7/27/09 at Camden Yards

Earlier this season, I had two Watch With Zack games with a 14-year-old Yankee fan named Joe. He and I combined for 22 balls on 5/8/09 at Citi Field, and then we visited the Pitch In For Baseball warehouse on our way to Citizens Bank Park on 7/6/09. Remember?

Well, Joe is incredibly generous. He had an extra season ticket for this game at Camden Yards, and he offered it to me. (A season ticket at Camden gets you into the left field seats half an hour early.) He didn’t care that I’d be competing with him for baseballs. He just wanted to see me in action and hang out and help me add to my collection. Truly amazing. And of course I took him up on it.

I made the drive from New York City with Jona, and we arrived at the stadium at around 4pm. Here we are with Joe outside the Eutaw Street gate:

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See that ball I’m holding? It was a cheap, six-dollar “Babe Ruth” ball that Joe bought from the team store so that we could play catch:

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He had just gotten a new glove and needed some help breaking it in.

The stadium opened at 5pm, and we hurried out to the left field seats. (Jona, unfortunately, was trapped in right field for the first half hour because she didn’t have a season ticket.)

jeremy_guthrie_2008a.jpgJeremy Guthrie was shagging in left field, so I shouted his name, and when he looked up, the first thing he shouted back was, “Hey! How’s the baseball collection coming along?!”

Then he walked a little closer and told me that he’d heard I was at Yankee Stadium the previous week.

“Yeah,” I said, “on July 20th. I was looking for you.”

And that was pretty much the end of our conversation.

Two minutes later, Joe and I each found a ball sitting in the second row. Here’s the one that I grabbed (which I later gave to an usher to give to the kid of his choice):

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Then I went on a snagging rampage. I started by picking up a ball that bounced into the first row in left-center field. Then I caught FOUR home runs on the fly, all pretty much in straight-away left. (I think Ty Wigginton hit one of them and Adam Jones hit another, but whatever.) Then I won a two-person race and grabbed another home run ball that had
landed in the folded up portion of a seat, and I finished the first half-hour by catching another
ball4150.jpghomer on the fly (pictured here on the right). Some guy in the row in front of me had jumped for it at the last second, and it cleared his glove by six inches. That gave me eight balls on the day. It was nuts. At one point I had six balls bulging out of my pockets because I didn’t have a chance to label them and put them in my backpack. I should admit that I missed out on three balls that I should’ve (or at least could’ve) had. Two were home runs that basically came right to me, but I wasn’t aggressive enough in boxing out this one other guy. Then there was a ground-rule double that tipped off the very end of my glove when I jumped for it. AARRGHH!!! I wasn’t making flat-out errors, but I still wasn’t happy with my performance.

This was the scene shortly after 5:30pm when the left field seats opened to everyone:

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Do you see anything disturbing in the photo above?

No?

Let me zoom in a little for you:

5_kid_sleeping_during_BP_closeup.jpg

What kind of IDIOT leaves a little kid alone in a section where baseballs go flying into the crowd, not to mention a little kid who’s sleeping?!?! (These are no doubt the the same type of parents who leave their kids in the car with the windows rolled up when they go shopping at Walmart, or better yet, who use their kids as drug mules.)

Halfway through the Royals’ portion of batting practice, I tried using my glove trick to pluck a ball off the warning track–and I would’ve gotten it if Roman Colon hadn’t walked over and moved the ball further out. Here’s a photo that Jona took from about 50 feet away. You can see my glove dangling on the field:

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I could tell that Colon was just having fun and messing with me in a good-natured way (unlike our friend Gustavo Chacin), and sure enough, after teasing me for a solid minute, he picked up the ball and flipped it to me.

A few minutes later, I made my best play of the day. There was a deep fly ball hit in my direction, and I immediately judged that it was going to sail over my head, so I drifted back a couple steps, then looked down and scooted further up the stairs. It was kinda like I was an outfielder who takes his eye off the ball and runs to the spot where he thinks it will land. I looked back up and spotted the ball as it was descending…

7_zack_about_to_catch_ball4152.jpg

…and then reached way up over my head at the last second and made the catch. See the guy wearing the yellow shirt? If this had been a basketball game, he would’ve been charged with a foul–possibly even a flagrant foul. At the instant that the ball smacked into my glove, his left arm was wrapped tightly around my neck. I think it was an accident, but still there’s no excuse for that.

Here’s my favorite photo of the day. It shows me taking notes while Joe is looking out at the field:

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See that pinkish ring on the inside of my right knee? Yeah, ouch. Twenty minutes earlier, I banged into a seat while scrambling for a loose home run ball, and no, I didn’t get it.

Orioles manager Dave Trembley signed autographs after batting practice:

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I got him on Jona’s ticket:

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Here I am with Joe a few minutes later:

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If you want to know how many balls Joe ended up snagging, you’ll have to check out his blog.

I headed over to the 3rd base side. Billy Butler and Zack Greinke started signing:

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That’s me in the blue shirt, patiently waiting for my turn. I’d brought a ticket from Kauffman Stadium and got them both to sign it:

11a_greinke_butler_autographs.jpg

Greinke signed in black ON the black portion of the ticket with someone else’s Sharpie. Brilliant. And when I told him that my name is “Z-A-C-K as well,” he didn’t even look up or respond. What a doofus. Has anyone ever had a positive interaction with him? When I saw him last month in Kansas City, he was similarly quite/cold/rude. Is it the social anxiety disorder? Is that a legitimate excuse for not even responding when someone speaks politely to you from three feet away? I was the only fan who bothered to thank him for signing, and he didn’t say “You’re welcome.” I don’t care who you are or what kind of “disorder” you’re diagnosed with. How hard is it to say “You’re welcome”? Am I being too critical? I’ve met parrots who can say it.

Maybe I’m just writing this blog entry out of frustration…

Right before the game started, I positioned myself along the foul line in shallow left field to try to get a ball tossed my way. I was the ONLY fan with a glove, and I was the ONLY fan wearing Royals gear. If ever there was a guaranteed ball, this was it. What happened next? Alex Gordon threw me a ball…and missed…by ten feet! Here I am, climbing up onto the brick ledge, reaching out helplessly with an extreme look of dismay:

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Here’s a closeup of my reaction (with Gordon trying to use body English on the upper right to direct his crappy throw my way):

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Five words, Mister Gordon: That’s why you’re the Royals.

During the game, I stayed in the right field standing-room-only section for all the lefties, and of course there was no action. As for the righties, whenever there were at least two of them hitting back-to-back, I moved to a tunnel behind home plate. Perfect foul ball spot. At one point late in the game, I stopped to talk to a friendly usher on the way to my spot, and wouldn’t you know it, a high-arcing foul ball landed EXACTLY where I would’ve been standing–where I *had* been standing throughout the night. The ball clapped off the pavement in the middle of the empty cross-aisle. It was painful, so please, forgive me for being annoyed after having snagged 10 balls. The day was filled with more frustration than success.

Let me end on a positive note. Here are two nice things about the day:

1) I met a bunch of different people who read this blog, as well as a few folks who recognized me from YouTube and various other places.

2) Billy Butler was my Beat The Streak hitter, and he went 5-for-5, mwahaha! I now have a 10-game streak for the first time since I started playing last month. (I have Prince Fielder going tonight against Collin Balester.) Of course, now that I’ve bragged about it, it’s surely going to end. I’d just like to say, though, that if I somehow win the $1.5 million prize, I’m going to use the money to attend 150 (or more) baseball games in one season at all 30 major league stadiums, and I will attempt to snag 1,000 balls. (And, since I promised, I’m also going to buy Jona a Mini Cooper.)

Anyway, that was it. No homers near me during the game. No foul balls. No umpire ball. No dugout ball. No bullpen ball. Nothing. All of my snagging was confined to the first 50 minutes of the day. What a waste of a potentially monstrous performance. (So much for ending on a positive note. Oops.)

SNAGGING STATS:

• 10 balls at this game (including 6 home runs that I caught on the fly)

• 332 balls in 39 games this season = 8.51 balls per game.

• 608 consecutive games with at least one ball

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

• 110 lifetime games with at least 10 balls

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

• 4,152 total balls

CHARITY STATS:

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

• $24.69 pledged per ball

• $246.90 raised at this game

• $8,197.08 raised this season for Pitch In For Baseball

(Wait, THAT’S a positive note. I passed the $8,000 plateau…)

23 Comments

Sounds Like A Good Game Zack, Although some missed opportunities it seemed like a fun game! (1st Comment By The Way)
P.S. Do you happen to have Rockies roster sheets? (Anyone would be great but if you don’t its ok. I understand you’re busy)

If you have them can u E-Mail Them To Me, Pokeyjody@Yahoo.com

Thanks Soo Much!

Good overall day! My daughter, Sarah, got Greinke’s autograph on 4/19 & I wasn’t near her when she got it, but I asked if she said anything to him, & she said “thank you”. I asked if he said anything and she said “no”. He must be an “equal oppportunity ignorer”! Great pics as usual, don’t fret too much over the missed balls. You know as well as anyone that it always comes back around!
Brian
http://txbaseballfan.mlblogs.com

BTW–
That’s some serious smudging on the ball in the photo before the sleeping boy pics. I’ve never seen that big of a smudge on a ball! Thanks to you, I’m now a smudge/smear/error/dirty ball geek.
Brian

Hey Zack, nice 10 ball game at Camden. I was goin’ to go there in June, but I never did. Also when is the next game you will be at?

Hey Zack…I have been reading your blog for a while now and decided to begin commenting. Sounds like you had a great day and it’s dissapointing that Greinke is that rude/cold…you would think he’d be excited to talk to fans the way he’s pitching

Knowing the Royals, I’d have to say that Greinke dissed you, like he did me, because he’s just not an outgoing person. He is however, a great pitcher.

I just bought your book about snagging baseballs its amazing for how much they sell it for on amazon. Good luck getting to 5,000 balls

Where or when are you gonna pass Pete Rose? Will you want to accomplish one milestone at the New Yankee Stadium? I think it would fitting to do in the ballpark of Pete’s team, the Reds. And I was the one who told Guthrie that you were there, I said “The guy you pranked in Baltimore is here.”
Alex

yankeekid //colorado.rockies.mlb.com/team/roster_40man.jsp?c_id=col link tp colorado rockies 40 man roster

Nice game. I went to the yankees @ Rays game yesterday and caught another New Yankee stadium ball and caught a Carl Crawford foul ball too, and as for my beat the streak thing, well i shouldnt have mentiond anything about it because it ended yesterday with Ryan Theriot going 0 for freakin 6 in 13 innings. Very dissapointing. Hope that doesnt happen to you because you mentioned something.
– Michael from florida

I can’t believe you met Billy Butler. Pepsi calls him the next Joe Dimaggio!

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/blog/big_league_stew/post/Billy-Butler-and-Joe-DiMaggio-Pepsi-sees-a-conn?urn=mlb,179270

heyyyyyyy. i was at citi tonight. i got 3 balls, although i couldve had more. got into a couple of situations when i asked for a ball and it was given to a little kid next to me. and i saw andrew and his dad from the yankee stadium entry a couple games ago. i saw andrew ask politely for a couple of balls and then i saw him get a few tossed to him. mets won, but i got dissed by the ump as he pulled a ball out of his pocket, held the ball towards me and then gave it to someone else…..

Hey Zack
Nice job, I know your average is 8 balls a game but pretty much every game I see you go to you get 10. Great job.
The Shu

Jskate21- Thanks.

Hey Zack, I was just looking at your blog and you got some great stuff going on. I love the special delivery from Heath. Anyways that kind of sucks about Zack G. You would think he would be a little more appreciative being in the bigs and being so young. (not too long ago he was just a fan like all of us). anyways i just started a blog if you get a chance go check it out and leave a comment ! thanks – cjpyankee.mlblogs.com

with the early rainout today do the mets or rockies take BP tomorrow before the 1210 game ? I doubt it but if they did the place is going to be EMPTY when the gates open up.

ah, these pictures make me miss Camden Yards after my last game back at Citizens Bank Park…I might have to plan one more trip down to Baltimore before the season ends…maybe…hopefully. It will take a lot of convincing of the wife. We’ll see.
-Todd
http://cookandsonbats.mlblogs.com

I think you were overly harsh on Grienke. Being someone who went through a pretty serious bout of anxiety in my youth days (not the same thing, but I was in a touring rock band and had to deal with people all day) I can understand how crippling it could be. He is at a point where he can control it, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to battle with it daily. Looking back, I was probably really rude to lots of people, but it wasn’t on purpose, it’s just hard to deal with any sort of fame when you have an anxiety disorder. Realistically, the fact he was even out there signing for people indicates he is doing his best to manage it. I would cut him some slack. This kid was about to throw away a baseball career to mow lawns. Sounds pretty serious.

Secondly; about time you had a good snagging day, this season has been a little low on the catch-on-a-fly reports.

On another note, Chad and I were about 100 feet away from Dunn’s homerun that LEFT Miller Park, but we couldn’t make a mad-dash fast enough to make a play.

scott

I have a comment on something totally unrelated to this entry, I hope you don’t mind. Have you happened to notice that the logo on your WBC ball (from Heath) seems to be off-center? Pretty cool, pristine ball with a mis-stamp! Just a random observance.
Brian
http://txbaseballfan.mlblogs.com

no problem yankeekid

EVERYONE-
To answer your questions…

YANKEEKID-
You can find the roster on the Rockies’ web site.

IJWX87-
Thanks. I think my next game (if the weather is good) will be on August 4th at Citi Field.

ALEX-
Ahh, I was wondering who’d informed Guthrie. Not sure about Pete Rose. Great American Ballpark isn’t great for snagging, so I probably won’t go back anytime soon. I’ll probably snag my 6,000th ball at Yankee Stadium.

LI7039-
I wasn’t there today, but my guess is that there wasn’t BP, or at least not much.

SCOTT-
Thanks for setting me straight about Greinke and his social anxiety disorder. There are certain human behaviors and conditions that I can understand, but I truly can’t grasp other things. Interesting. I didn’t hear about Dunn’s bomb. (I’ve been too busy lately to even watch highlights.)

BRIAN-
Yes, I did notice that. I’m glad I’m not the only one. At first I thought it was only off because I photographed it crooked, but nope, it IS the ball itself.

Hey Zack, love your blog, been reading for years and now I finally have something to comment on. I met Greinke in January when the “Royals Caravan” came to Springdale, AR, home of the Royals Double A affiliate. Fans got to ask questions during the event, and since Owner David Glass was also there, he asked if the two would like to discuss a contract extension right now, which got several laughs, but didn’t even put a grin on Zack’s face. He and Kila Ka’aihue signed autographs after the event. They had already signed some photos and were passing them out to the fans that walked by. But me and my friend had baseballs that we wanted signed. I politely asked him if he could sign and he said “yeah” and signed. I thanked him and got no reply. My friend asked nicely if he could get two signatures, to which Greinke again replied “yeah”, my friend said, “thanks Zack, really appreciate it, I’m looking forward to this season”. No reply. I was going to ask for a picture with him and Kila, but decided it would be best if I just asked Kila. So overall, I think he’s probably just someone that likes to keep to himself. He was nice to sign our baseballs, but it would have been neat to have seen him laid back with the fans. Anyways, I know I’m rambling, but I just wanted to say I really enjoy your blog. Keep up the great stories. God Bless
Hayden

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