4/6/07 at Yankee Stadium

yankee_stadium_from_afar.jpg

I knew it’d be cold. I knew there’d be a huge crowd for “Cap Night.” But I couldn’t stay away. I had a free night, and it seemed dumb to spend it anywhere else.

netting.jpg

GATE 6 opened at 5:05pm, and I was the first fan to run inside for batting practice. Almost immediately, some lefty on the Yankees hooked a line drive into the protective netting along the first base foul line–netting that has cost me dozens of balls since it first went up in BP a decade ago. But on this frigid day, it actually helped. The ball hit the net and dropped straight down between the outside of the blue wall and the inner curve of the rolled up tarp. I ran over to take a look and noticed that the netting wasn’t fastened to anything, so I lifted it up, 1st_ball_of_2007.jpgleaned over the wall, and grabbed the ball. No security. No other fans. Not a bad way to start my season of snagging.

Five minutes later, a ball rolled onto the warning track about eight feet out from that same low wall. By that point, I was already back in straight-away right field, so I hurried back down to that section. It was time for what I refer to as the “half-glove trick.” I didn’t need the marker or rubber band. I just had to let out a little string, swing my glove out, and knock the ball back toward me.

My first attempt missed, and while I was pulling my glove back in, a fan with a “cup trick” appeared out of nowhere and started going for MY ball. I knew I only had one more shot. I couldn’t miss again. I swung the glove out and BAM! Perfect aim. Just as it landed on top of the ball, I tugged the string and knocked the ball toward me. I lunged over the wall and snatched it with my bare hand before the other fan had a chance to react.

Back in right field, the seats were packed, and the home runs were nonexistent. I don’t know if Johan Santana was pitching BP or if the painfully low temperature robbed the hitters of their power, but there simply wasn’t any action.

At least I got to use the full glove trick a couple times–and in case you were worrying about Mr. Cup, he snagged at least two balls for his young son.

orioles_yankees.jpg

I got Nick Markakis to toss me a ball. It would’ve been my fifth had he not carelessly flung it five feet over my head; the aisle was too crowded for me to take a step back and jump. Thanks a lot, Cap Night. Toward the end of BP, I helped a girl get a ball by identifying the lone Oriole who was shagging in right field. It was Jeremy Guthrie. I knew it was him because I’d made another cheat-sheet with photos and rosters of both teams.

So yeah, I was still stuck on four balls when BP ended, and because security at Yankee Stadium is so strict, the 50 minutes between BP and the game were a complete waste. I couldn’t get down behind the dugouts for balls. I couldn’t even get down to the foul lines to get autographs. So I sat. And froze. And watched helplessly as luckier fans with better seats cashed in. Then again, the only Yankee who signed autographs before the game was Josh Phelps. Ooh.

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The attendance was huge (50,074), but the cold weather (mid-30s) kept a few thousand people away, so I was pretty much able to choose my spot: the first row in straight-away right field. Nice view, but as it turned out, no action.

I moved to the third base side for the last few innings and sat in the second row behind the Orioles’ dugout in the bottom of the ninth. (Side note: Yankee fans accuse A-Rod of being phony, but THEY are phony. They cheered him like crazy when he came up with two on and no outs in the bottom of the seventh, then booed him mercilessly when he committed the horrible crime of striking out semi-heat_packets.jpgawkwardly on a Chad Bradford frisbee. Make up your minds, people. Do you like him? Do you hate him? I’m sick of this bipolar fandom.) Final score: Orioles 6, Yankees 4.

I didn’t get any balls at the dugout, but I got something else…something I’d never gotten before…something I didn’t even know existed. Two different players tossed me these tiny “Heat Treat” sam_crawford.jpgheat packets. They were still warm, and I needed them. After being outdoors for seven hours, my fingers (and toes) were numb.

STATS:

• 456 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 18 seasons with at least one ball

• 45 days until St. Louis

• 2,965 total balls…moves me out of a tie with Sam Crawford (2,961) on the all-time hits list and into sole possession of 28th place. Next up is Sam Rice (2,987). And to refresh your memory, here’s the reason why I’m comparing balls to hits.

20 comments

  1. tswechtenberg@gmail.com

    hey i just finished watching the giants and dodgers…pretty exciting game…my 3rd for the day. glad i checked in here before bed…i wanted to see how your night went. great pic of the field; i’ll save that one
    mike

  2. johnjamahoney@hotmail.com

    I saw someone leaning over the fence in right field , maybe it was you using your “half glove trick”.

  3. jimmyjoejoejrchabadu@hotmail.com

    Hy, I had a feeling last night you’d get 4, just didn’t post my prediction.

    Anyway good job I guess.

  4. gregorybarasch@yahoo.com

    Wow, tough day. I hate Yankee Stadium. My best ever snagging day there is two balls.

    What did this guy’s cup trick look like?

  5. thechuckster8@gmail.com

    Not a terrible way to start the season. You want to know how my season started? The game I’ve been waiting to go to for months , Twins v. White Sox, gets colded out. I tried to convince my dad to let us go today instead, but he wanted to come home last night. So I had to pack up all the cards I’d brought and come back with absolutely 0 autographs. UGH. And now its too late for me to go to the Yankee game, and my mom scheduled an SAT tutor at 2pm Monday so I can’t go to the Mets game. I need to punch somebody, or just listen to Coldplay.

  6. Ben

    So the Hample curse on Chacin continued somewhat last night. He wasn’t lit up as much as I would have liked to see. Oh, and bc I’ll be in NYC Aug 8-12 roughly how much are you charging for you to go to the game with someone. Even though I go to at least 30 a year I just can’t get myself to watch the game completely (ADD?).

  7. Zack

    MIKE-
    You’re obsessed. I love it.

    JOHN-

    Cool. Must’ve been me. I didn’t see anyone else doing that.

    JIMMY-

    I’ll accept your “good job.” It wasn’t a great day for me, but I did as well as I could’ve given the circumstances.

    GREG-

    I predict you’ll beat your one-day Bronx record this year. Aren’t all cup tricks pretty much the same?

    KERRY-

    Indeed.

    CHUCKSTER-

    Thanks, but wait a sec…you were in Chicago?! Were you just there to see a game? Or was your dad on a business trip or something? You couldn’t take your cards to the hotel even though there wasn’t a game? Are you hoping to get into an Ivy League school? If not, the SATs are stupid and pointless and not worth studying for. (Either way, they’re still stupid.)

    BEN-

    Yeah, I saw that he gave up three homers. Haha. If there’d been any runners on base, I might’ve posted a new “Gustavo Watch” but an opening ERA of 4.50 isn’t the worst thing in the world. I think I have ADD, but I was never diagnosed. You can see how much I’m charging and get all sorts of other info here:

    http://www.zackhample.com/watching_baseball_smarter/watch_with_me/FAQs.htm

    The Mets will be home every day from August 8-12, so let me know what (if anything) you have in mind.

  8. thechuckster8@gmail.com

    I was in Chicago/Iowa/Minnesota looking at colleges. I should’ve gone to the hotel, but I didn’t want my dad to commit me, plus we ended up flying home early (last night). I am aware that the SAT is the dumbest thing ever, speaking of which, I think I have to take a practice test now.

  9. gregorybarasch@yahoo.com

    Really? I have a feeling I’ll never have a really good game at Yankee Stadium. I mean, I’ll probably get three someday (and break my record as you said), but I feel like I’ll never get five or six.

    Yeah, I guess all cup tricks are basically the same. Good point.

  10. kayleexxx@aol.com

    NICE POST i dont like the fact that AROD was the hero for the yankees today though….MY red sox better beat the rangers now:)

  11. Zack

    CHUCKSTER-
    What colleges were you looking at and which others are you considering? I’m not an expert when it comes to colleges, but I did work in college admissions for a brief time.

    GREG-

    I struggled for the longest time at Yankee Stadium and finally had a few breakout games in the last two seasons. You can do it. It might just take some time (and luck).

    KAYLEE-

    Thanks…but I love the fact that A-Rod came through. For the last few years, I’ve been booing the idiots who boo him and insisting that he’s the man.

  12. trueplaya_202@hotmail.com

    hey zack

    prety good first outing of the year considering it was yankee stadium and all. I never knew about that net for BP that ***** and hopefully other teams dont catch on. I still cant get out to a game since the **** jays start on the road for 2 series but Ill be seeing the royals wednesday adn hjopefulyl haev better success the spring training and last season

  13. kvrpmmh@aol.com

    Hey Zack,
    5 balls at Yankee Stadium; impressive. My first snagging day was yesterday at PNC Field (Scranton Yankees, AAA). I mainly went for autographs (got 92) but baseballs as well. There was no BP, not that it would have mattered since the Yankees put up a fence that prevents you from going behind the playing fence for BP. The Yankees also told the ball girls that snag down the foul lines during games not to give out balls anymore. Phoey. Anyways, this place is also **** for foul tips during the game, because they extend the foul tip net all the over the seats, so when you’re in the aisle, the net is above you and catches all the balls. This leaves your only opportunity for gameballs in the upperdeck for high foul tips. They only hit a total of 5 up in these seats, and I got a few incredibly lucky bounces and ended up with 3 of them (1st round draft pick Eric Duncan and Andy Phillips hit 2 of them). All in all not bad.

    Also, I was working on some of the MLB logo apparel, and I found a site that will make them for me for like $12 a shirt called cafepress.com. Here are some of my designs(sorry for the large links).

    http://jitcrunch.cafepress.com/jitcrunch.aspx?bG9hZD1ibGFuayxibGFuazoyX0YuanBnfGxvYWQ9TDAsaHR0cDovL2ltYWdlcy5jYWZlcHJlc3MuY29tL2ltYWdlLzE4NzExNzU1XzQwMHg0MDAuanBnfHxzY2FsZT1MMCwxNzAsMTI4LFdoaXRlfGNvbXBvc2U9YmxhbmssTDAsQWRkLDE1NSwxMjV8Y3A9cmVzdWx0LGJsYW5rfHNjYWxlPXJlc3VsdCwwLDI0MCxXaGl0ZXxjb21wcmVzc2lvbj05M3w=

    http://jitcrunch.cafepress.com/jitcrunch.aspx?bG9hZD1ibGFuayxibGFuazoyM19GX2MyMy5qcGd8bG9hZD1MMCxodHRwOi8vaW1hZ2VzLmNhZmVwcmVzcy5jb20vaW1hZ2UvMTg3MTIzMTRfNDAweDQwMC5wbmd8fHNjYWxlPUwwLDE2MCwxMjAsV2hpdGV8Y29tcG9zZT1ibGFuayxMMCxBZGQsMTYzLDExNnxjcD1yZXN1bHQsYmxhbmt8c2NhbGU9cmVzdWx0LDAsMjQwLFdoaXRlfGNvbXByZXNzaW9uPTkzfA==

    http://jitcrunch.cafepress.com/jitcrunch.aspx?bG9hZD1ibGFuayxibGFuazoxNTJfRl9jNi5qcGd8bG9hZD1MMCxodHRwOi8vaW1hZ2VzLmNhZmVwcmVzcy5jb20vaW1hZ2UvMTg3MTE2MDNfNDAweDQwMC5qcGd8fHNjYWxlPUwwLDE1MCw4OSxXaGl0ZXxsb2FkPXRtLUwwLGJsYW5rOjE1Ml9GX2M2X3RtYXNrLmpwZ3xjb21wb3NlPUwwLHRtLUwwLFRleHR1cmVNYXNrLC0xNjAsLTEwMnxjb21wb3NlPWJsYW5rLEwwLEFscGhhQmxlbmQsMTYwLDEwMnxjcD1yZXN1bHQsYmxhbmt8c2NhbGU9cmVzdWx0LDAsMjQwLFdoaXRlfGNvbXByZXNzaW9uPTkzfA==

    http://jitcrunch.cafepress.com/jitcrunch.aspx?bG9hZD1ibGFuayxibGFuazo4MF9GLmpwZ3xsb2FkPUwwLGh0dHA6Ly9pbWFnZXMuY2FmZXByZXNzLmNvbS9pbWFnZS8xODcxMTc1NV80MDB4NDAwLmpwZ3x8c2NhbGU9TDAsMTIxLDkxLFdoaXRlfGNvbXBvc2U9YmxhbmssTDAsQWRkLDE4MywxMTB8Y3A9cmVzdWx0LGJsYW5rfHNjYWxlPXJlc3VsdCwwLDI0MCxXaGl0ZXxjb21wcmVzc2lvbj05NXw=

    I ordered 1 of these so we’ll see if it’s quality stuff or not. You can make any type of apparrel with these guys (as you can see), but I don’t like how they do their hats so I’m still looking for an MLB logo hat! Everything I could find on the New Era site was too ghetto for me haha.

    Any plans for a Baltimore trip anytime soon? I think a book signing is due!

    Thanks,

    Kevin

  14. Zack

    TRUE PLAYA-
    That net is the worst. Everything about Yankee Stadium is difficult. That’s really all there is to it…but hey, thanks.

    KEVIN-

    Well, actually, it was only four balls, but thanks nonetheless. You got 92 ‘graphs in one day?! I don’t care if it’s the Minor Leagues. That’s still amazing…and wait, you got three foul balls DURING the game? Jeez. I don’t know about that MLB thong, but I like the first one…the plain white t-shirt with the standard logo. If the quality is good, I’d definitely order one. Maybe more. Which one did you get? Thanks for those links. They’re long but beautiful. No definite plans yet for Camden Yards. I’m eying April 11, 13, 14, and 23 as possibilities.

    BED-

    Here I come…

  15. ramones18@cox.net

    Hey Zack!
    This is my old email before i started using the SenorOctubre@Boston-RedSox.net, it wont let me sign in on my old account.

    anyways congrats on a start towards your new ballsnagging season, a step closer to 3000, an im happy to read on your 3rd season on mlblogs.

    by the way, did you see Dice-K’s start? what do u think about his great opening game?

  16. Zack

    NICK-
    I think I’ll give that stat a rest. I don’t know. In 2005, it was “Cost Per Ball.” Last year, it was “Competition Factor.” I’m waiting for the new craze…or who knows, I might bring back the factor.

    RAMONES-

    Thanks so much. I’m glad you’re still keeping up with what I’m doing. I only saw the highlights of Dice-K’s debut, and obviously it was highly impressive. I think this guy is the real deal. He might only win a dozen games, but then again, he’s just as likely to win 22.

  17. dr4b@hotmail.com

    I finally got a ball last week, but it was under sketchy circumstances. Was at BP, getting ticket stubs signed (got Milton Bradley and Nick Swisher), and I went over to see Rich Harden, who always signs in Seattle (he’s such a nice guy, too). On my way walking there, I saw a ball rolling fast towards the stands, right by me, with nobody else really around, so I went to grab it.

    Here I am, a 5’7″ female, arms outstretched, no glove, and when the ball was about a foot from my hands, a guy about half a foot taller than me with a glove and longer arms reaches out and snatches it pretty much right out of my reach.

    So I gave him this look of “I am horrendously sad that you did that” combined with “I am going to KILL YOU”.

    He gave me the ball, which I ended up getting signed by King Richard the Brokenharden, but I still feel slightly guilty about it. On the other hand, it’s a real official ball and thus infinitely cooler than the only other ball I ever got, a “training” one, so… I dunno.

    -deanna

  18. Zack

    DEANNA-
    It has been discussed before on this blog that there’s no official scorer when it comes to collecting baseballs. There’s no governing body or committee that determines which balls should count, so that’s really up to you. Personally, I’ve never counted balls that other fans handed to me (it used to happen when I was younger), but if you feel comfortable about counting this one, then by all means do it. Either way, funny story.

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