7/19/11 at Citi Field

This was my 72nd game of the season — and the first that I attended with my mom. Here we are waiting on line outside the Jackie Robinson Rotunda:

The photo above was taken (with my rinky-dink camera) by a German/freelance writer named Sebastian Klement. He was there to photograph and interview me, so when the gates opened at 5:10pm, he followed me inside and took a ton of photos (with his fancy camera).

Here’s a photo that he took of me in right field:

Batting practice was dreadfully slow. I only managed to get ONE ball while the Mets were on the field, and it was thrown by Jason Isringhausen. Here I am posing with it:

The photo above was taken by Sebastian.

The photo below was taken by my mom; I’m on the left (after changing into my Cardinals gear), and Sebastian is on the right:

The Mets had ended BP nearly 20 minutes early, so there was quite a bit of time to kill.

Although there wasn’t much action in the stands when the Cardinals finally started hitting, Sebastian still went to town with his camera. The following six photos of me were taken by him.

Number One — eyeing a ball in right field:

Number Two — running back toward left field:

Number Three — holding up my glove after catching a Matt Holliday homer:

Number Four — signing a copy of The Baseball for a fan named Jaron:

Number Five — posing with Jaron as my mom took her own photo:

Number Six — wishing I were in Baltimore…

…or Washington D.C. Or Kansas City. Or San Francisco. Or Milwaukee. Or Atlanta. Or San Diego. Or Pittsburgh. Or Cleveland. Or Denver. Or Houston. Or Arlington. Or Minneapolis. Or Seattle. Or Los Angeles. Or Chicago. Or Boston. Or Tampa. Or Miami. Or Detroit. Or Phoenix. Or St. Louis. Or Cincinnati. Or Philadelphia. Or Anaheim. Or Toronto.

Here’s a photo that I took that shows why it was so tough to snag baseballs:

I’m not even going to bother explaining why it was tough. I think you can see for yourself.

Here’s the last photo that Sebastion took. Nothing fancy. Just nice and mellow. It shows me walking behind the Cardinals’ dugout after BP:

Then we did the actual interview:

As you can see in the photo above, I had changed out of my Cardinals gear, and by the way, the thing I’m holding in my right hand is Sebastian’s iPhone. He was asking me questions, and I was speaking into it. I’m not sure if iPhones come with voice recorders or if he had to buy/download an app in order to do that, but in any case, that’s what was going on. (I don’t have a smart phone. I’m still rockin’ the RAZR. To hell with checking email all day long. When I’m out, I don’t want to be bothered.) (Speaking of email, if you’d like to get in touch with Sebastian, you can reach him at senikl@gmx.de)

Sebastian sat with me and my mom for a couple innings. Then he wandered off to another section to meet a friend. It was great hanging out with him — he’s a really nice guy, and I can’t wait to read his article — but I was also glad to have some one-on-one time with my mom.

This was our view for the game:

After Ronny Paulino lined out to Cardinals second baseman Skip Schumaker to end the 5th inning, I wandered down the steps and got Schumaker to toss me the ball on his way in.

Several minutes later, a young fan recognized me and came over to introduce himself. He then handed me a baseball that he’d snagged during BP and asked me to sign it. His name was Jason. Here he is with it:

I get recognized at games fairly regularly — more this season than ever, it seems — but this time was extra special. Not only was Jason particularly well mannered and enthusiastic about meeting me, but my mom was there to witness it. It was a really nice moment for everyone involved.

After the 6th inning ended, I got another 3rd-out ball from right fielder Lance Berkman. I’d never gotten one from him, and I’d always wanted one, so that was cool.

Although there’d been a zillion kids screaming for baseballs during BP, there were very few in my section during the game. In fact, there was only one kid who made any effort to snag a 3rd-out ball, and she didn’t even make an attempt until the 7th inning. I noticed her standing at the bottom of the stairs during every inning break. You can see her (with her mom crouching behind her) in the following photo:

I watched closely to see if she’d be able to snag a baseball on her own, and not surprisingly she wasn’t. Inning after inning, she returned to her seat empty-handed, so eventually I gave her one of mine. She didn’t even say “thank you.” These things happen.

Toward the end of the game, Jason returned with a friend who was even more excited to meet me. His friend’s name was Nick, and he asked me to sign his glove. Check it out:

Did you notice that the number under my name was “5249” for Jason and “5250” for Nick? That’s my lifetime ball total; in between autographs, I got the 3rd-out ball from Berkman.

Here I am with Nick and Jason:

Cool kids. I’m glad they introduced themselves, and I hope they keep their promise to create profiles on MyGameBalls.com. (Nick and Jason: if you’re reading this, leave comments with links to your profiles so everyone can check it out.)

As for the game itself, Mets starter Dillon Gee was perfect through three innings, faced the minimum through four (there was a walk followed by a double play), and had his no-hitter broken up in the 5th. He ended up getting the win (and improving to 9-3) as the Mets held on for a 4-2 victory. Carlos Beltran reached base in all five plate appearances and hit his major league-leading 29th and 30th doubles. Jose Reyes had two hits. Lance Berkman hit a mammoth home run onto the Shea Bridge shortly after tossing me that 3rd-out ball. All was right with the world.

After the game, my mom and I got a final photo together outside the stadium…

…and then we took the No. 7 express train back to Manhattan.

UPDATE: Here’s the article that Sebastian wrote. For a laugh, copy the text of the article, then go to Google Translate, then select German to English, and then paste the text.

BALLHAWKING STATS:

• 4 baseballs at this game (three pictured here because I gave one away)

• 588 balls in 72 games this season = 8.17 balls per game.

• 733 consecutive games with at least one ball

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

• 377 consecutive Mets home games with at least one ball

• 5,250 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 get involved.)

• 56 donors

• $7.12 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $28.48 raised at this game

• $4,186.56 raised this season

Finally, of the three balls that I kept, one has a beautiful invisible ink stamp. Check out the following side-by-side comparison in regular light versus black light:


15 Comments

Photo 3 is awesome.

Love the “Number One” photo. Very cool. And sorry Citi eff sucks so bad. Maybe you should sublet a place in Baltimore during baseball season…

Thanks so much for posting this Zach! It was great meeting you! I did keep my promise, and created a My Game Balls account. I’m still uploading my baseballs, since I have about 40. Not bad for a kid as young as me!

Sorry, accidentally hit h and not k in Zack!

Hey Zack,

Noticed while watching the Yankess at Tampa this week the tarps covering most of the upper deck. Looks like a lot of foul balls would land there, and you could make a pretty good killing.

That’s in Tampa, of course.

Love the blog Zack! I don’t comment often, but I always appreciate your prose. So does the Sultan of Snag ever get bored during a game? I can get through about 3 innings, then I get bored.

What’s my favorite part of a baseball game? The kiss cam. I have recurring dreams of being featured before 45,000 smooching the stranger next to me. In most of my dreams, the person next to me is a chizzled hot dog vendor. However, once it was my grandma! You gotta do what you gotta do when you’re on kiss cam, right? You ever been on kiss cam?

Zack:
I met you during BP at a Yanks Red Sox game early in June.
I happened to get 14 balls during that game :)
Today, I made a mygameballs.com account. Is it just me, or does it take forever for the site to load??
If you wanna check out my profile, heres a link
http://www.mygameballs.com/baseballdata?db=schrag5
thanks!!

^ Not buying it, schrag.

Is there a reason you left out Oakland? If it’s THAT bad that it had to be left out when talking about NY, I don’t think I ever want to go.

LOL, I love you Greg. I’m with you on that too, sorry buddy, no way that you got 14. And Zack, I’m definitely jealous of Berkman. Nice one. He’d be #2 after Piazza for me.

The only reason I got 14 was that Im a kid and that day the section in LF was farely empty. Also, I had tix for that section, so I got to stay there for the duration of BP.
You can see the game stats in my mygameballs profile.

Ryan, Oakland is that bad. The coliseum just sucks. This is why every a’s fan hates Commish Bud. He has been stretching this out for 2 years. I hate bud and the Coliseum!

Why did you mention Arlington last?

“To hell with checking email all day long. When I’m out, I don’t want to be bothered”

So good to hear ANYONE besides me say that. Especially someone of my own generation, though. I still haven’t figured out who everyone’s talking to.

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