6/29/11 at Yankee Stadium

As usual, there was a huge line outside Gate 6, but for a change, there was someone special waiting just inside to greet everyone. In the following photo, this “mystery person” is standing behind the closed/gated door:

Any guesses?

Time’s up.

It was Yankees manager Joe Girardi. Here’s a two-part photo that shows me (left) and my friend Ben Weil (right) with him:

Girardi was there…just because. Pretty cool, huh?

When I made it out to the right field seats, I got Nick Swisher to throw me my first ball of the day. Here’s a photo of him that I took soon after:

Ben also got a ball from him.

Then I caught an A-Rod homer on the fly. And then Ben caught one too.

I headed to left field when the Brewers started hitting…

…and snagged two more baseballs. The first was tossed by Chris Narveson. (Ben’s 3rd ball of the day was a Chris Dickerson homer in right field.) The second was a homer, possibly hit by Yuniesky Betancourt, that landed in the seats and took a lucky ricochet right to me. I gave that ball to a kid soon after. (Ben’s 4th ball was a homer, definitely hit by Ryan Braun, that landed in the seats and took a lucky ricochet right to him. He’d given away his 3rd ball of the day. Hmm.)

After BP, there were eight balls sitting in the left field bullpen, most of which can be seen in the following photo:

As for the guy in the photo, that was a groundskeeper who kept everyone waiting for the balls while he took down the metal poles and protective netting. When he finished five minutes later, he tossed most of the balls into the bleachers, but I managed to get one from him. (Ben’s 5th ball was nonexistent. He ended the day with four. Haha!! I mean, wait, that wasn’t nice of me. Sorry, Ben. Thanks for driving me to and from the stadium, two days in a row.)

Time out…

Back on 4/14/11 at Citi Field, I met a pair of young fans named Ben and Eli. Remember? Here’s a photo of the three of us.

Time in…

Eli was at this game, and he knew that I was going to be here too, so he brought his copy of The Baseball. Here we are with it:

In the photo above, Eli is holding the two baseballs that he’d snagged during BP.

In the photo below, a gentleman named Stuart Jon is holding a baseball that I signed:

I’ve gotten to know Stuart Jon over the past few years through emails and several face-to-face encounters at the stadium, the first of which occurred on July 26, 2009. He owns copies of all three of my books. He’s made donations to my charity fundraiser for Pitch In For Baseball. He’s a diehard Yankee fan and all-around great guy. And he’s an architect. Check out his website.

This was my view during the game — not great because the cameraman was standing directly in front of me, but still pretty cool because there was a TV monitor showing all the action and slow-Mo replays:

Speaking of Mo, the Yankees took a 5-2 lead into the 9th inning. You know what that means, right?

Mariano Rivera!

Here’s The Man jogging in from the bullpen:

Mariano retired the Brewers with just 12 pitches to earn his 580th career save. I don’t care for the Yankees, but I love Him.

After the game, while the Brewers were clearing the bullpen, Chris Narveson got some extra work in, and Marco Estrada tossed me my 6th ball of the day. In the following photo (taken just after I got the ball), Estrada is the guy who’s walking away from me on the right:

And then…I went home.

BALLHAWKING STATS:

• 6 baseballs at this game (four pictured here because I gave two away)

• 470 balls in 58 games this season = 8.1 balls per game.

• 719 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 244 consecutive games with at least two balls

• 150 consecutive Yankees home games with at least one ball

• 5,132 total balls

CHARITY STATS:

(I’m raising money again this season for Pitch In For Baseball, a non-profit charity that provides baseball equipment to underprivileged kids all over the world. Click here to learn more.)

• 55 donors

• $7.11 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $42.66 raised at this game

• $3,341.70 raised this season

Finally, of the four baseballs that I kept, only one has any trace of invisible ink on it, but man, wait ’til you see it. Here’s a side-by-side comparison in regular light versus black light:

In case you can’t tell, the marks surrounding the “110″ stamp are fingerprints — and look, there’s more:

THAT, my friends, is a snazzy baseball.

7 Comments

I can’t believe Joe Girardi was just staanding there. Not some’n you see every day. What are you gonna do at Yankee games when Mo retires? Are you gonna be in Baltimore for BallhawkFest? It’s hard being a kid who lives in Texas and has to go to Maryland. )-:

And the season is already half over. I want it to end so 2012 will come and you can come back to Arlington. But I gotta root for my Rangers. I just got to watch the video from Trent getting that homer and you looked so sad walking off Greene’s Hill while the six-shotters ran right past you. Come on ladies show this legendary ballhawk-no offense Moe and Rich and everyone else-some pure respect.

Great to see you again Zack! Let’s go Yankees!

Stuart Jon

Daahhh!!! My nonexistent 5th ball. It hurts, lord, it hurts!!! And you forgot to mention that you snagged the Arod homer…while talking on the phone!!! Impressive stuff!

I can’t believe Joe Giradi was just standing there. That is something that I have never seen happend before. Let me just say now, those black light photos are amazing. I am having trouble getting my black light to work, but when I do, i’ll let you know if there is anything special.

Just when you think the Yankees are a fan-unfriendly team, Girardi does something like this. Very cool of him to do so. I wish the Cardinals would do this as well.

I remember you saying something in a previous post about how on a certain day players will greet fans at the gates or something like that? Was this one of those days?

BIGGEST RANGER FAN-
After Mo retires, I simply won’t have as much of a reason to root for the Yankees. But I’ll still go to games. And yeah, I will definitely be at BallhawkFest.

STUART JON-
Your Yankees might’ve had a rough 4th of July weekend, but they’re still kicking ass.

BEN-
Ahh yes, my multi-tasking snag. YOU forgot to mention that I was on the phone with the senior editor of Yankees Magazine.

NICK BADDERS-
Thanks. Glad you like the photos, and good luck with your own black light.

DAVID-
The whole players-greeting-fans thing IS somewhat of a regular occurrence, but I’m not sure when or why it happens. It might be announced somewhere, but if that’s the case, I don’t know about it. I remember seeing Andy Pettitte at Gate 6 last year…unexpectedly. And I think CC also made an appearance at some point this season.

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