8/25/09 at Coors Field

As I mentioned in my previous blog entry, I’m staying here in Denver with my friends Danny and Nettie. Danny has THE most extraordinary collection of baseballs you’ll ever see. I blogged about it last year and showed a bunch of photos. Yesterday I visited his office where he has even more memorabilia. It’s truly unbelievable…

First, here’s a shot of Danny in his office. It was such a big space that I had to take two photos and fuse them together with Photoshop:

1_dannys_office.jpg

Seriously, THAT is an office.

Here’s a look at one of the walls:

2_dannys_memorabilia.jpg

Here are some bobblehead dolls:

3_dannys_memorabilia.jpg

Did you notice the shelves below?

Yup, all different kinds of baseballs. Here are my four favorites:

4_dannys_memorabilia.jpg

Here’s another cool ball, which has a painting of Buck O’Neil along with some info about him on the other side:

5_dannys_memorabilia.jpg

Of all the balls in Danny’s collection, my absolute favorite is this:

6_dannys_memorabilia.jpg

Those little metal things are the actual sewing needles.

Wow.

Here are some wooden baseballs…

7_dannys_memorabilia.jpg

…and yes, Danny has a matching set from the American League.

Danny has a closet in his office.

Does he hang coats in there?

No, of course not.

He has more baseball stuff:

8_dannys_memorabilia.jpg

Have you ever seen a “Gold Glove Award” baseball?

9_dannys_memorabilia.jpg

Neither had I.

Danny has a few non-baseball items, such as this signed program from a golf tournament in 1994:

10_dannys_memorabilia.jpg

There actually IS a baseball autograph in there — someone who was serving as a caddy for one of the golfers. Can anyone pick out the signature and identify whose it is?

After the office tour, Nettie and Danny took me to lunch (they’re outstanding host-parents), and I headed to Coors Field at around 4pm. It had drizzled a bit earlier in the afternoon, and it was still cloudy when the gates opened, but there WAS batting practice.

I started out in the front row…

11_coors_field_front_row.jpg

…and got Jorge De La Rosa to toss me my first ball of the day.

Then I met up with my friend Brandon. Here he is, refusing to look at the camera:

12_brandon_sloter.jpg

If Brandon looks familiar, that’s because we’ve been to several games together including (but not limited to):

4/24/08 at Champion Stadium
8/29/08 at PETCO Park
8/30/08 at Angel Stadium

Brandon is a professional photographer/videographer, and once again, he got some great photos of me in “action.” (The word “action” is in quotes because, as you’ll see, there wasn’t much of it.)

mark_strittmatter_2009.jpgMy second ball of the day was tossed by Rockies coach Mark Strittmatter at the 1st base dugout just after the Rockies finishing taking BP.

After that, I changed into my Dodgers gear and headed back to left field. My Dodgers shirt does, unfortunately, say “RAMIREZ 99″ on the back. I’m no longer a Manny fan, and in fact I was ashamed to have his name on my back. But, for the record, I bought the shirt long before he was busted for steroids, and I do still feel somewhat of a connection to him because (as I’ve mentioned in the past) I’ve been close friends with Manny’s high school coach since Manny was in high school. The point is, it’s hard not to root for a guy that I’ve been hearing about since he was 16 years old, but I *am* in fact done with him.

Anyway…

I was dying to snag some balls from the Dodgers because of this. In case you’re too lazy to click the link, it’s a photo of fan from Los Angeles who’s known as “Mannywood” on MyGameBalls.com. In the photo, he’s holding a baseball that was stamped “DodgersWIN” on the sweet spot. The “WIN” stands for a charity called Women’s Initiatives Network. There’d been some talk about these new stamped balls in the comments section on this blog and so…I really REALLY wanted to get one.

Someone on the Dodgers hit a ball that rolled to the wall in left-center. I positioned myself right above the ball as Ramon Troncoso walked over to retrieve it. Here’s a photo of me leaning over the wall, asking him for it:

13_zack_about_to_snag_ball4208.jpg

Troncoso looked up and flipped me the ball, or at least I thought he did. The ball sailed five feet over my head and landed behind me in the wide front-row aisle. I scrambled back and grabbed it off the ground, and when I looked at the ball, I was excited and puzzled and slightly disappointed. Here’s what was on the sweet spot:

14_dodgertown.jpg

I’d forgotten that the Dodgers are now stamping their baseballs in two different ways. Yes…it was all coming back to me. I’d seen photos of these “DODGERTOWN” balls as well. It was great to finally have one, but I still really wanted one of the balls that said DodgersWIN.

Two seconds after I grabbed this ball, I realized that Troncoso had been trying to toss it to a little kid who’d been standing in the front row behind the aisle. I decided to give him the ball…but wait…did I have to give him THAT ball? Could I keep the one that said DODGERTOWN and give him the regular ball from Strittmatter instead? The kid was there with his mother, and I explained the situation to them and pointed out the stamp on the sweet spot. The mother assured me that the kid just wanted *a* ball and didn’t care what was printed or stamped on it, so I made the switch.

I headed to the left field corner and lined myself up with Guillermo Mota and Jonathan Broxton. They were the last two guys who were playing catch, and Mota promised to give me the ball when he was done. I looked closely at it each time he took it out of his glove, and I finally saw that it was a brand new DodgersWIN ball. I was bursting with anticipation as the throwing session came to an end. When Mota caught the final throw, he flung the ball directly from his glove, and it sailed ten feet wide. The seats were empty at that point except for ONE guy who happened to be sitting right where the ball was heading. He didn’t even have a glove. He just reached back and snatched it out of the air with his left hand. I wasn’t too pleased. Mota didn’t even acknowledge his mistake, nor did he hook me up with another ball. He just walked out toward the middle of the field, and that was that.

I headed to right field and ran around nonstop…

15_zack_running_right_field.jpg

…but didn’t catch anything.

Then I went back to left field and did some more fruitless running:

16_zack_running_front_row.jpg

The photo above is actually kinda cool. As Troncoso was running for that ball, I was racing over from the opposite direction, hoping to get near it and convince him to toss it up.

Here’s another action shot. It shows me racing down the steps from the right while another guy is racing down on the left. We were both going for the ball that was sitting on the warning track:

17_zack_running_for_ball4209.jpg

It’s hard to tell from this angle, but that ball was about five feet out from the wall, so none of the fans were able to reach it. Once I moved into the front row, I let out of a few feet worth of string (which is tied to my glove) and easily knocked the ball closer. I bent down and grabbed it, and I was thrilled to see that it had a DodgersWin logo! But then some guy in the front row started making a big fuss about how the ball had been thrown to his kid, and he basically demanded that I hand it over. It was the biggest crock, and I was stunned when the other fans nearby took his side. The whole thing was about to turn ugly. I offered to give one of my regular balls instead, but they wouldn’t accept it. They wanted the DodgersWIN ball (even though they were Rockies fans). I had two choices: 1) Tell them all to **** off or 2) give them the damn ball. Fifteen years ago, I would’ve gone with Option No. 1, but this is 2009, and I like to think of myself as being a bit more generous and mature, so I went with Option No. 2. (What would YOU have done?) I figured I’d snag another one of those balls at some point in the following two days, so as frustrating as it was to finally get my hands on one and then immediately turn it over, I wasn’t terribly concerned.

Broxton (who is NOT a friendly man) had seen the whole thing play out and rewarded me with another ball. DodgersWIN?! No…Dodgertown. It was my fifth ball of the day (counting the two I’d given away).

Batting practice was almost done so I headed to the Dodgers’ dugout as everyone was coming off the field. Then, totally unexpectedly, a ball came flying up from below. Someone had tossed it from inside the dugout. It landed on the roof about five feet to my right and started rolling away from me. Luckily, the front row was empty enough that I had room to chase after it and grab it. I had no idea where Brandon was at that point, and in fact I was annoyed that he wasn’t with me. I didn’t know that he was watching my every move from afar, and as I learned later, he took a photo of me taking a photo of the ball. Did that make sense?

Here…look at the photo below. The arrow is pointing to me, and I’m taking a picture of the ball that I’d just snagged:

18_zack_photographing_ball4211.jpg

Why was I photographing it?

Check it out:

19_ball4211_dodgerswin.jpg

Hell YES!

I’d snagged both kinds of balls and met Brandon back in left field:

20_zack_marked_balls.jpg

Before the game, I got Casey Blake to sign a ticket…

21_casey_blake_autograph.jpg

…and then Blake tossed me his warm-up ball at the dugout five minutes later. It was another DodgersWIN ball, and then moments later, Rafael Furcal tossed me one that said DODGERTOWN. There was NO competition for balls at the dugout. The only challenge was that the ushers made me stay behind Row 10. That’s just one of the silly rules here. But thankfully there was no one in front of me with a glove.

This was my view during the game:

22_view_during_game.jpg

The fans behind me were heckling Manny nonstop. More on this in a bit…

This was the view to my left, and if you look closely, you’ll see a tiny red dot in the aisle, off in the distance:

23_view_to_my_left_08_25_09.jpg

I put that dot there to indicate where I ended up after running for Blake’s home run in the top of the 4th. It was probably 80 feet away, and I might’ve caught it had it actually landed in the aisle, but no, it landed three rows deep. That was the first of three home runs. Brad Hawpe hit the second one to center field in the bottom of the 4th (Jameson Sutton nearly caught it) and Clint Barmes hit one to my section in the 7th. I was in line at a concession stand at that particular moment (duh) so you know who ended up catching it? Dan Sauvageau, the guy who hooked me up with the front row ticket in the first place. Here he is with his five-year-old daughter Emily, who’s holding THE home run ball:

25_dan_emily_barmes_homer.jpg

It’s the 41st game home run that Dan has caught on the fly. He’s snagged another 50 or so that have landed in the front row, but he doesn’t even count those.

Now, about those Manny hecklers…

24_manny_haters.jpg

They were out in full force. Here’s a Top Ten list (in reverse order) of the best heckles I heard:

10) “Get a haircut, you cheater!”
9) “How does it feel to be the worst left fielder in the National League?!”
8) “Where’d you get your uniform, Goodwill?”
7) “Man-roid!”
6) “Hey, Manny, I got some weed for you from Jackson Heights!”
5) “You look like the Predator!”
4) “The only thing steroids gave you was hemorrhoids!”
3) “Hey, Manny! One word: shrinkage!”
2) “When you heard that Tulo hit for the cycle, did you think you had a new friend?!”
1) “You let everybody down!”

After Heckle No. 6, I shouted, “It’s Washington Heights!” to which the heckler replied, “Whatever, he doesn’t know the difference!”

There were, of course, a number of anti-gay (and otherwise obscene) taunts, the worst of which came from a fan who was wearing a Mets cap. Of course, the ushers did nothing to stop him, and yet security felt the need to stop me from using my harmless glove trick the day before for a damp ball that wasn’t even on the field.

The game went into extra innings. I moved to the seats behind home plate with Brandon. The Rockies put runners on the corners with nobody out in the bottom of the 10th. Coors Field was rocking:

26_crowd_excited_10th_inning.jpg

Then, after a one-out intentional walk loaded the bases, Troy Tulowitzki delivered a walk-off single. His teammates mobbed him behind second base:

27_rockies_walk_off_win.jpg

I didn’t get a ball from the ump. I didn’t get a ball from the Dodgers relievers when they walked in from the bullpen. Nothing. My night was over. But I’m not complaining. I snagged a bunch of interesting balls, hung out with some friends, and saw another great game.

Final score: Rockies 5, Dodgers 4.

SNAGGING STATS:

28_the_six_balls_i_kept.jpg• 8 balls at this game (6 pictured here because I gave two away)

• 393 balls in 45 games this season = 8.73 balls per game.

• 614 consecutive games with at least one ball

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

• 4,213 total balls

CHARITY STATS:

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

• $24.86 pledged per ball

• $198.88 raised at this game

• $9,769.98 raised this season for Pitch In For Baseball

26 Comments

Interesting game. I’m not sure where I stand on the heckling thing. Part of me understands it, but the other part doesn’t. Anyways, Donnie’s office is SWEET! My stepdad has one almost identical, except instead of baseball stuff it’s hot rods. I like Donnie’s better! Nice job on the special balls! Mission accomplished? Or do you have more to achieve?
Brian
http://txbaseballfan.mlblogs.com

2 walkoffs in a row! You can totally put the jinx on Mota if you want, I think I would like that. And about the autographs that you wouldn’t like, I recommend you never get Cory Sullivan’s autograph. You would hate it.
-Ellie
http://mrmetbro.blogspot.com

wow, nice game again. congrats to dan on the snag. dont be too pissed about the homerun, if u read the comment i had last entry, u can see why it couldve been worse, like not catching a ball tht hit your seat while u tracked it wrong. danny and his wife seem rly nice to room u while your there. hav a good rest of the trip. JOE

Hey that was an awsome game, Hawpe and Blacke’s home runs were both just one section over from me but I had no way of getting to them, i was so mad that i didn’t get Blakes but i just couldn’t move from side to side. When one guy held up a Manny jersey some guy said, “hey, we’re out of toilet paper in the men’s room, could you hook us up?” that was pretty funny. Anyways, good luck in the other games.
Noah

Hey Zack,

Next to Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field is my favorite stadium to watch baseball. Thanks for the great memories.

To me, that looks like an autograph from Greg Maddux.

Pretty cool collection.

WATCH THE BOUNCING BALL – Ryan Spilborghs homers in the bottom of the 3rd inning just a few minutes ago and Zack is right there but about 5 rows below just coming up the stairs. You see the ball ricochet and come down right at his feet and he bends over. The only problem is they didn’t show it but I am almost positive that he picked it up!!
Did you get the HOMER ZACK????
Hope ya did!

John
Baseballs 4 MADD – MLBallhawk
http://ballhawk.mlblogs.com
http://mlballhawk.com
@mlballhawk on Twitter

Tonights game – Weds 26th – is what I am talking about!

I have seen the Golden Glove balls before, they had them at FanFest last year.

Where does Donnie get all of the other balls anyway?
And what the hell do you do, b/c whatever it is, thats what i wanna be!

Hey, I’m the mom of the kid who traded you the D-town ball. Right after that, our buddy Don – the Rockpile Ranter – caught a ball that Ethier had hit out, and gave it to my son. And hey, it was a D-town ball! LOL Anyway, glad you got the balls you wanted, and you were at Coors for some great games! I found out who you were from Don’s pics on his blog. We know Dan, too. Rox have some crazy awesome fans! :D

Zack, any idea how many balls you’ve given away out of your 4213 total? I think this is the first game that I can remember that you gave away more than one. That was only because you were almost forced to give it away as well. I think you should give away a few more balls here and there to little kids. Once you snag them, the charity already wins, and it goes towards your total, so do you really need to keep probably 90% of your balls?

Zack, at an average game with batting practice, how many balls do you think are tossed/ hit into the stands?

It’s Maddux who signed it. He’s a huge golf fan. And his signature SUCKS!

Zack, I have to admit I’m quite jealous! Thats sounded like a very fun game, and whoa, 2 walkoff’s in a row.

Keep up the good work!

Hey zack, my name is jacob, im 14 and, no ****, ur my idol. i live an hr away from land shark stadium in miami and im starting to take on a ballhawk role. i no im a rookie but i honestly cant stop thinking about going to games for balls and when i go to the games its hard for me to like pay attention to whats actually happening in the game. all i think about is getting a foul ball. i go to games once every week or two and in my first two games i got a combined 15 balls. 1 was intendend for a kid and i had to give the ball to him. Im collecting hats i bring rosters and ive almost got the glove trick down. it is amazing. anyway in the first game i went to i got 6 1 foul ball and i didnt get to use the glove trick because there was no bp(a daygame). the second game i got 9 one using the glove trick it was awesome. i almost got two using the glove trick but it fell out three quarters of the way up i was pissed. then the guy security guy said stop. anyway all i wanted to do is tell you thanks for inspiring me ,again no **** and tell me when you are coming to a marlins game even though u live in ny. also im going to ny over labor day weekend to see a mets cubs game. tell me if ull be attending and maybe i can look for u. also my bro is a card hawk(collects sined cards and is at 314) sry for the long comment and good luck at future games!!!!!

lol that **** is hmo sry

zack! great games in the mile high city. i happen to know jacob the new commenter very well and i’ve been going to games with him and his family for years. i’m NOT his brother that he told you about, i’m his brothers friend. but since his brother and i collect cards (i got 5 at the game he got 9 balls), he decided to start collecting baseballs at the games. i told him about you and how i comment on this blog and he’s started to read your posts. the kid is good. the first game he really tried he caught a foul ball. but literally he can not stop talking about going to games and getting balls. he didnt know whether to mention me in his post b/c he wasnt sure if you knew who i was. maybe not by face, but you at least recognize my username….

Congrats on your success at Coors Field. Did you happen to see the man that shoved you in the tunnel last season?
I had an interesting night at Turner Field last night. It started out great when gates opened early. I hurried inside and found a rare easter egg in left field. BP wasn’t crowded at all, yet hardly anything was hit near me except one in right field later on.
As the night went on, the Padres pulled away and it started raining enough to scare everyone away, but not end the game. I had a great chance for foul balls, but naturally nothing was hit to me.
When the game ended, I was at the Padres’ dugout in my Padres t-shirt and still nothing came my way. Kevin Kouzmanoff started signing afterward and I was next in line when a huge downpour started and everyone ran inside. The storm was so bad that a few dozen of us had to stay in the stadium for about 20 minutes. Lightning was all over and knocked out power in the concourse. It eventually lightened up and I sprinted to my car in the ghetto lot.
I snagged 2 baseballs, but I really felt like I had no luck at all.

cool stuff in the office. i like the Cuba ball best. Tim likes the Christmas ball best…or as he commented, “the shiniest.” also, I like those DodgersWIN balls. That’s pretty cool. Good job. Sorry about the frustration from the section of people pressuring you to give up your first DodgersWIN ball.
-Todd
http://cookandsonbats.mlblogs.com

ahhhh….multiple comments, sorry. one question, how’d he get the ball with the partially sewn seems? that’s pretty awesome.

Okay, I didn’t read the rest of the post or comments since the golf program note, because I wanted to guess the baseball autograph in there:

Greg Maddux.

It certainly looks similar to my auto-graphed Greg Maddux ball that I have, and I know he is a BIG golfer.

Oh well, back to reading the post.

Greg
Red Sox Ramblings: http://thevendahhh.mlblogs.com

Zack,

I am at a lot of Pirate games, and I collect autographs (although I have started to go for baseballs and have gotten 1 each of the past 3 games). I bought the Gold Glove Ball at the Pirates team store at PNC Park for $26. I have a ton of sigs on it. It really is a cool ball.

EVERYONE-
I just made it back home to NYC. I have two more Rockies games to blog about, so be on the lookout for those blog entries. I have lots of cool photos/stories to share, and when I get a chance, I’ll answer all the questions in the comments…

BRIAN-
It’s Danny, not Donnie, but anyway, my mission most certainly was NOT accomplished. I wanted to catch a game run and/or get a ball tossed by Manny, and that didn’t happen.

ELLIE-
Heh, thanks for the warning.

JOE-
I’m not too pissed. Even if I’d been in my seat, I don’t think I would’ve caught it, but it’s still frustrating.

NOAH-
Funny stuff. Sorry about your lack of range. That’s how it is EVERY time in New York City for me. I hate it.

TJINK-
Ding! Ding! Ding! You are correct about Maddux. Good call.

JOHN-
No…no homer. I was close on that one…and my terrible luck continues.

PUCK COLLECTOR-
What’s with all the people on here named Brian calling Danny “Donnie”? Anyway…he catches some of his baseballs and buys the rest from various sources.

LUVMYROX-
Hey! Good to hear from you, and good to hear that all the giving/swapping of baseballs worked out. Crazy-awesome fans indeed.

LASVEGASRUSTY-
I like owning baseballs, and I feel good about the number of them that I give away. If I didn’t get to keep so many, I wouldn’t have any motivation to snag them in the first place. Some people keep all their baseballs. Some people sell all their baseballs. Some people give 90 percent of them away. To each his/her own.

SMF7293-
Dozens and dozens? I have no idea, but it’s a lot. Maybe even triple digits.

THEKMAC-
Yep, it’s Maddux.

REDFAN101-
Nah, don’t be jealous. It’s like I caught either of those walk-offs.

JACOB-
Thanks for the long/detailed/kind comment. I’m really glad to hear that I’ve inspired you…and wow, congrats on all those balls you’ve snagged. I hope you find a way to get to many more games so you can really start piling up the numbers. Coincidentally, I *will* be attending one of the Mets-Cubs games during Labor Day weekend (September 6th), but I’ll be with “Watch With Zack” clients so I might not have too much time to hang out. But still, if you see me, please come say hi. It’d be nice to meet you.

JOSHSCARDS-
Cool that you know Jacob. We’re all just a big happy family. :-)

BRAVES04-
Yeah, I saw The Shover. He stayed out near center field the whole time, so we barely crossed paths. I saw him get robbed on a third-out ball that the center fielder tossed right to him. That was one of the many highlights of my trip. Sounds like a VERY interesting experience for you…getting trapped in the stadium like that. I think that’s every baseball fan’s dream (as long as there’s no real danger).

TODD-
Thanks for feeling my pain. “Hi” to Tim. Those partially-stitched balls were used at Coors for some kind of demo/display. I’m in the process of trying to get one for myself, but they might be all gone.

GREG-
You’re right about Maddux.

WEWILL1992-
Only $26? That seems like a good price for such an unusual ball.

hey zack, jacob again…..ill be attending on september 4th so ill miss seeing you….. good luck and thanks a lot for replying. i dont think ill bring my cubs hat to the game though because we no luis alicea and his family….his daughters in my class. He’s the first base coach for the mets and he might supply us with tickets. Hey my brother was at the game when i got a ball using the glove trick and from across the field, he took a video. He put it on facebook and its hilarious. Thanks again!

I felt compelled to try and find your previous visits to coors field haha but yeah since im 17 years old i probably wouldve told them to **** off no doubt.

JACOB-
Sorry for the super-delayed reply, but I didn’t see your comment ’til now. I hope that personal connection worked out for you…and you’re welcome.

STINKYTHECAT-
Seventeen, huh? I was wondering how old you are.

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