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

5/18/16 at Great American Ball Park

Rather than starting with a photo of the main gate, here’s a slightly different view outside the stadium:


That’s where I parked with my friend/videographer Brandon Sloter, who was with me once again to film me for my YouTube channel. The previous day we were at Comerica Park, and the day before that, we hit up Progressive Field. Now we were going to have two games in Cincinnati followed by one more in Pittsburgh. (Phew!)

I met up with some friends in the Reds Hall Of Fame, including a young ballhawk named Cole Adkins, who lent me his GoPro. I was excited to wear one for the first time . . .


. . . and I appreciated his generosity. He normally films every day during BP, so it was an extra-kind gesture on his part to give up his routine for me.

You can see Cole (and a few other ballhawks standing around) in the following photo. He’s wearing a black shirt with long/white sleeves poking out:


Cole let me try on the GoPro before we entered the stadium. Then I gave it back before we ran inside, and as you’ll see in a bit, I wore it again briefly once BP got underway.

This was my gorgeous view from right field:


It was nice and empty at first. This was the view to my left . . .


. . . and to the right:


In the previous photo, do you see the guy wearing black pants? Well, a little while later, when I drifted toward him on a deep fly ball, he shouted, “Now now, don’t be like that!” and proceeded to botch the crap out of it. It was a ground-rule double that took a room-service hop, and somehow he didn’t even get a glove on it, so not only was he territorial, but he couldn’t catch. That’s a lousy combination. Don’t be like that guy.

Given the fact that I set my one-game record with 36 balls on 9/14/11 at Great American Ball Park, I was hoping for another huge day, but the regulars had told me not to get too excited. Cole and another ballhawk named Rocco Sinisi went on and on about how lame Reds BP had been lately, and all I could think was, “Yeah, right.”

As it turned out, they *were* right. (Always trust the regulars.) The batters barely hit anything into the seats, and the pitchers shagging in the outfield only tossed up a few balls to kids. I was looking forward to capturing some action-packed footage with Cole’s GoPro, but after 20 minutes, all I got was a toss-up from a ballboy. Here’s the ball in mid-air along with my reaction:



I gave the GoPro back to Cole — no point in wasting his battery — and contemplated my next move. To be fair, there were a bunch of home runs hit to left field, but we were all trapped in right field, so that wasn’t particularly helpful.

At 5:10pm, the seats along the right field foul line opened up, so I raced over with a few other fans to search for “Easter eggs.” In the following screen shot (from Brandon’s video), you can see me on the right, bending down to grab one:


Look how many I found:


That’s right — I picked up FOUR baseballs in the empty seats, bringing my total for the day to five. It was such an incredible accomplishment that a local news crew interviewed me about it:


Actually, that’s not quite how it all went down. Those same two TV guys had filmed me during BP on 5/6/13 at Great American Ball Park so when they heard I was going to be back in town, they planned to interview me again.

Toward the end of the Reds’ portion of BP, a ball rolled onto the warning track below me. When Tony Cingrani walked over to get it, I asked if he could leave it there so that I could retrieve it with my glove trick — and he did! Check it out:


A few minutes later, I used the string to snag my 7th ball of the day. It was sitting atop the bullpen roof in the right field corner, and as you can see below, I had to swing my glove out to knock it closer:


By the way, that wristband was given to me by Joey Votto on 8/18/11 at Nationals Park. I always wear it during Reds BP no matter what stadium I’m at.

My eighth ball was a home run by the Indians. I was in the front row when it was hit, and as you can see, I had to run waaaaaay back to retrieve it:


It landed about eight rows back and bounced deep into the section. The other fan racing me for the ball was Cole. Obviously I was glad to snag it but sorry that it happened at his expense. When I travel to other stadiums, I try to respect the locals/regulars and stay out of their way, but sometimes it’s unavoidable and we end up competing for the same balls.

Here I am snagging my ninth ball — another home run that Cole would’ve gotten if not for me:


That’s Cole in the fifth row wearing jeans. The guy down in front is named Sean. This was the first time I’d met him. He’s a rookie ballhawk but already has a pretty good idea of what he’s doing.

When the entire stadium finally opened at 5:40pm, I ran over to left field and nearly drooled at the amount of space, but guess what? There was very little action. In fact, I only caught one home run out there — look closely and you’ll see the ball streaking into my glove:


That was my 10th ball of the day.

After BP, I was approached by a young fan (in Royals gear?!) named Shaan. He had contacted me a few days earlier when he found out that I was going to be there. He wanted to meet up and say hi and get my autograph on a ball. The ball that he handed me, however, was not an official ball, so I surprised him by giving him (and signing) one of mine:


He was extra happy because it was an Arizona Spring Training ball — one of three that I had gotten during BP. (If you’re thinking, “Eww, who wants a Spring Training ball,” you have it all wrong. Those are much harder to get than regular balls, so they’re actually kinda cool.)

Then I caught up with a guy named Corey who had recently emailed me. He’d brought his copy of my latest book, The Baseball, so I signed that for him:


The game itself had lots of action, and in the top of the 3rd inning, I sorta/barely missed a home run by Rajai Davis. It landed one and a half sections to my left, but hang on! Let me explain. When the game started, I was sitting near that spot, but after an inning or so, I moved one section to my right. Why? Just based on how the seats were filling in and where I figured I had the best opportunity to catch a ball, so yeah, when that homer landed right where I’d been, I was so bummed that I needed to eat my sorrows away:


Chili cheese hot dogs! Yum.

It didn’t help. I was still bummed.

Here I am with Rocco late in the game:


He and I had our differences a few years ago, but it’s all good now. He’s a really nice guy and I was glad to see him.

Heading to the 9th inning, the Reds were clinging to a 7-5 lead. You can kinda see that in the following photo of the scoreboard:


With two outs remaining, I switched into my Reds cap and told Brandon to meet me near the Reds’ bullpen in left-center. I figured I’d try to get a ball from one of the coaches or relievers after the final out, but instead, THIS happened:


That’s my man Rajai Davis, connecting on a fat off-speed pitch from Tony Cingrani. I knew right away that the ball was going to reach the seats, and it seemed to have just the right distance. Unfortunately there were several guys sitting on my right, pretty much in the exact spot where I figured it was going to land. The row in front of me was clogged by a couple of fans, but the row behind me was empty, so I scooted to my right and climbed back over the seats and lined myself up with the ball. I just needed it to carry enough to clear these guys and/or I needed them to miss it, so at that point, it was really just a matter of luck.

Although you can’t tell that it’s me, here I am circled in red:


Here’s a cool side angle from another camera:


Did you notice the white speck against the black sky?

Now take a look at the middle of this screen shot:


That’s me in the red shirt and black jacket, holding my glove up after making the catch. And then? The celebration was on!


Brandon had been waiting for me up in the concourse, so I ran up the steps and shouted excitedly at his camera:


It would’ve been great to have a video from the stands of myself catching a game home run, but then again, MLB doesn’t allow fans to post game footage online, so in a way, it doesn’t matter that Brandon wasn’t filming. What is he supposed to do — film every single pitch of every game we attend in case I happen to catch a homer? And then what? We couldn’t show it anyway.

Here I am with the ball — my 42nd lifetime game home run:


That total, by the way, does NOT include home runs that were tossed to me, for example when a ball lands in the bullpen and gets flipped into the crowd. Of those 42 homers, this was the 30th that I’d caught on the fly . . . in nine different stadiums. Here’s my complete list of gamers.

Here’s a closeup of the ball:


When things calmed down, I took a photo of the guys on my right and the empty-ish seats:


The guy in my row in the red jacket had a great opportunity to catch the home run. It was hit right to him. All he had to do was reach a foot or two over his head. Luckily for me, he didn’t catch or deflect it, so it was all mine.

Brandon is the kinda guy who . . . well, let’s just say that if I caught nine foul balls in one game, he’d make fun of me for an entire week about the 10th one that I misjudged, but even *he* was (mildly) excited about the home run. Here he is photographing it:


Remember Sean from the right field seats during BP? In the photo above, that’s him in the Votto jersey. He hung out with us during the game and seemed genuinely happy for me about the home run.

It should also be noted that by catching that homer, I raised more money for the children’s charity Pitch In For Baseball. People are once again pledging money for my gamers this season. That money will help underprivileged kids play ball, so if you have a few dollars to spare, click this link to learn more and consider making a small contribution. You can just pledge one dollar per ball and end up donating five to ten bucks at the end of the season. It all adds up and makes a difference.

The game went into extra innings . . . and then to the 11th inning . . . and all I could think was, “This stupid home run that I caught is going to cost me batting practice tomorrow.” The fact is, I’d give up batting practice for 10 days in exchange for catching a gamer, but at the time, I wanted it all.

When the game moved to the 12th inning, I knew that BP the following day was already in jeopardy, and if the game kept going to the 13th inning, I’d definitely be screwed. It HAD to end here. And guess what? Francisco Lindor led off the 12th with a solo homer to right-center. Muchas gracias! Final score: Indians 8, Reds 7.


Did you notice the line about Jay Bruce in the photo above? Cole had kindly informed me that Bruce was sitting on a milestone, but I didn’t bother running over to right field, which was, of course, where he hit it. Right field in this stadium is okay early in BP when it’s empty, but it’s a real pain after that. The stands are steep so it’s hard to move up and down quickly, the railings on the staircases are long and in the way, and you can’t really play THAT deep because the tunnels will block you from running to the side.

I normally give away several baseballs to kids at every game, and I also donate balls directly to Pitch In For Baseball. Because I had only given away one here in Cincinnati (right after BP), I decided to pull three more aside for the charity, so as you’ll see below, I kept seven of the 11 balls that I had snagged.

Stay tuned for the video. Brandon is still editing it. I plan to post it on my YouTube channel soon, and I’ll also add a link here. In the meantime, check out my other ballhawking videos from various stadiums — Brandon filmed/edited them all except for the one at Fenway, and in my opinion, the newer ones are much better. Enjoy!

Fenway Park — June 8, 2012
Dodger Stadium — July 17, 2012
Citizens Bank Park — August 18, 2014
Wrigley Field — September 2, 2014
U.S. Cellular Field — August 11, 2015
Busch Stadium — August 13, 2015
Kauffman Stadium — August 14, 2015
Miller Park — August 15, 2015
Oakland Coliseum — April 11, 2016
Safeco Field — April 12, 2016
Coors Field — April 13, 2016
Globe Life Park — April 14, 2016
Progressive Field — May 16, 2016

Here’s the video from Cincinnati.


32_the_seven_balls_i_kept_05_18_16 11 baseballs at this game (seven pictured here because I gave four away)

228 balls in 27 games this season = 8.44 balls per game.

 109 balls in 9 lifetime games at Great American Ball Park = 12.11 balls per game.

 13 different stadiums with at least 100 balls

302 lifetime games with 10 or more balls

1,193 consecutive games with at least one ball

 42 game home run balls; click here for the full list

 9 different stadiums with a game home run caught on the fly

8,861 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

5/17/16 at Comerica Park

If I could sum up this game in two words, it would go as follows: POOR PLANNING. There was an Ian Kinsler bobblehead giveaway, and for some stupid reason, of all the possible days for me to be here, I picked this one. Look how crowded it was during batting practice:


One of the regulars told me it was the most crowded he’d seen it all year.


My friend Brandon Sloter was with me once again. He’s the guy who’s been filming me in various stadiums for my YouTube channel, and look, he got an amazing action shot of me catching a toss-up in the front row:


Okay, fine, I’ll stop being sarcastic, but seriously, this entire day was a pain in the ass.

My second ball was a toss-up that ended up rattling around in the seats. I handed that one to the nearest kid:


After the rest of the stadium opened at 5:30pm, I got my third ball tossed up by a Twins player in right field:


I couldn’t identify any of the guys who had hooked me up — lame, I know, but sometimes that’s just how it goes.

Back in left field, I used my glove trick to snag my fourth ball from the bullpen:


I gave that one to a little kid on my right.

That was it for BP. Four balls. Nothing hit. Not much room to move. Lots of frustration. I wanted to put on a good show for the YouTube video — run and jump and catch a few home runs — but it just wasn’t happening, and yes, I realize that most people would do anything to get one ball, and here I am complaining about “only” getting four, but you have to understand that for my standards, this was not a great day.

Here’s the bobblehead:



Before the game started, I hung out near the Twins’ bullpen:


When Phil Hughes finished warming up, I got pitching coach Neil Allen (standing on the right in the following screen shot) to toss me the ball:


This was my reaction after catching it:



During the game, I spent most of my time in the cross-aisle behind home plate, hoping/trying to catch a foul ball. In my nine previous games at Comerica, I’d gotten seven foul balls, so the odds were clearly in my favor. (Seven foul balls in nine games?! Yes. Some stadiums are much easier than others because of the design/layout.)

At one point in the early innings, I noticed Butch Davis, the Twins’ 1st base coach, retrieve a foul ball and stick it in his back pocket. That’s unusual. Foul dribblers almost always get tossed into the crowd right away, so I tried to take advantage. I headed over to the Twins’ dugout with the intention of getting his attention after the 3rd out. This was my view — see the ball in his back/right pocket?


Davis ended up tossing it to someone else, but let this serve as an important lesson in sniffing out opportunities. Pay close attention. Anything is possible.

I caught up with several friends over the course of the night. Do you remember any of these guys from the two games I attended in Detroit last month on April 25 and April 26?


In the two-part photo above, the guy on left is named Bill Dugan. He’s the fan who famously snagged five foul balls during one game last month. I should also mention that he’s been tinkering with the design of a slick new cup trip, and he gave one to me. He’s a good dude.

In the photo above on the right, I’m standing next to a young man named David and his father Dave. (For the record, I’m not THAT short; Bill is 6-foot-4, and Dave is 6-foot-7, okay? Thanks.) I’ve known them for years and I always enjoy seeing them at Comerica, and by the way, when I caught my first ball of the day, David was standing right next to me. Had it been thrown one foot to my left, I would’ve backed off and let him catch it, but it WAS, in fact, thrown right to me. Another man told me later that I “should’ve given it to that kid.”

“I’ve known that kid for years,” I replied. “I’m friends with him and his father, and he’s gotten about three hundred balls, so don’t worry about it.”

The man was like, “Oh, well, I guess you have it all under control.”

Yes, sir, I do. And by the way, I randomly gave David a ball the very first time I ever saw him during BP at Camden Yards. That’s actually how I met him and his father and how we became friends.

This was my view for most of the game:


There were lots of right-handed batters and very few foul balls. It was disappointing, to say the least. I came close on one that I definitely would’ve caught had the aisle been empty, but there were like ten people standing around waiting for it. It bounced off one guy’s glove, and there was a mini-stampede once it hit the ground. I was on the outskirts of it and didn’t feel like jumping into the middle, and you know what? A 12-year-old kid ended up grabbing that ball, so that was cool.

Final score: Tigers 7, Twins 2.

Brandon is still working on the video, so when it’s done, I’ll post it on YouTube and add a link to it here.

Here’s the video.


14_the_three_balls_i_kept_05_17_16 5 baseballs at this game (three pictured here because I gave two away)

217 balls in 26 games this season = 8.35 balls per game.

 65 balls in 10 lifetime games at Comerica Park = 6.5 balls per game.

1,192 consecutive games with at least one ball

8,850 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.

• 9 donors for my fundraiser

• $77.77 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $233.31 raised this season

• $190,736.97 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

5/16/16 at Progressive Field

The last time I went to Cleveland, there was no batting practice because the Indians had played 16 innings the night before — a huge disappointment given the fact that I’d brought my friend Brandon, a professional videographer, to film me for my YouTube channel. This time around, things went much smoother and Brandon got some great shots.

As soon as I ran down to the right field seats, a ballboy shouted, “What’s up, Zack!” and began to pull a baseball out of his back pocket. (That’s how I should be greeted at every game.) He had contacted me earlier on Twitter, so I was expecting to see him at some point, but I had no idea he was going to hook me up with a ball right at the start of BP. Brandon wasn’t quite ready with his camera, so I asked the ballboy to wait. He kindly obliged, and when the moment was right, he tossed it to me. Here I am reaching up for the catch:


(That’s a screen shot from Brandon’s video — great quality, huh?)

Ten minutes later, the seats in straight-away right field were still mostly empty:


The seats in right-center, however, were more crowded:


There were only two people standing behind me. One was an usher, and the other was Brandon:


Brandon got a great shot of me maneuvering through the seats for my second ball of the day — a home run by a lefty on the Indians. Here I am reaching up for the catch:


That ball had the Arizona Spring Training logo:


Since I don’t do Spring Training, I though these balls would be hard to get during the regular season, but I’ve been seeing them all over the place, along with the Florida version.

That was it for the Indians’ portion of BP — just one group of hitters after the gates opened, and they were done. (Laaaaame!)

This was my view for Reds BP:


I’d gotten a pair of tickets (for $59 apiece) for myself and Brandon in that new-ish section in front of the Indians’ bullpen. Look how gorgeous it is:


A little while later, I called out to Billy Hamilton and got him to toss up a ball:


There was a woman standing on my right, and look what happened — the ball went right between us, and we both backed off:


I was going to let her catch it because it was thrown a bit closer to her than to me, but she was going to let me catch it because I had actually asked for it. Anyway, the ball landed in the folded-up portion of a seat, and we both awkwardly reached for it. I happened to pick it up first, and then I handed it to her:


She refused, but I insisted. And then she insisted that I keep it, so I politely refused. Her male companion also insisted, and then he recognized me, so I when I insisted yet again that they “keep it or give it to a kid,” they finally accepted it.

My fourth ball was thrown by a player that I didn’t recognize:


A day or two later, when I had a bit more time, I posted that image on Twitter and asked for help identifying him. Look who responded:


It was Caleb Cotham himself! How cool is that? You might recall that he was one of the players involved in the Aroldis Chapman trade last year between the Reds and Yankees.

Of course I got questioned/dissed on Twitter for wearing a wristband, so if you’re wondering, I got it from Joey Votto himself after the game on 8/18/11 at Nationals Park, and I’ve been wearing it during Reds BP ever since. Here’s a closer look at it, and in case you’re interested, here are all the “bonus items” I’ve gotten at games over the years.

My fifth ball was thrown by someone else I couldn’t identify, and unfortunately he was too far away for me (or the camera) to get a good look at his face. That ball, by the way, fell short as I lunged over a railing for it:


It passed through those metal bars, shot back toward Brandon, and plopped down right in front of him:


It didn’t take me long to run over and grab it; in the image above, that’s my sneaker on the upper right.

Progressive Field had opened at 5pm (or was it 5:10?) and for the first HOUR, all the fans were confined to the right field seats. When the rest of the stadium finally opened, I raced over to the bleachers in left-center and found a ball — my sixth of the day — tucked under a bench in the front row.

This was my view from that spot . . .


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


What a wonky little setup. I like it.

Moments later, as I was fumbling with my backpack, Brandon Phillips connected and sent a deep fly ball in my direction. I knew I was going to be able to make a play on it. I just had to scoot a few feet to my left, and Brandon was right there to get a great shot. Look closely and you’ll see the ball streaking into my glove:


Sensing that I had a better chance of getting another ball at the dugout rather than in the outfield, I headed to the 1st base side with a few minutes remaining in BP:


Did you notice the new protective netting? Not only does it completely cover the seats behind home plate, but it extends halfway down the line toward 1st base:


Don’t get me started again on the netting. If you want to know my thoughts, go to the 6:31 mark in my YouTube video from Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, but in a word: yuck!

When the Reds cleared the field, another unidentifiable player rolled a ball “to” me across the dugout roof. Why didn’t he throw it to me? I don’t know, but because the Indians don’t allow people to stand in the front row behind the dugouts (unless, of course, they actually have front-row tickets), I had to jump over the seats from the second row:


I got scolded by an usher who told me how dangerous it is to do that:


Then he lectured me about climbing on furniture in people’s homes and said he wouldn’t invite me over to visit. I’m not making this up.

Less than a minute later, I got another ball from the equipment guy. In the following screen shot, you can see him on the left, tossing it to me:


That was my ninth of the day, and I was happy to reach double digits right before the game when Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway tossed me a ball from the bullpen in right-center. Unfortunately Brandon didn’t get a shot of that because he was filming the starting pitcher warming up instead. Hmph.

Ready to hear about some bad luck? During the game, most of the hitters were right-handed, so I stayed on the Home Run Porch down the left field line. This was the view:


Four different righties (Adam Duvall, Eugenio Suarez, Yan Gomes, and Marlon Byrd) ended up hitting home runs — two into the left field bleachers and two more within 20 feet of my actual seat in right-center. Had I been where I “belonged,” there’s a good chance I would’ve snagged one or both of those balls.

In the previous photo, did you notice all the birds flying around? Well, here’s some more bad luck:


That was some random guy whose fancy stars-n-stripes Indians cap got pooped on. (No, that’s not good luck. If you think it’s lucky to have some flying creature defecate on you, you’re living a lie.)

Remember the ballboy from the start of BP? Well, here he is during the game:


His name is Samuel, and he’s super-friendly. That’s where he always hangs out during games, so now you can look for him on TV, and if you ever see him in person, go say hi.

Back on the Home Run Porch, I ran into Pete Rose’s No. 1 fan:


A few innings later, I wandered back to right-center and took a photo of the Reds’ bullpen:


Because of the fan-friendly renovations to Progressive Field, folks can now get much closer to the players. Thumbs-up!

Here’s the jumbotron/scoreboard in the bottom of the 8th inning:


The Indians were winning, 15-6, and that’s how it ended. I didn’t snag any more baseballs, but I did give three more away. This was the first recipient . . .


. . . and then I handed a ball to each of these two little guys:


Brandon had met up with two of his friends during the game, and we all went out for a bite after. Here’s what I got:


That was a football-sized (okay, slight exaggeration) baked potato with a whole lot of cheesy/creamy/bacon-y things on top.

(Lots of people have told me that they like seeing my food photos, so there you go.)

Here are the six balls that I kept:


Stay tuned for the video.
It’s coming soon.
Next stop: Detroit . . .

UPDATE: Here’s the video.


10 baseballs at this game

212 balls in 25 games this season = 8.48 balls per game.

 81 balls in 9 lifetime games at Progressive Field = 9 balls per game.

1,191 consecutive games with at least one ball

301 lifetime games with 10 or more balls

8,845 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.

• 9 donors for my fundraiser

• $77.77 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $233.31 raised this season

• $190,736.97 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

5/12/16 at Yankee Stadium

My first ball of the day was a batting practice homer by Chase Headley that I caught on the fly in right field. My second ball, hit by a lefty that I couldn’t identify, whacked a seat so hard that it shot up in the air and deflected off the bottom of the second deck . . . kinda like this:


My third ball was another homer hit by the same guy, and I made a nice play on it. I ran 20 feet to my left, climbed back over a row, and with the sun in my eyes, I jumped 2_orlando_dysonand caught it with full extension. I handed my fourth ball to the nearest kid. That was a high-arcing ground-rule double hit by Dustin Ackley, and when the Royals took the field, I promptly got a pair of toss-ups from Paulo Orlando (I gave that one away too) and Jarrod Dyson. Neither of those balls was thrown to anyone in particular, and in fact the one from Dyson was a no-look flip. 3_perez_moralesThe Royals were noticeably generous throughout this four-game series. I can’t remember seeing any team consistently throw so many balls into the crowd. The Royals also hit a ton of balls into the seats, and I caught a couple of homers by Salvador Perez and Kendrys Morales. For the first one, I drifted to my right and climbed down over a row of seats, and for the second, I ran half a section to my right. That brought my total for the day to eight, and when I snagged a ground-rule double during the final group, I had tripled my effort from BP the previous day.

Before the game, I headed over to the left field bullpen to watch Ian Kennedy warm up:


He looked good.
He was hitting his spots.
There was no indication that he was about to get shellacked.

I never expected Starlin Castro to hit an opposite-field homer, but in the bottom of the 1st inning, he connected on a mediocre fastball:


Let me clarify: I didn’t expect it, but I was ready, and when the ball started flying in my direction, I knew what I had to do. Basically I darted 10 feet to my right and, taking my eye off the ball briefly, climbed back over a row through a narrow gap between two people. Here I am (in the pink-ish shirt) making my move:


The ball ended up tailing more than I expected, so I had to drift a few feet back, and then I disappeared from view:


Here’s another angle that shows me reaching up between two people — look closely and you’ll see the ball streaking into my glove:


The highlight on MLB.com doesn’t show me at all, but my celebration was captured by another network:


I was particularly excited about catching a home run for the second day in a row and also about raising more money for the charity Pitch In For Baseball. People are pledging money for each of my game home runs this season, so the more of them I snag, the more underprivileged kids will get to play baseball. For more info about my fundraiser, click here.

Here’s the ball (with a vendor photobombing):


An hour later, the section had gotten even more crowded, so I moved to the back row, where there was some open space. Once again, I didn’t expect anyone to launch a ball back there, but I was ready when Didi Gregorius connected in the bottom of the 4th. In the following screen shot, the arrow is pointing to the ball streaking up in the air:


Here I am running through the row . . .


. . . and reaching up for the catch:


Even though I had to move about 25 feet for that one, it was very easy. As I’ve said before, judging the distance of a ball right off the bat is *much* harder than judging the direction. In other words, it was obvious from the start that this ball was heading to my left, so I simply took off in that direction. Luckily for me, it was hit with the just the right distance for me to catch it in my row, and not only that, but if Didi had pulled it three feet closer to the foul pole, I wouldn’t have been able to catch it. I could not have taken one additional step because there was someone sitting/ducking/blocking me from moving any farther.

Once again, the MLB.com highlight didn’t show me. Instead, it was all about former tennis star John McEnroe:



I was glad to discover later (when someone tweeted a screen shot) that the YES Network showed me holding up both home run balls:


Here’s another shot of me photographing them — super attractive, right?


A little while later, I tweeted my photo of the baseballs:


In case you’re wondering, here are the other three games at which I’ve snagged two home runs:

May 13, 2010 at Camden Yards
April 18, 2013 at Yankee Stadium
September 16, 2015 at Citizens Bank Park

Not surprisingly, lots of people tweeted at me after the Didi Gregorius homer:


Of course there were some haters too:


Someone else tweeted a photo of me looking at my phone, told me to pay attention to the game, and called me a derogatory term for the female genitalia. #StayClassy

Anyway, here I am with the two home runs balls:


When things settled down for me after the second home run, I gave away five BP balls to kids, both in my section and up above in the bleachers.

After the game, which the Yankees won, 7-3, I noticed that the highlights were being played on the jumbotron. Here I am after the Didi Gregorius homer:


Just before I left the stadium, I caught up with a security guard who had gotten drilled on the shoulder by a BP homer several days earlier. Check out this gnarly bruise:


Of the 11 balls that I had gotten, here are the four that I kept:


In the photo above, the Starlin homer is on the lower left, and Didi homer is on the lower right. (The Yankees have some cool first names, huh? Starlin, Didi, Dellin, Aroldis, Chasen, Masahiro, and Kirby.)

Later that night, I was excited to see myself featured on SportsCenter . . . for the second night in a row. Look how they put my name on the screen to show me in the crowd on the Starlin homer:


For Didi’s shot, they circled me in color and changed everything else to black and white:


They also showed my tweet for quite a while:


I timed how long it stayed on the screen: 19 seconds!

Someone else sent me a minute-long clip of some other show (in Canada?) that featured me and did a little “flashback.” Here are six screen shots:


1) It started with the flashback.
2) Me after snagging A-Rod’s 3,000th hit on June 19, 2015.
3) Me after catching Carlos Beltran’s homer the previous night.
4) Celebrating after the Starlin homer.
5) Holding both balls up after catching Didi’s dinger.
6) Not giving baseballs to kids because I’m a monster.

That’s actually how some people interpreted it. The fact is . . . those kids had recognized me earlier in the day and weren’t asking for the balls. They were simply happy for me and came over to share the moment and say congrats.

Oh, and get this . . . when that show played the highlight of the Starlin homer, the woman doing the highlights said, “Starlin Castro drives one deep opposite field off Ian Kennedy, and ya know who’s gonna catch it? A man who acts like he’s never caught a ball in his life. Act like you’ve been there before.”

Oh, okay, no problem. From now on I’ll pretend that I don’t like baseball and that it’s boring to catch home runs. I’m terribly sorry for being happy. Raising more money for a children’s baseball is also no cause for celebration.

The following day, a friend in Kansas City sent me a photo of his local newspaper:


The more I look at photos and videos of that home run, the more surprised I am that the tall guy in the light gray shirt didn’t deflect it.

Remember the vendor who photobombed me? He’s a good friend and texted me with his assessment of my effort on the Starlin homer:


As you may have noticed, I didn’t take many photos at this game. I’ve mostly pieced this whole story together with screen shots, so let me show you four more:


Those are the four times that I’ve snagged two home runs in one game.

Lots of people have been asking something to effect of, “How do you do it?” so here’s a very specific answer. I constantly look around at the shifting layout of the crowd. I also imagine home runs landing in various places and envision the route that I’d take to get there. If there’s a railing blocking me and/or fans, guards, and vendors, I’m hyperaware of that. If I have 10 feet of open space to work with but the ball is hit 15 feet away, I’m already planning to run those 10 feet and then climb up or down over a row so that I can keep moving. Most people don’t plan ahead like that, so when the ball goes up in the air, they have no chance unless it’s hit right at them — and even then, most people don’t have gloves and/0r can’t catch. Yeah, I was lucky to have two home runs hit in my vicinity when I had a little room to maneuver, but I often have much more space and far less luck. If I keep sitting in good spots, balls will eventually find me. That’s how I see it.

Someday I’m going to snag three home runs in one game. Mark my words . . .


• 11 baseballs at this game

• 197 balls in 22 games this season = 8.95 balls per game.

 1,324 balls in 187 lifetime games at the new Yankee Stadium = 7.08 balls per game.

• 1,188 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 41 lifetime game home run balls (not counting toss-ups; click here for the complete list)

8,830 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.

• 9 donors for my fundraiser

• $77.77 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $233.31 raised this season

• $190,736.97 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

5/11/16 at Yankee Stadium

This was a night game with perfect weather, but for some reason the Yankees didn’t take batting practice. Thankfully the Royals hit, but everything got off to a slow start:


That was the only photo I took before the game. Why? Because BP was lame, and I didn’t feel like documenting it. Before the Royals started hitting, I got Mike Moustakas to throw me a ball along the left field foul line, and after that, I only managed to get two more, both of which were tossed randomly into the right field seats. One landed on the stairs and bounced back to me in the last row. The other was flipped high in the air by a player on the warning track. I didn’t manage to snag any batted balls, which is unusual for me during BP at Yankee Stadium. Why didn’t I snag any batted balls? Bad luck, bad strategy, and bad skills. There were three home runs that landed closer to me than anyone else, but they all ricocheted far away. I also misjudged a couple of balls, drifting back for one when it ended up barely clearing the wall (I still would’ve caught it had another fan not been standing there) and holding my ground on another that ended up zipping five feet over my 1b_thumbs_down_for_my_lameness_and_stupidityhead (hit by the diminutive Jarrod Dyson, of all people). It was THAT kind of day. I just seemed to be a step behind on everything. I considered moving to the back row for one group, but didn’t, and then two home runs ended up landing there. I raced up to the bleachers for another group, only to watch helplessly as a ball landed right where I’d been standing down below, so ten minutes later I went back down, and of course four home runs were then hit into the bleachers. You get the point. It was basically 45 solid minutes of that, and to make matters worse, my right thumb was hurting like hell. Someone had kicked it two days earlier while I was reaching for a ball on the ground during BP. It was so bad that I went for x-rays, which were negative, but it was still swollen and starting to show discoloration. Part of me wanted the game to end as quickly as possible so I could go home and ice it and go to sleep, but another part of my brain was like, “Watch me catch a home run tonight to make up for it.” I hadn’t felt so yin/yang-y since I got assaulted last year, and sure enough, I ended up catching a home run that night.

After BP, I met up with a few friends, dropped by the first aid room for yet another bag of ice, grabbed a seat in the shade, and played with my phone.

When the game began, there were a decent number of empty seats in the first two rows in right field, but I didn’t think much of it. I figured they’d fill up within 10 or 20 minutes. That’s usually how it goes, but for some reason, there was still quite a bit of room (for Yankee Stadium standards) when the second inning got underway. Meanwhile, the weather was good, and the pitching matchup was whatever. Everything just seemed pleasant and relaxing, and what can I say? I still had a good feeling about things, so I posted the following tweet:


Based on the number of retweets, you can probably guess what happened (if you haven’t already heard). Just a few minutes later, Carlos Beltran connected on a poorly-located fastball from Yordano Ventura . . .


. . . and lifted a deep fly ball in my direction. In the following screen shot, I’m easy to spot because I was the only fan wearing yellow:


From the moment this ball was hit, I knew I was going to catch it. Sometimes I’m not quite sure where the ball is going (like all of batting practice), but sometimes everything clicks. This was one of those times. I drifted down to the front row (all the way from the second row — such talent!) and moved a few feet to my right. My only concern was the big/young/athletic guy on my right with a glove, but thankfully he didn’t really go for it until the very last second. I’m not sure if he hadn’t been paying attention or if he lost sight of it or if he was just being nice, but whatever the reason, I was glad to be able to make a play on it. Here’s a side view of me reaching up for the catch:


Here’s another angle — look closely and you’ll see the ball streaking into my glove:


It was such an easy catch that I didn’t feel like I deserved to jump around and celebrate like a maniac. All I did was hold up the ball and salute Beltran:


This was his third home run that I had caught (more than anyone else), and he has also thrown 32 balls to me over the years (also more than anyone).

As he rounded the bases, I was still holding up the ball in the background:


A nice lady nearby happened to take a photo of me high-fiving someone soon after:


Did you notice the time-stamp on my previous tweet? Go take another look. I had posted it at 7:41pm. Look at the time-stamp on this one:


I would love to know exactly how much time passed between my first tweet and Beltran’s home run. I know it was less than nine minutes because I didn’t get around to tweeting a follow-up right away.

Fun stuff.

Here’s another tweet I posted four minutes later:


That’s just a screen shot, so if you want to check out my fundraising page, click here. (And if you want to make a donation, even better.) Basically, people are pledging money for every game home run I snag this season. The money will go to Pitch In For Baseball, a non-profit charity that provides baseball and softball equipment to underprivileged kids all over the world. This is the charity that received all the money for A-Rod’s 3,000th career hit.

Oh, and yeah, it was Beltran’s 399th career home run. AARRGHH!! I was so close to snagging yet another milestone, but hey, maybe it’ll still happen. Here’s a photo of the ball:


You’d think that a game-used ball that gets caught on the fly would have a pristine logo, but I know from first-hand experience that the mud-rubbing process can actually remove some of the ink.

Several innings later (after the seats had indeed filled up), I took a photo of the guy who had tried to reach for the home run ball:


He and his friend were from Canada. This was their first day ever in New York, so I bought them each a beer as a partial welcome and also as a thank-you for not being aggressive. They were really cool about the whole thing.

Evidently my tweet about “predicting” catching a home run was a big deal because ESPN featured me late in the game. Here’s a screen shot that was tweeted at me by someone who needed to charge his phone:


Here’s the link in case you want to see the video.

I was also featured on SportsCenter, and I wouldn’t have even known about it if not for my friend Alex Katz, who tweeted me a short clip. Alex, by the way, is a former ballhawk and future major leaguer. He’s currently a pitcher in the White Sox minor league system, and when he makes it, he’s going to break Carlos Beltran’s record for most baseballs thrown to me. Give him a follow on Twitter (@kittyelgato12) — he’s a really good guy (with a wipeout slider).

If anyone has the full segment from SportsCenter, please let me know. I still haven’t seen it. I’ve been so busy going to games and planning road trips and answering emails/comments that I’ve barely had time for anything else, such as looking for myself on TV.

On a final note, it feels good to have finally caught a home run this season. To most people, it might seem like I catch ’em all the time, but for me, going five weeks without one is rather frustrating.


• 4 baseballs at this game

• 186 balls in 21 games this season = 8.86 balls per game.

 1,313 balls in 186 lifetime games at the new Yankee Stadium = 7.06 balls per game.

• 1,187 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 39 lifetime game home run balls (not counting toss-ups; click here for the complete list)

8,819 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.

• 9 donors for my fundraiser

• $77.77 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $77.77 raised this season

• $190,581.43 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

4/26/16 at Comerica Park

Given the fact that I try to eat as much as possible before games, this late lunch on the way to Comerica Park was one of my finest efforts:


In addition to the mac-n-cheese, I had a fried chicken waffle sandwich with bacon and melted cheddar.


My friend Muneesh, who was with me once again, insisted my meal was at least 3,000 calories. I’m not sure about that, but I hope so. I can tell you, though, that it kept me full for the next eight hours, so I didn’t need to worry about eating during the game.

At around 4pm, I headed over to the stadium and ran into a couple of the regulars that I’d met the day before:


It was very cold, but you know who wasn’t concerned?

This guy:


Half an hour later, this was the scene outside the left field gate:


Meanwhile, look where my friend Muneesh was:


That’s a photo that he took from the field during batting practice, before the stadium was officially open. As I mentioned in my last entry, he used to run a sports magazine in Detroit, and once again, he had a credential for this game.

Here’s another photo he took of Miguel Cabrera in the cage:


I’m going to share three more of his photos . . . just because. Here’s a bat in the dugout:


Here’s Tigers manager Brad Ausmus hitting a fungo:


Here’s Athletics outfielder Josh Reddick talking to Ray Fosse, the team’s radio and TV analyst:


Cool stuff. Many thanks to Muneesh for letting me post those photos.

When I got inside the stadium at 5pm, it didn’t take long to snag my first ball of the day. See it in the bullpen in the following photo?


I used my glove trick to knock it closer and then reeled it in.

The Tigers have been marking their BP balls for years, and this one was no exception:


(For a little while, they used to mark them like this. Yuck!) Some teams do that to prevent their own players and employees from stealing balls and getting them signed.

Several minutes later, Muneesh made it out to the left field seats and began taking photos of me. Here I am trying to stay warm:


In the previous photo, did you notice the other guy in the black jacket? That’s Bill Dugan, the fan who had recently snagged five foul balls in one game. The whole purpose of my trip to Detroit was to meet him and have a ballhawking competition, but that was done. Now we were just hanging out without worrying about the numbers.

Here I am snagging my second ball:


As you can see, it was on the bullpen roof, so I swung my glove out and knocked it closer.

Just after posing for this photo . . .


. . . I handed the ball to the nearest fan.

During the lull before the A’s started hitting, I wandered to the back of the left field seats:


Comerica Park has some quirky features and angles:


When the A’s finally came out, I got my third ball thrown by a player that I couldn’t identify, and look! It was a Florida Spring Training ball:


As it turned out, every ball I got during the Athletics’ portion of BP had that logo.

Before the rest of the stadium opened to the public, Muneesh headed over to right field and took the following photo:


Here I am a little while later:


In the previous photo, the guy wearing the blue drawstring backpack is named David. His son, standing on the right, is named Zach. David had attended the previous game, and I’d met him once before that. They were both really nice, and you’ll see more of Zach in just a bit.

My fourth ball was a home run to straight-away right field that I grabbed in the seats, and my fifth was a homer that another fan conveniently bobbled right to me.

Check out this amazing photo that Muneesh took of a hand reaching for a ball:


That was actually my hand! Here’s the un-zoomed version of that photo:


I ended up snagging that ball.

(See Zach in the background? I think he got more than half a dozen balls of his own.)

Back in left field, I caught two homers on the fly. For the first one, I reached far over the wall in the front row, and for the second, I climbed down over a row to get in position. I don’t know who hit any of these balls, BTW.

After BP, I caught up with Zach in right field and signed one of his baseballs:


Here are the six Spring Training balls that I’d gotten:


Okay, time to take a little trip down memory lane . . .

Do you happen to remember this photo of me with a guy named Dave, taken on 9/10/11 at Comerica Park? No? Well, how about this photo of me with him and his son, David, on 5/23/13 at Comerica Park? They’ve become a fixture of my visits to Detroit, and I always look forward to catching up with them. Here we are again:


In the photo above, I’m resting my arm on David, who’s standing next to his friend Jack. Great kids. And I absolutely adore Dave, pictured behind them. I was glad to see the boys snag a bunch of baseballs during BP.

At around 6:45pm, I caught up with a friendly usher named Jared and then headed down into the seats to try to get a toss-up:


Marcus Semien ended up with the ball and started walking toward the dugout, so I headed over there too and got him to hook me up. This, too, was a commemorative Spring Training ball. I gave that one to Muneesh, and I gave one of the regular balls to a kid later on.

Here’s what it looked like behind the dugout:


Stadium security never stopped me from going down there, and you know what? That’s how it oughta be in more places. There’s nothing I hate more inside a stadium than having my access restricted.

During the game, whenever left-handed batters were up, I hung out here in the cross-aisle:


The ball from Semien was my ninth of the day. I really wanted to reach double digits, and I hoped that I’d do it on a foul ball.

First, though, I signed a copy of my book The Baseball for this guy named Josh:


And *then* I snagged a foul ball:



It was a towering pop-up hit by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, which actually landed in the seats above/behind the cross-aisle. Inspired by Bill Dugan’s acrobatic maneuver for a Mark Canha foul ball the previous night, I hoisted myself up on the concrete ledge, jumped over the railing, and grabbed the ball underneath a chair. I did all of that while an obese man two seats away barely moved for it. He had his feet up on a chair and only went for the ball at the very last second as an afterthought.

Speaking of Bill, here’s a photo of him standing near me in the aisle:


On the other side, David and his friend Jack were camped out waiting for a foul ball:


And guess what? Jack ended up getting one later in the game.

Muneesh spent most of the night in the press box. Here’s a photo of the field that he took during the middle innings:


The heartbreaking moment of the night came on a foul ball that woulda/shoulda been a routine catch for me if not for the fact that I got blocked by the Tigers’ roving TV reporter, who happened to be doing a live interview in the aisle. I got caught up on the wrong side of him and tried to reach for it, but he flinched and kinda backed up into me and prevented me from catching it. How awesome would it have been to get that ball live on TV during that interview? Damn, damn, and more damn!

Here I am with Bill late in the game:


This was my view for righties:


This was my ninth lifetime game at Comerica, and I now had seven foul balls during games, so yeah, I wanted to snag another . . . and another . . . to bring my per-game foul ball average to one. (Or would that be 1.000 if we’re calculating it like a batting average?)

Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. The A’s won the game, 5-1, behind a strong pitching performance by Rich Hill, and that was it:


Of the ten balls that I’d snagged, here are the seven that I kept:


Do you remember when I looked at a bunch of baseballs under black light? Well, one of the Spring Training balls had a beautiful invisible ink stamp:


Now I need to find my way back to Detroit so I can do a video there for my YouTube channel. It might happen sooner than you think . . .


• 10 baseballs at this game

• 128 balls in 14 games this season = 9.14 balls per game.

 60 balls in 9 lifetime games at Comerica Park = 6.67 balls per game.

• 1,180 consecutive games with at least one ball

8,761 total balls

On a final note, 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.

4/25/16 at Comerica Park

Do you remember hearing about a guy in Detroit who snagged FIVE foul balls during one game? It happened on April 11th — the day I was in Oakland — and as you might expect, my phone blew up. Dozens of folks sent me articles about him, and one person suggested that I travel to Comerica Park for a ballhawking showdown. So I did. That was the purpose of this trip, and it was supposed to be huge. Big Cat from Barstool Sports was planning to show up with two camera men, and my friend Muneesh Jain was going to be there to take professional photos.

double_facepalm_for_my_stupidity_and_bad_luckUnfortunately the weather forecast (combined with my stupidity) derailed everything. For days leading up to this game, the internet said it was going to rain. Muneesh, who lives in New York but grew up in Michigan, told me not to worry about it. “I’m telling you,” he texted two days in advance, “the weather in Michigan can change on a dime.” I appreciated his optimism, but didn’t believe him, so with the forecast still looking bleak, I told Big Cat that he shouldn’t bother making the four-hour drive from Chicago. If there wasn’t going to be batting practice and the only action would consist of me begging for a few toss-ups, what was the point?

My trip to Detroit was booked, so I was planning to be there regardless, and guess what? The weather turned out to be gorgeous. Never in my life have I been so disappointed to see the sun.

Muneesh had flown into Detroit two days early to catch up with friends, so he picked me up at the airport, drove us to the stadium, and treated me to lunch at a famous sports-themed restaurant called Hockeytown:


Did you notice what he was wearing? It looks like a standard Tigers shirt, but actually says “Detroit Beisbolcats.” Pretty cool.

We arrived at the stadium early enough to do a mini-photo shoot with a different “big cat.” Here I am standing on its giant paw:


Look what I saw as we walked around the stadium toward the left field gate:


Not only was the batting cage set up, but the grounds crew was watering the infield! Thanks a lot, accuweather.com.

At around 4:30pm, I met up with the guy who’d snagged all those foul balls. Here we are:


His name is Bill Dugan, and as you can see, he’s rather large — 6-foot-4 and 270 pounds, in case you were wondering. I joked with him that if a ball ended up landing between us, I wouldn’t even bother going for it. As it turned out, though, he was super-friendly, and we got along great with each other.

Muneesh seized the moment by whipping out a fancy voice recorder and interviewing us for his podcast:


It’s called “The Clubhouse Podcast,” and it’s actually a pretty big deal. He co-hosts weekly episodes with Broadway star Anthony Rapp, and they’ve had some big-time guests, including Emmy-winning actor Jon Hamm, comedian Jimmy Pardo, and “Jurassic World” star Ty Simpkins. Oh, and do you remember when Muneesh interviewed me at the 2015 All-Star Game in Cincinnati? Here’s the direct link to that episode. Muneesh is going to release the Detroit interview very soon. The best way to catch it is to subscribe for free to his podcast on iTunes. And hey, since there clearly aren’t enough links in this paragraph, here’s the website for the podcast. Check it out. It’s damn good.

I should also mention that Muneesh used to run a sports magazine in Detroit and had a media credential for this game, so while Bill and I continued schmoozing outside the stadium, Muneesh headed inside and took photos like this:


And this:


Bill and I discussed how to handle/quantify our ballhawking competition. Big Cat, had he been there, would have served as the announcer and referee, but now that it was just us, we had to come up with our own rules. We considered a point system whereby a thrown ball would have been worth one point, a BP homer picked up off the ground would’ve been worth two points, a BP homer caught on the fly would’ve been worth three points, and so on, all the way up to catching a game home run on the fly, but we scrapped all of that. It was too complicated, and ultimately we just wanted to have fun with it and not stress ourselves out. We decided that the person with the most balls at the end of the day would “win,” but that there was something to be said for game-used balls.

I got inside early with some season ticket holders at 5pm, but unfortunately we were all confined to the left field seats. This was the view from my lousy spot:


What made it lousy? Oh, you know, having a damn bullpen between me and the field. Basically, if guys hit home runs that barely clear an outfield wall, I want to be able to catch them. It sucks to be trapped in an area where home runs have to be hit extra far to reach me.

Here’s what the seats looked like on my left:


In the photo above, that’s Bill on the next staircase over. We agreed to try to stay out of each other’s way, but sometimes, when there was clearly a “best” spot, we ended up near each other.

Bill snagged the first ball of the day — a home run that landed near him in the seats — but I kept pace by grabbing one of my own soon after, thanks to a lucky ricochet.


Several minutes later, another guy wandered down the stairs and stood right in front of me:


Did you notice his ski gloves? It wasn’t THAT cold, so I asked him if he was wearing them for the purpose of catching a ball. The answer was yes.

During the next group of BP, I moved back half a dozen rows for one batter in particular. I didn’t know who it was, but he clearly had more power than everyone else, and sure enough, he ended up blasting a home run right to me. Muneesh had just made it out to the seats at that point and got the following photo of me peeking at my roster:


I still had no idea who had hit it, but thankfully a couple of the regulars told me it was James McCann.

As the Tigers finished BP and began jogging off the field, I got Anthony Gose’s attention and got him to throw me a ball from about 150 feet away. Here I am just after catching it — look closely and you’ll see the ball in the pocket of my glove:


Did you notice Bill in the background smiling and pointing at me? I know it would make a more compelling story if we were bitter rivals, so I’m sorry to report that it really *was* a friendly competition.

At the end of Tigers BP, we posed for a photo with our baseballs:


(Guilford College in the hooouuuuse!)

Every so often, Muneesh recorded a bit more for his podcast:


Here I am with him (after changing into my A’s gear):


When the rest of the stadium opened, I headed to right field:


Look who also headed out that way:


That’s right. Bill also knew that it was the place to be, and once again, we made a point of staying one section away from each other.

Here I am running for a ball:


I didn’t snag that one.

Check out the following photo, taken moments before I got my fourth ball of the day:


The ball that I was preparing to catch was thrown by Sean Doolittle. One minute earlier, he had tossed one to that woman, and now here she was trying to reach in front of me. But hey, no big deal. I made the catch without incident, and it’s a good thing because . . . look!


I was stunned. And thrilled. And delighted. And excited. The Blue Jays are one of three teams using commemorative balls this season. The other two are the Braves and Cubs, and I’m hoping/planning to add all three to my collection. I was prepared to travel to Toronto, but now I don’t have to (and no, that’s not meant as a diss to Canada — it’s just that traveling takes a lot of time and money).

Here I am talking to a young fan named Billy, who recognized me:


Here I am snagging my fifth ball of the day — a home run that landed in the seats:


I’m not sure who hit it, but I can tell you that it was another Blue Jays commemorative ball. (The A’s had just been to Toronto and obviously left with extras. What a nice little coincidence.)

In the photo above, did you notice the ball that Billy was holding? It’s a cleaner version of this — a Florida Spring Training ball. For some reason, the A’s were also using those in BP. My sixth ball was a line-drive homer that I caught on the fly after drifting down the steps. Here I am admiring it, along with the other commemorative ball that I’d just snagged:


It was nice to have gotten a variety of baseballs:


Bill, meanwhile, was doing pretty well. He got a couple more balls in right field to bring his total to three.

He and I headed back to left field for the final group of BP, and soon after I arrived, I botched an opportunity, albeit a difficult one, to snag No. 7. It was a home run that landed on the bullpen roof and in-between-hopped me in the front row. If I’d been standing there by myself, I would have leaned back to lengthen the bounce and probably caught it, but because there was another man on my left, I was forced to lunge for it, and it bounced off my glove and rolled back toward the field. Muneesh snapped a photo just before it dropped off the far edge of the roof:


So sad.

Here I am climbing over a row of seats:


I didn’t get that ball either.

Toward the end of BP, I caught a home run while climbing down over a row. Moments later, I was camped out under another one, but got bumped at the last second and was dismayed to have the ball deflect off my glove. Wanna guess who got that one? That’s right — Bill.

Here we are after BP, holding up our baseballs:


Poor Muneesh.

Bill and I both ended up giving away some of our baseballs to kids, but for the sake of getting a good photo, we had decided to hang onto all of them during BP.

Look what Bill gave me when we finally had a moment to relax:


He’s an actor. I was honored to receive an inscribed head shot.

Here I am taking a selfie with someone after BP . . .


. . . and here I am using the glove trick for a ball in the visitors bullpen:


In the previous photo, did you notice the person in the upper right corner? That was a guard who didn’t notice me (because of the perfect placement of the flag pole) until Bill walked over and pretended to whack me with his umbrella. He was just goofing around for the camera, but unfortunately it cost me because the guard walked over and picked up the ball and handed it to someone else. Womp-womp. Bill was very apologetic, and I forgive him. I knew he wasn’t trying to screw me over.

While watching Kendall Graveman warming up . . .


. . . I signed two copies of my books for this guy named Ben:


He ended up getting a ball tossed from the bullpen, as did another fan named Brandon. I didn’t think the A’s would give away another until I spotted one on the ground:


Pitching coach Curt Young ended up tossing it to me, and we all posed with our baseballs:


Congrats to Brandon — that was his first ball ever!

By the time the game started, I had snagged eight balls, and Bill had gotten four. Here’s where I hung out for left-handed batters:


Look who was lurking near me in the cross-aisle:


It was Bill. See him leaning casually against the wall? (Note how high the railing is behind his head. There’ll be a story about that later.) The guards love him. He’d told them about me and our little competition, and they fully supported it. They allowed us to hang out in the aisle as long as we promised to be careful and not run around like crazy.

Bill ended up snagging a foul ball early in the game. This was my “Can you believe this effin’ guy?” reaction:


I forget who hit it, but I vividly recall seeing the ball sail back toward us. It was hit closer to Bill and landed on a folding chair toward the front of the aisle. I was hoping that it’d squirt past him, which would’ve enabled me to scoop it up from behind, but he got a lucky bounce and played it well.

There wasn’t much action for the next few innings, so I decided to be proactive and go for a third-out ball. In the bottom of the 6th, I headed to the seats behind the A’s dugout . . .


. . . and ended up getting the inning-ending ball tossed to me by Coco Crisp. It was, indeed, THAT easy. I gave a ball to the nearest kid (who hadn’t even been paying attention) and hurried back to my spot in the aisle behind home plate.

With two outs in the top of the 7th, Billy Burns swung a bit too late/low on a pitch from Jordan Zimmermann and sent a foul ball flying back in my direction, roughly 20 feet to my left. I could tell that it was going to fall a bit short, so I maneuvered in front of a 60-something-year-old man, reached out over the railing (above the last row of seats down below), and caught it. That man was not the least bit upset. He was excited for me and also *very* appreciative of my effort.

“You saved my balls!!” he shouted gleefully.

“Yeah, man, he sho’ did!” said his friend, and the three of us laughed about it.

The first guy kept talking about his balls and how I saved them. I’m not kidding. He must have repeated that line half a dozen times. He didn’t want the ball. He just wanted to take a photo with it and ask me if I played ball . . . and talk about how I saved HIS balls. It was hilarious.

Here are the two gamers that I had gotten:


That brought my total for the day to ten, and in case you’ve lost track, Bill had five.

The highlight of the day was not catching the foul ball, nor was it meeting Bill or connecting with Muneesh. Nope. Sorry. The highlight was running into this guy:


His name is Gordy, and he works at Comerica Park. This was his day off, so he spent it bringing smiles to thousands of people. The Tigers should give him a raise and ask him to dress like that full-time (including the pink glitter that was clinging to his chest hair — take my word for it).

Remember Billy with the green shirt from BP? He caught up with me late in the game (see the shirt peeking out?) and asked me to sign his copy of my latest book, The Baseball:


Here I am with a little kid that I gave a ball to:


(Once again, do you see the height of the railing behind me? Good.)

With the Tigers leading, 7-3, I headed down to their dugout with two outs in the 9th inning:


“What’re the odds,” I thought, “that the last batter of the game is gonna hit a foul ball right to the spot where I’d been standing all night?”

Those odds, it turned out, were painfully good. The final batter was Mark Canha, and wouldn’t you know it — the son-of-a-gun sent one shooting back over the protective screen *right* in Bill’s direction. It sailed too high above the aisle for him to reach it, but the seats behind the aisle were so empty that he hoisted himself up on the concrete ledge and jumped over the railing and scampered up a few rows and grabbed the ball before anyone else could get there. (Some stadiums are great for foul balls; Comerica Park is one of them.) And then Canha grounded out to 2nd base.

After the game, while he and I took a photo with our baseballs . . .


. . . Muneesh was in the clubhouse taking photos of Tigers manager Brad Ausmus:



But back to the baseballs . . .

I had snagged ten but was only holding eight because I’d given two away. An hour later, I gave away two more to Muneesh’s friends, who let us crash at their place and who have two young children. As for Bill, he had snagged six balls and still had them all for the final photo, but brought a few back the next day to give away.

Who won the competition? I suppose I did because I ended up with more baseballs. I also caught three BP homers on the fly, and Bill didn’t catch any, but hang on a second. He snagged *two* foul balls during the game, and I only got one. But I caught my foul ball on the fly. It should also be noted that he didn’t have A’s gear and therefore didn’t go for any toss-ups from them. Is that his fault? Or should it be taken into account when determining the winner? It’s hard to say, but the fact is that he *was* competition, and it was great to meet him and step inside his world for a few hours. He’s a talented ballhawk, very generous with his baseballs, and everyone at the stadium loves him. He’s like the BFG, and I’m glad to now be able to call him a friend.

When Muneesh finally made it outside, he interviewed us one final time for his podcast:


Once again, here’s the link where you can subscribe for free.

Muneesh is one of those people who, at the tender age of 30-something, has lived multiple lives with countless highs and lows (including six near-death experiences). Several years ago, he drove 17,000 miles in 95 days to catch a game at all 30 MLB stadiums. He has a website dedicated to that trip called Rounding Third with photos and write-ups from each place. Truly amazing. I only met him last year, but it feels like I’ve known him forever. <3

Here’s one final photo outside the stadium of me and Bill:


He was pointing at me as if to say, “He’s the man,” and I returned the gesture because HE’S the man.

This wasn’t a tearful goodbye. We were both going to be at the game the next day . . .


49_the_six_balls_i_kept_04_25_16• 10 baseballs at this game (six pictured here because I gave four away)

• 118 balls in 13 games this season = 9.08 balls per game.

 50 balls in 8 lifetime games at Comerica Park = 6.25 balls per game.

• 1,179 consecutive games with at least one ball

8,751 total balls

On a final note, 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.