6/13/16 at Chase Field

This was my first game of a five-day/five-stadium trip, which required even more planning than usual. It wasn’t just dealing with flights and hotels or having to coordinate with my videographer Brandon. The biggest challenge was making sure *not* to snag my 9,000th baseball before I made it out to Arizona. Seriously. I had to skip a couple of games that I normally would’ve attended, and I stayed in the outfield at other games when I would’ve preferred to work the dugouts. See how psycho I am about all of this? (But c’mon, admit it — you love it.)

I began this day with a lifetime total of of 8,994 baseballs. Here I am outside the stadium talking about it in the opening scene for the video:


FYI, Brandon is still editing the video, but he gave me all the raw footage so I could grab a bunch of screen shots for the blog. Here’s another that shows me entering the terrace of the Friday’s restaurant in deep left field:


That terrace is open to the public before the rest of the stadium opens. You don’t need a ticket for the game, and you don’t even need to buy any food, but you should show up hungry and spend money anyway to support the Diamondbacks because, in my opinion, they’re the most fan-friendly team in Major League Baseball.

In the following image, do you see the employee in the light blue shirt in left-center field?


He was looking for home run balls that had landed in the bleachers, so naturally I called out to him and tried to get him to toss one up.

It worked!
Sort of.

Here he is tossing a ball . . .


. . . but unfortunately it fell short:


He retrieved the ball and tossed it up again . . . with the same result. And it wasn’t even close. It fell short by at least five feet. Had it been 15 years since he’d thrown a baseball. Or was he afraid to throw it too hard and hurt me?

“I’m coming up there,” he said.

“I wanna see a throw!” I shouted.

I didn’t mean to be picky or demanding. I just thought it’d be more fun (and look better on video) to have him chuck it rather than hand it to me.

He made one more attempt and managed to reach me! After catching the ball and showing it to the camera, I handed it to a man for his daughter:


After that, all I got was the attention of several players and coaches. Here’s Patrick Corbin looking up at me . . .


. . . and here’s Garvin Alston making a windmill gesture with his arm to indicate that he couldn’t throw it that far:



In the past, I’ve gotten lots of balls on the terrace, but now that I finally had a videographer here and just wanted ONE cool shot of a ball being thrown my way, no one was willing to hook me up.

Fifteen minutes before the gates opened, I exited Friday’s and got in line outside the gates with two of my local friends:


In the photo above, that’s Kenny on the left and Tony on the right. Great guys. It was nice to catch up with them for a bit.

Once I made it back inside the stadium for real, I used my glove trick to snag my second ball of the day from the left field bullpen:


Then I headed to right field and talked about the stadium along the way:


The D’backs finished hitting by the time I made it over there, so I threw on my Dodgers cap and promptly got a toss-up from Scott Kazmir. Here I am reaching up for the grab:


A few minutes later, I got Joe Blanton to throw me a ball:


That was my fourth of the day and No. 8,998 lifetime.

I picked a spot in straight-away right field and said to the camera, “Corey Seager is up right now. It would be really cool get number nine thousand hit from him, but I’m still two away right now, so it’s kind of unlikely.”

And hey, whaddaya know? Seager ended up hitting a home run right to me. Here I am reaching up for the catch. Look closely and you can see the ball streaking toward my glove:


That was No. 8,999. The next ball was going to be THE ball, and I wanted to make sure to identify the player who hit or threw it. Of course I was so hyped up about everything else that when the moment arrived, all I could think about was the ball itself. Here’s where I was standing when . . . someone connected and sent a home run flying in my direction:


I could tell right away that it was going to fall short, so I scooted down the steps and turned left:


Then I drifted through an empty row and reached out for the catch. Once again, you can see the ball streaking down toward me:


I didn’t realize it at the time, but the kid in front of me made a valiant effort and barely came up short. In fact the ball might have tipped the end of his glove. Normally, whenever I catch a ball near a kid, I’ll hand it right over, even in situations like this when I’m behind the kid and he wouldn’t have caught it anyway, but sorry, I wasn’t about to give away my 9,000th ball. That said, if you know the kid pictured above (you can see more of him in the video), tell him I’m looking for him, or if you ARE that kid, get in touch with me. Send me a photo of yourself from the game wearing that light green shirt — I need proof that it’s really you — and I’ll send you two baseballs.

Anyway, here I am holding up the ball right after catching it:


A different kid on the staircase gave me a fist-bump:


Then I took a moment to admire the ball:


Here’s a closeup:


I wasn’t sure who had hit it, but I’d gotten a good look at his batting stance. He was holding the bat vertically and had a pronounced leg-kick, and when he came up again (right after Seager), I took a couple of crappy photos:


I asked some Dodgers fans nearby, and they said it was Joc Pederson.

Yes!! Of course!! Duh. That should’ve been obvious, but whatever, I was just glad to have gotten the ball and that Brandon had gotten it on video and that I now knew who had hit it. Mission accomplished.

I headed back to left field for the next group of hitters, but wasn’t satisfied with my location. Here I am looking back at the elevated concourse in left-center:


That suddenly felt like the place to be, so I headed up there:


It was dead.

I walked down a few steps onto the balcony and peered over the edge:


I wanted to make something happen, but there just weren’t any opportunities. And then, suddenly, as if sent by the planets above, a Diamondbacks employee appeared out of nowhere and handed me a baseball:


Here’s exactly what’s happening in the four-part photo above:

1) The hand-off, along with a “welcome to Chase Field” greeting. I wasn’t kidding when I said this is the most fan-friendly team.

2) Pointing out the Diamondbacks logo on his shirt to confirm that he really did work there. I don’t accept/count balls that are offered to me by other fans, but I’ve always counted balls that come from stadium employees.

3) Thanks and a hearty handshake.

4) “Hey, I’ll take it.” There’ve been so many employees (mostly at Shea Stadium in the 1990s) who’ve tried to prevent me from getting baseballs that when I’m shown a little love, I gladly accept it. I consider it payback.

Here’s a zoomed-in/blurry screen shot that shows me using the glove trick for my eighth ball:


That happened along the left field foul line, and I handed it to the closest fan.

Then I headed back to straight-away left field. Look how crowded it was:


Yes, hello, I see you standing there on the benches.


Congrats for making it onto my blog.

It was nearly impossible to catch home runs out there. Here I am getting robbed by one of the regulars:


Here I am flinching on another home run:


I was fearful of a deflection, and sure enough that’s exactly what happened, but thankfully it went away from me. See the guy wearing the backwards gray and black cap? The ball whizzed right past his face. He’s lucky he didn’t end up with a black eye or a few loose teeth.

Toward the end of BP, I headed back to the left-center field concourse:


I had a hunch that someone might launch a ball up there, and anyway, it was too damn crowded down below.

Several minutes later, it happened. I think it was Kiké Hernandez who connected. Check it out:


That was my ninth ball of the day, and I handed it to a kid who had just walked past me:


People often ask if I get recognized a lot at games. The answer is yes, and for some reason, it happened more than usual here in Arizona. At one point, a group of half a dozen kids approached me while I was rushing from the left field bleachers up to the concourse. I explained that I was busy and asked if they could find me after BP. They said yeah, and I don’t know what happened next — whether they told all their friends or if word somehow spread or if people just spotted me, but when the players finally jogged off the field, I ended up doing an impromptu meet-and-greet with dozens of fans. It sounds ridiculous, but I’m telling you that’s what happened. See for yourself:


Somehow every kid already had a baseball, and they all wanted me to sign them. I also signed tickets, hats, a book, and other random objects. And everyone wanted a selfie. And then there were group photo requests. And lots of questions about my baseball collection, my schedule, my next YouTube video, my favorite stadiums, etc. Aside from the fact that I was starving and needed to pee, I was glad to hang out with everyone. I can see how it would be a burden for *actual* celebrities to receive that kind of attention ALL the time, but for me, it only happens at baseball stadiums. Seventeen years ago, it definitely went to my head when people recognized me. Now I’m just glad I can make kids happy by giving them a few moments of my time. It’s a weird but lovely feeling.

Here’s what I had for dinner:


Can someone estimate the calories for me? I hope it was at least 2,000, but that’s probably pushing it.

I was hoping that Joc Pederson would sign autographs before the game, but no, only Corey Seager did:


As I explained in the video later on, “I don’t really go for autographs much anymore, but I have gotten every thousandth ball signed by the player who hit or threw it.” That said, I need Joc, so if anyone has advice or any connection to him, please let me know.

Also, I should mention that I’ve gotten every thousandth ball at a different stadium. Ready for the complete list? Here goes:

Ball No. 1,000 — thrown by Pedro Borbon Jr. on 6/11/96 at Shea Stadium
Ball No. 2,000 — thrown by Joe Roa on 5/24/03 at Olympic Stadium
Ball No. 3,000 — snagged with the glove trick on 5/7/07 at old Yankee Stadium
Ball No. 4,000 — thrown by Livan Hernandez on 5/18/09 at Dodger Stadium
Ball No. 5,000 — BP homer by Alex Rios on 5/28/11 at Rogers Centre
Ball No. 6,000 — tossed by Brad Lidge on 6/8/12 at Fenway Park
Ball No. 7,000 — BP homer by Anthony Rendon on 8/27/13 at Nationals Park
Ball No. 8,000 — Gerardo Parra game foul ball on 5/15/15 at Citi Field
Ball No. 9,000 — Joc Pederson BP homer on 6/13/16 at Chase Field

If there’s one thing I learned from that list, it’s that I need to scrounge up some photos and screen shots (from a video I filmed on an old palmcorder) and blog about Olympic Stadium.

Before the game started here in Phoenix, the roof opened:


Ahh, how pleasant.

I was excited because we had tickets in a GREAT spot:


Did you notice the guy in the “Marino” jersey on the right? That’s who I gave the ball to on the Friday’s terrace — quite a coincidence.

During the game, I spent a lot of time chatting with this guy:


His name is Keith, and he has a season ticket there — and he’s very friendly. Two months earlier, he made the news by catching two Paul Goldschmidt homers in one game. Here’s an article about it.

That row/aisle is meant for disabled fans and their guests, but if there are unsold tickets after a certain point, they get released for sale to the general public.

Check out my view of the field from that spot:


There was a boisterous group of fans at the swimming pool:


BROSEIDON was overseeing the merriment:


Lots of the people there were in costumes:


Here’s a group photo of them:


“Protect this pool.” Heh.

I would have loved to join them, but the pool area is reserved for private parties. Oh, and it costs about $3,500 per game, and it’s sold out for the rest of the season. Who wants to join me out there next year? C’mon! We can pick a date as soon as the 2017 schedule comes out and all chip in and thrash around for home run balls in the water.

Did you know that there’s a locker room with showers next to the pool?


Pretty cool spot.

Here I am late in the game, hoping for a home run ball:


All those red chairs are reserved for pool people. I guess the D’backs need to provide actual seats in case those people want to sit down? Of course none of those folks ever left the pool area (except to go to the locker room), so I had all that open space to my right for the entire game.

There were three home runs — two to right-center (by Goldschmidt and Seager) and one to left-center (by Jake Lamb, who is extremely underrated). That was it. No action for me.

Late in the game, a friend and his wife gave me their dugout tickets on their way out, and look where I was able to go:


That tunnel led right up to the Diamondbacks’ on-deck circle:


Here’s what it looked like on my left:


In the photo above, do you see the woman with blonde hair facing away from the camera? Her name is Jody Jackson. She’s a reporter/anchor for FOX Sports Arizona, and I’ve gotten to know her over the past few seasons. Do you remember this photo of her that I took behind the scenes on 8/13/13 at Chase Field? No? Well, clearly you should comb through my archives and read my old entries, but anyway, it was nice to get in a quick hello with her.

It was also nice to have a shot at getting a ball from home plate umpire Carlos Torres after the final out of the Diamondbacks’ 3-2 victory, but let me just mention something first. I don’t wear an umpire hat to get attention from the umpires. I wear it because I think it looks sharp, and since I don’t have a favorite team, it’s a good way to stay neutral while showing my love for the sport. That said, check out Torres’s reaction when he spotted me:



I don’t think my hat made a difference. He probably would’ve given me a ball regardless. Here I am catching his gentle toss before he disappeared down the steps:


That was my 10th ball of the day. I’d given away four of them, so here are the six I still had left:


Finally, here’s something I always do but rarely show — my ballhawking notes from the game:


I can write much neater when I try. These are just quick scribbles to help me remember all the balls that I snagged.

On a final note, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and stay tuned for the Chase Field video. It’s coming soon, and it’s gonna be amazing.

Here’s the video.


 10 baseballs at this game

 371 balls in 44 games this season = 8.43 balls per game.

• 94 balls in 10 lifetime games at Chase Field = 9.4 balls per game.

1,210 consecutive games with at least one ball

 9,004 total balls


My fundraiser for Pitch In For Baseball is now in its eighth season. Once again, people are pledging money for every home run ball that I snag during games. Here’s some info about the fundraiser, and if you donate, you’ll be eligible to win one of these prizes.

• 11 donors for my fundraiser

• $102.77 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $411.08 raised this season

• $190,914.74 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

6/7/16 at Yankee Stadium

Lots of people have asked me to do a ballhawking video at Yankee Stadium, and guess what? The wait is over! Unfortunately, though, as you’re about to see, the Yankees provided very little action. Here’s what it looked like from the left field seats at 5pm:


For some reason, the Yankees finished batting practice much earlier than usual. I forgot to look at the clock when they started jogging off the field, but it couldn’t have been much past 5:03pm. That was a huge bummer.

During the three (or so) minutes that they *were* on the field, I hurried up to the left field bleachers, searching for a home run ball that had landed there:


I’m either reeeeeally dumb and somehow missed it or a security guard picked it up while I was en route. Let’s assume it was the latter, but regardless, I had a big ol’ goose egg when the Angels took the field:


Whenever I see the Angels, I try to get in a quick “hello” with Mike Trout. Of course that’s damn-near impossible at Yankee Stadium, where you can’t get near the infield unless you have a super-expensive ticket. In fact, the photo above was taken from the closest spot I could get. The solution? Get his attention from afar. Here I am waving my hat . . .


. . . and here he is saluting me:


That was nice. And that was it . . . or so I thought.

Ten minutes later, I got Albert Pujols to throw me a ball:


I drifted down the steps to catch it, and then I hurried back up to show the ball to the camera. Just then I heard someone shouting at Mike Trout, so I turned around and saw Trout standing behind 3rd base with a ball in his hand. He didn’t throw it to the guy who had called out. Instead he waited for me to move back over to the staircase, and he chucked it to me instead.


THAT was nice. And okay, sorry for mentioning this yet again, but for all the people who’ve recently stumbled upon this blog and/or don’t know much about me, the quick backstory with Trout is that I caught his first career home run on 7/24/11 at Camden Yards and gave him the ball after the game, and he’s been really nice to me ever since.

Here are the two baseballs that I’d just gotten from a pair of future Hall of Famers:


Most of my baseballs at Yankee Stadium are home runs during BP. There are many days when I never even try for toss-ups, so just keep that in mind. It’s not normally like this. What’s the big deal about getting a couple of balls thrown to me? Ha. Check this out — here’s Jered Weaver hooking me up (from well over 100 feet away) with my third ball of the day:


I had to climb down over a row to catch that one:


Wait! There’s more! Here’s Jhoulys Chacin throwing me my fourth ball of the day:


Moment later, coach Dino Ebel threw me a ball without my even asking. WTF was going on? Here I am catching it:


Sometimes I do everything right and it’s a huge struggle; other times it seems that baseballs just find me. That’s the only way I can explain it.

When the Angels started hitting, I headed to right field, and everything went wrong. I had easy opportunities to catch two home runs, but I misjudged them both, just barely, right off the bat, but that’s all it took. Basically I drifted down a couple of steps on each one when all I needed to do was hold my ground.  Stupid, stupid, stupid. Here I am missing one of them:


Was the wind blowing out? Was it hotter than usual? I don’t know, man. All I can tell you is that I felt like an even bigger idiot than usual, given the fact that I was being filmed.

Thankfully things went better for me back in left field. Here I am jumping for and catching an Albert Pujols homer:


I handed that ball to the nearest kid . . .


. . . and caught another home run a little while later. I’m not sure who hit this one, but in the following screen shot, you can clearly see it streaking into my glove:


I gave that one to a kid too:


I didn’t catch any homers after that. It was just too crowded. Check out this screen shot of a cluster of fans going for a ball:


I can’t even count the number of guys — at least eight or nine. Maybe even ten? That’s just crazy. And this was a weeknight without a promotion.

When BP ended, I gave a quick recap for the video:


Then I wandered to several different spots to point some stuff out:


In the four-part image above, how many of the places/things can you name or identify? You probably won’t guess what I was talking about in No. 4, but rather than explaining it here, I’ll just let you see it in the video. I predict you will be amused.

Here’s another four-parter for you:


That happened right before the game. Angels bullpen catcher Tom Gregorio threw me a ball from the bullpen. After catching it, I handed it to a kid and got a handshake from his appreciative father.

My videographer is a friend (who constantly tries to troll me) from San Diego named Brandon. He does great work but sometimes drives me crazy. This was one of those times. As we settled into our seats for the game, I told him that right fielder Carlos Beltran throws his warm-up ball into the crowd before every inning and that he seems to hook me up every other day, usually in the middle innings. The point was: “I know you wanna to go take photos at some point from the upper deck for your precious Instagram, but I’m paying you lots of money to film me, so DON’T MISS IT, BRUH.”

He seemed to be on it. Here’s a shot he got of Beltran tossing a ball before the first pitch:


Here’s Beltran throwing one closer to me before the 2nd inning:


Brandon was still with me in the 3rd when I gave a couple of baseballs to some kids in the bleachers:


By the way, the woman up above in the green shirt is named Tina. She’s basically the queen of the bleachers — hardly ever misses a game — and is really cool with me. She knows that whenever she needs a ball for a little kid, she can ask. Normally I hate being asked for baseballs, but I make an exception for her because she’s golden.

Anyway, so far, so good, right? Brandon was with me and getting good shots of various stuff . . . right?!

Ha. Yeah. Not so much. He took off in the 4th inning and returned in the 6th, and guess what happened in between? Yup. Carlos Beltran threw me a warm-up ball, and it was beautiful. I jumped as high as I could and caught it in a thick crowd of grown-ups and promptly handed it to a very little kid and got cheered by the whole section. And Brandon missed it. Fabulous. But oh! Hey! He got a shot of Beltran’s late-inning replacement, Aaron Hicks, throwing HIS warm-up ball into the crowd:



It’s still a solid video, but I’m bummed not to have gotten the Beltran ball in there, mainly because that’s become such a big part of my Yankee Stadium experience. At very least, it would’ve been nice to have that footage for myself. This was the 35th ball I’ve ever gotten from Beltran — easily more than anyone else has ever thrown to me (although my friend Alex Katz, currently pitching in the White Sox’s minor league system, vows to break that record someday).

I should mention that the Yankees beat the Angels, 6-3, behind a surprisingly solid performance by starter Michael Pineda. There were three home runs in the game hit by Kole Calhoun, Carlos Beltran, and Starlin Castro. I caught none of them. Mike Trout (my favorite player now that Heath Bell has retired) went 0-for-3 with a walk. Bleh.

And now, as promised, here’s the video. Enjoy!


 9 baseballs at this game

 326 balls in 39 games this season = 8.36 balls per game.

• 1,369 balls in 194 lifetime games at Yankee Stadium = 7.06 balls per game.

1,205 consecutive games with at least one ball

8,959 total balls


My fundraiser for Pitch In For Baseball is now in its eighth season. Once again, people are pledging money for every home run ball that I snag during games. Here’s some info about the fundraiser, and if you donate, you’ll be eligible to win one of these prizes.

• 11 donors for my fundraiser

• $102.77 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $411.08 raised this season

• $190,914.74 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

You’re still here? Well then. Here’s a bonus photo for you of the grounds crew rolling out the tarp after the game:


On a final note, it was fun but stressful to do a video here. I go to Yankee Stadium so often that I felt comfortable, but I also put a lot of pressure on myself to get everything right. I’m a perfectionist. What can I say?

Thanks for reading (and watching).

6/4/16 at Camden Yards

This was a special day for two reasons. First, my videographer Brandon was with me, and second, I was with a bunch of friends from the website MyGameBalls.com for an annual event called BallhawkFest. Here we are at a baseball field not far from Camden Yards:


Let me identify everyone, and then I’ll explain what we were doing . . .

1) Ben Weil, aka the guy with more than 1,200 jerseys
2) Bob K, who ended up making the catch of the day
3) Isaac Liberman, showing off his Royals pride
4) Doug Hakey, who helped tremendously with all the logistics
5) me, doing an intro for the video; the image above is a screen shot
6) Tim Anderson, who was more interested in the grass than what I was saying
7) Alan Schuster, the founder of MyGameBalls.com
8) Chris Scheufele, whose long-lost twin is Madison Bumgarner
9) Alex Kopp, last year’s Home Run Derby winner
10) Grant Edrington, ready to rumble
11) Chris’s wife, the classiest of us all, who goes by the name “Jake”
12) Their son, Deven, who’s shaping up to be an excellent ballplayer

Speaking of the Home Run Derby, it’s a game we play every year at BallhawkFest. This time we came up with a new-and-improved scoring system:

* 1 point for a grounder through the infield
* 2 points for a ball that lands on the outfield grass
* 3 points for hitting the outfield fence
* 5 points for a home run

To clarify, an infielder could rob the batter of a point by catching or knocking down a grounder, and an outfielder could prevent two points by catching a fly ball. The game was more fun than ever because it rewarded good hitting *and* good fielding; it was a team effort no matter who was involved. And of course there was lots of trash-talking.

Here’s Ben camped out at shortstop while I pitched to Alan:


You probably noticed that yellow thing in front of the (non-existent) mound. That was our version of an L-screen — two garbage cans stacked up. Very safe. We all signed waivers. No big deal. Right? Well, here I am reacting to a line drive up the middle that nearly took my head off:


I forget how many points Alan tallied before he made ten “outs.” I think it was 40-something, and then it was my turn to do some damage. Here I am at the plate . . . or, umm, plastic bag:


Here I am taking one to the opposite field:


For a while, everyone was camped out in left field for me, so I trolled them by poking weak grounders through the right side. This led to even more trash-talking.

Here I am running for a deep fly ball:


If I’d made that play, it would’ve made SportsCenter’s Top Ten for sure, but alas, it tipped off the end of my glove. Instead, Bob surprised us all with the catch of the day. Check it out:


This was an especially difficult play because Chris, as you can see, was charging at him ferociously, and the rest of us were shouting at him to CAAAATCH IT!!!

During a break in the action, I pointed out an unusual injury on Grant’s left shin. I’m not sure if this’ll make the final cut in the video (it’s still being edited), so I’ll share it here:


He was bleeding after being struck by a ground ball. (Lots of bad hops at this field; good thing Alan had us sign those waivers.) That’s no knock on Grant. He literally took one for the team in order to prevent a one-point grounder from dribbling through the infield. (I kid, I kid. It was a rocket. Nice job, Grant.)

There were several rounds in our Home Run Derby. Alan and I were heading toward the final showdown when Brandon — yes, my effin’ videographer — asked if he could jump in. After struggling at first to make solid contact, he found his stroke, ended up hitting bombs, and won the whole damn thing.

A little while later, our group headed to Pickles Pub, located just across the street from Camden Yards:


Brandon filmed a quick shot of me inside:


Thanks a lot, Benny.

Then we took a more civilized group photo, and as you can see, I had changed into my official green BallhawkFest shirt:


We intentionally choose flashy colors (last year it was purple) so that we can spot each other more easily in the stands.

Here what I had for lunch — boneless chicken wings with creamy dipping sauce and cheese fries with different creamy dipping sauce:


If you saw what I eat on a daily basis when I’m home, you wouldn’t be entertained.

We still had some time to spare after lunch, so we headed next door to the Hilton and played cornhole. Here’s Chris in action:


The stadium opened at 5pm and was clearly going to fill up fast. Here I am in left field, just hoping to get one ball so I could relax:


Not only was it a Saturday with perfect weather, but the Yankees were in town. Yikes. Normally I avoid seeing the Yankees on the road because it’s always so crowded and crazy, but there was a reason for this odd scheduling decision. Alan had picked this game weeks in advance, thinking we all might have a shot at Alex Rodriguez’s 700th career home run, but as it turned out, the best we could hope for was No. 695.

After the first group of batting practice, I gave up on left field and headed to right-center. Several minutes later I got Ubaldo Jimenez to throw me a ball. Here I am reaching up for the catch:


Here’s the ball:



That was it for the Orioles. They finished so early that there was a 20-minute gap before the Yankees started hitting. Here I am with Grant explaining to the camera why that was bad:


Basically the stadium was going to be much more crowded by the time BP resumed, but hey, that’s just how it goes sometimes.

This next screen shot will give you an idea of how packed it was:


I had no chance on that home run. I got blocked by the guy in the red jersey and was surrounded by taller fans anyway.

I headed back to left field when A-Rod stepped into the cage, and as you can see below, there was lots of people there too:


I stayed deep in the section because A-Rod, even at the age of 40, has tremendous power. My positioning nearly paid off, but I was one row to shallow. Here I am jumping and reaching back helplessly as A-Rod launched one to Alan who was camped out just behind me:


That was the story of my day — lots of close calls. And guess what? That was the end of BP.

Here’s a group photo back in right field:


Some of us had already given baseballs to children, so these were the balls that we still had in our possession at that point. Doug had gotten six — easily more than anyone else — mostly by retrieving them from the right-center field gap with a homemade device. Oh, and by the way, there’s one new face in the photo above; Jamie, standing at the back in the Orioles jersey, hadn’t made it to the field earlier in the day.

Just before game time, I tried to get A-Rod’s attention along the left field foul line:


No luck.

He had signed autographs for a bunch of kids the day before, but this time, when he finished warming up, he headed straight to the dugout.

Take another look at the screen shot above. See the girl standing just behind me on the left? Well, after a moment of silence to honor Muhammad Ali . . .


. . . I gave her the ball that I’d gotten from Ubaldo. She and her family then asked me to sign it:


Unfortunately it got a bit smudged when I handed it back to her, but I don’t think she noticed or cared. Her name is Summer, and I was especially glad to have given her that ball because she was very appreciative.

As for the game, let me start by saying this . . .

Lots of people ask me how I’m able to move around stadiums all the time.

“Do all the ushers know you?”
“Don’t they check tickets?”
“How do you get away with that?”

The answer is that it all depends on the stadium. When I’m in New York, I pretty much stay in my seat for the entire game, sometimes not even leaving to take a bathroom break. That’s because there are no cross-aisles through the seats or standing-room areas where I have a chance to catch baseballs. Many other stadiums, however, were built to allow more movement, and Camden Yards is the prime example. It has a walkway that wraps around the entire lower seating bowl and opens up into a magnificent standing-room section (aka “The Flag Court”) down the right field line. Anyone with any ticket is allowed to walk around and hang out there, so that’s what I did at this game. (I had to burn off all those calories from lunch.) In the top of the 1st inning, I spent a couple of minutes in a tunnel behind home plate and told the camera why it’s a great spot for foul balls:


With A-Rod due to lead off the top of the 2nd, I headed out to left field and briefly stood in the walkway at the very back of the section. This was the view:


There was no 695th home run on this night; A-Rod finished 3-for-5 with three singles.

Then I headed to the Flag Court and stayed there for most of the game. This was my view early on:


Here I am an hour and a half later, standing at the back gates for Chris Davis:


I couldn’t see the field from there. I was just waiting/hoping for a little white speck to fly up in the air, but that never happened. Well, I mean . . . there *were* three home runs, but none of them came near me.

Here I am late in the game — just a cool screen shot with a blurry background:


Here I am waving at the camera with my friends:


We all hung out there between innings.

All three home runs, by the way, were hit by the Orioles, but the Yankees unleashed a 16-hit barrage and won the game, 8-6.

Here I am doing a closing shot for the video, talking about the one ball that I had managed to snag:


It had been nearly a full calendar year (more than 80 games for me) since I had “only” gotten one ball. I always want to put on a good show in my videos and snag as many balls as possible, but hopefully this one will be entertaining in a different way. Subscribe to my YouTube channel and stay tuned — it’s coming soon.

On a final note, I’d like to say thanks to Alan Schuster and everyone from MyGameBalls.com — not just those who attended this game, but the entire community. It’s been great getting to know so many people through that website who share my passion for baseball, and I’m looking forward to meeting many more of you.


 1 baseball at this game

 312 balls in 37 games this season = 8.43 balls per game.

 547 balls in 61 lifetime games at Camden Yards = 8.97 balls per game.

1,203 consecutive games with at least one ball

8,945 total balls


My fundraiser for Pitch In For Baseball is now in its eighth season. Once again, people are pledging money for every home run ball that I snag during games. Here’s some info about the fundraiser, and if you donate, you’ll be eligible to win one of these prizes.

• 11 donors for my fundraiser

• $102.77 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $411.08 raised this season

• $190,914.74 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

My experience at the Fort Bragg baseball game

Lots of stuff has been said and written about my presence at this game — the first in MLB history to be played on an active military base. Many media outlets have reported that I acquired my ticket illegally or somehow snuck in. That is simply not true. I have also faced a tremendous backlash for being there, the assumption being that I deprived a Soldier of the opportunity to attend the game. I tried to make sure not to do that, and if you read this entire blog entry, you’ll understand how it all went down. I do not intend to fuel the controversy by writing about Fort Bragg; I simply want to share my experience (with LOTS of photos coming up) because I know that lots of people are interested. Also, for the record, I do NOT get paid to write this blog. MLB gets money from the ads that appear on it. I do it simply because it’s fun to document my baseball adventures . . .

Okay, where to begin? Well, for starters, I had no idea what to expect at the security gate to Fort Bragg — one of 12 gates, I was told, as the base spans 500 square miles! In addition to my driver’s license, I had my passport and social security card. I was expecting a border-crossing level of interrogation, but because I was with an active duty member of the military, it was a simple process. The guard scanned his DoD ID and inspected my license, and that was it. No questions asked. He waved us through, and we were in.

Fort Bragg looked like any normal town with traffic lights, road signs, grass, trees, houses, buildings, banks, gas stations, parking lots, etc. There was even a mall. While the people there are remarkable, the post is remarkably ordinary (I suppose that provides our military heroes with some semblance of a normal life), but I was still excited to be there and look at everything as we drove around.

We had lots of time to spare, so my Soldier buddy — let’s call him Joe — gave me a tour, pointed out where he works, tried to figure out where we were supposed to park for the game, and asked what I wanted to eat for lunch. At one point, he pulled over on a beautiful residential street. He smoked a cigarette. I called my mom. A firetruck and an ambulance rumbled past, sirens blaring, but aside from that, everything was super laid-back.

That’s when it started to drizzle.

The sports-themed restaurant where we chose to eat was closed for the July 4th weekend, so we circled back to the mall. That’s when the drizzle turned into a steady rain. We ran inside, and once again, I was struck by how normal everything looked. We could have been at any mall in America. The only difference was that half the people were Soldiers dressed in uniforms. Part of me was nervous that I would be questioned for being there. The other part of me felt safer than ever and realized I needed to relax.

Joe had heard that there were shuttle buses that would take people from our designated parking lot to the stadium starting at 4pm. That was good because the stadium was going to open at 5pm, and we wanted to get there nice and early.

After a five-minute ride, we were greeted by a stadium employee (volunteer?) who gave us a quick speech about safety at the game. Here he is telling us that if we had any problems, we should look for people wearing the same hat and shirt that he had:


As you can see in the photo above, people were dressed in normal/civilian clothes. That’s because it was a weekend. Soldiers were not required to be in their uniforms, and many of the attendees were family members or guests of Soldiers. Like I said, everything was pretty chill.

When we got off the bus, we headed toward the right field gate entrance:


Then we passed through a small opening in the trees:


I nearly gasped when I saw the stadium in the distance. (See those teeny light towers poking up?) I couldn’t believe that I was really looking at it.

Here’s what I saw next:


There were dozens of signs/flags along the walkway, honoring members of the Baseball Hall of Fame who had served in the military, many of whom had sacrificed prime years of their careers to do so. Just thinking about that was humbling.

Eventually the walkway led everyone to a merchandise store . . .


. . . and soon after that, I got my first glimpse of the gates/entrance:


There were three sets of employees. The first set (see the woman up above in the tan shorts?) simply welcomed everyone, the second set asked for our tickets, and the third set checked our bags and made sure we didn’t cause any beeps when walking through the metal detectors.

That was it.

People have accused me of sneaking in and/or bribing security. That’s beyond ridiculous. Ask anyone who attended the game if they had to show ID or if they got interrogated when entering the stadium. I assure you the answer is “no.” It just wasn’t like that, so don’t believe anything you hear from anyone who wasn’t actually there.

I forgot to mention that it had poured during lunch. I didn’t think there was any chance of the Braves and Marlins taking batting practice, and I was nervous about the game itself being rained out. Two days earlier, there was such a huge threat of rain that MLB announced that because the schedules were so tight, there would, unfortunately, be no chance to make up the game at Fort Bragg. That being said, it was *very* lucky to only have to deal with a bunch of muddy puddles inside the stadium. Check out the walkway behind the batter’s eye in center field:


That’s pretty much what it looked everywhere behind the seating areas, and no, I’m not complaining. It’s incredible that this stadium got built as quickly as it did. Certain areas were pristine while others suffered a bit because of the elements. No big deal. But enough about that. I’m sure you wanna see the field itself, right? Here you go — a view from the “berm” in left-center:


I truly could not believe that there was batting practice.

Prior to this game, I had been to 51 different major league stadiums and snagged at least one baseball at all of them. Obviously I wanted to keep that streak intact, and I also wanted to be extra generous — more on that in a bit, but for now, check out the jumbotron in deep left field:


All it showed was guys taking their cuts in the cage. I liked that because it can be tough to identify players during BP.

After a little while, I got a ball thrown to me by Chase d’Arnaud. (There weren’t any kids standing near me when I caught it, and the grown-ups hadn’t been asking for it either. d’Arnaud threw it to me from about 100 feet away, so if I hadn’t been there, the ball definitely would’ve been tossed back to the bucket in shallow center field.) This made me VERY happy, so even though I was a sweaty mess, I posted a selfie on Twitter:


As soon as I posted that, I started writing my next tweet to announce something that I had thought of earlier in the day:


I ended up getting bashed because people assumed I donated money only as a reaction to the negativity on Twitter, so please allow me to point something out . . .

Look at the time stamp on my tweet about snagging that ball. Now look at the time stamp on my tweet about the donation. They were posted two minutes apart, so just to be clear: long before the internet got angry about my presence at this game, I had decided to do this. I had asked Joe what his favorite military charity is. He’s the one who came up with AMVETS.org (I’ll admit I hadn’t heard of them until he mentioned them and I looked them up), so that’s why I picked them.

It would have been great to have someone filming me all day, not just for the sake of posting it on YouTube, but because the footage would have cleared me from another slew of accusations — more specifically that I was pushing kids around to get baseballs.

Let’s talk about this for a minute or two, okay? For starters, that is NOT what I do or who I am as a person. Contrary to the many false accusations that have come my way over the years, I have NEVER knocked down a single person, young or old, in more than 1,400 MLB games. I pride myself on being super-careful and respectful, and I can’t believe that I have to defend myself all over again, but whatever, I’m doing it because there are lots of people hearing about me for the first time. If you’re one of them, hello and thank you for reading my blog! If you’re willing to suspend judgment a bit longer, please check out my YouTube channel. You’ll find lots of videos of me snagging baseballs at various stadiums, and you’ll get a sense of my personality and what I’m all about. I particularly like this video from Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas. Here’s another one of my favorites from Turner Field in Atlanta, and if you still have more time to spare, watch this short documentary on me that VICE Sports did last season after I snagged Alex Rodriguez’s 3,000th career hit. It really explains a lot.

One more thing about knocking kids down . . . do you really think that I would have gotten away with that? ON AN ACTIVE MILITARY BASE?! I would estimate that two-thirds of the crowd were non-military civilians (lots of families, kids, and friends), but still, that means I was surrounded by active duty members of the Army at all times. If I did anything bad to even one child, I would’ve probably gotten my ass kicked by his/her father, and if that type of behavior persisted, I would’ve been hauled out of there by the Military Police. Think about that. You’re basically insulting the military and stadium security by claiming that I got away with doing anything inappropriate or illegal.

And now let’s move on, huh? I did get someone to film me for a minute. Check out this screen shot of me giving a ball to a little kid:


You may have noticed that I was wearing a different hat than the red one in the photo I tweeted. Quick explanation: I own caps and shirts of all 30 MLB teams and often change outfits at stadiums because it helps me get toss-ups from the players. So yeah, in the screen shot above, I was wearing a Braves cap, and in the screen shot below, in which I was watching helplessly as a Giancarlo Stanton homer sailed completely over the berm and nearly went inside the open passenger window of a semi that was parked back there, I was wearing a Marlins cap:


Here’s what it looked like behind the berm . . .


. . . and here’s the berm itself:


WOW!!! Right? What an amazing place to move around and try to catch home run balls. (What an amazing place in general, just to chill and watch the game.)

Speaking of balls, I don’t have any action shots of myself, so you’ll have to settle for a quick rundown. After d’Arnaud hooked me up, I got a toss-up from Braves pitcher Ian Krol and then caught a couple of home runs. Jeff Francoeur hit the first one; I’m not sure who hit the second, but I can tell you that I gave away all of my BP balls, mostly to kids, but also to a few grown-ups. At one point, an usher walked over and asked if I might be able to catch a ball for him to give to his brother who wasn’t able to attend the game because he was currently deployed. I told him I’d give him the next one that I got — and I did. And he was thrilled.

Soon after the Marlins took the field, I got A.J. Ramos to hook me up from quite a distance. I was hoping he’d throw it hard — he likes to do that — but he gave me a gentle lob instead. My next two baseballs were both home runs by Giancarlo Stanton. I caught the first one knee-high on the dead run in left-center, and I caught the next one under more routine circumstances in straight-away left. That brought my total for the day to seven baseballs, meaning that at the very least, I was going to make a $700 donation to AMVETS.org. That’s a lot of money, but there was still one more group of BP. And I was glad to contribute.

My 8th ball was tossed by Jose Fernandez, and my 9th ball was a home run by Marcell Ozuna, which I caught on the fly in left-center. That was it for BP.

If I had brought all the materials for my glove trick with me, I probably could’ve retrieved a couple of balls out of this gap behind the outfield wall:


Why didn’t I bring the glove trick? Because I figured I wasn’t going to be allowed to use a device like that. Oh well.

I should mention that there were LOTS of baseballs to go around. The players, not surprisingly, were generous with toss-ups, and there were times when I had to ask three or four children, “Did you get a ball yet?” before I found one who said no. And then, to be clear, I would hand one to them. I always try to make sure that as many different kids as possible receive baseballs.

As you may have noticed, the berm was sloped, so whenever a child at the back dropped a ball, it rolled down and gently hit the back of someone’s foot. This probably happened a dozen times.

After BP I resisted the urge to get some shaved ice:


Instead of eating, I wanted to focus on wandering around the stadium and taking lots of photos. Here’s what it looked like behind the left field bleachers — ESPN’s tent is on the left and the foul pole is just out of view on the right:


Here’s the Marlins bullpen beside a merchandise tent:


The walkway in the left field corner was buzzing:


I liked the Guest Services setup — simple but effective:


Here’s what it looked like behind the bleachers along the left field foul line:


I kept walking toward home plate and passed the Marlins’ clubhouse:


There was excellent signage. Not even kidding. I notice things like that and appreciate it when it’s done well. That said, here’s a stadium directory:


The walkway behind the seats on the 1st base side was particularly muddy:


The ushers were checking tickets at all the tunnels, but on several occasions, they let me take a quick peek at the field. That was nice of them.

Here’s a tunnel that led to a disabled seating area along the right field foul line:


Here’s what the field looked like from that spot:


Very nice! I was so excited for the game but there was still another half-hour remaining before the first pitch.

Moments later, Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell walked along the warning track, tossing and handing out Braves caps:


I got one and gave it to a woman sitting nearby.

Here’s what the right field corner looked like:


I was tempted to stay there and try to catch a foul ball, but eh. That didn’t seem like a fun way to experience this game.

After walking all the way around the outfield again to the left field corner, I spotted this through a chain-link fence:


Two seconds after taking that photo, I heard a voice say, “Excuse me, what are you doing?”

I turned around and was surprised to see a Military Police Officer with a walkie-talkie. I explained apologetically that I was just taking a photo of the huge American Flag, and then I showed it to him on my phone. He said it was no problem but that he’d gotten a report of someone potentially tampering with the fence, so he asked me to step away from it.

I was unsettled at first but that quickly changed to feeling safe and appreciative. Although I didn’t feel smothered at any point by security, there was clearly an incredible presence and watchfulness, so let me just say THANK YOU to the Soldiers and volunteers who helped to make this event happen and who kept everything running smoothly. Everyone did a tremendous job, and I found myself marveling at the logistics throughout the night.

Here’s something else worth marveling at:



Everyone was in such a great, festive mood.

The Soldiers who’d been carrying the huge American flag had now moved inside the stadium:


The pregame ceremony had not yet begun, so while I was standing around, I got another baseball. In fact, if you scroll back up to my photo of the left field bullpen, you can see it on the grass. I noticed at the last second that Braves catching coach Brian Schneider had walked out and retrieved it. Just before he was about to place it in the ball bag, I called out to him and got him to toss it to me. Normally I don’t congratulate myself for getting baseballs and giving them away, but given the amount of negativity that’s swirling, it should be noted that if I hadn’t been there, NO ONE would have gotten that ball, but because I was there, it ended up in the hands of a child 30 seconds later — and a Veterans charity was due to receive an extra $100.

Fifteen minutes before game time, Marlins starter Adam Conley began warming up in the bullpen:


In case you can’t tell, he made a few throws by running from the mound and taking a crow hop. I’ve seen pitchers do that before, but it still looks funny. I wanted to continue watching him getting ready for the game, but I wanted to see the on-field ceremony even more. A friendly usher in the left field bleachers let me enter the section for a few minutes so that I could take some photos, like this:


What a beautiful sight! It made me think of my father, Stuart Hample (1926 – 2010), who served in the Navy on a submarine base in World War II. His service was a great source of pride, not just for him but my entire family. I wished that he had been here with me at Fort Bragg, and in spirit, he was. It was a touching moment for me, punctuated by a flyover featuring four helicopters from the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division:


FYI, the two helicopters on the side were UH-60 Black Hawks, the one in front was an AH-64 Apache, the one in the back was a CH-47 Chinook. Check out this amazing video that they filmed and posted on YouTube.

This might sound strange, but at the start of the game, I actually spent a few minutes here:


In the photo above, the big structure on the right is the home plate grandstand. You can see the protective screen to the left and down a bit. I was hoping that one of the left-handed batters would send a foul ball flying back in my direction, but I quickly gave up. It wasn’t fun to be missing the action, and it seemed like a lousy spot — set too far back from the field. Same deal on the 1st base side of home plate. There was lots of stuff in my way between the field and walkway, so foul balls seemed possible at best, not likely.

Ultimately I headed to my seat on the 3rd base side. (Joe, meanwhile, had wandered off to catch up with a few friends.) This was my view in the top of the 2nd inning:


Not bad. And it was a total fluke that I ended up there. I didn’t know where my ticket was going to be until a day before the game. That’s when I saw this seating chart for the first time.

Side note: I’d been so busy all day (and so engaged in the present) that I never spent more than a few seconds on my phone at any given moment. Yeah, I’d been posting some stuff to Twitter, but I didn’t see any of the replies coming in. I figured I’d catch up later, answer people’s questions, etc. It wasn’t until I started getting texts from a few friends that I realized something was amiss, and even then I didn’t realize the full extent of it. As it turned out, my presence at this game was turning into a national media frenzy, and for the most part, I was still oblivious. The more people tried to tell me about what was going on, the more I ignored my phone. As stupid and naive as this may sound, I was just trying to enjoy myself at a baseball game, so I did my best to tune out the distractions.


After each of the first two innings, I noticed that Marlins 3rd baseman Martin Prado had tossed the 3rd-out balls into the crowd. He wasn’t the fielder who had recorded those outs; he was simply the designated 3rd-out-ball tosser-upper. Some teams do that; there’s one guy who gives out all the balls during the game. On the Yankees it’s Didi Gregorius, on the Rangers it’s Elvis Andrus, and so on. I hoped that Prado would toss one to me at some point, and when my old buddy Chase d’Arnaud took a called strike three to end the 3rd inning, I figured I had no shot. Usually, when an inning ends with a strikeout, the catcher tosses the ball into the crowd at the home-plate end of the dugout, but for some reason (perhaps because there was protective netting here at Fort Bragg blocking those seats), J.T. Realmuto fired the ball to Prado, who then walked into foul territory and tossed it right to me. Check it out:


As excited as I was to have gotten that ball, no one else around me seemed to care. No one said a word about it or even asked to see it. It was actually kind of strange, so I posted that photo on Twitter, which unintentionally fanned the flames.

This was my 11th ball of the day, and I’d given nine of them away. I still had the one from d’Arnaud in my possession — a ball that I really would have loved to keep, as it was my first ball at Fort Bragg Field, but a promise is a promise. I had announced that I was going to give away all of my baseballs except for one, so I figured I’d hang onto the one I’d just gotten. A little while later, I gave the d’Arnaud ball to a very appreciative boy and then headed up the stairs to the last row. Here’s what it looked like from that spot:


By the 6th inning, I was starving, so I took a little walk . . .


. . . and ended up here:


The concession stands weren’t giving out bottles, so all the drinks were served in paper cups. I got chicken tenders and fries and some ice water for about $13.

Late in the game, I headed out to the berm in left-center field:


That’s when I noticed this:


That was the “Prisoner of War/Missing in Action chair of honor.” Here’s an article about it. I regret that I missed the official between-inning dedication, but I hadn’t heard when that was going to take place. Thankfully I was at least able to see it and take a photo to share here with everyone.

As for the game itself, Adam Conley’s crow hops must’ve worked because he pitched six scoreless innings. J.T. Realmuto hit the game’s only home run in the top of the 9th. It landed in front of the batter’s eye and got tossed up to the fans standing along the side railing. The Braves didn’t score until the bottom of the 9th, but their rally fell short — final score: Marlins 5, Braves 2. Here’s the final score on the jumbotron:


Officially, this was a Braves home game — fans did the Tomahawk Chop, and there were other between-inning promotions straight out of Turner Field — but it didn’t feel like a Braves game. It felt like some bizarro/alternate baseball universe, and I mean that in the best of ways.

I took a few more photos before heading out. Here’s what the batter’s eye looked like:


Here’s the berm after nearly everyone else had left:


Here’s the last photo I took inside the stadium:


What a special night and an incredible experience. Many thanks to Major League Baseball for making it happen and to all military service members and their families, past and present. Although I now realize that my presence at this game was a tremendous source of controversy, that doesn’t diminish the fact that it was truly an honor to set foot inside Fort Bragg and attend this historic game.

Are you still with me? Good because I have a few more things to share. Ready to see what the tickets looked like? I forgot to photograph mine at the game, so here’s the photo that Joe sent to get me pumped up after a mutual friend had first put us in touch:


It’s hard to tell in that photo, but the places where it says “ADMIT ONE” had shiny gold stamping. Very snazzy. Did you notice that the gate opening time was printed right under the date? I didn’t notice that at first and ended up wasting an embarrassing amount of time trying to find that info on the internet. Duh. And one more thing — there were no barcodes! The ticket takers at the stadium tore off the stubs at the bottom the old-fashioned way.

Now, about that donation to AMVETS.org . . .

I had announced on Twitter that I would write a check, but again: duh. This is 2016. Who writes checks? Instead, when I woke up on July 4th, I made the $1,100 donation through their website, and then I tweeted about it, just to let everyone know that I wasn’t BS’ing:


As I mentioned earlier, this angered lots of people who missed my earlier tweet and assumed I only donated because things had gotten ugly. Other people were upset because I was supposedly trying to get sympathy by mentioning my dad. (He’s my dad, and I miss him like crazy and still love him, and he served in the Navy, and I think about him a lot. I refuse to apologize for any of that.) Even more people were pissed that I hadn’t picked other military charities.

Why were all these people so mad? Let’s put it this way — the media coverage certainly didn’t help. Look at the headlines that appeared when Googling my name the following day:


What is “illegal” about receiving a ticket from a Soldier? How does receiving a ticket from a Soldier constitute as “crashing” the game? And my goodness, there was a petition to ban me from all stadiums?! I understand now that I showed poor judgment in attending the game — I posted a long apology on Twitter — but I really don’t think I did anything illegal. In fact, according to the many Soldiers who got in touch with me, there was lots of confusion about the tickets at Fort Bragg. Allow me to quote someone whom I met at the game and later emailed:

According to a source at Fort Bragg’s MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) Department, the Fort Bragg agency tasked with providing ticketing and community outreach to the Fort Bragg game, there were major planning and coordination miscues with the distribution of tickets. Hundreds, if not thousands, of tickets went unaccounted for and were not provided to military units for distribution until days before the game; this sadly led to many tickets going unused. For tickets that were distributed by units to Soldiers, many were not properly documented and Soldiers were not provided guidance of restrictions on their use and transferability. These miscues also led to many Soldiers not receiving parking passes for the game and MWR frantically posting Facebook announcements the day of the game to disseminate information. Adding to the confusion, the MWR employees at the post Leisure Travel office were not provided with any information on ticketing. As this office serves as the main customer service point of contact for MWR, Soldiers and family members were not able to receive information concerning the details of the game and the tickets; in some cases, incorrect information was provided.”

I had initially tried to buy a ticket in the weeks leading up to the game, but that didn’t work because no one had tickets. Lots of people made promises, but no one could actually deliver. I realized that the best, safest, and most respectful approach was to try to find someone who knew someone who’d bring me along for free as their guest. That’s when I posted a YouTube video (which I deleted after securing a ticket) asking for help, and THAT is ultimately what worked. Joe’s entire unit had received tickets, or at least all the guys who wanted them. They never had to sign for them or enter the lottery or put their names or guests’ names on a list or vow not to transfer them, so he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong by helping me out. He received a pair of tickets and had no idea what to do with the extra one. He invited his girlfriend, but she wasn’t interested in the game, so when he heard about me from a mutual friend, he thought it’d be fun to bring me along and hang for the day. I’m sorry the story isn’t more exciting, but that’s really all there is to it. And let me stress again (as I did in my YouTube video) that I never ever EVER wanted to deprive a Soldier of the chance to attend this game. I only wanted to go if I could find someone who had a ticket that wasn’t going to be used.

That said, I was still enemy No. 1, and the hatred and negativity reached new heights. Here are a few of the emails I received, including one that compares me to Hitler and another which disrespects my dead father:


There were many more emails that I deleted without taking screen shots.

On a positive note, I’ve received lots of supportive emails, including a bunch from people in or connected to the military. These mean a LOT to me. Here’s one:


Here’s another:


And another (from someone who sent a follow-up message explaining that he contacted me from his military email account so that when I shared it, people would really know that he was a soldier):


And yet another:


I have also continued to receive a steady flow of emails from kids who think I’m a decent guy. I’ll just share one of these for now, but if you want to read a whole lot more, check out the fan mail page on my website. Here you go:


Dear Nic-

Thanks for the kind email and for watching my videos! There’ll be a lot more of them coming this summer, so stay tuned. Also, keep in mind that thirteen-year-olds can be incredibly cruel, though I’ve found that grown-ups can be pretty crappy too. The more people make fun of you, the more insecure they are, so really it just reflects badly on them. You have no idea how much I got made fun of at your age — and still do. Just stay strong and keep doing what you love. Become an expert. Teach others. Perhaps you can even make a living doing it. As long as it’s not hurting anyone, you can hold your head up high — and the last time I checked, loving baseball stadiums is no crime. If anyone gives you a hard time, tell them to talk to me about it. Be well and take care and hopefully we can meet in person someday . . . at a stadium you’ve helped to design.


On a final note, I just want to say thanks for reading this blog entry. It was such an amazing and humbling experience to be there with our military heroes. I hope MLB and other sports leagues continue to have events like this to honor these brave servants of our country.

6/3/16 at Camden Yards

This was my first game in Baltimore since Game 1 of the 2014 ALDS, and for the first time ever at this stadium, I was with a personal videographer for my YouTube channel. Here’s the spot we chose for my intro:


Although I didn’t mention it on video, I was concerned about the weather, and sure enough, when I headed inside at 5pm, I was bummed to see the tarp on the field:


This was very very NOT good, mainly because the Yankees were in town. Not only was batting practice wiped out, but there was going to be lots of competition for toss-ups.

Thankfully, after switching into my Yankees gear, I was able to get CC Sabathia’s attention (from about 100 feet away). Here he is throwing me a ball:


The ball sailed so far over my head and tailed so much to the right that I didn’t even bother moving at first. Here it is rattling around in the seats:


Luckily the ball bounced back toward me, landed in the folded up portion of a seat, and trickled down onto the wet concrete. Here I am picking it up:


That ball turned out to have a commemorative logo for the Blue Jays’ 40th season:


The Yankees had recently played in Toronto and picked up a bunch of those balls. (Home teams always provide BP balls for the visitors.) Back in April, I’d gotten a few Blue Jays balls from the A’s in Detroit — random, but hey, I’ll take it.

There was no action after that, so I got some Boog’s BBQ — a pork sandwich and baked beans, to be specific:


Then I wandered a bit and pointed out a few things about the stadium for the video.

Did I say there was no action? Sorry, there totally was. Check it out — here’s the ground “removing” the tarp:


There was nothing to do, so I wandered and took a few photos, like this one:


Then I caught up with three of my favorite people at Camden Yards:


That’s Tim Anderson (with a very bruised inner knee) on the left, Alex Kopp (“Customs Broker by day, Ballhawk by night”) in the middle, and Grant Edrington (who appears to have gotten five years younger) on the right.

Take a look at Grant’s glove:


That’s both the best and worst glove I’ve ever seen, but he seems to be doing well with it, so who am I to judge?

There still weren’t any players on the field, so we all hung out and chatted for a while:


For the record, Tim is not nearly as thick as the photo above makes him look. That’s just a weird angle. You should all know that he’s a trim and athletic individual.

In the following photo of Nathan Eovaldi warming up, do you see the guy on the cobblestone walkway, wearing all black, and standing casually as if he doesn’t have a care in the world?


That’s Eddie Fastook, the Executive Director of Team Security for the Yankees. Remember him from this photo last year? I’ve only seen him a few times since then, so it was nice to give him a shout and get a friendly wave in return.

While I hung out there, Brandon got close to Alex Rodriguez:


Too bad I wasn’t there with him. It would’ve been cool to interact with A-Rod on camera.

Here’s where I sat for his first at-bat of the game:


There were many more empty seats than I expected, mostly at the back of the section, so I hoped to take advantage whenever A-Rod stepped to the plate. Unfortunately, when he connected in the 4th inning on his 694th career homer, that ball went to right field. GAH!! Tim and Alex told me later that it landed on the Flag Court near the foul pole, bounced/rolled all way out toward the warehouse, and was picked up by some random guy who happened to be walking along Eutaw Street.

I headed out to the Flag Court at various points in the game:


I also spent a little time behind the plate, hoping for a foul ball:


There was no action anywhere near me.

It’s a good thing I got that toss-up from Sabathia early in the day because (a) I would’ve been freaking out otherwise and (b) I would not have accepted an offer to go up into the warehouse — and look what I would’ve missed out on:


How did I get to be there? Pretty simple, really. While standing around in right field, I was spotted/recognized by a guy who works at Camden Yards. He said he had warehouse access and offered to bring me (and my videographer) along. I just had to promise not to show his face or mention his name to anyone. So yeah, check out this hallway on the fourth floor:


At 1,016 feet, this warehouse is the longest building on the east coast, so of course the hallways are long too.

And now . . . check out the view of the field:


We hung out in the hallway for about 10 minutes, and when we exited at the center-field end of it, I saw this:


I know you’re wondering, and the answer is no. There was no food.

We passed by a receptionist’s area . . .


. . . and then a break room . . .


. . . and past a bunch of cubicles:


That concluded my tour of the warehouse. I’m sure there was much more to see, but the game was almost done, and I wanted to make one final attempt at getting another ball. Can you spot me behind the Orioles’ dugout in the following photo?


Did you notice the ball flying past me in the upper right corner? That was one of half a dozen that got tossed into the crowd. Here I am getting one of them from coach Einar Diaz:


That was it. The Orioles had defeated the Yankees, 6-5, and I only got two baseballs — quite a dip below my average of more than eight per game, but sometimes the circumstances are tough. It was still a fun day.

I decided to do the closing scene for the video on Eutaw Street. We had to do several takes in part because of this guy:


He was rather exuberant, screaming “GO ORIOLES!!” but wearing a Yankees shirt. Enjoy looking at his face here because he didn’t make the final cut in the video. I’m going to post the video soon and add a link to the end of this entry, but you should still subscribe to my YouTube channel. That way you definitely won’t miss it.


 2 baseballs at this game

 311 balls in 36 games this season = 8.64 balls per game.

 546 balls in 60 lifetime games at Camden Yards = 9.1 balls per game.

1,202 consecutive games with at least one ball

8,944 total balls


My fundraiser for Pitch In For Baseball is now in its eighth season. Once again, people are pledging money for every home run ball that I snag during games. Here’s some info about the fundraiser, and if you donate, you’ll be eligible to win one of these prizes.

• 11 donors for my fundraiser

• $102.77 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $411.08 raised this season

• $190,914.74 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

6/2/16 at Marlins Park

This was my fourth game ever at Marlins Park, and for the first time, I was here with my videographer, Brandon Sloter. Check out this screen shot from my “opening speech” outside the stadium:


As I said in the video, “It looks like a spaceship on the outside, and the inside is pretty unusual too.”

A little while later, I met up with my two best friends at the stadium:


In the photo above, the man on the left is named Joe. He caught Ken Griffey Jr.’s 600th career home run on 6/9/08 at Dolphin Stadium — a ball that I nearly got myself. The guy on the right is named Drew, and he keeps me up to date on everything going on at the ballpark. Not only was it great to reconnect with them, but they were kind enough to bring me and Brandon inside when the season ticket holder gate opened at 4:30pm.

For the first hour, only two sections were open:

1) straight-away left field
2) the left field foul line

Here’s where I started:


Ichiro Suzuki and Christian Yelich were hitting in the first group. I was hoping that they’d slice a few foul balls into the empty seats, but it quickly became clear that I was wasting my time. I moved to straight-away left, and as you can see in the photo below, there wasn’t a whole lot of room to work with:


No, it wasn’t crowded, but that section is small and set way back, above and behind the visitors’ bullpen.

I didn’t get anything for half an hour. It was a real struggle. And when I did finally get a ball, it was a wimpy toss-up from Cody Hall during the last group of Marlins BP — not terribly exciting, but obviously I felt a huge sense of relief. Here I am catching it:


A few minutes later, I got A.J. Ramos to hook me up by asking him to throw the ball hard. (He seems to like pegging them at people, John Rocker style, but presumably without the hostility.) Unfortunately his aim was off, and the ball fell short. Here it is bouncing off the wall in front of me:


Here’s a summary of the brief exchange that followed:


He was annoyed at me for not reaching over the wall and making the catch, and I was annoyed that he was annoyed when it had clearly been HIS fault, but then I realized that from his perspective, he couldn’t tell that I was in the 2nd row, so it probably seemed like I was being lazy, or that I was afraid of the ball. In any case, he gave me another shot, and I made the grab without incident:


Here are the two baseballs that I had gotten:

9_first_two_baseballs copy

My third ball was a home run by a right-handed batter on the Marlins. That’s all I know. Here I am catching it — look closely and you can see it streaking into my glove:


When the Pirates started hitting, the rest of the stadium still hadn’t opened, but whaddaya know? I got one more chance in left field and made the most of it, climbing down over a row of seats to make the catch. Here I am, just a split-second later, trying not to lose my balance:


(Did you notice the fan ducking on the lower right?)

I handed that ball to the nearest kid — one of four balls that I gave away over the course of the day:


Then I ran over to right field at 5:30pm.

Now that the Marlins have moved in the fences, there’s a nifty gap between the outfield wall and the seats, and look! I used my glove trick to snag not one . . . not two . . . but three balls that had dropped down in there:


I’ll spare you having to look at a bunch of screen shots here. Instead, just wait and check out all the action in the video (which is still being edited). If you subscribe to my YouTube channel, you’ll be guaranteed not to miss it.

Anyway, with my total for the day now at seven, I headed back to left field, but not to the seats above the bullpen. I headed to an area just behind the outfield wall called the Clevelander. I’ve talked about it before — it’s basically a club that happens to be located inside a Major League Baseball stadium. This was the view on my right . . .


. . . and here’s what it looked like on my left:


Meanwhile, in order to see the batter, I had to duck down a bit:


This section is weird and cramped and fun, and the awnings covering the seats make things awkward. There’s truly nothing else like it in the majors.

The awnings, which, by the way, are only used during BP, worked in my favor. Here’s my eighth ball of the day, bouncing down unexpectedly off one of them and barely eluding the guy standing above me:


That ball dropped into the gap behind the scoreboard. Here I am bending over and grabbing it:


What a beautiful sight, huh?

Here’s some awkwardness for ya:


A righty on the Pirates had hit a deep fly ball that bounced from the warning track onto the awning. I was waiting for it to roll off, along with the guy in the yellow hat, so we both had our gloves up the air. The ball ended up rolling faster and farther than we expected, which was bad for him (because he was underneath the awning and therefore had no chance) and tricky for me because it kinda “handcuffed” me:


Wow, that’s ugly! But I made the catch.

Here’s a six-part image that shows me getting my 10th ball of the day:


It was a home run that sailed over my head, ricocheted back toward me, and plopped into the front row.

Toward the end of BP, when Jonathon Niese walked over to retrieve a ball on the warning track, I simply said, “Hey, what’s up?”

His response: “What’re YOU doing here?”

He remembered me from Citi Field from his time with the Mets. I figured there was no chance that he’d give me the ball, so I didn’t bother asking. Instead we chatted briefly, and before he walked away, he tossed it onto the awning so that it would roll off to me. He was so cool about it (recognizing me AND still hooking me up) that when I got back home to New York, I wrote him a letter to say thanks. Anyway, here I am catching that ball:


That was my 11th of the day, and here’s No. 12:


I used my string/glove to knock the ball closer (I call that the “half-glove trick”) and then reached down and grabbed it. Easy.

After BP, I caught up with a bunch of people:


The guy on the left is named Jake, and the dude in the orange shirt is Robert. They’re both regular ballhawks at Marlins Park and made me feel welcomed on their home turf. I appreciated how friendly they were. The fan on the right is named Alex, and as you can see, he’d brought his copy of my book The Baseball, which I signed for him.

I wanted to wander for a bit after that, not just to get shots for the video but also because the stadium is a fascinating place. Here’s the pool in the Clevelander:


Unlike the pool at Chase Field, no one ever swims in this one. It’s mainly just for show. (I said “mainly” because there have been exceptions.)

Here I am standing above the batter’s eye, admiring the curvature of the left field wall:


Shortly before game time, I did a quick segment for the video at the famous bobblehead museum, which is located in the concourse behind home plate:


Brandon wanted to take a photo from the upper deck — he does that in every stadium — but here at Marlins Park, the attendance was so low that the upper deck was closed. Therefore he had to talk to Fan Assistance and then plead his case with stadium security. The best they could do was take him up to the suite level, and even though the game was about to begin, I decided to join him. Here’s what it looked like at the top of the escalator:


Kinda airport-like, huh?

Take a look at the ceiling near the bar in the suite level:


Kinda gaudy, no?

Here’s a guard outside one of the suites:


I give up. I’m running out of adjectives. Sterile? I don’t mean to completely diss the stadium. It’s certainly designed and decorated in ways that I wouldn’t personally choose in a million years, and yet it works. It’s Miami. Things are supposed to be flashy. And the team’s owner is an art dealer. Of course he’s going to have bizarre taste, and you know what? I actually like it. The whole place is strange, and that’s good. Too many new stadiums all feel the same, so it’s nice to have one that stands out.

This is where Brandon got to take his photo:


That was actually a photo from my iPhone. Brandon took a much better shot, but wasn’t happy. He still wanted to get into the upper deck, and when it became clear that he was gonna spend the next hour dealing with stadium security, I decided to head back out to the Clevelander. Here’s what it looked like from the back of the club:


Here’s something else that I saw from behind:


The game, meanwhile, was speeding along, partially due to the fact that Wei-Yin Chen had a no-hitter going. See the scoreboard in the following photo?


No hits through five. Great night to try to catch a home run. And man, if anybody had hit one to left-center, I would’ve had lots of room to run for it.

Things were so slow in the outfield that I sacrificed half an inning to get my photo taken with this lovely lady:


If there hadn’t been a line of people waiting to take photos with her, I would’ve offered a friendly lesson on how to pose with baseballs. I mean . . . jeez! You can hardly tell that there were two in her hand because one was behind the other, and to make matters worse, she had the “practice” stamp facing out. Details, people!

Brandon somehow talked his way into the upper deck and got this photo:


He also went to the deepest part of center field and took a photo there too:


Chen lost his no-hitter in the top of the 7th. The game ended up lasting 12 innings, during which there was a grand total of ZERO home runs.

Final score: Marlins 4, Pirates 3.

The highlight was seeing Ichiro collect his 2,964th and 2,965th career hits. I seriously love that guy, but can we please stop talking about him passing Pete Rose on the all-time hits list? It’s not even accurate to talk about the “professional baseball” record because Rose got 427 hits in the minor leagues, so you’d have to add that to his major league total of 4,256. Let’s appreciate Ichiro for being Ichiro and end this nonsense of crowning him as the hit king. Okay? Thanks.

After the game, the Pirates tossed at least a dozen balls into the crowd near their bullpen — maybe even 20. It was a tremendous display of generosity. Here I am getting one from bullpen catcher Heberto Andrade:


That ball looked nice and used and rubbed up with mud:


Brandon and I were the last two fans to leave the stadium, and I took a few photos on the way out. Look at this one:


(So weird!)

The lights had already been dimmed:


Here’s one final photo of the concourse, taken just as we began descending on the escalator:


Good times in Miami!

I plan to add a video link to this entry, but will you remember to come back and look for it? Uhh, no, you definitely won’t, so if you want to see it, here’s a reminder to subscribe to my YouTube channel. Thanks for reading/watching.

Here’s the video.


43_the_nine_balls_i_kept copy_06_02_16 13 baseballs at this game (nine pictured here because I gave four away)

 309 balls in 35 games this season = 8.83 balls per game.

 45 balls in 4 lifetime games at Marlins Park = 11.25 balls per game.

1,201 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 307 lifetime games with 10 or more balls

8,942 total balls


My fundraiser for Pitch In For Baseball is now in its eighth season. Once again, people are pledging money for every home run ball that I snag during games. Here’s some info about the fundraiser, and if you donate, you’ll be eligible to win one of these prizes.

• 11 donors for my fundraiser

• $102.77 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $411.08 raised this season

• $190,914.74 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

6/1/16 at Turner Field

Last game ever for me at Turner Field? I wasn’t sure, so I treated it like it was. I started by taking a good long look around the parking lot where the Braves’ former home, Fulton County Stadium, was located:


I made it to Fulton County for one game when I was 15 years old (here’s my blog entry about it), so to be back in this space was extra meaningful.

Here’s the spot where Hank Aaron’s record-breaking home run landed in 1974:


Here’s another look at the parking lot and its tall walls:


Turner Field was way off in the distance:


I headed over to the center field gate at around 4pm, and half an hour later, I was the first one in the seats. In the screen shot below, you can see me walking up the stairs toward the batter’s eye, looking for baseballs:


That screen shot was from a video that was filmed by my friend Brandon. He’s a professional photographer/videographer, and we’ve been traveling to various stadiums to do videos for my YouTube channel.

Before the Braves started hitting, Giants starter Matt Cain began playing catch in left field:


When he finished, I got him to throw me the ball, but it fell short and ricocheted back onto the field. The red arrows below indicate where it went:


In the following screen shot, you can see two important things. First, the Braves had started taking BP, and second, coach Eddie Perez had retrieved the ball and was in the process of hitting it back to Cain with his fungo bat. Check it out:


Cain threw it to me again, and this time his aim was perfect:


This was a particularly meaningful ball . . .


. . . because it extended my consecutive games streak to 1,200. The last time I went to a game and didn’t snag at least one ball was September 2, 1993.

Here I am standing next to Chocolate Papa:


That’s an awesome nickname — not sure how he got it, but hey, even if he made it up himself, he might as well wear it with pride.

I used the glove trick to snag my second ball of the day and then handed it to the nearest/littlest kid:


When the entire stadium opened at 5pm, I raced over to right field and found a ball in the front row. Then I snagged this ball . . .


. . . which was thrown by Bud Norris. I’m not sure who he was aiming for — probably the kid in the front row, so after I picked it up, I gave it to him:


Here I am catching my fifth ball — a toss-up from coach Alan Butts:


Here’s a screen shot that shows my sixth ball streaking into the seats in left-center field:


I’m not sure who hit it. All I can tell you is that it was a right-handed batter on the Braves, but anyway, if you look closely at the image above, you can see me (in the light blue shirt) on the stairs, just before I darted to my left and grabbed it in an empty row.

When the Giants took the field and started playing catch, Brandon got a great shot of Johnny Cueto staring us down:


Several minutes later, I got Brandon Belt’s attention and got him to chuck a ball to me from about 100 feet away. See him letting it fly?


His throw fell a bit short, so I had to climb down over a row to make the catch:


When the Giants started hitting, I rushed out to deep left field and played the cross-aisle for Hunter Pence. I ended up chasing down a ball that he hooked inside the foul pole. Unfortunately Brandon didn’t get a shot of it, so all I can do is show myself holding the ball (and grinning like a doofus) after the fact:


I headed to right-center for the final group of BP. I only got one ball out there, but man, lemme tell ya, it felt goooood. It was hit by Brandon Belt, and while the ball was in mid-air, I climbed/jumped down over three rows of seats. I knew that it wasn’t going to reach the stands on the fly, so I prepared to catch it on the bounce. Here I am jumping down over the final row as the ball skipped up off the warning track:


It bounced a bit higher than I expected, so I had to jump in order to catch it:


Then I climbed back up over a row and handed it to a girl:


People often assume that I steal baseballs from kids when in fact I often give baseballs away. By posting these images, I hope to encourage other fans to be generous too, and I also hope it’ll cast a positive light on ballhawking. We’re not monsters, and in fact the most experienced ballhawks are more likely to give away the most balls.

(By the way, the Braves are using special balls for the final season at Turner Field, but none of the ones I got in BP were commemorative. Womp-womp.)

After BP, I posed for photos with a bunch of fans:


It’s been great getting to meet and talk to so many friendly people at games this year.

Brandon got a great shot of some folks doing the Tomahawk Chop:


Then I wandered all over the place to show and talk about the stadium:


I’m hoping that in 10 or 20 or 100 years, when people want to see what Turner Field was like, they’ll watch this video.

Here’s a photo that I took in the upper deck:


Here’s another:


And another:


And yes, another:


Can you believe that it was almost game time when I took that last photo? The crowd was very very very small, and if the Giants hadn’t been there, it would’ve been even smaller.

Here’s a photo of the stairs and ramps leading downstairs, just because:


Turner Field is bland and cruddy, and love it even more because of that. I don’t want to see baseball games in malls and palaces. I want to feel like I’m AT a baseball game, ya know?

Would you believe that I missed a foul ball in the top of the 1st inning because I was just a bit too slow getting to my seat. If all those people hadn’t stopped me to take photos after BP, or if I’d done my wandering in the upper deck a little quicker, or if I hadn’t stopped right before game time to give a ball to a friendly usher to give to the child of her choice, I would’ve been in position to snag that 1st-inning foul ball, guaranteed.

I wasn’t THAT upset because (a) I’d already gotten two commemorative balls the day before and (b) I figured there’d be more action. This was my view during the game:


Nothing special, right? Well, ha-HAAAA, look at all this empty space on my left:



In the bottom of the 3rd inning, Mallex Smith sliced a high foul pop-up in my direction. I jumped out of my seat and drifted up the stairs, trying to reach the spot where I figured it would land, but the spin on the ball combined with the wind played all sorts of tricks, and at the last second, I had to rush back down the stairs and lunge out awkwardly. In the process, I got caught up on a railing and nearly busted my ass, but somehow I stayed upright, and the ball found the pocket of my glove. I’m sure it looked impressive to everyone else in the stadium, but all I could think was, “Wow, I’m an idiot and nearly misjudged that.” Here I am holding up the ball for Brandon’s camera:


In the screen shot above, do you see the kid in the Giants cap? I’ll tell you more about him in a bit, but for now, here’s a closer look at the ball:


I didn’t care that the logo was smudged because one of my baseballs from the previous game was nearly perfect.

A little while later, someone sent me a screen shot of myself on TV:


An inning after that, these guys named A.J. and John asked me to sign their baseballs:


When the game became official after five innings, the number of home games remaining at Turner Field was reduced to 53:


Can you spot me in the following image?


I was going for a 3rd-out ball at the Giants’ dugout — no luck.

Now, about that kid in the Giants cap . . . his name is Cooper, and we hung out for a bit during the middle innings:


In the photo above, I was holding three different balls — one with “practice” stamped on the sweet spot, another with “SF” written there, and the third with a commemorative logo. Oh, and get this . . . after I had caught the foul ball, some bozo in the seats above shouted, “Give it to the kid!” Well, guess what? Cooper had snagged three balls during BP and got a commemorative gamer at the dugout, so he certainly didn’t need one from me. A few innings later, I talked about it in a local TV interview . . . with Cooper sitting beside me. Fun stuff.

Here I am with a local ballhawk named David Welch (aka DeeDubs24 on mygameballs.com):


Very nice guy. Very good at putting up huge numbers. It’ll be interesting to see how he adapts to the new stadium next year. There’s no way it’ll be as good/fun/easy for ballhawking as Turner Field.

Late in the game, I gave a ball to a man in wheelchair who was sitting just behind me in the cross-aisle:


Brandon rarely films these moments, but he happened to capture a bunch of my giveaways at this game, so I figure I might as well show them.

I moved closer to the action in the bottom of the 9th inning:


Twenty minutes later, when Julio Teheran, a starting pitcher on the Braves, was called up to the plate to pinch hit, I knew what I had to do. There were two outs in the bottom of the 10th, so I moved toward the home-plate end of the dugout. Sure enough, he ended up striking out, and Giants catcher Buster Posey walked back to the dugout with the ball. When he approached the warning track, he flung it high into the air. I backed up a step, jumped, and made the catch. That was my 11th and final ball of the day; I was back in my original seat when Freddie Freeman launched a walk-off homer in the 11th.

Final score: Braves 5, Giants 4.

Here are the two commemorative balls that I got:


On my way out, I spotted an image of what the Braves’ new stadium (SunTrust Park) is going to look like:


I’ll probably hit it up within the first month or two of the 2017 season.

Here are the five balls that I kept:


And there you have it — my last game ever at Turner Field . . . maybe. I don’t know. It’ll be tempting to head back in September and see it one last time. In the meantime, stay tuned for my YouTube video from this game.


 11 baseballs at this game

296 balls in 34 games this season = 8.71 balls per game.

 239 balls in 18 lifetime games at Turner Field = 13.28 balls per game.

1,200 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 306 lifetime games with 10 or more balls

• 169 lifetime foul balls during games (not counting balls that were thrown to me)

8,929 total balls


My fundraiser for Pitch In For Baseball is now in its eighth season. Once again, people are pledging money for every home run ball that I snag during games. Here’s some info about the fundraiser, and if you donate, you’ll be eligible to win one of these prizes.

• 11 donors for my fundraiser

• $102.77 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $411.08 raised this season

• $190,914.74 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

5/31/16 at Turner Field

This was my 17th lifetime game at Turner Field, and for the first time ever, I was there with a videographer for my YouTube channel. Here I am talking to the camera just after the stadium opened at 4:30pm.


I was probably saying something along the lines of, “OMG, I love this place soooooo much!”

In my previous 16 games here, I’d snagged a total of 217 baseballs. That’s an average of more than 13 balls per game, so obviously I was thrilled to be back and hoping to have another big day.

Unfortunately BP got off to a rough start for me. I got completely shut out during the first group of hitters, and things didn’t get much better after that. Here’s a screen shot from the video, which shows me jumping for and missing a home run ball:


There were several other near misses and unlucky ricochets. And then THIS happened:


That’s my friend Bryce on the right, congratulating a fellow ballhawk named Will for beating me out for a ball in the gap behind the outfield wall. Turner Field is one of the best places for using a device to retrieve balls that are out of reach; security is totally cool with it, and as a result, there was LOTS of competition. Whenever a ball dropped into the gap, it was like a swarm of vultures dive-bombing a juicy carcass. Fans of all ages would start racing through empty rows, rushing down the steps, and climbing over seats. And get this — Bryce had inspired Will to make a retrieval device several years ago, so he was especially pleased to see him out-snag me.

After about 20 minutes, I finally got my first ball of the day — a home run that I caught after taking a circuitous route up and then down the stairs. Here’s the ball streaking into my glove:


Not surprisingly, the ball was not commemorative. This is the final season of Turner Field, so the Braves are using special balls during games. I was hoping to get a few during BP, but nope, every ball had the standard MLB logo.

Here’s a good look at the gap between the outfield wall and the seats:


There are also gaps in right-center and straight-away right field. Twenty or thirty balls per day must land in there. There are endless opportunities, but like I said, there’s lots of competition, so if you bring a device, make sure it works well and fast.

When the entire stadium opened at 5pm (only left field and right-center are open for the first half-hour), I still only had one ball. Left field was rather crowded, so I headed to straight-away right. This was my view:


A few minutes later, a left-handed batter on the Braves (not sure who) hit a long fly ball that was clearly going to sail over my head, so I climbed back over a row to get closer to it:


I actually climbed over two rows, and when the ball landed, it unexpectedly ricocheted right into my chest:


That was lucky — one foot higher and I might’ve ended up with another black eye. Remember when I got hit in the face with a ball on 7/31/13 at Turner Field? The result was not pretty, but anyway, as for this homer to right field, it deflected back at me so fast that I failed to catch it cleanly. Instead I bobbled it . . .


. . . but managed to hang on.

Then I used my glove trick to snag my third ball of the day:


I handed that one to a girl who was standing nearby:


That was it for the Braves’ portion of BP. In a word: weak.

When the Giants came out, I headed over to the left field foul line and stayed a dozen rows back. I kinda had to because of the huge nets that are now erected during BP to protect people down in front.

I got Kelby Tomlinson to throw me a ball, and soon after, I got another from Brandon Crawford. Look how far away he was:


In the screen shot above, do you see the two players on the outfield grass? Brandon Belt is on the right, and Brandon Crawford (in the process of chucking the ball to me) is on the left. His throw fell short, forcing me to climb down over a row and lunge far forward:


I got one more ball in foul territory, and it was far less exciting:


It was tossed from 10 feet away by George Kontos, who was already looking elsewhere by the time I gloved it. That was my sixth ball of the day.

When the Giants started hitting, I ran back to right field and promptly got a toss-up from Derek Law. That ball had been bobbled by a man on my right, so I handed it to him for his kid.

Then I caught a pair of Jarrett Parker homers, and unfortunately, this is the best screen shot I can provide of the first one:


My videographer didn’t see the ball coming, so when he saw me run toward him and then climb back over two rows, he got scared and ducked. As you can kinda see, I was straddling the second row when I caught the ball.

The second Parker homer was less eventful. Here’s the ball streaking down into my glove:


I gave that one to a kid:


That was it for BP. Nine balls. Pretty good considering how slowly things had started for me.

A little while later, I caught up with a young fan named Gehrig who had brought his copy of my latest book, The Baseball. Here we are:


Using the ballhawking advice in the book (along with his excellent baseball instincts), he had snagged six balls during BP. I signed the book for him, and we hung out for a bit, and then I rushed off to eat a pre-game meal at . . .



There’s a Waffle House *inside* Turner Field, and I absolutely love it, and no, I’m not joking. There might even be some Waffle House footage in the video, which, by the way, will be up on YouTube soon-ish. The best way to make sure you don’t miss it is to subscribe to my channel. If, for some reason, you can’t deal with that, keep an eye on my Twitter because I’ll post a link when it’s ready, and if you can’t even do THAT, check back on this entry because I’ll add a link to the video at the bottom.

Here’s a photo of the visitors’ bullpen, just because:


No, I didn’t snag a ball there. I just want to show you what it looks like because . . . TURNER FIELD, MAN!! It’s not gonna be around much longer, and I already miss it like crazy. If you haven’t ever been to this stadium, do whatever you can to get there. You have three and a half more months. Make it happen.

When the game got underway, my number one goal was to snag a commemorative ball. None of my nine balls from BP had a special logo, so now I needed to make something happen. I spent a little time behind home plate:


I also went for 3rd-out balls behind the Giants’ dugout:


(Stupid me, being here when the Giants were in town. So. Many. Giants. Fans.)

I wasn’t feeling it at either of those spots, so I moved to the 3rd base side and stayed deep, where there were lots of empty seats. Here I am from behind:


How nice that my videographer happened to be filming at that moment because Gregor Blanco sliced a high foul pop-up in my direction. I jumped out of my seat and drifted to my left:


When I determined that the ball was going to land behind me, I climbed back over a row:


And then ANOTHER row:


Here’s the ball landing:


It ricocheted back up into the air . . .


. . . and wouldn’t you know it — I had to climb back down:


At the very last second, I lunged and made a back-handed catch . . .


. . . and then with my momentum taking me back toward the field, I hopped down over another row (to avoid face-planting):


Has anyone ever climbed over four rows of seats in the process of snagging a baseball? I think that might be a new world record. Can we get Guinness on the phone?

I was very very very very very happy at that moment:


And look! I even made it onto the Giants’ broadcast:


I showed the commemorative logo to my cameraman:


Here’s a better look at it:



I’m getting bored of circular logos (like this and this and this and this), so I appreciate the Turner Field logo for its unique shape and design. That said, I think it falls short of perfection because of how difficult it is to read the words “Turner Field.” It looks like there are faint X’s through the letters, as if it’s part of the stonework, and I just don’t think that holds up. I do love how the design of the stadium is incorporated into the logo, along with a bold Braves logo and the years. Commemorative logos without years (like this and this and this and this) are tremendously disappointing because they lack essential info.

Speaking of numbers, look what happened when the game became official after five innings:


That’s how many home games are remaining at Turner Field. See the number “54” on the outfield wall below?


In the bottom of the 9th inning, I moved closer to the action . . .


. . . and when the game ended, I worked my way down to the home-plate end of the 3rd base dugout and got my 11th ball of the day from home plate umpire Alan Porter.

Final score: Giants 4, Braves 0.


When the Giants cleared the field, I gave away two of my BP balls to kids. Here’s the second recipient, who was absolutely adorable:


If you look closely, you can see me waving to him (in the middle), and him waving back to me (on the right). D’awww!

Before leaving the stadium, I took a photo of the umpire ball:


Then I posted this tweet about it. Heh.

There was no teary goodbye on this night in Atlanta because I was planning to be back at Turner Field the next day. Stay tuned for that blog entry. For now, I’ll leave you with a photo of the six balls that I kept:


Like I said before, I’ll add a link to the YouTube video as soon as it’s ready. Thanks for reading/watching!

Here’s the video. It’s great. You should watch it.


 11 baseballs at this game (six pictured here because I gave five away)

285 balls in 33 games this season= 8.64 balls per game.

 228 balls in 17 lifetime games at Turner Field = 13.41 balls per game.

1,199 consecutive games with at least one ball

 81 different commemorative balls

8,918 total balls


My fundraiser for Pitch In For Baseball is now in its eighth season. Once again, people are pledging money for every home run ball that I snag during games. Here’s some info about the fundraiser, and if you donate, you’ll be eligible to win one of these prizes.

• 10 donors for my fundraiser

• $82.77 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $324.08 raised this season

• $190,834.74 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

5/20/16 at PNC Park

This was the final game of a five-day road trip with my friend/videographer Brandon. We started the week in Cleveland, then moved on to Detroit and followed that with a pair of games in Cincinnati. After making the drive to Pittsburgh . . .


. . . we stopped for lunch at Primanti Bros. I had heard about their legendary sandwiches from my friend and fellow ballhawk Robbie Sacunas, who just so happens to work there. Here he is behind the bar:


He recommended a sandwich called the HBK, which he described as follows: “It has four slices of ham, two slices of bacon, and a kielbasa. It’s topped with fries, cole slaw, tomatoes, and provolone cheese. It’s in reference to the Penguins in the Stanley Cup playoffs where we have a line with Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino, and Phil Kessel.”

Get it? HBK = Ham, Bacon, Kielbasa *and* Hagelin, Bonino, Kessel. Very clever. And delicious. Look at this monster!


THAT is a pre-game meal. There’d be no need to even think about food again for a while.

Brandon and I waddled to the stadium at around 3:30pm. On our way across the Roberto Clemente Bridge, I stopped to take a photo of something . . . random? I’m not sure how to describe it, so just take a look:



One of the highlights of my day was getting to play catch with a few friends/ballhawks on the bridge. Here I am making a throw to Nick Pelescak:


He was standing next to a guy named Ted. Meanwhile Erik Jabs was on my left, so we all played four-way catch until the gates were about to open.

Look how crowded it was during batting practice:


That’s what I deserved for coming on a Friday night game with a t-shirt giveaway, but at least there WAS batting practice. I got lucky with the weather on this trip — no rain at all and BP every day.

Erik kindly helped me and Brandon get inside early with the season ticket holders. That didn’t stop him from trying to rob me on every possible opportunity, and I was fine with that. What was he supposed to do — welcome me into his house and just sit back and watch me get every ball? Thankfully I was able to edge him out on this home run hit by Jordy Mercer:


In case you didn’t notice, we were both standing on benches. Erik and Nick are very talented ballhawks. They react quickly, navigate through the bleachers with ease, judge batted balls well, and catch everything within their reach. Between the two of them and several other newer ballhawks, it was super-competitive, so in order to catch that ball, I *had* to elevate.

Here’s something I couldn’t compete with:


See what I’m talking about? In the photo above, just to the right of the foul pole, there’s a fan reaching out for a ball on the warning track with a long pole. That was Erik, who, by the way, had changed into a purple Rockies jersey. His pole is collapsible and has some sort of grabber on the end. It truly boggles my mind that stadium security allows that, but hey, good for him! Batting practice at PNC Park is tough, and he has found a way to adapt. I lost count of the number of balls he got with that device over the course of the day — probably around a dozen.

Erik wasn’t the only one wearing a Rockies jersey. I had also changed, and when I first saw him using his ball retriever, this was my reaction:


I was thinking, “Are you kidding me?” It was as shocking as it was impressive.

Did you notice the red object that I was holding in the previous photo? That’s a “cup trick” that my friend Bill Dugan had given to me three days earlier in Detroit. I didn’t show the cup trick in my blog entry from that game at Comerica Park, but it’s in the YouTube video, in case you want a closer look.

Thankfully, when Erik was nowhere near me, I was able to use the cup to snag a ball off the warning track in left-center. You can see me doing it below:


Here I am with the ball and cup:


The cup trick is definitely more efficient than the glove trick, but the glove trick doesn’t require me to carry anything heavy or bulky. Which device is better? Clearly the cup is better in Pittsburgh when Erik is never more than a few seconds away from swooping in. The glove, however, is better for knocking balls closer because it has more surface space.

As you can see in the four-part photo below, I had to fling the cup out to knock my next ball closer:


You can also see Rockies pitcher Carlos Estevez bending down to get a look at the cup, followed by me offering the ball to a timid child. He wouldn’t take it from my hand, so I dropped it into his glove.

A little while later, I headed out to right-center field. Not only was Erik there, but the whole section was packed:


I felt like there was nowhere to go.

I did somehow find a little room to run for a Carlos Gonzalez homer. In the photo below, you can see a fan in the front row jumping for the ball as it streaked toward my glove:


That guy’s jumping attempt made me flinch, causing the ball to tip off the end of my glove. It probably looked like I flat-out dropped it, but I promise that was the reason I didn’t catch it. Getting hit in the face with a baseball isn’t fun, and deflections are my biggest safety concern. Thankfully the CarGo homer plopped down one row in front of me, and I was able to grab it. That was my fourth ball of the day, and I gave it to a kid during the game.

For the last group of BP, I went to the seats in straight-away right field:


It was totally dead, and the Rockies pitchers down below didn’t even acknowledge any of the fans. They should learn a few things about manners from their friendly teammates in left field.

When BP ended, I got a ball tossed to me by some random dude on the field in front of the Rockies’ dugout:


Less than a minute later, Rene Lachemann tossed me another . . .


. . . and just like that, my day had gone from lousy to decent.

I had told Erik that I’d buy him dinner as a “thank you” for getting me inside the stadium early. I knew he wasn’t planning to stay for the game, but I didn’t realize he had to bolt right after BP, so I still owe him. And unfortunately we didn’t get a photo together.

I headed to the upper deck briefly with Brandon, mainly just to take in the exquisite view:


Then we headed back downstairs and checked out some interesting nooks and crannies:


Just before game time, we got a close look at Pirates starter Gerrit Cole:


PNC Park is a fascinating place. There are so many unique sections, walkways, staircases, fences, ramps, railings, and so on. Some stadiums, it seems, were designed as if the architects were trying to be boring and/or annoy people. PNC is the opposite. It’s a total delight. Look at all this space, for example, in right-center field:


Yeah, it takes a blast to reach that walkway, but man, the balls that do reach it are easy to catch.

Do you remember Ted from the four-way game of catch on the bridge? Here I am with him in left field during the middle innings:


He was cool and made me feel welcomed. I met a bunch of other ballhawks throughout the day, and everyone was really nice. I greatly appreciated that.

Check out this view from high up in left field:


I didn’t take that photo. Brandon took it from his perch on the spiral ramp. This was my view of him from below:


And look! This was his view of me from above:


If anyone had launched a 420-foot homer in my general vicinity, I would’ve had all kinds of room to run for it. Unfortunately, there was only one longball all night — a high fly ball one section to my right hit by Nolan Arenado in the 6th inning. Of course he happened to hit it just as a cotton candy vendor was blocking my path. I probably wouldn’t have been able to get there in time, but it was frustrating not to even have a chance.

Toward the end of the game, I took a half-inning break to eat a new, popular concession item — a hot dog with mac and cheese, cracker jacks, and “caramel drizzle.” Look at this thing:


It cost $11 and was totally worth it. It was disgustingly delicious.

In the top of the 9th inning, I moved near the Rockies’ dugout:


After the final out of the Pirates’ 2-1 win, I got my seventh and final ball from Boone Logan (or “Blogan” as Ben Weil and I like to call him.) Here I am reaching out for the catch:


Here I am *not* getting to play catch on the field after the game:


I’m not sure why those people got to do that — probably a season ticket holder perk, but hey, I once got to take BP on the field there, so whatever.

Brandon and I had initially planned to drive to New York right after the game and hit up Citi Field the following afternoon, but the forecast was bad, and we were tired, so we scrapped it and spent the night in Pittsburgh. Then he flew back home to San Diego and I made the six-hour drive on my own.

As for the video, Brandon is still editing it, so keep an eye on my YouTube channel. I plan to upload it there when it’s ready, and I’ll also add a link to this entry.

Click here to see the video.


30_the_five_balls_i_kept_05_20_16 7 baseballs at this game (five pictured here because I gave two away)

248 balls in 29 games this season= 8.55 balls per game.

 46 balls in 7 lifetime games at PNC Park = 6.57 balls per game.

1,195 consecutive games with at least one ball

8,881 total balls


My fundraiser for Pitch In For Baseball is now in its eighth season. Once again, people are pledging money for every home run ball that I snag during games. Here’s some info about the fundraiser, and if you donate, you’ll be eligible to win one of these prizes.

• 10 donors for my fundraiser

• $82.77 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $324.08 raised this season

• $190,834.74 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

5/19/16 at Great American Ball Park

This was the fourth day of a road trip with my friend/videographer, Brandon Sloter. We started with games in Cleveland and Detroit, and now here we were in Cincinnati for the second straight day. Thankfully, despite the 12-inning game that the Reds and Indians had played the night before, both teams took batting practice before this one.

It didn’t take long for me to get my first ball — a home run that I caught on the fly in the front row. Here’s a screen shot from Brandon’s video that shows me reaching up for the grab:


I’m not sure who hit that one or any of the homers that I ended up snagging. Sometimes I can recognize players by their bodies, batting stances, or swings. This was not one of those days.

Here I am getting my second ball from Reds pitcher Jumbo Diaz:


The previous day, my friend Cole Adkins had lent me his GoPro at the start of BP, but there was so little action early on that I gave up on it. Naturally we gave it another shot:


While introducing Cole and talking about the device that was now strapped to my head, I had no idea that our fellow ballhawk Rocco was videobombing in the background.

Silly Rocco.

A little while later, I got a ball thrown to me by Reds pitcher Jon Moscot. Check out this screen shot from the GoPro video:


Pretty cool, huh?

At 5:08pm, I headed up to the nearest tunnel in preparation for the mad dash toward foul territory — the scavenger hunt for “Easter eggs” officially begins at 5:10pm — and look who was already there:


That was Cole, tiptoeing away from me, and when we reached the concourse, we were both surprised to see that another ballhawk named Sean was already leading the charge:


Cole might be a couple of decades younger than me, but I’m still faster — and I nearly caught Sean by the time we reached the right field foul pole:


Then the fun part began:


That was the first of four balls that I found. Can you spot the next two in the following photo?


There was one more here . . .


. . . and when I made it back to right field, I showed them all to Brandon’s camera:


My eighth ball was thrown by a player on the Reds . . .


. . . and I proceeded to play catch with it. Here I am throwing it back:


It was great to have that documented with two different cameras.

Do you remember when Reds pitcher Caleb Cotham tweeted at me? Well, this was the first time I’d seen him since that happened, so when I called out to him and identified myself, he came over to say hello:


That was really nice of him.

Cotham pitched briefly for the Yankees last year, and he remembered me from the whole A-Rod thing. He even knew about the home runs that I’d caught at Yankee Stadium the previous week, so we talked about that, and I asked him about life in Cincinnati. He’s a really good guy, and I wish him all the best in his (hopefully long) MLB career.

Ready for two different camera angles of my ninth ball? (It was a home run, by the way.) Here’s what it looked like with the GoPro:


In the photo above, do you see the little black speck to the left of my glove? That was the glove of a player who had flung it high into the air at the ball. Heh. Good thing he missed.

Meanwhile, here’s what that catch looked like from where Brandon was filming — see the ball streaking into my glove?


Did you notice that the people behind me barely flinched? Did they not see the ball coming, or did they expect me to catch it? Weird.

My 10th ball was a homer that I chased down deep in the right field seats. Here’s what it looked like with Cole’s GoPro as I barely beat out . . . Cole:


Sorry, Cole, but hey, you’re welcome for lunch! But no, really, as I mentioned in my last entry, I always try to be respectful of other people’s space, especially the regulars when I visit other stadiums, and I never feel good about snagging baseballs at the expense of my friends (well, except for Greg Barasch), but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Ultimately the competition is what makes it fun, and sensible people understand that.

My 10th ball was a commemorative Arizona Spring Training ball . . .


. . . and yeah, I had changed into my Indians gear by that point, which didn’t help at all.

Here’s some GoPro footage of my 11th ball — a home run that I caught on the fly:


Did you notice the “AZ” logo on that ball too?

I love the GoPro — don’t get me wrong — but in my opinion, it falls short on showing what’s actually required to make a catch in the stands. Take this homer, for example. Based on the previous image, you’d think it was a routine catch, but as you can see in Brandon’s footage below, I had to jump, and my feet were off the ground:


It wasn’t a textbook example of a gravity-defying vertical leap. I only needed to elevate a few inches, but still, you can’t see stuff like that with a first person vantage point.

Before heading to left field, I gave two baseballs to a pair of kids in right-center. Look closely at the following screen shot, and you’ll see each kid holding a ball:


Can you spot the ball in the following GoPro screen shot?


In case you missed it, it’s kissing the facade of the 2nd deck. Here it is as seen from Brandon’s camera, deflecting down to me:


Even though it landed right at my feet, I didn’t see it at first, but I still managed to grab it just before several other fans approached.

My 13th ball was a high home run that pretty much came right to me. Here it is from the GoPro . . .


. . . and here’s the shot that Brandon got:


Here’s Cole turning off the GoPro at the end of BP:


I greatly appreciate his generosity in lending it to me. Other than the one wimpy toss-up that I’d gotten the day before while wearing the GoPro, this was my first time ballhawking with one, and I can’t wait to see what the footage looks like when Brandon edits it all together. He said he might do some side-by-side action along with his own footage. How cool would that be?!

After batting practice, I headed to the upper deck to get a shot with all of my baseballs:


Then I gave a ball to the nearest kid and headed down to the right field corner. I hoped to get a ball from the Indians’ bullpen, but look what happened:


When I asked pitching coach Mickey Callaway for a ball, he held up his hands to indicate that he didn’t have one. Fair enough. It was nice of him just to acknowledge me.

During the game, I had some space to work with . . .


. . . and talked about it, on occasion, to Brandon’s camera:


At one point, I noticed a kid sitting one and a half sections to my left, so during the 7th-inning stretch, I walked over and handed him a ball. As you’ll see below, the arrow pointing down is aimed at my head, and the arrow pointing up shows the ball in the kid’s hand:


There were three homers during the game. Carlos Santana hit two — one to right-center and another to right — and Joey Votto blasted one into the Reds’ bullpen in center. In other words, there was no action for me, but that’s fine. I had caught a Rajai Davis homer the previous night, and I was just glad to have had a fun/solid day during BP.

Final score: Indians 7, Reds 2.

When Brandon finishes editing the video, I’ll post it on my YouTube channel and also add a link to it here, so stay tuned. In the meantime, you can see some of the footage in this video that Cole posted on his channel.

Here’s the video.


32_the_nine_balls_i_kept_05_19_16 13 baseballs at this game (nine pictured here because I gave four away)

241 balls in 28 games this season = 8.61 balls per game.

 122 balls in 10 lifetime games at Great American Ball Park = 12.2 balls per game.

303 lifetime games with 10 or more balls

1,194 consecutive games with at least one ball

8,874 total balls


My fundraiser for Pitch In For Baseball is now in its eighth season. Once again, people are pledging money for every home run ball that I snag during games. Here’s some info about the fundraiser, and if you donate, you’ll be eligible to win one of these prizes.

• 10 donors for my fundraiser

• $82.77 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $324.08 raised this season

• $190,834.74 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009


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