“Mr. Stats”

ElliottkalbSo, as I was saying, Elliott Kalb…
Who is he?
“Mr. Stats.”
That’s who.

If you’re a sports nut, you’ve seen or heard or read his name a thousand times. Maybe more. He currently works for ESPN, TNT, and HBO. He spent 15 years with NBC. He’s worked with Bob Costas. He’s written for Vin Scully. He’s a five-time Emmy winner. He has a new book called Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Baseball. I own it. I recommend it. It’s an easy read and it’s making me think.

Elliott recently heard about my baseball collection and, after a few e-mails and a couple rounds of phone-tag, we got to talk about it on Wednesday. The end result: he wants to write about me in his column on foxsports.com…so I sent him a detailed list of the top ten ball-snagging strategies to get him started.
Here’s a non-detailed version of that list:

1. Attend batting practice.
2. Bring a glove.
3. Bring rosters of both teams.
4. Bring hats of both teams.
5. Call players by their first names and say “please.”
6. The glove trick.
7. Be aware of the competition.
8. Stay in a place where you have room to move for balls.
9. Position yourself differently for righties and lefties.
10. Look for routines and habits and tendencies.
11. Don’t be passive and lazy; keep moving to the best spots.
12. Go behind the winning team’s dugout as soon as the game ends.

Yes, he asked for ten tips, and I sent him twelve. That’s the Elliott Kalb update.

In other news, I decided to skip yesterday’s Yankee game for three reasons:
1. I was too busy with other stuff. (I got most of it done.)
2. It looked like it was gonna rain. (It did. Adam, were you there? Was there batting practice?)
3. It was $5 night, and I figured the place would be packed. (It was sold out. Attendance: 54,734.)

(Don’t you love lists?)

I can’t even begin to describe how happy I was not to be there.

More news: My friend George, the autograph expert, came over last night and inspected the Matsui home run ball. He looked at its reflection under a light–the lettering appears backward on the ball itself–and determined, with 95% certainty, that the imprinted signature belongs to Derek Jeter. (Paige, next week’s ball-visiting/worshipping hours are 1pm to 7pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.)

I think that’s about it.
It’s getting light outside.
I need to get to bed.


  1. thegroceryman1@yahoo.com

    I did indeed go. It really wasnt enjoyable again, packed as much or more as the previous day. I got yelled at about the glove trick which cost me at least one ball probably more. A fan knocked into me as I was catching a ball. Children were screaming. Men were yelling. Then it started raining. BP ended early but I didnt get shutout. I made a nice bare handed play on a ball Tom Gordon threw into the stands kind of early in BP.

    I got 18 autographs, including Lawton x2 and Kip Wells, so it was still a cool day.

  2. Zack

    Hero? I don’t know about that. Let’s just say that I have a professional appreciation for the man. :-)

    18 autos?*****. At the hotel again? Tell me you didn’t get them ALL at the ballpark. Security yelled at you? That’s not good. In left field? Not the supervisor, I hope. The guy in the grey blazer with the really really really shaved head? Consider e-mailing me privately to avoid public incrimination… although The People deserve to hear how unpleasant Yankee Stadium can be.

  3. drosenda@msn.com

    Any of y’all ever get to Ameriquest in Arlington Texas? They’re very nice, and don’t mind if you bring ball ‘pickup’ devices.

  4. drosenda@msn.com

    Zack, are you a big autograph hound? I am, you should see my game room. I collect in person and through the mail. You?

  5. jeetsmeister@yahoo.com

    Zack you are getting sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeepy… Bring … me … that … ball!!!

  6. Zack

    I went to Ameriquest in 1999, and the thing I remember most is that the ballpark opened THREE hours before gametime. Is that still the policy? I don’t remember anything about security, however. I used to collect autographs through the mail, but I haven’t done it since the mid-90s. Right now, I only get guys in person at games. If I had more time, I suppose I’d check out the hotels once in a while to see who I could get, but collecting balls (obviously) is the most important thing for me. Thankfully, I only have to show up a couple hours early for that.


    Actually, I AM getting sleepy, but that’s because it’s almost 4am. I’ll see what I can do about getting that ball into your hands for an evening.

  7. jeetsmeister@yahoo.com

    Darn, I thought my hidden hypnotism trick worked! ;)

    Thanks, Z. You’re a good fella.

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