4/18/12 at Yankee Stadium

For the second game in a row, there was a baseball waiting for me when I made it to the right field seats:

Two minutes later, while the section was still fairly empty, I snagged a home run ball that landed several rows back. I’m not sure who hit it, but if I had to guess, I’d say Brett Gardner.

I do know who hit the following three home runs that I snagged — all in left field: Andruw Jones, Eduardo Nunez, and Jones again. The first of these three landed on a staircase one full section to my right and skipped high up in the air right to me after I’d cut through an empty row to get there. It was kinda crowded at that point, so the lucky bounce was essential. The second was a deep-but-lazy fly ball that carried half a dozen rows back near the bullpen. As the ball sailed toward my section, I drifted roughly 30 feet to my left and caught it thigh-high. The third was a line drive that pretty much came right to me. I caught that one on the fly and then took the following photo of it:

BOO-yah!!! Another Camden Yards commemorative ball.

When the Twins started hitting, I ran back to the right field seats (and stayed there for the rest of the night). This was my approximate view for the rest of BP:

In the photo above, the guy standing on the left with the draw-string “Adidas” backpack is named John. He reads this blog, so he recognized me and introduced himself. We chatted for a while and tried not to get in each other’s way, but there wasn’t much room to spread out.

During the following half-hour, I snagged four more home runs, and I have no idea who hit any of them. Justin Morneau? Yeah, no doubt. And probably Joe Mauer and maybe Sean Burroughs or Chris Parmelee or Clete Thomas. The first of these four smacked off the back wall and landed in the last row. I caught the other three on the fly, and there were people all around.

That gave me nine balls for the day, and I gave three of them to kids. Here I am with two of them — Sean on the left and Chris on the right — whose fathers asked if I’d pose for photos.

Sean asked me to sign his ball, which I did with a “5866” below my name to indicate my up-to-the-minute lifetime ball total.

Did any of you see the Tweet that I’d posted earlier in the afternoon? Well, here’s the pizza:

Yum.

Shortly before game time, I wandered over to the Yankees’ bullpen (with my friend Andrew, who had just arrived) to watch Hiroki Kuroda warm up:

Several minutes later, he threw a 55-footer that skipped away from Russell Martin. Martin slowly got up and retrieved it and (thanks to some well-timed shouting on my part) tossed it to me. Unfortunately, the ball sailed too far over my head and landed in the seats behind me. Fortunately, there was no one there, so I was able to chase it down.

That was my 10th ball of the day. Reaching double digits always feels great; reaching double digits in New York feels super-duper extra great because both stadiums are really tough in nearly ever conceivable way.

Anyway, here’s a photo that I took of Martin soon after he hooked me up:

The game itself was great, except for my frequent view of this:

In case you don’t see what I’m talking about, here’s a closer look:

Haha!

(Yes, I’m 12.)
(Deal with it.)

But really, the game was fun. The Twins scored four runs in the top of the first, and the Yankees answered with three in the bottom of the frame. I came really close to Robinson Cano’s homer in the third. (I was directly in line it and watched in horror as it fell three rows short.) Justin Morneau, showing signs of no longer being concussed, went 3-for-4 with two home runs. Derek Jeter, showing everyone that he’s the man, went 3-for-5 with a ninth-inning homer. It was cold and drizzly, and the game dragged on, but it just felt great to be there. Final score: Twins 6, Yankees 5. I love baseball SO much, and that’s really all there is to say.

Here I am with Andrew after the game:

Keep scrolling past the stats for some black light photos . . .

BALLHAWKING STATS:

• 10 balls at this game (seven pictured here because I gave three away)

• 48 balls in 6 games this season = 8 balls per game.

• 798 consecutive games with at least one ball

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

• 159 consecutive Yankees home games with at least one ball

• 30 consecutive games at the new Yankee Stadium with at least two balls

• 184 lifetime games with ten or more balls

• 5,867 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 about my fundraiser, and click here to see the prizes that I’ll be giving away to donors.)

• 15 donors

• 89 cents pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $8.90 raised at this game

• $42.72 raised this season

• $19,199.72 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

Okay, so, remember the whole deal with baseballs and black light? Well, of the seven balls that I kept, two have invisible ink stamps. Here’s a side-by-side comparison:

Pretty nifty, eh? But wait, there’s more — and this is REALLY cool. Another one of the balls seems to be half-covered with invisible ink. Have a look:

Do you see what I mean? It seems that one of the “figure-8″ pieces of cowhide is covered with the stuff while the other piece has none. I wonder if someone at the Rawlings factory did that on purpose just for the hell of it. Any theories?

24 Comments

I’m getting nervous about tonight – look at the competition I have to face!

Thanks again Zack! You made Sean’s day last night at the game and Thanks for signing his ball. He brought it to school today to show it off.

The Rawlings factory probably did it to see if you’d end up w/ the ball and post in your blog. Now that you did, all you have to do is wait for the call and they’ll award you w/ an all expense paid trip for 2 back to the Rawlings factory so you can be the first to make a full length documentary on the making of a MLB ball. Either that, or it’s a fluke…

CHRIS H-
I think it’ll be fine as long as we try hard not to crowd each other.

JOHN-
Hey! It’s good to hear from you. Very cool to hear that the ball found its way to school. I hope all the other kids were jealous. :-)

BRIAN-
Ha! But who should I take with me . . . ?

Sounds like you had a crack of a good time. Ugh!
Super job on the double digits!
– Malcolm
http://theballparkguide.mlblogs.com/

Kauffman stadium action is coming soon for me. We go down there like 7 games a season. It’s a nice ballpark. The pepsi party porch is my favorite park of the stadium, probably because I’ve gotten a baseball there. My goal is to at least get two this time. Have any tips?

So, the kid’s fathers asked you to take a photo with them…with your camera? Sure…

MALCOLM-
Thank you, sir.

DOUBLE T-
Have you read my blog entries yet from Kauffman Stadium? That’s the best place to start.

J-
I should have clarified in the entry. The fathers asked if they could take photos with their own cameras. I then asked if we could also take photos with mine.

First time commenter on your blog, long time reader. All of your entries are incredibly entertaining and interesting. Thanks for making my day at work go that much faster!

I will check them out later today

Nice photo of Martin, you can see the impact mark of the 55’er there in front of him. Also, sure is great to see Morneau hitting his stride again. Did you see Felix last night? Another gem of a no-decision. I can hear the dogs at Yankee stadium howling for his bones already. Sit, dogs. Stay.

BRAD-
Welcome to the comments section, where all the cool kids hang out. I really appreciate the kind words.

DOUBLE T-
Get ready to learn a lot.

KSLO69-
Yeah, I was watching the end of the Mariners game. Poor Felix.

I am as ready as ever.

Hi Zack- I remember seeing you many years ago on “The Tonight Show” and have been a fan ever since! Just recently googled you and found this great blog- thanks for posting. I am from Milwaukee and have been shagging baseballs during batting practice for almost 15 years. I got the itch when Milwaukee’s Ball hawk Nick “happy youngster” Yohanek became a local celebrity- I am nearly 50 years old so my skills and strategy have change over the years. Well thanks again- and perhaps we will see each other in the stands! Good Luck!- Lori

Double T- I go to Kauffman all the time and just got back from 4 games there. The Pepsi Party porch is hit and miss since they now sell that area to groups and if it is sold for the game, only members of the group can get down there…even in BP. I have had some luck with the “Early Bird Tour” For $10, you can get into the stadium an hour earlier and watch BP. It is usually not very well attended. The only issue is that you need to stay in the lower seating bowl bounded by the dugouts. One thing that is new this year, is that if a BP ball is hit into the seats in foul territory, the Early Bird group can “elect” one person to go get the ball after you let the tour guide know. I was basically the only one sitting on the Royals side that was interested in getting baseballs, so when a ball went into the seats foul, I just made eye contact with the tour guide and told her I was heading to get it. During the Early Bird tour, you will also have some chances to call out for toss ups from the players and coaches. Otherwise, just follow basic snagging 101 and you should get some baseballs.
Big Glove Bob

BIG GLOVE BOB- Thanks for the update on Kauffman. I hope the Pepsi Party Porch isn’t sold to a group. The early bird tour sounds cool, but do you get to keep home runs and walk around freely? Or do you have to stay with your group?

And how many balls dI’d you get at that game?

Are u going to b at todays mets game i have some awsome seats for moy birthday look for me in sec 111 row 2

Pepsi reserved the Pepsi Party Porch for the Home Opener at Kauffman Stadium this year and I suspect they will do that for other big games…especially the All Star Game and Home Run Derby …which would infuriate me if I purchased a $175 SRO ticket only to find out my access there was now restricted.

Double T- During the $10 Early Bird tour you merely need to stay between the dugouts. Some people choose to sit behind home plate and people fan out to either side. So while you have to stay in that area, you do not need to stay together as a “group”. I got three balls that one day. As for keeping the any balls you snag, that is true everywhere. With how bad the Royals have been playing, the Early Bird Tours should be lightly attended and the chance for balls will be good.
Big Glove Bob

BIG GLOVE BOB-
Thanks for the help with Kauffman. I can hopefully go there when there is a team that has commemorative baseballs, or possibly after the all star game for there is a chance the royals will be using leftover all star game balls used in BP.

Cant wait to go to Kauffman.

LORI-
Thanks for commenting. Glad you’re still having fun with this. And if you see Nick at Miller Park (or wherever), tell him I say hey.

BIG GLOVE BOB-
Thanks for all the info. I couldn’t have answered the question(s) as well as you did.

ZACH V-
I never go to day games on weekends. Hope you had fun, though.

TOM-
Wow. Thanks for the heads-up. I actually was thinking about buying an SRO ticket. Now I don’t know what to do.

Will do Zack!- And Big GLove Bob- thanks for the “early bird” tip about Kaufman- I will be heading down in mid June to see a couple of Brewers/Royals games- hoping to get a few baseballs. Now with the info I am gearing up for success.

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