8/7/12 at Citi Field

As usual, there was a HUGE crowd waiting outside the Brooklyn Dodgers Rotunda . . .

. . . but things were calm once I got inside — at least at the start of BP. Mets reliever Josh Edgin threw me my first ball of the day . . .

. . . and when I headed over to the right field seats five minutes later, I found this:

What a beautiful sight.

Of course, that’s all I got from the Mets; the gates hadn’t opened until 5:10pm, and the team finished “hitting” (if you can call it that) at 5:24pm.

I snagged five home run balls during the Marlins’ portion of BP, and no, none of them were commemorative. The first home run nearly hit me because I was . . . uh, distracted by other balls and hadn’t seen it coming. I grabbed that one off the ground in the front row and caught the next four on the fly. Of these four, the first two pretty much came right to me (although it WAS crowded, so none of them were easy). The next one was a high fly ball that I caught “in traffic” in the front row in left-center. The final longball was a line drive by Carlos Lee that I caught while running through this row:

As I reached up for that ball, someone else’s glove accidentally smacked me in the face and knocked my cap off. (No really, it WAS an accident.)

I made it to the 3rd base dugout before BP ended and kept my eye on Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. In the following photo, the red arrow is pointing at him:

It feels funny calling a billionaire “generous” for tossing a few baseballs to fans, but that’s the only way I can describe him. I’ve never seen any other owner toss balls into the crowd, and Loria had previously hooked me up with three.

When BP ended, the first thing I did was to wave down Heath Bell and get him to sign one of my baseballs. Check it out:

Who’s Mike?

That would be Mike Davison, my friend (and fellow ballhawk) who works for the FAA. He’s the guy who handled all the logistics (and did his best to make sure I didn’t die) during the helicopter stunt. He had asked me if I could get Heath Bell to sign a ball for him. I was hoping to get a commemorative ball signed and also to have a longer inscription written on it, but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. There are days when Heath and I talk at length one-on-one, but this time (as is often the case in New York) everything was noisy and rushed after BP. For the record, Heath is the one who wrote “to Mike” on the ball. I had told him it was for a friend, so he scribbled it on there. Also, for the record, I don’t make a habit of getting autographs for other people, so unless you’ve done some incredible favor for me, please don’t ask. (People do ask, so this needs to be said.)

Two minutes after Heath signed for me, I got my 8th ball of the day from Loria.

Then (as I mentioned in a typo-laden tweet) it was time for a tuna sandwich. I went to the Subway stand on the 3rd base side, waited in line for at least five minutes, and eventually began placing my order. While I was telling the sandwich maker what I wanted (provolone, tomato, cucumber, and just a few onions), a nearby customer asked me if I’d been featured on ESPN. We ended up chatting for a few minutes, and when he heard about my charity work with Pitch In For Baseball, he decided to pay for my sandwich — not a cheap gift as the footlong tuna at Citi Field costs ten bucks. He was with two other guys. They were all really cool. I greatly appreciated the good vibes and the free dinner.

Here’s the sandwich:

Yum!

(This is random, but I feel like sharing it: I know how to say two phrases in Turkish. One is “Please throw me the ball.” The other is “The smell of tuna is everywhere.” Nice, huh?)

I ate the whole thing between the national anthem and the start of the game, during which time the Mets unveiled the logo for the 2013 All-Star Game. Here it is on the jumbotron:

That’s a sharp logo, don’t you think? (If anyone feels like buying me a ticket for the 2013 Home Run Derby or All-Star Game, I’ll share half the balls I snag. Just putting it out there now because it’s never too early to start planning.)

For those of you who don’t know anything about the Mets, the two guys pictured on the jumbotron in street clothes are former players. John Franco is on the left, and Dwight Gooden is on the right. See the little white square over Gooden’s left shoulder? Well, look what happened with it one minute later:

I usually try to avoid seeing commemorative logos ahead of time, but in this case, there’s no avoiding it.

This was my view for most of the game:

In the photo above, do you see the fan holding up an orange rectangle? It was “license plate holder night” at Citi Field, and most fans were unimpressed. (You know it’s a lame giveaway when people (a) don’t bother taking it and/or (b) leave it in the seats after the game.)

Anyway, look how much room I had to run for home run balls:

Awful.

The seats were so crowded that I spent several innings in center field next to the batter’s eye. Here’s what it looked like out there:

Given the fact that no home runs came anywhere near me, the highlights of the game were (1) seeing Jose Reyes extend his hitting streak to 25 games with a little nubber up the 1st base line and (2) seeing Heath Bell retire the only two batters he faced in the 8th inning. I know he’s having a rough year, but I love him, okay?

Final score: Marlins 4, Mets 2.

BALLHAWKING STATS:

• 8 balls at this game (six pictured here because I gave two away)

• 383 balls in 48 games this season = 7.98 balls per game.

• 840 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 365 consecutive games with at least two balls

• 396 consecutive Mets home games with at least one ball

• 6,202 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.)

• 38 donors

• $2.10 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $16.80 raised at this game

• $804.30 raised this season

• $19,961.30 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

Hang on. I got one more photo for you. Of the six balls that I took home, only one has an invisible ink stamp. Here’s a side-by-side comparison that shows it in regular light versus black light:

22 Comments

Bam! I win… Time to read

You’re insane.

Nice entry! I have a few things to say… 1st off, I was at the Blue Jays game in Oakland on Sunday, and there were 2 balls hit into the bleachers in 45 minutes of BP. Both were from Rajai Davis. 2nd… I bought tickets to a game in a few weeks that I don’t expect to snag many/any balls at, but I had to go. The first 15,000 fans get a Scott Hatteberg Bobblehead with a sound chip in it from the Radio call of his grand slam in the 20th game of their win streak. After the game, fans get to go down on the field and watch the movie Moneyball, which I happened to be an extra in. 3rd… I’ve noticed that a lot of the balls that you snag have the invisible ink stamps. Out of the balls that I have snagged, none of them have invisible ink at all. Why do you think that is?

Nice, you got 8 balls at Citi Field. That’s awesome. To bad you couldn’t get a Marlins Park ball. I got 1 in Pittsburgh when the Marlins where playing there after the game by the dugout.
-Quinn

I know I’m insane. Or at least that’s what the security guard told me on Sunday when I asked him to hold my legs while I would lean/ lay/reach onto the field to try and grab a ball that was a good 5 feet away.

Doubled my career Citi total I believe… Not bad.

NICK BADDERS-
I don’t blame you for wanting to go to that game. It does sound pretty awesome. As for the invisible ink, I don’t know what to tell you. Are you using a powerful black light and turning off all the other lights?

QUINN-
Yeah, well, I did (with Heath Bell’s help) snag the first Rockies homer EVER at Marlins Park, and that was commemorative. So I’m all set.

CH1088-
It was a lucky day. I’ll be back tomorrow and will probably only snag three or four.

I usually take the pictures at night in my closet to make sure it is as dark as possiblexIn July of last year, my dad bought me a very powerful black light after I had told him about invisible ink stamping. Hmmmmmm…

Fifth, dang it.

I got a couple Marlins Park commemoratives at Nationals Park this past weekend, including one put on the warning track and signed by Bell and he told me to do the glove trick. There was no batting practice at either game, so of course I only got 4 on Saturday night and 3 on Sunday. Bell was looking through my backpack to see what I had in it and he asked the fans around me if they were giving away the nationals hat I had. He said that it looks bought. Really cool guy. I also got 7 in Citizens Bank Park last Friday Night with only Phillies batting practice (I didn’t get any during batting practice) and I got 11 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards Monday night. You really can’t go wrong there. However, I had a first inning Dustin Ackley foul ball go about 2 inches above my glove and roll into the tunnel and into the concourse where a fan picked it up and tried handing it to me so I ran off. Then I headed out to the flag court for Markakis’ 2nd at bat. Sure enough, he homered, and it went a foot over my glove and I ended up with beer in my head. It seems like me and you are having very tough luck with Nick Markakis homers!

Hey are u going on camp day this week

Hey Zack, seems like you had a nice day. The 2013 All-Star game should’ve gone to the Marlins, with the new stadium and all. But hey, it’s with the Mets. Turns out I am going to the Marlins game friday. My tickets (that I’ll probably never sit in until I get tired) are in the first row over the Marlins bullpen. I’ll be over your friend Heath Bell, and since my seat is in the first row, I hope to add a ball from him in my collection. Any ball will do, anyways. Can you believe in 6 games that I’ve been to Marlins Park, I’ve caught 1 ball? (Not commemorative.) Everything lands in the Clevelander, the bullpens, or the bead bush area. And no one bothers to toss them up to children. (Like yours truly.) The one ball I got was waterlogged and was chilling in a dead area in the middle of a pond of poorly drained water. A ball is a ball though. I hope to have a better day over the bullpen, maybe get a BP Homer and a bullpen toss up. I’ll take lots of pictures and blog about it.

Nice entry Zack, license holder night does sound pretty weak. @ Nick, I gotta say man, your habit of commenting before you’ve read the entry is kinda rubbing some of the luster off the feat. Not nearly as impressive if that 1st. comment doesn’t relate to the entry! ;)

kslo69- From now on, I will try to have the first comment after I am done reading;)

@Nick – Shouldn’t you be sleeping at 2:13 AM and not posting dumb “first comment” things?

@Zack – Did you offer to give the guy who bought you the Subway meal a baseball? That was very nice of him. Any luck finding a job? When is your last day at the book store?

Just dropped a card in the mail for Heath Bell today. Seems like a real nice guy!!

Oh Wow! Thank you so very much for the ball. Now let’s catch that ball from 1000′!

Paulie… I live in California
And completely random… I found a Milwaukee Brewers 2011 NL Champs shirt today for $5. Best $5 ever spent. It was the one that the Brewers would have gotten in the clubhouse had they beaten the cardinals.

KLSO60 and Nick Batters – 19th comment!!! ;-)
ZACK- unlreated comments, on your list of toss up tossers/throw up throwers, I noticed you have no ” * ” next to Jason Phillips. (http://www.zackhample.com/baseball_collection/lists/thrown_balls.htm), but you have him as both a player and a bullpen coach. Maybe you need a double entry or an ” # ” to denote both as a player AND coach/bullpen catcher.

PS – Jason Phillips is awesome!

Cook & Son Bats- I’m catching up to you guys in the photo scavenger hunt! I’m just a few points back! ;-)

Whats the latest on giving the 1,000 foot catch another try?

NICK BADDERS-
Not sure what to tell you about the black light other than . . . keep trying.

MATEO FISCHER-
It’ll be okay.

SKIM-
Glad to hear that Heath treated you right. As for the close calls in Baltimore . . . ouch.

ZACH V-
I was not at Citi for the day game. Just couldn’t deal with it.

NOT JUAN MAYZ-
I disagree about the All-Star Game. Yeah, the Marlins have a new stadium, but the Mets got their new stadium first. Of course, with that logic, there are other teams who should’ve gotten it before the Mets, but whatever. Every team will get it every 30-ish years, so who really cares? Good luck today at the game. If you see Heath, tell him that Zack from New York says hello.

KSLO69-
:-)

PAULIE-
No, I didn’t offer him a ball. (A ball is worth much more than a sandwich.) I’m still working at the Argosy, but in more of a “freelance” role. I’m doing different work, which is more fun, and I can roll in at 11am without anyone yelling at me. This isn’t a permanent solution, but it’s good for now.

THE AUTO BOX-
Heath is the best, although I’m not sure if/how he deals with his mail.

MIKE-
You’re welcome. Now take a look at the ball in my newer entry. Just like the helicopter stunt, there’s a Part 2 . . .

COOK & SON BATS-
Ha, nice find, but I don’t “do” multiple entries. Phillips first tossed me a ball as a player, so that’s how I have him on the list. It’d be cool to note how many balls each guy has tossed me, but I didn’t keep track of that at the start.

AL-
Looks like it’s gonna happen on September 10th (or, if necessary, the 11th) back in Lowell.

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