don’t think 40 is possible unless Heath Bell hands me the entire ball bag in the bullpen (but would that even count?).

GARRETT-
I don’t think I would’ve accomplished it without you, so really, YOU know how to make a game fun. I hope I can make it back to KC soon, but I’m still buried with work for the book.

DBACKS1985-
Glad you’ve been enjoying the blog, and thanks for the tip on Zavada.

TL3115-
I’d love to put that video on YouTube, but I’m afraid it would incriminate me.

There is a ladder down in the Batters eye now so the ushers can get down there, and fish out home run balls. They usually go down there every couple of days now. Or if a home run ball is hit that day they will go down at the end of the game, and get the ball.

Interesting. Thanks for letting me know.

Hey, Zack… when I was at Kauffman last August I noticed the ladder down in that gap, too. I mentioned it in my blog (http://bloggingboutbaseball.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/08/8509_at_kauffman_stadium.html). So, it’s been there since August 5th, 2009–or perhaps earlier. I’ve a sneaking suspicion you have something to do with that.
~Matt
http://bloggingboutbaseball.mlblogs.com/

I didn’t realize that the ladder had been there that long — or maybe I just forgot. As for the reason why it’s there…no comment.

In June of 2011, I snagged my age: 14 balls. But thats my best!

I’m sure that at Nationals Park I’ll be able to snag my age. I really want to see that video of you in the gap.

SKIM-
Maybe I’ll post the video someday. I don’t want to get myself in trouble.

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