February 2012

Attack of the stats

This is crazy — in an awesome way. Several days ago, I received a random email from a guy named Joe whom I’ve met at a couple of games. The subject was:

Your career snagging stats…in a different way

His email went as follows:

Zack,

I’ve attached a word document that highlights your career snagging stats, broken down by every single calendar day during the regular season.

For example, on September 1st, you have snagged 24 baseballs on 4 separate days, for an average of 6.00 baseballs on September 1st.

On September 2nd, you have snagged 22 baseballs on 2 separate days, for an average of 11.00 baseballs on September 2nd.

Etc…

I hope you enjoy.

Joe

The email contained an attachment called “Letter to Zack Hample.” Here’s what it said:

Zack,

I was looking over your yearly stats, as I do mine, and decided to break your stats down by the calendar day.  The breakdown is from 1993 through 2011, a total of 19 seasons.  I only used dates of April 1 through September 30, thereby excluding the less frequent March and October regular season games.  In addition, I did not include All-Star Games or Home Run Derbies .

This breakdown is for regular season games only, from April 1 through September 30.

APRIL…you have snagged 840 baseballs during April games.  You have averaged 28.000 baseballs per calendar day in April.  On April 15th, you have snagged a total of 59 baseballs, your highest single calendar day total in April.  You have snagged baseballs on 8 separate April 15ths, for an average of 7.38 baseballs on April 15th.  On April 1st, you have snagged a total of 3 baseball, your lowest single calendar day total in April.  You have snagged baseballs on 1 single April 1st, for an average of 3.00 baseballs on April 1st.  On April 26th, you have snagged a total of 54 baseballs.  You have snagged baseballs on 5 separate April 26ths, for an average of 10.80 baseballs on April 26, your highest average per calendar day in April.  April 1st is your lowest calendar day average for snagging baseballs.  You have averaged 3.00 baseballs snagged on April 1st.

MAY…you have snagged 1135 baseballs during May games.  You have averaged 36.613 baseballs per calendar day in May.  On May 30th , you have snagged a total of 58 baseballs, your highest single calendar day total in May.  You have snagged baseballs on 8 separate May 30ths, for an average of 7.25 baseballs on May 30th.  On May 4th, you have snagged a total of 9 baseball, your lowest single calendar day total in May.  You have snagged baseballs on 2 separate May 4ths, for an average of 4.50 baseballs on May 4th.  On May 18th, you have snagged a total of 37 baseballs.  You have snagged baseballs on 4 separate May 18ths, for an average of 9.25 baseballs on May 18, your highest average per calendar day in May.  May 8th and May 15th are your lowest calendar days averages for snagging baseballs.  You have averaged 4.00 baseballs snagged on May 8th and May 15th ( On May 8th… 28 total baseballs snagged on 7 separate years = 4.00 baseballs snagged per May 8th .  On May 15th … 20 total baseballs snagged on 5 separate years = 4.00 baseballs snagged per May 15th ).

JUNE…you have snagged 897 baseballs during June games.  You have averaged 29.900 baseballs per calendar day in June.  On June 18th , you have snagged a total of 79 baseballs, your highest single calendar day total in June.  You have snagged baseballs on 8 separate June 18ths, for an average of 9.88 baseballs on June 18th.  On June 12th, you have snagged a total of 7 baseball, your lowest single calendar day total in June.  You have snagged baseballs on 2 separate June 12ths, for an average of 3.50 baseballs on June 12th.  June 18th is also your highest average per calendar day in June.  June 6th and June 12th are your lowest calendar days averages for snagging baseballs.  You have averaged 3.50 baseballs snagged on June 6th and June 12th

JULY…you have snagged 730 baseballs during July games.  You have averaged 23.548 baseballs per calendar day in July.  On July 5th , you have snagged a total of 43 baseballs, your highest single calendar day total in July.  You have snagged baseballs on 6 separate July 5ths, for an average of 7.17 baseballs on July 5th.  On July 10th, July 28th and July 31st you have snagged a total of 3 baseballs each day, your lowest single calendar days total in July.  You have snagged baseballs on one July 10th , one July 28th and one July 31st , for an average of 3.00 baseballs on those days, your lowest calendar days averages for snagging baseballs.  On July 21st , you have snagged a total of 33 baseballs.  You have snagged baseballs on 3 separate July 21sts, for an average of 11.00 baseballs on July 21, your highest average per calendar day in July.

AUGUST…you have snagged 813 baseballs during August games.  You have averaged 26.226 baseballs per calendar day in August.  On August 17th , you have snagged a total of 51 baseballs, your highest single calendar day total in August.  You have snagged baseballs on 4 separate August 17ths, for an average of 12.75 baseballs on August 17th.  On August 28th, you have snagged a total of 5 baseballs, your lowest single calendar day total in August.  You have snagged baseballs on one August 28th, for an average of 5.00 baseballs on August 17th.  August 17th is also your highest average per calendar day in August.  August 14th is your lowest calendar day average for snagging baseballs.  You have averaged 2.33 baseballs snagged on August 14th , snagging 7 baseballs on 3 separate August 14ths.

SEPTEMBER…you have snagged 1058 baseballs during September games.  You have averaged 35.267 baseballs per calendar day in September.  On September 14th , you have snagged a total of 114 baseballs, your highest single calendar day total in September.  You have snagged baseballs on 8 separate September 14ths, for an average of 14.25 baseballs on September 14th.  In addition, September 14th is also your highest average per calendar day average for snagging baseballs.  On September 3rd , you have snagged a total of 12 baseballs, your lowest single calendar day total in September.   September 25th is your lowest calendar day average for snagging baseballs.  You have averaged 5.20 baseballs snagged on September 25th , snagging 26 baseballs on 5 separate September 28ths.

Whew.

Anyway, I just wanted your head to explode with more meaningless (except to people like us) stats, just in time for that “feeling in the air” sense we all get as the calendar gets closer to Opening Day.

Feel free to question, critique or write.

Joe Maloney …. Howell, NJ

This was my reply:

Wow, this is pretty insane/awesome. Thanks for taking the time to do this. I love it.

I’m not sure if I want to share this on my blog, but I’m thinking about it. Would it be okay with you? And if so, would you want me to mention your name and link to anything?
 
Again . . . not sure if I want to post it for sure, but just want to consider my options.
 
Wow again.
And thanks again.
 
Hot damn.
 
-Zack

Joe wrote back and said:

Zack,
 
First, thank you for the kind words.  You have always been very giving of your time to myself (at various games) and to others.  These are your stats, so I hope you can use them any way you wish.  That is why I keep “bothering” you with emails…I didn’t want to post anything under Comments.
 
Second, these stats are very accurate, except on days when you attended 2 separate games…not sure if I lumped it into one game (I probably did, because it was in the same year) or two.  This would only affect your daily average.
 
Most notable to me and why I do the same thing for my stats, is to see trends in my/our ballhawking.  I would have expected larger numbers from you in April and lesser numbers in May.  Moreover, June, July and August are summer vacation months and are fairly consistent.  September is my favorite month…fan attendance drops for non-playoff teams, and your numbers are great. 
 
Just at a glance…
 
15 days of 50+ balls….3 in April, 4 in May, 2 in June, 0 in July, 1 in August and 5 in September
14 days of 9 or less balls…3 in April, 1 in May, 1 in June, 6 in July (4 of which would not have been affected by the All-Star break), 3in August and 0 in September.
 
I’m sure I will see you in Baltimore this season, and thank you again for your advice for getting my wife’s book published…you recommended hiring a literary agent.
 
Joe Maloney

The email above had another attachment, which contained even more stats. Check it out below, and since the columns got a bit screwy when I copied and pasted, let me explain how it works. The first entry indicates that on April 1st, I’ve snagged a lifetime total of three balls in only one game for an average of 3.00 balls per game. If you skip down a few lines to April 6th, you can see (according to Joe) that I’ve snagged 41 total baseballs in five games for an average of 8.20 balls per game — and I’ve snagged two “game balls.” Like I said, this is crazy and awesome . . .

Date Total Baseballs Games Average Game Balls
April 1 3 1 3.00

April 2 6 1 6.00

April 3 22 3 7.33

April 4 17 4 4.25

April 5 15 2 7.50

April 6 41 5 8.20 2

April 7 36 4 9.00 1

April 8 14 2 7.00

April 9 28 6 4.67 1

April 10 31 2 15.50

April 11 20 4 5.00 1

April 12 13 3 4.33 1

April 13 5 1 5.00 1

April 14 36 4 9.00 1

April 15 59 8 7.38

April 16 33 6 5.50 4

April 17 18 3 6.00

April 18 40 7 5.71 1

April 19 28 3 9.33 1

April 20 10 3 3.33

April 21 28 4 7.00 1

April 22 38 6 6.33 4

April 23 51 6 8.50 3

April 24 32 4 8.00

April 25 24 5 4.80

April 26 54 5 10.80 3

April 27 40 4 10.00 1

April 28 37 4 9.25 1

April 29 34 5 6.80

April 30 27 6 4.50 1

Date Total Baseballs Games Average Game Balls

May 1 40 6 6.67 1

May 2 39 6 6.50

May 3 49 6 8.17 1

May 4 9 2 4.50

May 5 21 4 5.25

May 6 43 7 6.14 2

May 7 53 9 5.89 1

Date Total Baseballs Games Average Game Balls

May 8 28 7 4.00

May 9 47 9 5.22 1

May 10 47 7 6.71 4

May 11 37 6 6.17

May 12 45 6 7.50 4

May 13 46 7 6.57 2

May 14 42 7 6.00

May 15 20 5 4.00

May 16 37 7 5.29 1

May 17 32 4 8.00

May 18 37 4 9.25 2

May 19 30 5 6.00 2

May 20 33 6 5.50

May 21 38 8 4.75 1

May 22 23 5 4.60 1

May 23 40 7 5.71 2

May 24 30 6 5.00

May 25 30 5 6.00

May 26 16 3 5.33

May 27 24 4 6.00 1

May 28 56 7 8.00

May 29 34 7 4.86 2

May 30 58 8 7.25 2

May 31 51 7 7.29 2

Date Total Baseballs Games Average Game Balls

June 1 16 3 5.33

June 2 20 3 6.67 1

June 3 40 7 5.71 3

June 4 14 3 4.67

June 5 26 5 5.20 1

June 6 14 4 3.50 1

June 7 29 7 4.14 1

June 8 37 6 6.17 1

June 9 30 6 5.00 2

June 10 40 7 5.71 1

June 11 40 7 5.71 3

June 12 7 2 3.50 1

June 13 30 5 6.00

Date Total Baseballs Games Average Game Balls

June 14 37 4 9.25 1

June 15 34 4 8.50

June 16 39 5 7.80

June 17 22 2 11.00

June 18 79 8 9.88

June 19 63 11 5.73 3

June 20 33 6 5.50

June 21 44 6 7.33

June 22 27 5 5.40 1

June 23 26 5 5.20

June 24 23 4 5.75 3

June 25 18 3 6.00

June 26 25 3 8.33

June 27 19 4 4.75

June 28 29 5 5.80 1

June 29 12 3 4.00

June 30 24 5 4.80

Date Total Baseballs Games Average Game Balls

July 1 42 7 6.00

July 2 33 6 5.50 1

July 3 12 3 4.00

July 4 8 2 4.00

July 5 43 6 7.17 1

July 6 13 2 6.50

July 7 17 3 5.67

July 8 19 4 4.75 1

July 9 9 2 4.50

July 10 3 1 3.00

July 11 27 3 9.00

July 12 11 2 5.50

July 13 11 2 5.50 1

July 14 23 4 5.75

July 15 35 5 7.00 1

July 16 37 5 7.40

July 17 40 6 6.67 1

July 18 35 6 5.83 1

July 19 17 3 5.67 1

July 20 40 7 5.71

Date Total Baseballs Games Average Game Balls

July 21 33 3 11.00

July 22 33 4 8.25 1

July 23 32 5 6.40 1

July 24 25 5 5.00 1

July 25 30 5 6.00

July 26 20 3 6.67

July 27 40 4 10.00

July 28 3 1 3.00 1

July 29 28 5 5.60 2

July 30 8 1 8.00

July 31 3 1 3.00

Date Total Baseballs Games Average Game Balls

August 1 27 5 5.40

August 2 27 4 6.75 1

August 3 30 4 7.50 1

August 4 25 3 8.33

August 5 39 5 7.80 1

August 6 47 6 7.83 1

August 7 28 3 9.33 1

August 8 37 6 7.40 3

August 9 10 2 5.00

August 10 26 4 6.50

August 11 46 5 9.20 3

August 12 18 4 4.50 1

August 13 22 4 5.50

August 14 7 3 2.33

August 15 15 4 3.75

August 16 33 5 6.60 1

August 17 51 4 12.75

August 18 24 3 8.00

August 19 14 2 7.00

August 20 18 3 6.00

August 21 6 1 6.00

August 22 25 4 6.25

August 23 29 5 5.80 2

August 24 17 5 3.40

August 25 32 6 5.33 1

August 26 14 4 3.50

Date Total Baseballs Games Average Game Balls

August 27 19 3 6.33

August 28 5 1 5.00 1

August 29 46 5 9.20 3

August 30 30 4 7.50 1

August 31 46 5 9.20 3

Date Total Baseballs Games Average Game Balls

September 1 24 4 6.00 2

September 2 22 2 11.00 2

September 3 12 1 12.00 1

September 4 18 2 9.00 2

September 5 21 4 5.25

September 6 29 3 9.67

September 7 18 2 9.00 1

September 8 46 5 9.20 2

September 9 15 2 7.50

September 10 51 6 8.50 2

September 11 27 3 9.00 2

September 12 28 4 7.00

September 13 38 4 9.50 1

September 14 114 8 14.25 1

September 15 60 5 12.00 2

September 16 38 4 9.50 1

September 17 52 5 10.40 1

September 18 39 6 6.50

September 19 37 4 9.25 1

September 20 37 5 7.40 1

September 21 24 4 6.00

September 22 28 4 7.00

September 23 29 3 9.50

September 24 38 6 6.33 1

September 25 26 5 5.20 1

September 26 30 4 7.50

September 27 28 3 9.33 1

September 28 39 5 7.80 2

September 29 52 6 8.67 2

September 30 38 4 9.50 1

Japanese baseball tickets

Look what arrived recently in the mail:

Hell.
Yes.

Korean documentary

You know that Korean documentary that I’ve been talking about since last summer? It never aired in North America — only on the Korean Broadcasting System — and I was told by the filmmaker not to post it online. I’ve made a few copies for my friends who are *in* the movie, but as far as sharing it publicly, the best I can do is show you a bunch of screen shots, so check  it out. . .

The opening scene shows me dumping out (and unzipping) several bags of baseballs in my bedroom:

The documentary is IN Korean. There are no English subtitles — only Korean ones (as you can see above) to translate what I was saying. In the screen shot above, I’m in the process of saying, “This whole bag is baseballs.”

Then there’s a brief montage of my TV appearances. Here’s Jay Leno talking about my first two books:

That clip was taken from my TV reel, which you can see here in its entirety. And by the way, did you notice that my name is spelled wrong up above? Amazing.

At around the four-minute mark, there’s some footage of me inside Yankee Stadium:

In the screen shot above (taken just after I changed out of my Rays gear and gave a ball to a kid), I’m saying to several on-lookers, “I’m not a Rays fan. I’m just wearing that crap to get baseballs. Didn’t really work too well today, though.”

By the way, this was the game on August 13, 2011. Click here to read my blog entry about it.

Here I am back at my place, showing some of my favorite baseballs:

(Yes, my kitchen cabinets are ugly. They were like that when I moved in, and I don’t feel like paying thousands of dollars to replace them.)

In the screen shot above, the ball on the left is a Robinson Cano grand slam from the new Yankee Stadium, the ball in the middle is the last Mets home run ever hit at Shea Stadium, and the ball on the right is Barry Bonds’ 724th career home run.

Here’s something odd/funny:

Did you notice what’s wrong in the screen shot above? Look at my Tigers cap. The logo is backwards.That’s because I was being filmed in the mirror (in a hotel room in Detroit). As for what I’m saying, it’s some portion of this: “He’s 6-foot-4 and weighs about 250 pounds, so the guy is a monster. You watch him in batting practice — he crushes balls where baseballs shouldn’t even be landing.” I’m talking about Ramon Santiago, of course.

Kidding. Miguel Cabrera.

Here are some fancy visuals . . .

. . . and here’s another scene from the hotel room in Detroit:

The filmmaker had asked me to (a) show him how I use Home Run Tracker and (b) talk about my connection to Korean baseball, so naturally I pulled up Shin-Soo Choo’s page and talked about  where his longballs land.

Several childhood photos found their way into the documentary:

That’s me in the red shirt at camp in 1982. You’ll find that image along with hundreds more on my website’s photo page.

The filmmaker got footage of just about everything. Here I am walking along Broadway with an open box of pizza:

“It is my breakfast and my lunch,” I’m telling the camera, “and unfortunately this is how a lot of meals go for me.”

The pizza scene was filmed on the way to my mom’s place. Here she is telling the world (or at least all of South Korea) how weird her son is:

During the interview, my mom mentioned my dad, and as a result, a photo of him made it into the documentary:

That was pretty cool.

Most of my baseballs are still at my mom’s place, so while I was there, I showed a few to the camera. Here I am explaining why the stitches are red and black on the 2000 All-Star Game ball:

(It’s because the game was at Turner Field, and the Braves’ colors are red and black.)

Next up? A road trip to the Hall of Fame. Here I am driving (before my license was revoked) and explaining the circumstances:

In the screen shot above, the Korean is a translation of this: “We’re driving from New York City up to Cooperstown, New York — it’s about a four-hour drive — to visit the Hall of Fame.”

(Is there anyone reading this who’s fluent in Korean? It’d be fun to know if anything got lost in translation.)

Here I am wandering with my camera:

Back at my place, the filmmaker asked me to talk about my books. Here I am holding all three of them . . .

. . . and here I am critiquing my first one, How to Snag Major League Baseballs:

That book is TERRIBLE. You will actually become dumber if you read it. It was written badly, I said some stupid things, and half the stadiums I talked about are now defunct. Avoid the book at all costs. Seriously. This is not reverse psychology. I’m telling this to you as a friend.

Anyway, moving right along . . .

Here I am (blue shirt, tan shorts) at the softball game during BallhawkFest, which took place in Baltimore on July 23, 2011:

(In the screen shot above, did you notice the time stamp on the video control panel? That was no coincidence.)

Alan Schuster, the organizer of BallhawkFest (and webmaster of MyGameBalls.com), was interviewed:

” . . . about two years ago,” he said of founding his website. “It’s for people who go to baseball games and try to catch balls. We’ve got over 200 members . . . “

Then things got really exciting:

Behold the glove trick:

“That’s what I’m talking about,” I’m saying in the screen shot above.

Then I got a ride to Comerica Park . . .

. . . and ran into my friend Dave Lally (pictured below in the green hat) who asked me to sign his copy of Watching Baseball Smarter:

I snagged five baseballs that day. Here I am crouching down to catch the first one:

Here I am preparing the grab the second:

Here I am using the glove trick for the third:

As you can see, I had to fling my glove out in order to knock the ball closer. While this was happening, my friend Dave took some great photos from above. If you have a couple extra minutes to spare, check out my blog entry about this game. I had a media credential and got to explore some otherwise off-limits areas.

I gave my first three baseballs to kids. The filmmaker wasn’t there for the first two, but got a nice shot of the third one. Here I am getting a high-five after I handed it over:

If you’ve read my blog entry about this game as well as the entry from the following day, then you know about the Joe Mauer home run ball that I snagged. I won’t retell the whole story here, but basically . . .

1) The ball landed on a platform between the outfield wall and the stands.
2) I ran over and tried to knock it closer with my glove trick.
3) I accidentally knocked it into bullpen instead (and felt like an ass).
4) A security guard tossed it to me.

Here I am flinging my glove out at it . . .

. . . and here I am reaching up for the grab through a sea of hands:

The magnified look inside the red circle is not the result of my Photoshop skills. That’s actually in the documentary.

In the final third of the film, I’m shown approaching the Free Library of Philadelphia with my then-girlfriend Jona:

In the screen shot above, she’s pointing at the small marquee. Here’s what it says:

I gave a talk that night about The Baseball and did a signing afterward. Here I am telling the story about Charlie Sheen buying an entire pavilion of seats in order to snag a home run ball:

(It’s a true story, and Sheen failed. See pages 81-82 in the book.)

On my way out of the auditorium, some random guy approached me and showed me something in a random book:

Turns out that How to Snag Major League Baseballs (along with my misspelled name) was listed in the bibliography of a book called The Disciple Making Church: From Dry Bones to Spiritual Vitality.

The random guy showed it to the filmmaker . . .

. . . and explained the connection as follows: “I was reading a Christian book, and I looked in the bibliography, and out of all these Christian books, there was one book that was totally different: How to Snag Major League Baseballs by a guy named Zack Hample. The point that this guy was making was if Christians could be as committed to Jesus Christ and working for the kingdom of god as Zack is to catching major league baseballs, we’d turn the world upside-down in a positive way.”

(Wow.)

Then I signed copies of my books. Here I am talking to a young fan . . .

. . . whose mother was telling me about a foul ball that he’d caught at Citi Field. Cool kid. His name is Max.

Before the book signing, I had visited the Pitch In For Baseball warehouse in Harleysville, Pennsylvania. (This is the charity that I’ve been working with since 2009.) Here I am with Tom Schoenfelder, the operations manager:

In the screen shot above, Tom is beginning to say, “We try to use anything that’s safe and in a playable condition, so when we get stuff donated — this here is perfect. It’s not cracked. It’s not dented. The handle’s still in good shape, but it’s just a little bit old.”

Tom was in the process of boxing up some equipment and uniforms, so I helped for a few minutes:

FYI: I plan to raise money again for Pitch In For Baseball this season. If you’re thinking about making a pledge, hang tight for now. As Spring Training gets underway, I’ll post a separate entry with instructions. Also, Pitch In For Baseball has a new MLBlog, and if you click here, you’ll see an entry that Tom wrote about his experience being in the documentary. Also, Pitch In For Baseball is on Twitter @PIFB_HelpsKids. Also, I wrote a big blog entry about the visiting the charity and doing the book signing, so if you missed it, click here.

Toward the end of the documentary, there’s some footage of my writing group . . .

. . . and of me on the subway platform (one stop away from Yankee Stadium) . . .

. . . and of my yellow-shirted companions at BallhawkFest. Here we are waiting for Camden Yards to open . . .

. . . and here I am getting my ticket scanned:

The final scene of the documentary shows me back at my place, summing it all up:

In the screen shot above, I’m beginning to say, “My dad was a ballboy for a minor league team way back in 1939, and he told me that after games, the teams would give him all the old baseballs, and he must’ve had hundreds of them — and when I was little, I said, ‘Well, alright, where are they? Let’s go play with them. Let’s DO something,’ and he said, ‘Well, I didn’t SAVE them. I didn’t know I was gonna have a kid someday who was gonna be obsessed with baseball,’ so it was just like, UHHH!!! So maybe in some subconscious way, my whole collection is, like, making up for that loss in childhood.”

That’s some pretty deep self-analysis, folks.

Just before the final credits, there’s a montage of clips that hadn’t made it into the main portion of the film. Here’s one of my favorites:

Check out the photo that was used during the credits:

It was a still shot that the filmmaker grabbed at the top of my leap while I played with my No. 24 sign at Comerica Park. I didn’t end up using that photo in my 30-stadium collage. I picked this one instead. Here’s the whole thing.

(한국, 감사합니다. 난 당신을 사랑 해요.)

THE END.

Visiting the Hall of Fame

I need to start this entry by showing you a screen shot of a tweet:

That tweet, as you may have noticed, was posted more than five months ago. Life was pretty busy at the time. I never got around to blogging about the Hall of Fame, so I’m doing it now.

Quick context: I’d only been to the Hall one other time, and I was too young to appreciate it. I always wanted to go back, so when the Korean filmmaker said he wanted to get some footage of me there, I rounded up some friends and made a mini-roadtrip of it. Here we are outside:

In the photo above, from left to right, you’re looking at Bassey, Jona, me, Leslie, and Mike.

Here’s a photo that I took just inside the entrance:

This is the ramp that leads to the gallery . . .

. . . and here’s the main area with all the plaques:

Two things happened wherever I went:

1) I photographed everything.
2) The filmmaker filmed me.

Check it out:

The filmmaker’s name is James Lee. The first time he’d filmed me, he had a big fancy camera. Now, evidently, he was traveling light, and I didn’t know what to make of it. Was his little rinky-dink camera going to get good footage? What about the sound? Would he even follow through and complete the documentary? Would it turn out to be any good? I had no idea what to think, but whatever. If nothing else, I was having a fun day with my friends at the Hall of Fame; if some random Korean dude wanted to follow me around and get footage, so be it.

There was one plaque that jumped out at me when I first saw it: Henry Chadwick:

Chadwick, a mid-19th-century writer, might not be a household name, but he’s one of the most important baseball men of all time. You know how strikeouts are designated by the letter K? That was his idea. He also invented the box score and played a role in the very first juiced-ball controversy; way back in 1862, he denounced the ball as being “overelastic.” When I started doing all my research for The Baseball, I kept seeing his name and reading about all the cool things he did. Way back in the day, for example, when ONE ball had to last the entire game, the players actually had to stop playing and go looking for it indefinitely if it went missing. In 1876 (the first year of the National League), Chadwick suggested a five-minute time limit, and two years later the rule took effect. So yeah, I officially love Henry Chadwick.

Here are two other guys whose plaques caught my eye:

(Whenever I see Cal Ripken Jr.’s name, I think of this.)

There was SO much to see at the Hall of Fame. This was one room that we passed through on our way to the bookstore:

I was hoping to see my books at the store — that certainly would’ve been a good shot for the documentary — but all the copies had sold out. At least that’s what the lady there told me. You can see her on the right in the following photo:

I was bummed at first, thinking that my potential moment of glory had slipped away, but then I saw this:

It was a copy of The Way of Baseball, written by former major leaguer Shawn Green (with Gordon McAlpine). Here’s a closer look at the front cover . . .

. . . and here’s a look at the back:

OH YEAH, BABY!!!

Given the fact that my name is on the book, and given the fact that the book is in the Hall of Fame, I could argue (in a pathetically juvenile way) that I’ve made it to the Hall of Fame. That was always my dream as a kid; perhaps, when blowing out all those birthday candles, I should have been more specific.

My friends and I passed through the gallery . . .

. . . and saw this:

I love how the usher is reaching for the ball from the cross-aisle. Or maybe that’s a doorman who showed up at the game in uniform? Regardless, it’s an outstanding scene. As baseball fans, reaching for souvenirs is part of our DNA. (Steve Bartman is vindicated!)

Did I mention that there was lots to see? (This blog entry doesn’t even cover one-tenth of it.) Here’s a striking display of the old Yankee Stadium:

(I really really really REALLY miss that place.)

Here’s a collection of early baseballs . . .

. . . and here’s one of my favorite displays in the entire museum — something that I remembered from 20-something years earlier:

The colored rectangle of baseballs represents Ted Williams’ strike zone. The number on each ball indicates what Williams’ batting average was when he swung at a pitch in that location. So you see? Pitching to him was easy. All you had to do was keep the ball down and away, and he was a .230 hitter.

Not surprisingly, there’s an entire room devoted to Babe Ruth. Here I am absorbing as much of it as possible:

From that point on, I did a lousy job of documenting things. I got a photo of a Latino player display . . .

. . . but beyond that, I pretty much had to hurry around and look at stuff quickly.

Back outside, I took a picture of the Hall of Fame from across the street . . .

. . . and then took a picture of the street itself:

Cooperstown is a cute little place — and the pizza was better than I expected:

(I had the spaghetti and meatballs, but got to sample all the goods.)

In conclusion . . .

Just kidding. I don’t have anything profound to say — just that the Hall of Fame is rad, and I’ll post some screen shots from the documentary in my next entry.

Spray-painted baseballs

A friend mailed me some baseballs the other day . . .

. . . and you’ll never guess why.

No, seriously, you will absolutely NEVER guess . . .

. . . but they sure are fun to look at, no?

I’ll explain this randomness someday, but for now it must remain a secret. All I can say is that something big and absurd and (nearly) impossible is in the works.

UPDATE: I posted this entry in February. Now it’s June. The mystery has been revealed.

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