8/7/07 at Citizens Bank Park

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.
stadium_from_parking_lot.jpg2:42pm — 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.
cheeseless_cheesesteak.jpg4:06pm — 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.
glove_trick_ball.jpg5:02pm — 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.)
dirty_ball.jpg6:10pm — 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.
sweaty_marlins_cap.jpg6:34pm — 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.
uggla_foul_ball.jpg7:10pm — 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.
stupid_mascot_blocks_my_view.jpg9:08pm — 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.
13_balls.jpg10:12pm — 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.

STATS:

• 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

21 comments

  1. padreleigh@hotmail.com

    That was a really excellent entry. Congratulations on the 13 balls. I liked the 13 balls on seat 13 as well. Nice visual. I think it’s HYSTERICAL that some ******* from Queens in a Mets jersey came up with #756. It said he left the stadium “without comment.” No soundbite for ESPN. Too bad. Now we’ll just have to see how many more Barry will hit. He has a few more games here at PETCO this year. Maybe I’ll get lucky and join you on the Barry HR catching club. Have a nice day in New York.

    Leigh

  2. evan.bizzz@gmail.com

    Looks like you had a good day Mr. Hample. Why do you stay up so late, I do too. It just feels more natural to me and I enjoy it. For some reason at midnight I start feeling more awake. Shea?

  3. psu532@yahoo.com

    Zack, congrats on lucky number 13 baseballs. You need a new Marlins hat though! That is definitely an old school one!

    I’ll be at the Mets game today too. A few days ago I was dreading what the weather would be like for the game, but it looks like it’s going to turn out ok.

    Unfortunately, I’m in the upper deck, section 8, tonight. I got the tickets free with my Mets credit card, so I can’t complain too much. I’ll try to sneak down a level or two though, depending on the crowd….

  4. gregorybarasch@yahoo.com

    Wow! Nice day. I had a pretty good time at Shea last night, snagging seven balls (and fearing for my life with a Braves hat on). The sources of the balls: Guillermo Mota (who has now thrown me six balls since he became a Met last year), Tom Glavine, Ron Mahay, Tyler Yates, and Rafael Soriano. I also found a ball lodged behind the hose that runs along the short wall in front of the two rows of blue seats in foul territory in RF. I spotted it from the Loge, calmly sprinted down into the blue seats, peered over the wall, and there it was. Very cool. (Hey, we combined for 20 balls yesterday!)

    Anyway, that’s 56 consecutive games with at least one ball and 10 straight with at least two.

  5. gregorybarasch@yahoo.com

    Oh, whoops, I forgot to mention, home plate ump Gary Darling also tossed me a ball.

  6. sparky19@zoominternet.net

    Congrats on the good night. Sorry to hear about the cheesestake LOL. He is an interesting article about 756, apparently the guy lost his shoe. I guess $5,000,000 could replace it!!

  7. psu532@yahoo.com

    Here’s a video of the mayhem that took place in the section that Bonds 756th homer landed….



  8. gregorybarasch@yahoo.com

    Oh, and one more thing. Yesterday, I found out that my dad’s friend (who was at the Mets game last night) caught Aaron Boone’s home run in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS! He told us the story on the subway ride home. He said that Newsday set up a photo-op the next day with him and Boone, and Boone autographed the ball. If you’re interested, his name is Rick Peterson (not the Mets pitching coach), and he still has the ball. Pretty cool.

    Here’s a link:

    http://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/Fellows/angell.html

  9. gregorybarasch@yahoo.com

    Dammit, I keep remembering things I wanted to say. My dentist appointment this afternoon got cancelled because of the flooding, so I’m going back to Shea tonight. See you there! (I’ll bring a ball so we can catch outside Gate C.)

  10. halls4@gcsnc.com

    Zack, your interview on NPR was unusually interesting. I an not even a baseball fan, (my Dad is) but I found it very engaging. I’m thinking of getting my Dad your books. Thanks for an informative and entertaining interview!

  11. hdavid_27@yahoo.com

    hey zack its darron and i’m having bad luck with the padres the bullpen players are jerks Heath Bell is not even going to talk to me any more after begging for a ball two nights in a row and about to be three the ushers wont let me next to the cards bullpen not even after the game my mom don’t go to batting practice becuase it is 101 outside im chilling in my air id go to a game if it was 120 but she would’nt the cards hit a homerun into the bullpen 2 nights ago i asked for the ball no i should have said its not yours any way its the cardinals becuase home team supplys the balls and like you said they go through about 30,000 a year so b ye for now

  12. thekenyon13@aol.com

    hey i just started reading your stuff today because im going to the yankees tigers game on the 19 and i never get many baseballs i think i have only gotten one i was wondering do you know anyone or any good tips……i like your posts and the stuff you right you are very smart

  13. rdavid2010@hotmail.com

    Zack, Great interview on NPR. While I haven’t been to a ballgame in too many years to recall, you might get a kick out of how I had, as a 11 year old paperboy, delivered a daily newspaper to Mickey Mantle when he lived in Tenafly NJ. Fridays were collection days ($0.33 per week back then) and his wife would usually answer the door. Of course I’d be looking past her to see if Mickey was there. Sometimes she’d feign no money and call out for him to bring some. When he came to the door I’d stand there with my jaw hanging open. He’d flip me two quarters and I’d practically wet myself.

    There were several occasions when he felt either sorry for me or just wanted to do something nice so we’d go to his side yard and toss a ball around for a while.

    At some point I asked for his autograph and he signed ball for me. He wrote, “To my favorite newspaper boy, (my name). Your best friend, Mickey Mantle”. I had that ball in a plastic bag for years but am afraid that it’s now been lost to too many years of moving and lack of attention to something I’d certainly like to have now.

    Good blog, it’s nice to read someone who really likes the game for the games sake.

    R

  14. aaaaaaaaaaaa4082@aol.com

    I saw a similar sign that said “WORK AREA 500 FT”. I started cursing because I knew I would be stuck in traffic for about 500 minutes. It was about about 5:00PM. Talk about a coicidence. 3 500s in the same day. When I finally got home I read a few articles about ARod’s 500 home run & the fan that caught it. I wonder who will be the next player to hit 500 HRs? I wonder when ARod will hit is 600th? I am guessing April of 2009.

  15. thenetsguy@gmail.com

    Hey zack 13 not bad. Btw I screamed up to the loge today to say high in the opening minutes of bp. A pretty nice perk of working at shea stadium is being at the park before it opens so basicialy any ball hit in the stands is mine

  16. Zack

    LEIGH-
    Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it, but be careful with the “*******” label for the guy in the Mets jersey. Everyone knows the Mets rule. Barry hit #757 last night EXACTLY where I was telling people I would’ve been had I been out there for #756: Right down the right field line and deep in the Cove. Oh well.

    EVAN-

    I’m with you all the way. The later it gets, the more awake I get. I think I’m just programmed that way.

    NICK-

    Yeah. Sometimes I get them signed. I used to make little displays out of them. But I always keep them.

    PSU532-

    What’s wrong with a crusty old hat? It shows the players that I’ve been a “fan” for a long time. Upper deck? Ouch. I’ve only seen a handful of foul balls go up there in my life. That Bonds video is in-SANE. My God.

    GREG-

    Good stuff. Sorry I didn’t get to see all your comments before we ran into each other at Shea yesterday. Did you end up getting a ball from the ump? (Let’s continue this conversation on the newer Shea entry…)

    SPARKY-

    Yeah, I think the guy will get by okay with one less shoe.

    HALLS4-

    What do you mean you’re “thinking” about getting my books?! What is there to think about?!

    :-)

    Just kidding. Glad you enjoyed the interview. It makes me feel good to know that I can get a non-fan somewhat interested (if only briefly) in baseball.

    DARRON-

    Sorry you’re having a rough time, especially with Heath Bell. He’s one of the nicest players I’ve ever encountered.

    THEKENYON13-

    Thanks for checking out the blog. Jason Grilli and Sean Casey are both really nice. Gary Sheffield is a jerk in every possible way except for the fact that he’s always tossed lots of balls into the crowd. As for Yankee Stadium itself, the best way to learn where to go and what to do is to read all my old entries about it. Also…be prepared for a packed house, and get there very early.

    RDAVID2010-

    What an awesome story about Mickey Mantle, and thanks BTW about the interview. Too bad you don’t have that ball. Man oh man…

    AAAAAAAAAAAA4082-

    That is indeed a lot of 500’s. I think A-Rod might take a little longer to reach 600. He’ll probably finish this season with like 515, then hit 40 more in 2008, and what…another 40 or so in 2009? If he does it in 2009, I think it’ll be toward the end of the season.

    THENETSGUY-

    You’re allowed to keep all those balls during early BP? Nice deal.

  17. thekenyon13@aol.com

    hi its kenyon again i would like to ask you where you think is the beast place to go at yankee stadium bp?

  18. Zack

    Left and right field each have pros and cons, but I do better in right…out past the foul pole in Home Run Land.

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