The “glove trick”
Throughout this season (and beyond), you’re gonna hear me talking a lot about the “glove trick.” Some of you already know about this, but for those who don’t, here’s the story…
When I was eight, I saw a fan on TV using a fishing pole to lower an empty soup can over a ball that was sitting beyond his reach on the field below. The can descended…slowly…slowly…until it dropped over the ball, and when the guy lifted it, the ball was gone. Poof! Just like that. I couldn’t believe it, and the memory stuck.
Six years later, I started attending games regularly and began to drool over all the balls that rolled into the left field corner during batting practice at Yankee Stadium. I tried to make my own can, but it was clunky and rarely worked when I practiced with it at home. I brought it to one game in 1992, but BP was wiped out by a last-minute thunderstorm, and I gave up on the idea.
The following season, inspiration struck. Instead of a can with sharp edges and three-pound dumbbells tied to the top, all I needed was my glove, a rubber band, a Sharpie, and some string. I practiced in my room, and the thing worked. It was easy to set up and didn’t require materials that might be confiscated. I started getting more baseballs than ever. Fans always asked how I did it. Players often came over for a look. This is what they all wanted to know:
1) The materials. Tie the string to the handle of your glove and keep it tucked away in the palm when you’re not using it. It’s a bit uncomfortable at first, but you’ll get used to it.
2) Hook the band under the flap on the outside of your glove’s pocket. (If there’s no flap, you have two choices: improvise or get a new glove.)
3) Stretch the band over the tip of your glove and prop the glove open with the Sharpie. (Without the Sharpie, the glove won’t stay open. Normal pens don’t work as well because they’re thin and sometimes slip through the spaces between the fingers. When you have everything set up, the space between the band and the tip of the glove needs to be slightly smaller than the ball.)
4) Lower your glove over the ball. (At this point, you’ll be dangling the glove by the string. I’m just holding the glove itself so I could take a decent pic. Anyway, the glove’s weight forces the band to stretch around the ball. But first make sure that the band is not too tight or the ball won’t go in, or too loose or the ball won’t stay in. This takes practice.
Alliance’s Size 117B rubber bands work best for me.)
5) It’s a delicate operation. Lift the glove slowly so the ball doesn’t fall out. (This is the view from below, complete with the ceiling light in the hallway outside my apartment. Notice how the band has stretched back to hold the ball in place.)
A few years ago, Rick Reilly named this trick the “ZackTrap” in a story for Sports Illustrated, and Rosie O’Donnell had me perform it live on her show. Good times, yes, but I’ve also gotten a few lectures along the way from stadium security. Some ballparks don’t allow these kinds of contraptions, others have no problem with them, and a few have policies that fall somewhere in the middle. (For example, when I visited Oakland in 1999, security allowed the fans to fish for balls behind the outfield walls, but wouldn’t let us pluck them off the field.) It’s hard to keep track of the rules, especially when they vary from one usher to the next, so be careful and respectful and ask for permission first. Oh, and don’t tell anyone how the trick works. It’s a secret.
Won’t the sharpie fall out?
Not if you do it right. You just have to wedge it in there, and then the pressure from the glove and rubber band should hold it in place. All I can say is: TRY IT.
It was a good night at Ameriquest, 4 balls. 3 with the ‘pickup’ device, and one from Randy Messenger of the Marlins.
It was a really boring snagging session. There were lots of people, and it was one of those nights when if I left an area, boom, here comes a BP homer in the area I vacated. Then I move again. Hey look, right where I was a minute ago.
However, 4 balls is a solid day for me. Later man.
Thanks for the happy recap, Dan. Sometimes, we’re all gonna have frustrating days…but if we manage to plow through them with a few balls (or in this case four), then we have to feel pretty good.
Keep the updates coming…
Yeah, and you know what? It is SO easy to get a ball when the guys are warming up. I just ask, “Hey (first name, of course), could I the ball when you’re done?”. Easy way to get a ball.
Zack, have you ever had any other fans fight you for balls that you’ve collected using your “ZackTrap”?
Any other fan based altercations while snagging baseballs?
You’re right. Often, that’s all it takes.
Sometimes, when I’m lifting the glove back up, fans will reach out and try to grab the ball out of it…or just try to knock it loose so no one will get it. (Funny how that usually only happens at Yankee Stadium.) I’ve been in lots of altercations over the years. Mostly, people just get mad when I catch ball after ball after ball. I’ve had fans intentionally shove me…even grab my glove and pull my arm down so I wouldn’t have a chance to catch a ball…but I’ve never shoved back. That’s not my style. (At Yankee Stadium, I’m too scared I’ll get stabbed.)
Hey man, i tried the glove trick at home and it works pretty well, just wondering how long of a string do i need. Also i shot a small clip of me using the glove trick at home you can see it on my friends site at http://www.inadamsworld.com
Thats truely amazing mate… Top drawer improvisation, long may it last
Sorry for the delayed reply. I didn’t see your comment ’til now. The amount of string is really up to you, and it all depends on where you’ll be using the trick. If your local ballpark has 10-foot walls, then you’ll want at least 15 feet of string. If you think you might end up using the trick from much higher, attach a piece that’s 30 feet long. You can always cut it if you have too much. I checked out the video clip. Good stuff, but it might’ve been even more impressive if you’d showed the string, or how high the glove was when it started its descent. Just a thought. Meanwhile, if your friend thinks I have “no life,” perhaps he should find someone else more interesting to write about.
Thanks. I appreciate it. Just checked out your blog (for the first time) and left you a comment. I’m impressed. The whole thing is really well thought out and technologically savvy. I just wish it weren’t all about the Yankees. :-)
Hey thanks for the tip about the string, also I might be going to a couple games later this month at tht Rogers Centre against the White Soxs and the Devil Rays. I was wondering if you know of anyone on those teams (coaches trainers etc.) that are known for giving out a lot of balls.
Unfortunately, I haven’t seen the Sox play in quite a while, so I really can’t say anything about any of their players EXCEPT Thome, who’s always been nice.
As for the Rays, your best bet is Jonny Gomes. Just last week at Yankee Stadium, he must’ve thrown 10 balls into the right field seats during a half-hour stretch of batting practice. Bullpen coach Bobby Ramos gives away a good amount of balls, too. Not sure about the rest of the guys. I don’t make it to American League games too often…
Hey Zack I went to the Angels vs Jays game on sunday and it was a pretty good game Janssen was on fire and the Jays won. I also got 2 balls first from who I think is the nicest guy on the Jays Scott Downs and the other one from Steve Soliz the bullpen catcher from the Angels. I also would have gotten another one using the glove trick but my string got tangeled up. However Janssen saw me and started to laugh and said he would give me a ball after he was done strectching except he took too long to stretch and eventually security made me move to my seats leaving me at 3 for the day. Not bad for a game without Batting Practise.
Sorry once again for the VERY delayed reply. This entry is so old that the only time I check it is when I revisit it before linking it to a new entry…if that makes any sense. But anyway, congrats on a successful day. Tangled string AND strict security…double-whammy!
Was just wondering if you ever doing the glove trick and has your glove ever fell out on the field? And do you buy the cheapest tickets at the ball park or where do you sit. On Saturday, I went to a Phillies game against the Marlins and almost caught a ball in bp. We all cramed into the outfield and tried to get balls. I stood on a seat in the first row it was so deep. I did’nt get anything even when I called the players by there first names. So we went to the Phills dugout for autographs were it was cramed with people. We kept asking for balls and autographs, but the kid standing next to me wanted a ball to, so he was asking all the players like me. But since he did’nt know anything about baseball, he would pronouce thier names wrong, or call them by theier last names. Corey Lidle was going to come over but the kid was like, Lidel,Lidel, over here! I did’nt get anything but my brother got I BP ball, which was a real game ball.
I’ll show you were we sat at CBP. (3 locations.)
sec. 148, 216, 205,108.
I’ve had a couple scares with my glove while lowering it for the trick. One time at Yankee Stadium, way back in the early 90s, a security guard on the field yanked the glove out of my hand and snapped the string. He threatened to confiscate the glove, but ended up returning it after batting practice. Last year at Shea, my string got caught in some tiny gap in the left field wall, and I needed help from one of the players to untangle it. But that’s about it.
Usually, I buy the cheapest tickets and then move around, but sometimes, if there’s a seat for sale in the PERFECT foul ball spot, I’ll spring for it.
Sorry to hear you had such a tough time in Philly…but hey, it makes for a good story.
i only get about 1 ball a game. any advice to get many many more a game.
I Tried the glove trick for the first time and it worked perfectly
Thanks a lot
As I’ve told other people above, SORRY for the delayed reply. Since this entry is so old, I don’t check it as often to see if people have commented. But anyway, the best piece of advice I can give you is to read other old entries about the games I’ve attended. I talk about EVERYTHING I do to get balls, so that’s really the best way to pick up lots of tips. Just make sure you attend batting practice and bring a glove, and remember that you can get lots of balls thrown to you by the players if you position yourself in the right spot and say the right things.
Awesome! I’m really glad to hear it. Did you try it at home or at a game?
At A Yankees vs Orioles game at Yankee Stadium
Cool. That’s what it was meant for.
Hey, I think I might try this soon…
But it won’t work in the wrigley field bleachers due to the basket…
zack, i read ur entry on ball snagging. i tried it and guess what, it freakin’ worked thank u soooo much! i am going to a giants game in a couple of weeks and i will try the trick there. again, thank u soo much. oh yea, you’ll hate me for this but my cousin works for the giants.lol
swesome, totally awesome
What kind of string do you use?
Hey Zack! I’m 16 and my brother is 13 and we just bought your book on Amazon and love your tips and enthusiasm. We are going to a few games this season, and we are definitely trying the glove trick. We tested it a home and had to tape fishing weights around the webbing to get enough weight to capture the ball from our 15 ft. balcony. It works seamlessly now! We had the privilege of going to game 4 of the 08 World Series and snagged 4 balls during bp! Including a homer by Chris Coste just minutes after the gates opened. This was BEFORE we ever read your book! We didn’t even have gloves! My Dad caught the homer with his bear hands! The rest we got with a fishing net that we snuck in a secret compartment in a backpack. I can’t wait to test out your tips and tricks, and I will be sending updates tracking our success (pictures if you want). And we should have little trouble sneaking past security being our age! Any tips for Camden Yards during bp? I know there is a huge wall in right so I’m guessing left? We live in Central PA and go to many O’s games. Thanks!
Hey Zack! I just went to a Braves game yesterday and got one ball in batting practice, but I should’ve gotten two if some middle aged man didn’t push me out of the way. But while I was there at Turner Field in batting practice, a home run ball was hit into the space between the wall and the seats. So a guy rushes over and he has a device in his hand, it looks like a small version of the Libery Bell, but his is silver. So he lowers it down, with the device’s bottom landing right on top of the ball, and pulls it in! Is this a newer device, because this guy gets the ball in about 5 seconds, and I didn’t see any rubber bands or anything. Do you know what I’m talking about, I’m trying to make one of these. Congrats on all your baseballs Zack, and keep at it!
cool awesome invention! but how do you do the trick without security knowing?
Yeah, that basket is annoying.
You’re welcome. Glad to hear it.
Sorry for the very delayed reply. I don’t even know what type of string I use. It’s just…string…about a 16th of an inch thick. I wish I could tell you more.
Apologies to you as well for the slow reply. Somehow I missed all of these comments until now. Very cool about Game 4 of the World Series. As for Camden Yards, you really can’t go wrong at that place. Every section is fantastic for one reason or another.
Wow, a Liberty Bell? I wish I’d been there to see that.
Thanks. You just have to be careful when you use it, but sometimes security won’t even care. Some stadiums are cool like that.
haha.. I HAVE used it since 2007, and it’s worked perfectly. There was an opportunity to use it at wrigley yesterday, as a ball rolled out of the guard’s sights, but an astros coach quickly walked over and tossed it in.
How the hell did you know that I even answered your comment? Do you…like…monitor this old blog entry or something? :-)
Hi Zack, super old blog post I know but this inspired me years ago. Unfortunately that year i never got to attend a baseball game besides one in Oakland for a barbecue. But now, I’m building on my career total of 3 balls with an improvised device of my own based on the rubber band principle! (That and my trusty glove!) but my first ball was sooo long ago (i actually had JT Snow sign it, like 2 years after I caught it), and then I just so happened to get 2 batting practice balls this season alone! I’m off the Phillies @ Giant’s game today, and I finally get to test my device. I just wanted to comment and let you know how i remember this blog from all those years ago! I’ll post my trips outcome on my blog later but, until then THANK YOU FOR INSPIRING ME TO THIS DAY!
You’re very welcome! J.T. Snow…wow. Good luck at today’s game.
Zack — I’ve been reading your blog for a while and finally got a chance to try to snag some MLB balls earlier this week, using the tips from your blog. (I live in Greensboro, NC, and took a 3-game trip to Atlanta.) I decided to drop you a note on this blog entry since your glove trick is responsible for 5 of the 6 balls I snagged over 3 games. The sixth ball was obtained by asking the HP umpire for one after the game. Like you recommend, I politely asked him by name for one of the balls and he happily rolled it across the dugout top to me.
Living in Greensboro, I don’t get the chance to make it out to many MLB games, so being able to easily snag some balls with the tips you write about it in your blog when I am able to go out makes the games even more enjoyable.
Thanks for cool blog. I’m looking forward to the new book when it comes out, and I’m looking forward to you having more time to go to games and snag balls, since your posts about snagging are so much fun to read!
Awesome. So glad to hear that the glove trick (AND ump trick) worked for you. Hey, since you live in Greensboro, if you ever pass by Jam’s Deli on West Friendly Avenue (across from Guilford College), go in and tell the shaved-headed guys behind the counter that Zack Hample says hi. I think they’ll still remember me. Anyway, thanks for this comment, and I hope you make it to some more games soon.
Thanks, Zack — next time I’m over at Jam’s, I’ll be sure to tell the guys behind the counter you said hi. Using your glove and ump tricks really helped build my confidence for getting balls at games. I’ve been demonstrating the glove trick at the office ever since I got back from the games — everyone’s impressed. I’m hoping to hit a couple of series in Atlanta next year, and maybe even a series or two in Baltimore and/or DC. It’s all sorts of fun.
i’ve been trying to get batting practice balls for a long time, and usually lucky to get one. then i read about your “glove trick” and went down to atlanta for 3 games. i came back with 13 baseballs and my wife even got one using the glove trick. thanks a bunch. it worked GREAT.
Glad you’re having so much fun with it, and that I’ve been able to help. Good luck in Atlanta and/or wherever your travels take you…
Thirteen baseballs?! Damn! Nicely done.
Hi Zack! My name is Michael and I was going to buy a new glove this weekend. I was wondering what glove(s) you would recommend that would be ideal for using you “glove trick.” Also, what size glove. Lastly, I was wondering when you will be visiting Turner Field. Thanks, keep up the good work!
There really isn’t ONE type of glove that works best. Each glove his its own unique size and shape, so you just need to play around with it. Bring a rubber band and magic marker to the store and test it out on different gloves before you make your purchase. As for Atlanta, not sure yet. Probably not ’til September. Keep checking the blog. I’ll post my plans when I figure it all out.
Alright, thanks Zack
Hey Zack I tried the glove trick in the bullpen once (it worked) and the guy told me not to anymore which I have not. Is it different in the bullpen than on the field? Is there some kind of rule?
The field itself is usually the most heavily-guarded spot, but security guards are often over-protective when it comes to the bullpens. It all depends on the stadium and on the personality of the guard who’s closest to you.
This was Busch Stadium and you are not allowed to use glove trick anywhere at all they say “you will be escorted out of the ball park”. Security is REAL tight at busch with a lot of elder people “keeping it safe”
Well, I’m glad I’m only going to be there once this season.
Yea but it is really easy in fact my dad snagged 3 baseballs yesterday while i got 5. We make a good tag team. There are a few ballhawks there but I know them all and good friends with them. If you need advice about Busch Stadium LMK, because I know everything about it.
Sounds fun, and thanks. I’ll definitely let you know if I have questions.
I tried out your glove trick and had a lot of fun with it! Check out what I wrote about it on my blog: http://fishfry55.mlblogs.com/2011/07/15/glove-trick-testing/
Also, Borders is having a liquidation sale in my city and I saw two of your books there today. The Baseball, and Watching Baseball Smarter. Which would you suggest I get keeping in mind I’m a player myself and a fan/blogger?
Nice! Glad to see you got it working. As for my books, I would recommend the new one — The Baseball. Nice seeing you at Nats Park the other day. Sorry I’ve been slow to answer emails, but damn, I’ve been getting a ton lately.
That is an awesome trick. I will try it at Citi Field. My string/rope is about 40 feet long so I will be able to do it in leftfield. The wall is like 16 feet high.
I have gotten 6 MLB baseballs from games, but no foul balls or home runs. I have gotten 4 Atlantic League baseballs (from Long Island Ducks games). I would like to get more than 2 per game. The glove trick is amazing. I rarely go to baseball games though so it is hard to get many balls. I beg a lot. Thanks for posting all of your game experiences on your blog. What are your “Watch With Zack” rates?
Ha ha, awesome!
I wouldn’t recommend using the glove trick at either New York stadium. It’s just not allowed, and security is very strict. As for doing a “Watch With Zack” game, here’s everything you need to know:
I have been looking forward to the game I’m going to for a month now. I have the glove trick set up with a different glove than the one I use during BP and during the game. It seems to work. I am desperate to get baseballs, so can I at least try the glove trick at Citi Field?
No, you can’t do it at Citi Field. Security does not allow it, and in some cases, they might confiscate your glove/device. Be very careful.
Okay thanks for your advice.
I’ve snagged 1/3 of all my balls with the glove trick.
That’s a pretty solid percentage.
Then again, I’ve only snagged 12 balls, including 6 in one game so it’s a misleading statistic I guess. I don’t know. Whatever. At least I’ll be able to keep a steady average next year because I’m gonna try to go to about 5 games at Citi Field and then I’m probably moving down to Maryland (not for purposes of snagging baseballs at two of the best parks for ballhawking), and the place where I’ll be moving to is about 30 minutes away from Camden Yards and about 45 minutes away from Nationals Park, so once I get down there, I’m gonna try to get to about 5 or so games at Nationals Park and maybe a few at Camden Yards. Nationals Park seems better because the centerfield gate opens 2 and a half hours before game time and the outfield is open then, as opposed to Camden Yards where Eutaw Street gate opens 2 hours before and you can’t go anywhere except the flag court for the first half hour. And I’m gonna be stocking up on team gear (hats and shirts) and I’m gonna be going for batting gloves and lineup cards and bats…… Damn I talk too much. Oh, and Citizens Bank Park may be in my future too (hopefully vs. Nationals so not many people go). I keep thinking that I’m planning too far ahead but it seems like life is missing something from now until April 4th when the Marlins kick off the season. Or so I think. I’m too lazy to confirm that fact online. I should probably end this comment.
You crack me up. It’s good to have stuff to look forward to. You’re going to have a GREAT time in Baltimore and Washington D.C.
Zack i have all your books and i have read all them over and over . But i was wondering im going to a game at Turner field could you give me some tips about the spots to be what gate opens first and all that grate information . Thanks Zack
There are a few gates that open early. I don’t know the name of the gate, but the one I’ve always used is in deep left-center field. Just ask the guards on the inside what time they’ll be opening. If the time they tell you is two and a half hours before game time, then you’re all set.
How often (if ever) do you have to change the rubber band?
I go through several bands per season. They get old after a while.
Zack, I’m going to be in Cleveland next next weekend. Any part of progressive field where this glove trick is very useful? Thanks
The bullpens are your best bet, but you might get stopped by security. Progressive Field isn’t great for devices, but it’s awesome for so many other reasons.
yo zack i had a question why do u keep the string tucked away? does the security confiscate it if seen?
Just for the sake of convenience. I don’t want it dragging/dangling all over the place. I suppose I could ball up the string and keep it clipped to the outside of my glove . . . but eh.
Tried the glove trick works great. You have solved my promblems and frustration of worrying of someone taking it before me. Thanks😂
Awesome. Glad to hear that.
Will it work on a first basemens glove as well?
I’ve never tried that, but my guess is . . . yeah. I’ve always been able to make it work on every glove anyone has handed to me, though some are much tougher than others.
I wonder if Globe Life will let me use it. If they don’t I will be frustrated, but great invention I guess you could say. Will come in handy if they allow it. Thanks
I haven’t been to Arlington in a few years, but security there has always been cool. Good luck with it!
My name is Ian and I live in central New Jersey. I have gone to about 50 yankee games in my life, and about 60 baseball games. I have about 100 balls, being a kid. I just performed your glove trick with my glove at home. It seems sick!! So at the NEW YANKEE STADIUM,,, how and where do you use the glove trick. I think that leaning over the wall onto the warning track might work, but I ‘m not sure if there are any other nice places. By the way, a couple years ago i met and took a picture with you. Very cool!!!! Thanks for the reply (in advance), and please help me out with some information as on where to do the glove trick at Yankee Stadium. Thanks, Ian.
Congrats on all the balls, and I’m glad to hear that you’ve been able to get the trick to work. Unfortunately security at Yankee Stadium is very strict, and the glove trick is not allowed. You might be able to get away with it in the outfield/over the warning track, but I am *not* suggesting that you attempt it. Good luck whatever you decide to do.
Have you ever been to Turner Field in Atlanta? I live here but am just now starting to ballhawk here as the team is doing horribly and tickets are cheap which also means that I don’t have a lot of competition. Is there any advice you could give me about this stadium?
I’ve been there a lot. My best advice would be read my blog entries about it. You can find ’em here: http://zackhample.com/baseball_collection/lists/blog_entries.htm
Hey Zack, big fan. My question is, what stadiums allow the “glove trick” that you’ve been to?
That’s too tough of a question to answer. Some stadiums claim not to allow it, but some guards to anyway. Some stadiums allow it in certain places and not others. Some pleace used to allow it and now they don’t — but in two years, they will again. It’s always safe to ask for permission first.
Hey Zack! I have loved watching your videos and excited to try out your glove trick at Mariners Games. So when you say wad up the string in the palm of your mitt, would it get tangled up? Do you use some reel like a one youd use on a kited for the rope?
I used to wad it up. Now I keep it rolled neatly and attached to a separate carabiner. But yeah, it can get tangled.
Hey its me I was at the yankees game on August, 5 2016 I was wearing blue short and socksb that were blue pink shoes yankees hatand a yankees jersey that had 13 and alexs last name on it I’m a huge fan thanks for telling me about the glove trick and thanks for the picture glad you are alive
Oh yeah is there something that people donate to for kids baseball cause I need to donate some money even though I’m only11
Ha, you’re welcome. I’m glad to be alive too. Thanks for asking about the charity. Here’s my fundraiser: https://pledgeit.org/zackhample
Hey Zack I was planning on using the glove trick with your permission since it was your idea for the glove trick in its entirety, but I was wondering what are some of the stadiums out west that you’ve noticed that allow ball retrieving devices. Thanks!
Hey Zack. Used the glove trick at Fenway in late Septmeber vs. Astros. Saw your instructional video, rigged up an old glove but used paracord instead of string. Worked outside the park in the wells (BP homer over the Green Monster) near the Landsdowne garage and inside over the Sox bullpen. Got 2 BP balls using the glove trick. Thanks for letting every one in on the trick, makes going to BP even more fun!!!!
You’re very welcome! Glad it worked for you.
Hey Zack I was wondering when are you going to Busch Stadium again? Also in Busch Stadium how tall are the barricades? Also love your vids!
I know it really doesn’t matter what glove is used for the glove trick, but I am looking at purchasing one, and as you know, they aren’t cheap. What glove do you use most often and what tips do you have for getting the most effective and longest lasting glove I can get?
Hey, Vince, I use a Wilson A2000 DP 15 model. That’s a great glove. The heavier the glove is, the better it’ll be for the glove trick. Hope that helps.
Hey Zack, i got a ton of questions, and i don’t really know if you’ll see this since its an old thread.
whats the best place to get balls? Seats and stadium wise
how do you do the cup trick? Is it better than the glove?
Where is security the most chill?
Security is chillest in Arlington. Cup tricks work faster, but it’s extra weight to carry around. The rim has to be slightly bigger than the ball, and it needs to be weighed down. Hope that helps!
Any tips about using the glove trick in Camden Yards? Or the best place to catch BP balls?
What baseball stadiums can you us the glove trick?