8/17/09 at Citi Field

Jona hadn’t yet been to Citi Field, so she came with me.

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(We’re such dorks.)

Right before the gates opened at 4:40pm, I explained where I planned to enter, which staircase I was going to run up, which direction I was going to turn, and where I was planning to go after that. It all made perfect sense to her, but then we got separated because a) security had to pat her down and b) I ended up running all over the place. Sometimes these things happen.

My first ball of the day was tossed by Mike Pelfrey in left field. Other than the fact that it was a brand new commemorative ball from the final season of Shea Stadium, there wasn’t anything special about it. I was the first one there, so he had no choice but to throw it to me. (I suppose he could’ve just ignored my polite request, but he’s too nice for that.)

Soon after, Jona got a photo of me running for my second ball of the day — a home run hit by Omir Santos that landed in the empty seats in left-center:

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The younger fan trailing behind me is named Alex. I met him once before at Citi Field. He has snagged quite a few balls and he writes a blog about it…and…just so you don’t feel bad for him, you should know that yesterday he beat me out for a loose ball on two separate occasions.

The Santos homer also had the Shea Stadium commemorative logo, but it was special for another reason: it was my 4,191st ball. That’s how many hits Ty Cobb collected in his career. Way back in July 2005, I half-jokingly started comparing my ball total to various players’ career hit totals. Here’s my original blog entry about it. I know it’s much-much-MUCH harder to get a hit in the major leagues than it is to snag a ball in the stands. Like I said, it was mainly a joke. It was just a way for me to have even more fun with numbers and stats and to give myself something tangible to shoot for. At the time, I had a grand total of 2,548 balls, which put me in 76th place on the hits list between George Van Haltren (2,532) and Willie Davis (2,561). I’ve been creeping up the leaderboard ever since, taking aim at the game’s all-time greats, and getting more and more into the whole thing. Yesterday, after snagging the Santos homer, I was finally in a position to pass Ty Cobb and move into second place behind Pete Rose (4,256).

fernando_tatis.jpgEnter Fernando Tatis, the only player in major league history with two grand slams in one inning.

The seats were still fairly empty, so I had plenty of room to run when Tatis lofted a high, deep fly ball toward left-center field. It was heading about 20 or 30 feet to my left, so I bolted through my row, then kept drifting with the ball as it began to descend. I knew I was in the perfect spot — I knew it was going to come right to me — but I sensed that there was another fan moving toward me from the opposite direction who was going to 3_bye_bye_ty.jpgmake an attempt of his own. I wasn’t sure who it was. I was too focused on the ball, so I braced myself and leaned forward at the last second and reached up as high as I could to prevent the other fan from interfering. SMACK!!! The ball landed right in the pocket of my glove. I looked down to see who the other fan was…and it was Alex. Our gloves had bumped gently as we both reached up to make the catch. It played out as if we were infielders who failed to call each other off on a pop-up. In situations like that, it’s usually the taller guy who ends up making the catch. That was the case here, and although it came at Alex’s expense, I was still really happy to have achieved a personal milestone.

The Tatis home run?
Another Shea Stadium commemorative ball.

Moments later, Tatis smoked a deep line drive to my right — a full section to my right. I ran as fast as I could and reached the next staircase, and while I was still on the run, I reached down and across my body with my glove hand and made a back-handed catch over the row of seats in front of me. If I hadn’t caught that ball on the fly, I wouldn’t have gotten it because there were other fans standing nearby. That ball was also commemorative, and so was the next one. I used my glove trick to pluck it off the warning track in straight-away left field. Pelfrey walked over to retrieve the ball as I started lowering my glove, but he was nice enough to stand off to the side and let me get it. Once I started lifting the glove with the ball tucked inside, he moved closer and pretended to hit the glove to make the ball fall out, but like I said, he’s a good guy. He would never pull a Gustavo Chacin.

Here I am with the five balls I’d snagged…

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…but back to the glove trick for a moment. There were two funny things that happened while I was using it. First, when I was about to lower the glove onto the ball, a fan standing 10 feet to my left shouted in a thick New York accent, “Sorry, buddy, dat ain’t gonna work!” and then two seconds later when I started lifting the glove with the ball inside, the same guy said (almost as if it were part of the same sentence), “Okay, nevermind!” It was classic. Moments later, the fan on my right was focusing intently on what I was doing. “That’s just like that guy Zack Hample!” he said, to which I responded matter-of-factly, “I am Zack Hample.”

The Mets finished batting practice 15 minutes early. The field was empty. It was lame. The Giants came out and stretched. There was nothing for me to do except wander over to their dugout:

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I was wearing a white Giants T-shirt at that point, along with a standard black-and-orange Giants cap. It must’ve helped because a Giants ballboy ended up rolling a ball to me across the dugout roof. I ended up giving that ball away to a kid after the game.

Once the Giants started hitting, I ran back to the left field seats and contemplated my next move. Tim Lincecum was standing in left field, more than 100 feet from the outfield wall. I was slowly walking through the half-empty second row. He looked up in my general direction, and I tim_lincecum_2009.jpg
noticed that he was holding a ball, so I jumped up and down and waved my arms to get his attention. For some reason, he then threw the ball right to me…or maybe he wasn’t aiming for me. Who knows? The ball sailed 10 feet over my head and landed in the empty seats several rows behind me. Fans started racing over from both sides as I began climbing directly over the seats. I simply HAD to get that ball. I’d been dying to get one from Lincecum for two years, and this was finally my chance. I was so determined to snag it, and I chased after it so aggressively, that I banged the absolute crap out of my left knee. But…I’m happy to report that I ended up getting the ball, and of course I didn’t injure anyone in the process except myself. I watched Lincecum closely after that and was in awe of his gracefulness. The way he chased fly balls, and even the way he caught throws from the warning track and relayed them toward the bucket — it was a thing of beauty, and I’ll be rooting for him even more than before.

Eventually, after things had slowed way down for me, I moved to the front row, just to take a peek at the warning track in case there was a loose ball sitting there that I hadn’t seen. There were no balls, so I should’ve walked back up the steps and assumed my normal position. But it was so tempting to stay in the front row. The field looked so nice. But I knew it was stupid to stay there. The only way to catch a ball there would’ve been to catch a home run on the fly, and it would’ve had to be hit RIGHT to me because the front row was packed, and the stairs behind me were crowded. Well, wouldn’t you know it, Aaron Rowand ended up hitting a ball RIGHT to me. It would’ve hit me in the head if I hadn’t caught it. That’s how “right to me” it citi_field_sucks.jpgwas. Truly incredible. And then, three minutes later, I caught a home run hit by Juan Uribe in left-center. I was several rows back at that point, and no one else had even seen it coming because there was a man in the front row who was trying to reel in a ball with his cup trick. Everyone was crowding around him to see if it would work…and it did…but unfortunately for the guy (who had his young son with him), he struggled with it for a minute or two, which exposed him to Citi Field’s goons (aka security). There were so many security guards who descended upon our section, you’d’ve thought there was a bomb scare, and half of them easily weighed more than 300 pounds. The biggest, meanest-looking men in New York had deliberately been hired and then sent to intimidate this guy (and, consequently, to leave his young son in tears). It was completely uncalled for. Not only did they confiscate the man’s device, but they wouldn’t even give him a claim check for it, so in other words, he was not even allowed to retrieve it after the game. It was gone. Forever. Just like that. Without a warning. There’s not even any mention of ball-retrieving devices in Citi Field’s rules. Some stadiums allow fans to use such devices. Others don’t but at least have a policy. The Mets (in case it wasn’t already obvious) are doing everything wrong.

Anyway, toward the end of BP, I snagged one more home run ball that landed in the semi-crowded seats in left-center. That was my 10th ball of the day. My lifetime total, at that point, was 4,199. My next ball would bring another mini-milestone.

Alex and I both tried to get Pablo Sandoval to toss up a ball before the game…

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…but Sandoval chose to throw it to three gloveless college-aged women who weren’t even asking for it.

During the game, Jona and I not only sat in a great place to watch the action, but in a perfect spot for me to get a third-out ball. This was our view:

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There were no third-out balls to be had. The Giants players were tossing them every which way. Bengie Molina threw two third-out/strikeout balls toward some Giants’ family members who were sitting about 30 rows back. I’d never seen anything like that.

Jona and I invented our own little game-within-the-game involving the players’ head shots on the Jumbotron. We’d look at each photo and then try to come up with a hypothetical/humorous situation that would’ve prompted the facial expression. Luis Castillo, for example, had a photo in which he looked very serious — almost angry, in which he was glaring at the camera with piercing eyes. I decided that the reason he looked that way must’ve been as follows: He got fed up with all his teammates patting him on the butt whenever he did something good, so he asked them not to do it anymore. He requested high-fives and fist-bumps instead, but they kept touching his heinie, and then one day, after it happened yet again, he just snapped. “Who did that?!” he demanded to know (in Spanish, of course). “I will kill the man who did that!” And then his photo was taken.

Jona came up with a good scenario for the Giants’ starting pitcher, Joe Martinez:

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I didn’t have anything original for him and suggested something that had to do with flatulence. Jona, on the other hand, suggest that Martinez was in a bar and some random guy who didn’t recognize him insisted that he could throw a baseball faster than him. Brilliant.

The Mets lost the game, 10-1, and allowed 18 hits. They only had one extra-base hit of their own, a meaningless eighth-inning double by Daniel Murphy. Giants left fielder Eugenio (pronounced “ay-yoo-HAY-nee-oh”) Velez might be the fastest player in baseball. He hit a gapper to right-center and was sliding into third base before I could blink. I was really into the game and noticed the bold strategic move by Giants manager Bruce Bochy in the top of the sixth inning. The Giants were winning, 3-1, and had runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out. Martinez was on deck, so the Mets intentionally walked Edgar Renteria to get to him. Even though Martinez had only thrown 67 pitches, Bochy chose to pinch hit for him, hoping to put the game out of reach. Nate Schierholtz was called upon and responded by crushing a 380-foot line drive to right-center — a shot that would’ve been a grand slam in most ballparks, but at cavernous Citi Field, it was just a two-run double. Still, that gave the Giants a four-run lead, and then Velez plated Renteria with a sharp ground out to shortstop. It was beautiful baseball.

After the game, I squeezed into the front row behind the Giants’ dugout…

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…and unexcitingly got my 4,200nd lifetime ball tossed by this guy:

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Does anyone know who this is? Here’s a closer look at him…

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…and here’s a shot of me with the milestone ball:

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Yes, it was another Shea Stadium commemorative ball. I heard (although I didn’t see it) that someone snagged a 2008 World Series ball during the Mets’ portion of BP, and of course there are some Citi Field balls and 2008 Yankee Stadium balls floating around as well. So, if you can stand seeing the Mets play in an overrated/overpriced new stadium with unreasonably strict security guards, you might come out of it with a few special baseballs.

SNAGGING STATS:

13_the_ten_i_kept_08_17_09.jpg• 11 balls at this game (10 pictured here because I gave one away; the ball at the top is No. 4,200)

• 380 balls in 43 games this season = 8.84 balls per game.

• 612 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 481 consecutive games in New York with at least one ball

• 346 consecutive Mets games with at least one ball

• 8 consecutive games at Citi Field with at least nine balls

• 114 lifetime games with at least 10 balls

• 4,200 total balls

CHARITY STATS:

• 118 donors (click here to learn more and make a pledge)

• $24.75 pledged per ball

• $272.25 raised at this game

• $9,405.00 raised this season for Pitch In For Baseball

29 Comments

first comment. awesome game! its a shame that in a city like new york with so many collectors that they wouldn’t have a “device policy”. maybe if people complain to the security then citi field will get smart and make some rules

Like the entry! Man, for having the two newest ballparks in baseball, New York sucks. (From a baseball standpoint that is!) With every Cit Field and Stankee entry I read of yours, I grow to love the Ballpark in Arlington a little bit more. I hate it for that father/son duo. Nothing like that would EVER happen in Arlington. The downside to Texas is it’s a big freakin’ state with only two MLB teams. Oh well, at least you still have Camden!
Brian
http://txbaseballfan.mlblogs.com

great job! again. I’m so glad i don live in NY, the ballpark suckssss ***. Anyway, anyone goin to Matt Kemp bobblehead night at Dodger stadium tom.?
probably not going to get a ball. I think its sold out.
And Zack whats the mets record when your at their games?
the dodger are 0-2 when im at dodger stadium

Z

This is a SUPER entry! Full of exciting action and the total joy of the game. But my face got hot and red when I read about Security grabbing the man ‘s device, confiscating it, and treating him as if he were a criminal. Why would a team that wants fans to patronize the game in its stadium threaten fans instead of coddling them, cozying up to them, making them feel swell instead of terrorized and angry and disappointed? A real mistake and a mystery! I say, “Ef ‘em!”

nice game zack
im the guy who was on your right when pelfrey was messing with your glove trick. i also remember a couple minutes after that, you were using the trick again but one of the giants came and took the ball away. It was my pleasure to see you in action in person.

Zack, you know how security shut the glove trick down at the “k”? Well, they did the same thing to me, so I told them that you sent me!! Not really, but I did want to punch the security guard…

The dude in the dugout looks like Bill Belichick.

nice game zack
im the guy who was on your right when pelfrey was messing with your glove trick. i also remember a couple minutes after that, you were using the trick again but one of the giants came and took the ball away. It was my pleasure to see you in action in person. I agree with everyone here that security sucks at citi field. One incident i should note is that a security guard threw a ball to a kid. The kid missed the ball and an adult ended up getting the ball. The kid started crying and the father started yelling at the adult. Security then came and made the adult give the ball to the kid. That pissed me off when i saw that.

Hey Zack, shouldn’t the charity total for this game be $272.25? 11 balls x $24.75.

JOSHSCARDS-
Lots of people have been complaining at both NYC stadiums about lots of things. It’s really a mess, even though the attendance figures would lead one to believe otherwise. There are a LOT of unhappy people in this city. Err, I mean, Citi.

BRIAN-
I’m glad you appreciate how good you have it.

M_KEMP_27-
Yup, be very glad, although Dodger Stadium is a pretty brutal place as well. (No offense.) I’m not sure about the Mets’ record in my games. I’m too lazy/busy to figure it out. Anyone want to take a stab at calculating it? You can see a list of which games I’ve been to here:
http://www.zackhample.com/baseball_collection/lists/2009.htm

BRADFORDBATBOY-
I’m glad you’re with me on this one.

KROD75-
Oh, that was you?! Nice to have met you yesterday, and good to hear from you now on the blog.

ROYALSFREAK-
That’s awful. Teams should just let fans have fun during BP and snag a few extra balls. It causes NO harm, but why am I telling you this? You already know that.

GRAHAM-
Good call.

BRAVES04-
You are correct! Big “duh” on my part. I was thinking I’d snagged 10 balls because that’s how many there were in the photo at the end. Anyway, thanks, and I just fixed it.

Zack, the mets are 4-4 when you are in attendance at citi field. I’m not going to calculate the overall, because I really don’t have time.

Congrats on the balls! Just wanted to tell you I bought your book “Watching Baseball Smarter”

Great entry

Wow Citi Field is… Wow haha

Also congrats on 4,200!!

Also tell Jona she is a good photographer!

Well today was bad luck for me, hit traffic going in and missed mets BP than a fat guy boxed me out and a braves BP hr ball hit off my glove. Mets won though, than the heavens opened up. Next up 69 night at citi on saturday. BP is either going to end early or not take place at all. great

Zack, after you pass Rose, you should switch your focus from balls to games and try to take down Cal Ripken’s consecutive game streak. Of course, it would be a LOOOOONG term goal.
-Todd
http://cookandsonbats.mlblogs.com

i just got back from citi field. ive been asking for more balls lately and its kinda working although i only came away with 2 today. the first was a REALLY high homerun that came right to me in straight away left field. as soon as i caught it (on the fly) i turned around and saw greg right behind me, so i think he got a good view of it. And greg, it might just be me, but i think tim lincecum might be a distant relative of yours. you look just like him. and the second was from….Billy Wagner! I ran to right field when a few lefties were hitting and billy wagner caught a fly ball under the overhang, so i called out for it and he turned around and kinda sidearm flicked it at me really fast. like, really, really fast, and off aim by about 5 feet, but luckily, the seats were empty, so i just jumped the seats and grabbed it. and that was it. nothing when the braves came out or anything.

and zack……….
Marco Barattas brother, who says he sat with you and marco at the mets game a few weeks ago, goes to boston college and hes a big party guy. one of his friends from a different college said that time lincecum came to that college and partied with him the offseason of his rookie year, and he said that lincecum was the biggest pot head he had ever met. that kinda dissapointed me. I won’t be too surprised if lincecum gets caught one of these days……

and one last thing…. both balls i snagged tonight were shea commemoratives. Oh, and i’m going to chicago in late august to see 2 mets games, then flying from chicago to minnesota for two games at the metrodome, then back tgo chicago for 2 astros games at wrigley.

oh, and earlier in the season, the same thing happened to me at Citi. Four overweight security guards came into the outfielod after seeing both greg and i use the cup trick in left field. The on field security guard told me to stop, so i immediatley pulled the cup up, and apologized. he then continued to scold me as if i had told him to ef off when he told me to stop. then, the four guys came and searched my bag and found my cup and took it. i never got it back either. The guy asked who my friend was who also had it and i told him i had never met the other guy with the cup (gotta protect my boy greg). as the guy was taking it, he told me how clever it was. yeah,,, thanks.

Hey Zack,

It’s been a while since I’ve commented, but I’ve been away for a few months. I’ll be back at SHEA soon enough. So I have a couple of off topic questions – first off, do you still feel like you learn different things/new tricks at games? Like do light bulbs still go off in your head from time to time realizing something new that will help you get more balls? And then I guess as a follow-up, do you feel you’ve reached your potential, the climax of your ballhawking career?

Lastly, and I ask this just based on my own attempts; do you still get a thrill out of each individual ball, or is it just an aim towards a higher goal? I just ask, cause for me, I still get a thrill out of each individual ball, and it’s as if I don’t want to get 8 in a game, cause I’d consider a bunch meaningless I’m sure.

I just got caught up on your blog. See you soon.

Ben

Zack, that guy looks an awful lot like SCOTT BORAS.

http://www.delawareonline.com/blogs/uploaded_images/scott_boras-796833.jpg

The guy looks like Andy Richter.

Hey, this is a swell blog. And I couldn’t agree more with bradfordbatboy – even if I was actually him – about the Wilpons running a fan-hostile ballpark. The Mets fans (if there are enough any longer) should get up a petition and send it to the owners. And somebody should write a letter to the sports section of the New York Times, or maybe an article in Sports Illustrated. Citi Field is like a prison.

That clubbie almost looks like Chris Berman…

Well Zack, you were right. You average 10 or 11 balls a game at Citi, and thats what you got. Congrats on 4200!
Now its my turn:

When I got to Camden Yards on Monday, I quickly met up with fellow ball hawks Gary and Greg, who would also be at this game. We played catch and just hung out for the next hour and a half until the gates opened. I had season ticket, and when the gates opened I raced inside (security didn?t even check my bag) and went into the center field seats looking for easter eggs in the seats, or in the gap. There were none, so I rushed into left field. I stayed more towards left center, and I let Gary and Greg patrol the area near the foul pole. A few minutes after BP started I got my first ball tossed to me by an Orioles coach. He tried to flip me the ball with his glove, like a fielder would do to turn a double play and his first attempt fell short. He then tried again and as the ball landed in my glove, another ball smacked the seat right next to me, and bounced away from me! Although I was on the board, close calls would be the story of the day for me. There were several balls that were rattling around in the seats, and I picked the wrong row every time, or other balls landed where I would have been, had I not been trying to grab a ball in the seats. A few minutes later an O?s righty hit a ball into the second row, and I made the catch. Shortly after, I made another catch on a ball that was hit right to my staircase; I just had to move forward for it. The Angels then came on the field and I got John Lackey throw me my fourth ball of the day. About five minutes later, an Angles batter hit a ball into the second row of seats. When it was hit I was in the 6th row, and I slowly drifted down, not wanting to run too far forward and have the ball go over my head. As it descended, I realized it was going to land on the other side of the staircase, so I reached between the gap in the railings and tried to backhand the ball. It hit off the fingers of my glove and bounced about I yard away. It would have been a really good catch if I had made it, so at that point I was just concerned about getting the ball, and I wasn?t too upset about dropping it. There was another kid standing in the row where it landed maybe my age and he and I reached for the ball. I covered it with my glove; much like a goaltender covers the puck in hockey, and I said ?I got it!? The kid then put his hand underneath the fingers of my glove, and pried the glove off and grabbed the ball! (If you lay a glove on the floor, there is a gap between the fingers and the floor, and this is where the kid stuck his hand) I told him I had it, which I did, and he just stole it. It happened so fast, I was just shocked and extremely pissed and just ripped the kid. He just sat down and didn?t say a word and never even turned around. I then saw him demonstrate what he did to his dad, and his dad was excited that he got the ball! WTF? I was ********** the rest of BP and was later ?robbed? by a taller guy (much like what happened with Alex and Zack) which pretty much summed up the day. But, as Bp came to a close I managed to get a Torri Hunter HR that was rattling around in the seats. The Angels unexpectedly ended Bp early, so I didn?t have a chance to get behind their dugout, and get a ball as they came off the field. I had club level seats (thank you Stub Hub) so my plan was to stay up there and try to catch some foul balls. But before I went up there, I grabbed a spot behind the Orioles dugout, and Caesar Izturis threw me his pre-game warm-up ball. In the first or second inning I was extremely close to a foul ball in the club level. If I was sitting on the other side of the staircase it would have been mine. That was the only foul ball that came anywhere close to me the rest of the game, so in the 9th I went down behind the Angels dugout to try to get a ball after the game. I didn?t and I don?t think they even threw any up. I was okay with my final total of 6 and I was happy that I got balls from Torri Hunter and John Lackey, but I was disappointed because with a little bit of luck, those 6 balls could?ve been 10.
I was in Washington the next day to see the series opener between the Nats and the Rockies. At about 4:15 it started to drizzle and I was freaking out that there wouldn?t be BP. When I ran inside the cage was set up, but for the next 15 to 20 minutes the Nats took infield practice. I was in RF when BP stared and I got Jason Bergmann to throw me my first ball of the day. I then ran to LF because there were a few balls in the Rockies bullpen that I thought I might be able to glove trick, but I wasn?t able to get them. However Rockies coach Bob Apodaca tossed me one of them. I ran over to the last section in RF and Alberto Gonzalez threw me a ball. I reached out over the railing, and into the space above the groundskeeper?s area, next to the batters eye. The ball hit the palm of my glove and? I dropped it. No excuses. I just dropped it. It bounced into a spot where I couldn?t see it or get it, and as far as I know, the ball is still there. With an awful feeling in my stomach, I went to the Red Porch, after my dad told my there was a ball in the gap there. After two failed attempts I reeled it in. A batter then hit a ball to my left and I made a nice backhanded catch. I was very surprised that I caught it because it hit the fingers of my glove, which are very floppy, and I thought the ball would drop out. I was pumped after that, and quickly got another ball that was hit into the seats, beating out another fan for it. A few minutes later, I called out to J.D Martin who threw me my 6th ball of the day. The Nats then finished BP, and there was a 10 minute period before the Rockies came out where there was nothing going on. So I decided to untangle my string and as I was doing so I was told by security that if I used the device it would be confiscated. Dammit! Then I was kicked out of the Red Porch because I didn?t have a ticket! So I stayed in RF for the Rockies half of BP. The Rockies didn?t really throw much up, but one of the balls they threw up was dropped into the gap next to the scoreboard. I looked around and didn?t see a guard so I lowered my glove. The ball stuck in the glove, and as I was pulling it up, I was very careless and pulled it up too fast. My glove hit a bar that ran from the seats to the wall, and the ball fell out and rolled under a wooden board, not to be seen again. A minute later as I was running through an empty row of seats for ball, ONE lady was coming down the staircase when I needed to cross it, and she blocked me from getting the ball that had rolled into the empty row of seats on the other side of the staircase. As I was running for that ball another ball hit the staircase in the EXACT spot where I had been standing! (My dad who was right behind me ended up getting it!) Another fan in the seats made two very nice catches two rows in front of me, and the balls would?ve been mine had he not be there. But I made a nice catch on a Todd Helton homer a few minutes later. Then, I ran to the Rockies dugout in hopes of getting a ball as the team ran off the field. I didn?t, but a few minutes before BP ended, Yorvit Torrealba tossed me a ball as he was standing next to the batting cage. (BTW, I gave that ball away, along with two others.) Adam Dunn denied my request for his warm-up ball, and so did Todd Helton and Dexter Fowler. I sat behind the Nats dugout in the top of the first, and when Ronnie Belliard ended up with the third out ball after the first, I was yelling his name and waving my arms way before he even crossed the first base line. I was the only fan yelling, so naturally he threw it to the little kid, who wasn?t even asking for it (but he did have a glove) five seats to my right. I then went into the bathroom, changed into my Rockies gear, and picked a spot in section 117 about 20 rows back. Adam Dunn stepped to the plate with two outs, and I when he fell behind and had two strikes on him I said to myself, ?Ok Adam, please don?t strikeout (because the catcher would have gone into the dugout via entrance on the other side of the dugout.) Just put the ball in play or foul one off to me.? With a 3 and 2 count Dunn fouled one off right behind me. It hit the facade of the second deck and bounced back. I stuck my glove up, and as the ball was coming down, several other hands entered my vision and reached out for the ball. It was coming right at me, and before I knew it, the ball was sitting on the staircase. I reached down and was the first one to grab the ball! My first foul ball! At first I was kind of ********** that I didn?t catch the ball, but the more I thought about it, I realized that I don?t even know if the ball ever even hit my glove. I definitely felt something hit the outside of my glove, but I don?t know if it was the ball or somebody else?s hand. I think that if the ball hit my glove, it would?ve hit the palm of my glove because I was right under it, not the side of my glove. I think the ball may have been deflected before it ever reached my glove, but I honestly don?t know. I then went back to my seats (which were in a suite!) and enjoyed the rest of the game there. When I went to buy food, I went into the club level concourse, and as I looked up, I just stopped and did a double take. It looked EXACTLY like the Upper Deck concourse in Yankee Stadium! Nationals Ballpark opened in ?08, so the Yankees copied the Nats design. I needed one more ball for double digits, and I thought I would come up one short after HP ump Doug Eddings stormed off without even acknowledging my request, and after the Rockies disappeared without tossing a ball to me. When I saw a trainer on the steps peeling off the tape from the lineup card that is taped to the dugout wall, I asked for the lineup card. He said no, but tossed me my tenth ball of the day, so it was all good.

Hey Zack when u mentioned the random commemorative balls that the mets were using i happened to go to the game yesterday and Nelson Figueroa threw me the Nationals Commemorative ball from last year

Clif- Im not surprised he is. Just saying he looks like he would b 1 in high school or college.
Zack- Wow Wht im i sopossed to say? 11 balls is great, but for u is, ehh average. jk great game.
Joe

ROYALS FREAK-
Whoa, thanks for looking that up. That’s cool to know.

REDSFAN101-
Thanks for getting my book. I hope you enjoy it.

LI7039-
Traffic?! Oish. I’m avoiding all Mets games this weekend, but I’ll be watching on TV.

TODD-
Oh jeez, I don’t even want to think about that.

GOISLANDERD4-
1) Nice job with the balls. Wagner DOES throw them hard.
2) That’s a real shame about Lincecum smoking.
3) Sounds like an awesome trip. Get some commemoratives!
4) Sorry you had to go through that with the cup at Citi.

BEN!
Nice to hear from you again. Interesting question(s) and yes, I definitely feel like I still learn new things at games, although anything I learn at this point is usually a small detail. I mostly have small realizations and discover even better ways to do things. As for having reached the climax of my career, hell no! I know I’d be able to snag 1,000 balls in a single season if I could just get a hold of more money and free time. Also, I’m going to catch many more game home runs — hopefully a milestone or two, as well as two homers in a single game, so I still feel like I have a lot more to accomplish and enjoy. I do still get a thrill from each ball, although certain types of balls (BP homers and game fouls and game homers) give me a much bigger rush. My heart still beats like MAD whenever a ball is hit anywhere near me during a game.

BOB-
Heh, nice.

GREG-
Also nice!

BOODLEHEIMER1-
Maybe you could write something?

DANLCOX77-
I see it…a little bit.

PUCK COLLECTOR-
That sucks about the kid grabbing the ball from underneath your glove…but MAN…nice recovery the next day in D.C. and congrats on the foul ball and double digits. Very very very cool!

CJISTHEMAN-
Wow, I didn’t even know those were still floating around. Citi Field is officially the mecca of commemorative balls.

JOE-
Har-har. :-)

Nah, I don’t have time to write about the Mets many management missteps. But maybe you should ask the bradfordbatboy dude to do it – since he appears to be even more pee-oh’d than I am about mistreatment of fans at Citi.

Hey Zack,

Thanks for the thorough follow-up.

Ben

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