8/20/12 at Citi Field

Rough day.

Thanks to a stupid mistake and some bad luck, I only managed to snag one baseball during the first 40 minutes of batting practice — a ground-rule double that was hit by . . . someone on the Mets. I was in left field. The batter was right-handed. He was wearing a jersey with the number “1″ on the back, and none of it made sense. Jordany Valdespin wears No. 1, but he’s left-handed, so who the hell was in the cage? More on that in a bit.

During the first two groups of Rockies batters, I moved all the over the place and didn’t snag a thing. Center field was dead . . .

. . . and the players in foul territory . . .

. . . completely ignored me.

Finally, at around 5:50pm, I got a ball thrown to me by a player that I couldn’t identify. In the following photo, the red arrow is pointing at him:

I handed that ball to a girl, who’s tossing it in the photo above.

Then I caught two homers on the fly. (Don’t ask who hit them. I have no idea.) The first was a line drive that pretty much came right to me, and the second was a high fly ball that landed roughly 30 feet to my left.

A funny/annoying thing happened toward the end of BP. Some random fan who was in his 20s approached me and asked if I was “the foul ball guy.”

“Yeah,” I told him, “and I’m also the home run guy.”

“Cool, I’ve seen you on TV,” he said. He then sat down right next to me (with a friend) and proceeded to ask me at least 20 questions. How many games do you go to? What’s your favorite stadium? What’s your least favorite? Why don’t you like Citi Field? Have you ever caught a home run from a famous player? How many balls have you gotten? How many balls today? Can I have one for my fiancée?

“Absolutely not,” I responded to the last one. “You’re sitting down, drinking a beer, and asking ME for a ball? You’re not even putting in any effort! I give baseballs to people like THAT,” I said, pointing at the girl several rows in front of us. (She heard all of this and smiled.) “You’re a grown man,” I continued. “Get off your ass and try to catch one for yourself.” The guy knew I was right, and for a few minutes, he gave it a shot. He was actually pretty cool overall. I just didn’t like being asked for a ball, and I could’ve done without the impromptu interview. That said, I realize that he was asking questions because he cared, which, ultimately, is a compliment.

That was it for BP.

Forty minutes later, I borrowed someone’s silver Sharpie and got Jordan Pacheco to sign my ticket:

In the previous photo, did you notice the tiny red numbers above two players’ heads? Number 1 is Pacheco, and number 2 is Jonathan Herrera, who threw me this ball soon after:

As I’ve mentioned before, some teams mark the sweet spots on their BP balls to prevent their own players and employees from stealing them and getting them signed. Generic marker-streaks are lame; I much prefer balls that are stamped or marked uniquely, like this and this and this and this and this and . . . oh hell, you might as well click here to see my entire collection of marked balls.

After changing out of my Rockies costume, I ran into a kid named Kyle, whom I’d met before. Here I am with him and his friend Jason:

In the photo above, Kyle is on the right, and as you can see, these guys had snagged a bunch of baseballs. Very impressive.

I spent the first few innings here . . .

. . . and when I moved down several rows, I was appalled by the view. Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, this is stadium design at its worst:

What in the WORLD were the architects/owners thinking? (This was my very first time sitting in that section, so I’ve never had a reason to complain about it ’til now.) For starters, there’s no reason to have a concrete ledge separating the sections, nor is there a reason to have that huge mess of a railing on top of it. Oh, you don’t want people to fall or jump over? Well, here’s a suggestion: don’t create useless barriers (or useless rules, for that matter) because fans like to move around. You want to see sharp stadium design? Check out PNC and PETCO Park. Those places have countless nooks and crannies that actually work. This section at Citi Field is a total disaster. The whole stadium is terrible. It’s a schizophrenic/Mr. Potato Head hodgepodge of wannabe-interesting ideas that all fail miserably.

Halfway through the game, I moved to straight-away left field, where the highlight was catching up with my buddy Jacob Resnick. Here we are:

Jacob, for those who don’t know, won a contest last year through which he got to do the play-by-play for an inning during a Mets game. While he was in the booth, Jose Reyes happened to hit a home run, and Jacob’s call was so awesome that he got invited to try out for a job with the Mets’ cable network — SportsNet New York, aka “SNY.” Jacob ended up getting the job, and he’s been working for the Mets this year, interviewing players and hosting segments for a show called “Kids Clubhouse.” (I was filmed/interviewed for this show back in 2006. Here’s the segment on YouTube.)

Now, remember the ground-rule double that I’d snagged during BP? Jacob was near me at the time, so I half-jokingly asked him to use his connections to find out who the batter was. Well, guess what? He DID find out, and he emailed me about it the following day. Jacob identified the guy as “a recent international signer” named German Rosario, and sure enough, there’s now an article about it on the Mets’ website.

As for the game, the last-place Rockies beat the soon-to-be-last-place Mets by the score of 3-1. There was only one home run, and it went to right field, of course.

BALLHAWKING STATS:

• 5 balls at this game (four pictured here because I gave one away)

• 454 balls in 56 games this season = 8.11 balls per game.

• 848 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 399 consecutive Mets home games with at least one ball

• 6,273 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.)

• 42 donors

• $2.26 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $11.30 raised at this game

• $1,026.04 raised this season

• $20,183.04 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

25 Comments

I was going to go last night to try and get Wright’s 200th. I was on the fence. I’m glad I didn’t go.
- Chris

http://ballhawker.wordpress.com/

Or, as Nick Badders likes to say…. “First!”

Not too shabby Zack. I got 6 last night at Busch- including a third out ball and a ball from the umpire after the game (I asked him in spanish). I think I’m gonna see the Cards play the Mets in September. I’m going to re-read all of your Mets entries. Do the Mets take their commemoratives on the road? And are there any players that would hook me up if I asked in a certain way?

Looking at the first photo, what’s with the diagonal piece of concrete cutting through a section in foul territory? Also, the staircases going to the upper level seats don’t make sense. They’re only pushing the cheap seats even higher up.
I see you’re about to hit 400 straight Mets home games with a ball. Hope it’s a memorable snag.

Thanks for the mention on the blog it was great to hang out with you that night. Glad that I could be of assistance when it comes to identifying a player. I sent you an email regarding Sunday against the Astros so check it out if you have time.
-Jacob

CHRIS-
While you were on the fence, all the batters were failing to hit balls over it.

TMUDDLY-
Congrats. That’s a solid total for a tough stadium like Busch. As for the Mets, they don’t even use commemorative balls during BP at home. I haven’t seen them on the road this year, so I don’t know what you should expect. As for who to ask for a ball . . . no special advice. The Mets are not a friendly/likeable team. If you have Mets gear, you might get some attention, but when I see them at home, they rarely interact with the fans.

MATT H-
What’s with it, you ask? Total stupidity. It’s like serving someone a turd on a silver platter with garnish sprinkled on top. Good call on the 400th game. I’m gonna try to remember to take a pic of the 1st ball I get today.

JACOB-
Cool. I’ll check my email tonight when I get home from the game.

looks like there was a soccer[football(!)] game played on the field not to long ago. You can kind of see the lines on the first pic, its interesting to see how much bigger/wider a baseball field is.
Kind of random to point this out but hey, Im from Europe I love both of these sports :]

cheers :)

r u gonna be at yankee stadium this monday against the bluejays

Hey Zack, Tom Goodwin was in LF near the end of Mets BP right?

Chris- I would just like to point out that I stopped doing that. ;)

Zack- What are your thoughts on the Nationals shutting down Strausburg when he gets to 180 innings?

“It’s a schizophrenic/Mr. Potato Head hodgepodge of wannabe-interesting ideas that all fail miserably.”

I don’t think it could have been said any better.

You mentioned you were completely ignored by the Rockies pitchers, do you think that is a result of them recognizing you? If not, will there ever be a point when enough players recognize you that you start getting very few toss ups?
Anyway, that architectural configuration in left field looks like a giant nuisance. And Jordan Pacheco has a really cool signature.
Steve

http://fishfry55.mlblogs.com

Zack – thanks for posting Kyle and Jason’s picture. Needless to say, they were blown away when they saw it. Got a great one of the 3 of you guys while standing outside the Rotunda. That makes 82 balls for Kyle in 14 consecutive Citifield games! Dr. Tom <(((<<

What do you think of rogers center for snagging?

I not being zack live in toronto and just started reading the blog recently and love it, love most of the rogers center. the jays are extremely nice in the fact that they give many balls away but it can get very annoying how many homeruns during bp get lost to the second deck and in between the stands and the wall.
Usually i stand in right or left center so that it is harder for the balls to get lost between the walls and it is sometimes possible to get ground rool doubles. also there is not much room for the balls to go to the second deck as the 2nd deck only slightly covers the first. i also ind that it is very easy to get balls after the game from the dugout even when they lose.
Go Jays Go
comin to see them in new yak.

Zack – funny follow up. I looked at your ticket that Pacheco signed. Our tickets were Section 512, row 2, seats 19, 20, 21 and 22!!!! Small world (I mean stadium). Dr. Tom, Kyle’s dad.

Sorry Zack – I meant Section 519 not 512 – my bad. We were supposed to be sitting right next to The Baseball Collector!

I thought DJ LeMahieu hit one of the homers.

TMUDDLY- The Mets are much friendlier on the road. Justin Turner, Ruben Tejada, and Mike Baster are very nice. At least to babbling middle-aged women like me.

Hey zach
when should i get to citi field in order to be first on line at the gate

I surpassed 1,000 balls on the season the other night. Its minor leagues but its still nice! Next year I’ll surpass your 2011 total. You know any other minor league ball collectors with impressive totals?

“It’s a schizophrenic/Mr. Potato Head hodgepodge of wannabe-interesting ideas that all fail miserably.” Exactly!!!!!

Tuberculosis ball?!? Ewww!! I hope you used gloves and a mask.

PETER_PL-
Good call. There *was* a soccer game played there recently between Ecuador and Chile, or something like that.

SOL-
I don’t know yet. Probably. But it depends on the weather.

ANON-
Yeah, he usually is. I think I remember seeing him out there at this particular game.

NICK BADDERS-
I think it sucks that baseball has turned into a sport where everyone gets hurt or is afraid of getting hurt and has to be over-protected, but Strasburg *is* a once-in-a-generation type of talent, and the Nats are looking at the big picture. They could win the World Series without him. Or he could still blow out his arm next year even if they shut him down now. There are no guarantees (which makes everything so much more entertaining), and there are no right answers. The Nats paid him big bucks; they can do whatever the hell they want. That’s how I see it.

NATHAN-
Thank you.

STEVE-
I’m not concerned about being recognized by the players. There are always some that know me, but it’s still a small percentage, and hell, players come and go, so there are always new guys that I can ask. I’m more concerned about getting recognized by the umps. It’s happened twice in the last few weeks.

DR. TOM-
You’re welcome. It was great to see you guys. Meanwhile, who the hell actually SITS in the 500 level? :-)

BLUE JAYS FAN 75-
The Rogers Centre is annoying for ballhawking, but because it’s rarely crowded, it’s not so bad. Left- and right-center are the best places to be for BP . . . on the 100 Level, that is.

BEN WEIL-
He may have. I forget.

LIZ MERRY-
Well, that’s just the thing. The Mets are only nice if they have a reason to be nice, which means they really aren’t nice.

MIKE-
At least 30 minutes before the gates open — 45 minutes to be sure — but it doesn’t even matter. The stadium is so lame that if you miss the first minute or two of BP, it makes no difference.

AL-
Wow! That’s amazing, but no, I can’t think of anyone who’s snagging nearly as many minor league baseballs.

FATHER PUCK-
Glad you agree.

KSLO69-
Can you be more specific?

The ball marked TB!

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