First 200 balls of 2005: when, where & how

In case you missed it, I caught my 200th ball of the season on 8/22/05 at Yankee Stadium.

CalculatorBecause I love (and I mean LOVE) stats and lists so much, I decided to break down these 200 balls into various categories. Why? Because I’m a dork. Because I thought it would be fun. Because I’ve never done this before. How many of my balls are hit versus thrown? What percentage of balls do I get after the game starts? What stadium is the best? What month is the best? I realize that 200 is less than one thirteenth of my collection, but it’s still a big enough sample to play with. I also realize that this is probably more interesting to me than it is to you. Oh well, here goes…

April — 20
May — 38
June — 49
July — 36
August — 57

NOTES: I avoid games during the first week or two of the season because the crowds are much bigger. Also, I started a new job in April and made it to just four games as a result. My four-day/four-game trip to Cincinnati and Houston made August the best month.

Shea — 104
Yankee — 40
Minute Maid — 19
Citizens Bank — 9
Great American — 8
Fenway — 7
Camden — 7
RFK — 6

NOTES: Last year, I caught 277 balls at Shea and only 18 at Yankee. This year, Mr. Steinbrenner finally decided to open the ballpark two hours before gametime, so I’ve been a little more willing to go back–and when I’ve been there, the extra half-hour of BP has made a huge difference. Last year, I averaged 3.6 balls per game at Yankee Stadium. This year, that number has jumped to 5.9…I caught more balls in one game in Philadelphia than in two games in Cincinnati. No surprise there. Great American Ball Park is not snagger-friendly, and one of my two BPs there was rained out.

Thrown — 118
Hit — 39
Glove trick — 37
Found — 6

NOTES: I’m surprised that nearly 59% of my balls are thrown. That’s a lot. But that’s the nature of being a collector in NYC. Shea Stadium is terrible for BP. There aren’t any field level seats in fair territory, so I’m pretty much forced to beg. If you don’t know what the glove trick is, read my entry about April 25th. “Found” means the balls were just lying in the seats when I ran into the stadium.

Batting practice — 167
Pregame (not during BP) — 15
During games — 13
After games — 5

NOTES: Once again, I’m surprised by these numbers. Before I did the math, I assumed I’d caught more balls between BP and the game, and I figured I’d gotten more balls after games. But still, 18 balls (or 9%) after the games have started is not bad.

I guess that’s about it.
Time to start getting ready for work…



    Hey Z,

    Another scorcher, and another loss for my boyz. However, I did get 2 balls, one from the same pitching coach, and one from Michael Ryan.

    However, I was SOOOOOOO close to the bullpen lineup card. As Joe Nathan was leaving, I called out for it. He pointed to the bullpen catcher, and sorta motioned to give the lineup card to me (the only one of the 5-6 fans who asked for it). Well, jerk wad bullpen catcher brings it over, and gives it to some lady 2-3 rows up. I was pissed, but such is life as a collector.

    I figure she sat there all game, and was talking with them. It wasn’t like she was this pretty lady either.

    Yeah, I also got Shannon Stewart and Kyle Loshe to sign. Pretty good weekend at the ballyard, I got 7 balls in 3 days, good for me considering there was NO BP today EITHER. Good lord, what a bunch of wusses. I got a lot of autographs, too.

    Later man, Dan


    I didn’t get any autographs from the Astros, but today was the 1955 World Series Brooklyn Dodger team celebration at the ballpark. All the former players were back including Duke Snider, Tommy Lasorda, and Sandy Koufax. But, the big story was when SANDY KOUFAX signed my jersey and baseball in the sixth inning as he was leaving the ballpark. Wow, it was the sixth autograph I got from him and probably my last. I wished him luck and he left…


    Hey Zack,

    I am going to see a game at Shea soon.

    Any tips on getting some balls?


  4. Zack

    Your whole comment made me laugh. Sometimes (often, actually), I have days like that where EVERYthing goes wrong. Bad bounces. Other people getting lucky. Rude players. Strict security. And I just want to curse a whole lot when I sit down to blog about it. Point it, you captured the emotion well. I know how you feel. You did well, but it coulda been better.


    You got KOUFAX?!?! Twice in one night?! Six times total?! Oh my lord. Funny that he was leaving in the 6th inning. I guess that whole “arrive late/leave early” thing in L.A. applies to Hall of Famers, too.


    If only there were a way to make it happen…


    The best advice I can give you is to comb through all my old entries about Shea to see what exactly I do and when I do it. Shea is a tough place because there are no seats in fair territory on the field level, so you’re pretty much forced to beg for balls. Stay down the foul lines during BP and consider going up to the Loge (blue) seats near the foul poles. There might be a few balls hit up there. Go to the dugouts after each team finishes BP…and just pretty much try to stay close to the players in the field. Gotta keep moving. During the game, the Loge seats behind home plate are good for foul tips, but you have to be careful if you go up there because Shea is one of the few places in all of baseball (maybe even the ONLY place at this point) that won’t let you into the field level seats (after BP) unless you have a ticket for the field level. It’s absurd and obnoxious and pointless and evil. Access is limited, so arrive early and get yourself into the field level (orange seats) and just stay there. Hope this helps. When are you going?


    Sandy Koufax is nicer than everyone thinks. I first met him in 2002 during a Dodger game and he signed a baseball on the sweet spot for me. Then, I met him last year at the Dodgers vs. Cardinals playoff game and I waited about two-three hours after the game to get his autograph. Yup, I waited that long, because through one of my friend’s binoculars, we could see that he was still sitting in his seat while everyone left for the parking lot. He came out and signed a picture as well as a ticket stub. This time, I got the jersey and another baseball signed.

    By the way, everyone leaves early, because there is no ERIC GAGNE GAME OVER. He’s injured…

  6. Zack

    That’s interesting. Koufax, of course, has a reputation of keeping to himself, so I’d always assumed that he wasn’t particularly fan-friendly… but watch out. Pretty soon, he might start to recognize you. As for Gagne, don’t give me that nonsense. Dodger fans have been leaving games in the seventh inning since the team left Brooklyn.


    But, here’s another surprise of a really nice Dodger that everyone thinks is mean…Fernando Valenzuela. He has signed I believe like twenty autographs for me and that’s because he works in the Spanish Radio Booth as a broadcaster at Dodger Stadium, and he leaves the game about the eighth inning, because he doesn’t do the postgame show. So, every time I go to a game, I wait in front of the Press Box about the eighth inning and he is always friendly. He writes his “Cy Young”, “ROY”, “All-Star” inscriptions and always ends up signing more than one autograph per person. If you don’t have a chance to get down to Dodger Stadium, try writing to him in the mail. He’s one of the best mail signers and during the breaks between innings, he always looks through the bag mail he brings every game.


    Sandy Koufax is very soft-spoken and is actually very kind to everyone. The Dodgers always have two-three security guards that block the autograph collectors, but he always signs anyway. He doesn’t mind the fans waiting in front of his car at the Dodger Stadium parking lot, (I WOULD MIND) and signs a lot of double autographs for fans. But, he does not SIGN JERSEYS. I was lucky to have him sign my Dodgers jersey, because he was talking to someone and he didn’t realize he just signed my jersey. But, once he looked down and saw the jersey, he looked SHOCKED.

  9. Zack

    Interesting stuff about Valenzuela. Did you know that his son (Fernando Jr.) is playing in the Class A California League?

    I wonder why Koufax won’t do jerseys. I wonder why any of these guys have these self-imposed restrictions. Yesterday, an autograph collector at Shea told me that David Wright doesn’t sign the sweet spot on balls anymore. David Wright?! He’s so young, he’s practically a fetus! Why the attitude? I don’t get it.

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