4/27/12 at Yankee Stadium

I wish I hadn’t attended this game.

Not only did I overpay for my ticket and get shut out during the Yankees’ portion of batting practice, but I somewhat narrowly miss A-Rod’s 633rd career home run and froze my ass off — and now have a sore throat.

For a while, I thought I was going to get completely shut out, but Tigers pitcher Collin Balester saved the day. Here he is starting to play catch with Phil Coke:

Ten minutes later, he tossed me the ball near the foul pole.

This was my view during the final group of BP:

Not only was it crowded and nearly impossible to see, but I found myself standing directly behind a 6-foot-7 man (partially pictured above on the right edge of the photo). I’m not exaggerating. He was actually 6-foot-7. I know this because I asked him. With two minutes remaining in BP, one of the Tigers lefties hit a towering home run that ended up coming right to me. At the last second, as the tall guy reached up with his bare hands, I jumped and reached over him and felt the ball smack the pocket of my glove. That one felt great, not only because of the physical challenges that I’d overcome, but because it preserved my streak of consecutive games with two or more balls — a streak that goes all the way back to the 2007 All-Star Game.

The home run ball had a marker streak on the sweet spot:

Lots of teams mark their baseballs; that’s how the Tigers have been doing it for the last few seasons.

After BP, I ran into a kid named Jacob Resnick, who’s in the process of becoming more famous than me. Take a look at the photo of us below and see if he looks familiar:

I’d met Jacob several times before (check out this photo of us from 8/6/11 at Citi Field) and was glad to see him yesterday; in the photo above, I was jokingly making a disgruntled face because he’d outsnagged me during BP. But anyway, as I was saying . . . Jacob . . . famous.

Last year, the Mets had a contest through which several kids got to do some play-by-play announcing on TV during games. Jacob was lucky enough to be one of them, and while he was 0n the air, Jose Reyes happened to hit a home run. As it turned out, Jacob’s home-run call was so polished and awesome that it made headlines. And that’s not all. Jacob is now the Mets’ “kid correspondent” on SportsNet New York. (For the record, he’s a Mets fan and goes to Citi Field more than any other ballpark; he was only wearing a Yankee cap because he was *at* Yankee Stadium.)

Soon after Jacob (and his father) and I parted ways, I wandered over to the Yankees’ bullpen to see if there were any baseballs leftover from BP:

Score!

If you look closely at the photo above, you can see a groundskeeper in the bullpen. After he finished putting away some equipment, he tossed all the balls into the crowd. Most went to the rowdy men and their cute girlfriends up above in the bleachers, but one of the balls found its way into my glove.

After that (and because I had no way to get into the seats in foul territory), I passed the time here:

That’s me in the photo above with the black jacket and hood. I was reading Kitchen Confidential (which is extremely entertaining and well written).

This was my view during the game:

In typical Yankee Stadium fashion, dozens of fans screamed insults and obscenities at the visiting team’s right fielder throughout the game. The victim on this particular night was Brennan Boesch, who throws left-handed — an important detail, as you’ll soon find out. (The security guards did nothing to stop these fans, choosing instead to harass the few folks who were quietly sitting with their — GASP!!! — feet up on the cup holders.) Early in the game, Boesch fielded a ball near the foul line and make a quick throw to second base. His throw was strong and accurate and only bounced once, but it looked especially bad from the right field seats because it had been somewhat of a so-called lawn dart. Boesch had pretty much thrown it into the ground and gotten lucky when the ball skipped up nicely to the shortstop.

“HEY, BOESCH!!!” hollered a nearby fan. “ARE YOU SURE YOU’RE NOT RIGHT-HANDED?!?!?!”

It was the only funny thing I heard all night, but it *was* damn funny.

The not-funny thing about the game was the A-Rod homer. In the following photo (which was taken several innings later, after many of the “fans” had left), do you see the woman wearing the dark red hat? She’s standing between the L and S in front of the “Modell’s” sign:

She’s the one who snagged A-Rod’s home run ball, and even though there was nothing I could’ve done about it, it still pained me. The homer was a line drive that landed nearly one full section to my left (closer to the foul pole). The ball touched down in a totally empty patch of seats, roughly eight rows back, and ricocheted sharply in my direction. I was still 20 feet away from it at that point, and there were half a dozen fans who were closer. The woman in the red hat was closest and simply had to reach down and pick it up. AAAHHH!!!

And did I mention that it was cold? Despite wearing long underwear and gloves, my feet and hands were numb, and when I got up to use the bathroom during the 7th-inning stretch, my legs were like muscly icicles. It was hard to bend them or feel them or use them, and in addition to that, my face was so cold that my speech was slightly slurred. Has that ever happened to you? I don’t know how football fans manage to sit outside in the winter. This was April, and I was suffering. Granted, it was in the low 30s by the end of the game, and I’d been outside (and sitting still) for four solid hours, but still, in the grand scheme of things, that’s not THAT cold.

The game itself was exciting. Justin Verlander (whose 100th pitch of the night clocked in at 97mph), left after six innings with a 6-5 lead. The Yankees tied it in the bottom of the 8th, brought in Mariano Rivera to breeze through the top of the 9th, and won it in the bottom of the 9th on a wild pitch. Wanna guess who was at bat — who never got to finish his at-bat? Yeah, A-Rod.

BALLHAWKING STATS:

• 3 balls at this game (two pictured here because I gave one away after the game)

• 78 balls in 11 games this season = 7.09 balls per game.

• 803 consecutive games with at least one ball

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

• 161 consecutive Yankees home games with at least one ball

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

• 5,897 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.)

• 19 donors

• $1.20 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $3.60 raised at this game

• $93.60 raised this season

• $19,250.60 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

21 Comments

Yankee stadium sounds extremely tough, especially on a Friday night.

That home run call was awesome!! I heard about Jacob on Sportscenter or something last year, but I never heard the call. Good stuff!!

Tough luck with the A-Rod homer. How long have you been trying to catch one of his homers?

MLB FAN-
I had particularly bad luck yesterday during BP, but it’s always tough there.

BRIAN-
Glad you agree. The young man has skills.

SKIM-
Since ’08, I think. Should’ve started sooner, but had my head up my you-know-what.

cool.

All,
Does anyone know if minor league umps give baseballs away after the game?
Thanks

You got to meet Jacob Resnick? I am SO jealous! He was amazing in the booth. It has been rumored that Burkhart has a hit out on him. (not really)

Hey zack! I just got back from the cardinals and brewers game. I got there when the gates opened, but there was no batting practice. Apparently now at Busch Stadium, there is no BP on weekends. They now have it “indoors” in the batting cages. So since there was no BPw, I was sitting around for 1 and a half hours doing nothing. Finally the brewers came out to throw, but they were ignoring everyone (even the brewers fans). The cardinals never came out to throw, except 4 players, and the all kept their baseballs. during the game, about 3 foul balls came to my section, but they were no where near me. Then in the top of the 9th inning, the cardinals were winning 7-4, so I went down by the umpire tunnel. After Jason Motte threw the final pitch, I ran down there. I was in the front row right above the tunnel and the home plate umpire came through. I was the only one asking for baseballs, but he threw the two baseballs to a 30 year old man in the green seats (who didn’t have a glove, and didn’t even ask for a ball) and another to a 50 year old man in the green seats with no glove either (FAIL!). So I guess he would rather give a ball to an older man than a 14 year old kid with a glove? Oh well…..

Blake: I got to a lot of Minor League games and have never seen an umpire give away a ball after the game.
Cool story, Zack! As a Canadian fan, I’ve been to my share of cold, cold games, too!

Zack-
Like people on the last post on the comments section said good karma will eventually find you and give you luck. Do you know if your going to LA to for dodgers balls. I will be there a lot in the summer, so that’s why I’m wondering.
Thanks,
Austin

Zack – I’ve been wondering what you thought about the debacle in Texas with the couple who caught the baseball next to the 3-year old who started crying hysterically. Sorry if I missed your first take on that, but from your perspective, how do you feel about that situation? I saw on “Good Morning America” that the entire roster signed a baseball that was going to be delivered to the boy along with a bat and jersey or something like that. Anyhow, what did you think?

I was there as well sat in sec 129. I was cold but not that cold, amazing what those cheese fries can do! Anyways got a foul ball durring the game! Came right to me. Awesome time though, its awesome when the Yankees win like that, few environments are remotely as nastalgic and celebrated as Yankee Stadium bottom of the ninth. And speaking of making fun of players, man when Don Kelly missed that ball, the left field corner really got on him!

I remember being at Wrigley in April 2003 when it was about 40 degrees with the wind chill at 28 and blowing in our faces. I’m glad we don’t get those conditions very often in Atlanta, although we just sweat to death lol.

Zack, it is considerably warmer here in Singapore. However, I have even less of a chance of catching an A-Rod homer. However, I did get to see him hit it on tv here.

You’ll get it next time. But what you consider a crappy day at Yankee Stadium would have been tied for my best. So it’s not so bad. :)

But apparently the N.Y. stadiums are tough, so I can’t wait to stretchmy legs this summer in Baltimore, T.B., and Miami.

BLAKETHESNAKE- Kansas City Royal’s Triple A Affliate give away baseballs from the umpires… that sjust one team though.

DOUBLE T-
Word.

BLAKE THE SNAKE-
No clue.

LIZ MERRY-
You *should* be jealous. He is a smoooooth dude.

JACOB-
Are you seeing this? You now officially have groupies.

NICK GANTZ-
That sucks. Sorry it went down like that.

MALCOLM-
As a Canadian, you probably would’ve been wearing shorts and flip-flops at this game.

AUSTIN-
I’m not planning to go to L.A. this year — hoping to snag one of those baseballs from the Dodgers on the road.

ALEX MCMURRAY-
I think everyone is making a big deal over something relatively small. A little kid threw a fit over something he’ll never remember, and now everyone is catering to his demands. It’s absurd. That said, the Texas couple seemed to be pretty clueless and inconsiderate, based on how they immediately started posing with the ball right next to the kid. Everyone involved in this situation deserves a Time Out.

MATT-
Cheese fries, huh? Maybe that’s what I needed. As for Kelly, I can only imagine the crap that was being shouted at him after that error.

MATT H-
I would rather be hot and sweaty than cold and numb.

MIKE-
Tell Singapore that I say hello.

CHRIS H-
Don’t get your hopes up for Miami. That place looks rough.

Lol guys!

Zack: Met you at Argosy Books and subsequently read your Watching Baseball Smarter guide. You have revitalized my marriage! For over 32 years I never got the baseball thing and your book has made it so much fun to watch that I am the one cruising StubHub and trying out seats all over Dodger stadium to get a different viewpoint of the the Game. In the last month I have seen a triple play, a suicide squeeze, back-to-back bunts, fake substitutions, and happily, many Dodger victories (albeit in a pretty empty stadium usually). Thank you for your book, and I highly reco to any guys with girlfriends/wives/kids who don’t get the game but want to.

JACOB RESNICK-
:-)

SHARON-
This is the best book review that I’ve ever gotten. Thank you thank you thank you many times over. I’m so happy that the book has made baseball fun and understandable for you. Yay!

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