11:18am — Wake up with my girlfriend.
11:40am — The girlfriend leaves. Instead of going to Philadelphia with me, she has to spend the day canceling her credit cards and getting a new phone and having her locks changed because her purse had been stolen the night before.
11:42am — Brush my teeth.
11:46am — Talk to a reporter from the Kansas City Star who was writing a piece about how to catch Barry Bonds’ record-breaking home run.
11:57am — Get dressed.
12:02pm — Check the weather in Philly.
12:03pm — Read the previous day’s box scores and transactions.
12:39pm — Eat a piece of seven-grain toast with hummus.
12:46pm — Gather all the stuff I’ll need for the day.
1:14pm — Leave my apartment.
1:26pm — Drive my parents’ car out of the garage.
1:40pm — Get through the Lincoln Tunnel.
2:07pm — Dreaming about No. 756.
2:08pm — Driving 94mph.
2:29pm — Blasting my iPod and singing loudly.
2:30pm — Dreaming about the cheesesteak I’ll soon be eating.
2:31pm — Trying to decide whether I should play the dugouts and try to get balls tossed to me at the end of each half-inning, or if I should stay in left field during the game and go for home runs.
2:42pm — A sign says “WORK AREA 500 FT” and makes me think about not catching A-Rod’s 500th career home run.
2:54pm — I curse wildly as several teeny raindrops hit the windshield. The cursing works and causes the rain to stop.
2:59pm — Take exit 3 off the New Jersey Turnpike.
3:22pm — Get my first glimpse of Citizens Bank Park.
3:24pm — Pay $10 to park.
3:33pm — Buy a $27 ticket for a section in left field that I never end up going to.
3:46pm — Walk to the Ashburn Alley Gate, sit on the small ledge below the Steve Carlton statue, and open up my cheesesteak to-go box. There’s no cheese. I hope the Phillies lose 10,000 more games.
4:06pm — Get a call from a former college professor who was listening to NPR and heard a promo for my baseball interview (which will be airing today, I think).
4:17pm — A small line of fans begins to form behind me.
4:31pm — Bag check.
4:35pm — Gates open.
4:37pm — Batting practice begins two minutes late.
4:45pm — Run through two sections and grab my first ball of the day, a home run that landed in the semi-empty seats.
4:47pm — Catch a homer on a fly. I think Wes Helms hit it, but I’ll never know for sure.
4:53pm — Watch helplessly as another home run sails four feet over my head and into another guy’s glove in the row behind me; frustrated that my recently-sprained ankle is still too weak for jumping.
5:02pm — Blocked from catching the next homer by a schmendrick clogging up my otherwise empty row.
5:15pm — Grab a home run ball off the steps near the foul pole.
5:24pm — Furious for unmentionable reasons.
5:27pm — Ball #4 via the glove trick in left field.
5:37pm — Ball #5 via the glove trick in straight-away center, at least 20 feet below. Two police officers are nice enough to let me go for it.
5:38pm — Photograph the dirt caked to the ball.
5:46pm — Ball #6 is thrown by Marlins pitcher Taylor Tankersley in right field.
5:49pm — A man walks up to me and asks, “Did you write a book about collecting balls?” He tells me his son has it, then points out his son who’s wearing a black t-shirt with white lettering that says, “There once was a man from Nantucket…”
6:08pm — Take a one-minute break from BP to get my second bottle of water. (The first went with the cheeseless cheesesteak.)
6:10pm — Marlins bench coach Carlos Tosca tosses me ball #7.
6:13pm — Marlins pitcher Sergio Mitre throws me ball #8 over ten rows of fans. Turns out he was aiming for someone else, but he kindly got another ball rather than making me give mine away.
6:19pm — BP ends six minutes early, and I’m stuck in right field as the Marlins jog toward their dugout.
6:21pm — Bottled water #3.
6:24pm — Label my last two balls and put them in my backpack.
6:32pm — Get a cramp from having consumed 40 ounces of ice-cold water in a 15-minute span.
6:33pm — Bathroom.
6:34pm — A Phillies fan approaches me as I exit the bathroom, points at it and asks, “Pisser?”
6:41pm — Drenched in sweat and loving it.
6:58pm — The Memorial Baptist Church Choir (under the direction of Bonnie Gunzelman) performs the national anthem. Badly.
7:03pm — Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla tosses me ball #9 at the 3rd base dugout after his pregame throwing.
7:06pm — Jamie Moyer throws the first pitch. Hanley Ramirez hits it over the left field wall.
7:09pm — Uggla hits a foul pop-up toward my section behind the Phillies’ dugout. I’m not wearing my glove because I’m busy switching from my Marlins cap to my Phillies cap. I run up the steps and lunge for the ball which glances off my left index finger, ricochets 10 feet down an empty row, hits a man on the leg, and rolls right back to me.
7:10pm — An usher comes over, asks me if I’m okay, asks to see my ticket, and kicks me out of the section.
7:16pm — Moyer throws a “fastball” that clocks in at 80mph.
7:17pm — Ryan Howard tosses the inning-ending ball right to the spot where I would’ve been if the usher hadn’t kicked me out.
7:30pm — I go to the Marlins’ side where a man behind the dugout makes a big stink about the fact that I’m in a section where I don’t belong and threatens to call security if I don’t leave.
7:31pm — I move one section over. The fan is still staring at me. I wave.
7:32pm — Howard bounces into a run-scoring fielder’s choice to tie the game, 1-1.
7:36pm — Carlos Ruiz flies out to center fielder Cody Ross to end the first inning. Ross tosses the ball to right fielder Jeremy Hermida. Hermida jogs in and tosses it to me.
7:37pm — I leave the section and go back to the Phillies’ side.
7:40pm — Bottled water #4.
7:58pm — Ice cream. Almost melts faster than I can eat it but I got skillz.
8:06pm — Phillies fans boo Marlins pitcher Rick Vanden Hurk for hitting Aaron Rowand with a 69mph curveball.
8:09pm — Jayson Werth hits an RBI single to put the Phillies on top, 2-1.
8:10pm — Phillies fans cheer when Rowand scores on a single by Ruiz.
8:12pm — Abraham Nunez hits an RBI double to extend the lead to 4-1.
8:14pm — Ruiz scores on Vanden Hurk’s second balk of the game.
8:15pm — Moyer slices an RBI double down the left field line as the Phillies open up a 6-1 cushion.
8:31pm — Howard hits a solo homer.
8:33pm — Rowand goes back-to-back, and the Phillies have an 8-1 lead.
9:07pm — Howard goes yard again.
9:08pm — Marlins reliever Mauro Zarate drills Rowand in the back with a 91mph fastball. Home plate umpire Joe West warns both teams.
9:16pm — Nunez reaches on a throwing error by Miguel Cabrera, Rowand scores, and the Phillies have their 10th run of the night.
9:20pm — Wes Helms, pinch-hitting for Moyer, caps the score at 11-1 with a sacrifice fly.
9:31pm — Uggla gets jammed and hits a weak pop-up to second baseman Tadahito Iguchi to end the top of the 7th. Iguchi jogs toward the dugout with the ball. I ask him for it in Japanese and he flips it to me. A man sitting behind me shouts, “Nice catch!” and I resist the urge to say, “Really? What exactly is nice about catching a gentle toss that came right to me?”
9:53pm — Bathroom.
10:02pm — Uggla strikes out to end the game.
10:03pm — Joe West tosses me my 13th and final ball of the day as he walks off the field.
10:12pm — I walk out of the stadium.
10:15pm — Bottled water #5.
10:19pm — Drive out of the parking lot.
11:53pm — Get through the Lincoln Tunnel.
11:58pm — Gas = $3.129 per gallon.
11:59pm — Turn on ESPN Radio and learn that Barry Bonds hit No. 756. Hope and pray that a certain someone at AT&T Park didn’t end up with the ball.
12:05am — Return the car to the garage.
12:07am — Call the girlfriend. She asks how many baseballs I got and tells me that her life is back in order.
12:16am — Home.
12:22am — Cereal and milk.
12:37am — Learn that the fan who got The Almighty Ball was just some random guy from Queens who happened to be passing through San Francisco on his way to Australia. Perfect.
12:46am — Photograph the Uggla foul ball.
12:50am — Transfer the photos from my camera to my laptop.
12:54am — Label the pics.
1:06am — Decide which pics to use in this entry.
1:12am — Edit the pics with Photoshop.
1:21am — Brush my teeth.
1:31am — Answer blog comments.
1:32am — Start blogging.
2:52am — Brad calls and gives me a first-hand account of seeing No. 756.
3:31am — Resume blogging.
3:35am — Update various snagging lists and stats on my laptop.
4:01am — Read this entry quickly to look for typos.
4:22am — Insert the pics.
4:34am — Spell-check.
4:35am — Post the entry.
4:42am — Futz with the entry and add a few more things to make it look better.
4:57am — Update the lists and stats on my web site.
5:09am — Shower. Ahhhhhhh.
5:31am — Fix several typos that I missed earlier. (Jayson Worth. Two police offers. Bottle of the water. Et cetera.)
5:42am — Raining like a mutha.
5:45am — I’m worried that there won’t be BP later today at Shea, but accuweather.com says it’s supposed to get sunny by the early afternoon.
5:49am — I love being a “writer” because it’s a good excuse to have weird hours and stay up all night.
5:50am — I find the article about Bonds on the Kansas City Star web site, and I’m not in it. I guess it would’ve been hard for the writer to use a quote from me about how to catch a ball that’s already been caught. (Or “snagged,” as it were.) I do a search for “hample” on the site, just to be sure, and the computer asks me, “Did you mean ample?”
5:51am — I take a hint and go to bed.
• 175 balls in 25 games this season = 7 balls per game.
• 86 lifetime balls in 9 games at Citizens Bank Park = 9.6 balls per game.
• 480 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 99 consecutive games outside of New York with at least one ball
• 663 lifetime balls outside of New York
• 18 lifetime game balls outside of New York
• 16 stadiums with at least one game ball
• 103 lifetime game balls
• 3,136 total balls