NEWSFLASH!!!

I have three things to report, and I must warn you: the last one may be a bit shocking. It certainly was for me when I made the discovery a few hours ago…

1) In my entry from June 28th, I mentioned that a sports writer in Pittsburgh contacted me to ask about a fan who’d snagged three foul balls within a five-out span at PNC Park. The article came out two days ago, and I just received the link. CLICK HERE to check it out.

2) Today, I did a 20-minute radio interview (via telephone) with the Dwyer & Michaels Show in Davenport, Iowa. Halfway through, one of the guys remembered me from a previous interview; unlike Sports Illustrated, however, they were still interested in talking. Anyway, the producer had seen the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article. That’s how he found me.

3) In preparation for my 400th consecutive game with at least one ball caught, I did a little fact-checking to make sure that my next trip to the ballpark really would be #400. I counted 16 games at the end of the 1993 season and started adding…
45 games in 1994
59 games in 1995
1993.jpg38 games in 1996
10 games in 1997
31 games in 1998
41 games in 1999
26 games in 2000
20 games in 2001
30 games in 2002
31 games in 2003
37 games in 2004
and 17 games so far this year.
I ended up with 401. FOUR-OH-ONE?! Damn arithmetic. I crunched the numbers again–and got 401 for a second time. I still didn’t believe it. I added the numbers in reverse order. Same result. I was in shock, desperate to figure out what was going on, so I pulled out my early handwritten records. Was there was a discrepancy between those and the detailed lists on my computer? I flipped though page after page and discovered that there were two playoff games I attended (Game 5 of the ’93 World Series and Game 1 of the ’95 ALDS) that I did NOT count in my stats! My god. It was coming back to me…those were my first two playoff games…yes, suddenly I remembered my original logic: Since the players’ stats from those games wouldn’t count on the backs of their baseball cards, then the games shouldn’t count for me either. But then in 1999, when I attended Games 3, 4, and 5 of the NLCS, I did count the stats. Man-o-man.

After thinking this over, I’ve decided that my rules should be consistent–none of this designated hitter garbage–so I have officially ADDED those two playoff games to my stats. I always included the balls from those two games in my grand total, so that number won’t change, but the games never counted as part of my streak or when I calculated the number of balls I averaged per game. Anyway, there you have it. Instead of a 399-game streak, I actually have a 401-game streak. I’m still in shock. My world isn’t what I thought it was. It’s like I just found out I was adopted.

It turns out that the streak’s 400th game was that BP-only trip to Shea on July 1st. I’m bummed. I mean, it’s cool to have reached the milestone, but I was looking forward to it. I was all set to start hyping it up and sending out press releases. (Not really.) I was planning to reach 400 next Thursday at Shea, but instead, that game will be #402. Yawn.

At least I’m two games closer to 500…

4 comments

  1. drosenda@msn.com

    Whassup Z?

    I attended the RoughRiders game in Frisco tonight. 3 balls for me, but the thing about minor league, BP ends like 10 minutes after the gates open. I used a roster to get a Corpus Christi player to toss me a ball. That roster tip is extremely helpful, guys like to be asked by their first name.

    However, here’s a question for you, have you ever gotten a bat? I know a major league bat is hard to get, but the minor league guys sometimes give their broken bats to fans. However, it’s mostly 2000 kids waiting, or someone cheats and asks them during the game. That happened tonight, and it was annoying. This dad and kid went down to the Corpus dugout and asked during the game. I’d be afraid guys would gripe me out (as they should) and tell me to wait until after the game. It’s their livelihood for heaven’s sake, so I understand.

    Let me know about the bat. Also, I’ll offer again a Texas League ball for a trade, since I have quite a few.

  2. Zack

    Good morning, D.

    I get annoyed at minor league games for the same reason: no BP. Can you imagine how many balls we could get with an hour and a half of BP at a minor league park? There’s no way to get balls outside Frisco’s stadium?

    I’ve gotten two bats, but I had one confiscated by security at Yankee Stadium. Long story. Don’t make me get into it. It’ll only make me angry all over again. The one bat that I actually HAVE in my possession was given to me randomly in 1999 at Turner Field by an Expos 1st baseman/September call-up named Fernando Seguignol. He broke it in the 9th inning (but it was just a thin crack, so the bat remained intact), and I went down to the dugout after the game to try to get a ball. Seguignol happened to poke his head out and make eye contact with me, and then he slid me the bat over the dugout roof. I dove on it before anyone else could reach in and snatch it. It smelled like pine tar. I can not even begin to describe how happy I was.

    I know a few fans at Shea who specialize in getting bats. This one kid’s gotta have dozens by now. It’s incredible. He told me he does it by getting to know the players and asking well in advance. He goes to every game and talks to them whenever they come over to sign, and he’ll say something like, “Next time you break your bat, could I have it?” and a lot of the time, the players will give him non-broken bats. Oh wait, I once got a minor league bat out in Boise (Northwest League…short-season), but I don’t even remember whose it was. It’s now lying in a closet somewhere at my parents’ place. I remember how I got it. The player just handed it to me as he was getting on the bus after the game, and I was just standing around for autographs. Funny how I got these two bats without trying.

  3. doppychico89@yahoo.com

    Have you ever gotten so many balls at one game that you couldn’t carry them all? What did you do, or what would you do if that happened?

    Nick

  4. Zack

    Hey, Nick-

    In 1992, when I first started going to lots of games, I didn’t bring a backpack. I didn’t really bring anything except my glove (and my Mets cap if I was at Shea). In April and September, the weather was cold enough for me to wear a jacket, which meant I had big pockets. In the summer, I was usually away at camp, but there were still some warm-weather games that I attended, wearing just jeans and a tee-shirt. I remember one time at Yankee Stadium, I caught five balls during BP and had no way to carry them so I stuffed them all in my jeans pockets. I was bulging all over the place. I could hardly walk (or waddle) without the balls digging into my thighs. It was painful, but kind of funny. People were staring, and I kind of liked that I got to show off how many balls I’d caught…though I hadn’t planned it that way. Two years later in spring training (I don’t count spring training balls, by the way), I got 13 balls and again did not have a backpack. I don’t remember how I held them all. I think I ran to a souvenir stand and got a plastic bag. Anyway, by the mid-90s, I was bringing hats of both teams and markers for autographs and old ticket stubs to get signed…and my camera…and food…and my journal…and all kinds of stuff, and by this point, I was averaging five or six balls a game, so I HAD to start bringing a backpack. Last year, I got 19 balls at one game at Shea. (That’s my record.) My backpack was so heavy that I just left it with some fans that I’d become friendly with over the course of the season. Good thing they were honest. I’ve had dreams in which I got more balls than I could carry…man, that was a long answer to a short (but good) question.

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