“Joining us via satellite”

Yesterday’s TV interview was unlike any I had done before. The host was in Oakland, and I was in New York City, so it was one of those “joining us via satellite” deals.
But let’s start from the beginning…

I woke up with five hours of sleep and a sore throat, cabbed to the midtown studio at 11:15am, avoided making eye contact with the security guard in the lobby, took an elevator to the 13th floor, and called the receptionist on an intercom outside a set of glass doors.

The place was sleek and elegant and shimmering with natural light. There were conference rooms and flat-screen TVs. There was designer furniture and a full bar. But best of all, there was an autograph book on the counter, signed by the REAL celebrities who’d recently been interviewed there–people like Bruce Willis, Ozzie Smith, Jerry Springer, Tony Parker, etc.

At 11:30am, a young woman led me to a small room with a backdrop of New York City, and she clipped a microphone to my shirt.


Then she gave me an ear piece and told me to look straight ahead into the camera, which she was going to operate with a remote control from the next room.


She closed the door behind her, and after a brief pause, I heard her voice in my right ear. We did a sound check. She told me to keep looking straight ahead and smiling because I wouldn’t know exactly when I’d be on. Then I heard another voice in my ear.

“Hey, Zack, it’s Chelsea. We’re gonna be live in two minutes.”

Chelsea was in Oakland. She’s the segment producer who first contacted me about doing the interview.

By this point I could hear the audio of KTVU/Channel 2. First a few commercials. Then the weather.

“Ten seconds,” said Chelsea.

I counted down in my head, kept smiling, and assumed that at some point my face was being shown to a whole bunch of people in the Bay Area. The host started talking. He introduced me and said baseball is a great game and asked why people are so crazy about it. Or something like that. And the interview was underway. It was quick. Only about five minutes. I was asked about the Rangers’ 30-run outburst, about AT&T Park and McAfee Coliseum, about the value of Bonds’ 756th home run (which is about to be auctioned), about advice for a kid who was heading to his first game, and so on. I wasn’t nervous. It was just kinda strange to be alone in that little room, hearing a voice 3,000 miles away in one ear and directing my portion of the conversation into a camera.

Anyway, that’s TV for you. I think I did a good job with the interview, but I won’t know for sure until I see it.

(Happy birthday to Cal Ripken, Jr.)


  1. sammywu17@hotmail.com


    Here is my recap to all 3 days. Sorry about he long post.

    Day one-

    My first time waiting before game at Angel Stadium. I waited at back entrance. Torre parked his car and get mugged by autograph hounds. He signed while walking very fast. Didn’t get his. I can see he was very pissed. Then it was Roger Clemens. I drove a big black SUV. There were like 7 ppl only. He stopped by and signed for 4 ppl. I am the 2nd person to get sign, on real Yankee jersey. (It was originally for Wang) I think it is one of my most important collection other than Ichiro’s WBC signed jersey. He was so nice to us it really scared me. It was not the head hunter I know before.

    Day Two-

    I waited in front gate. I missed Tony Pena. But later Torre and Guidry came. Got Guidry’s on sweetspot. Then I was really scared of getting auto from Torre. He looked very pissed still. But since there are like 5 ppl there so I went over and got one. Then Bret Sabrehagen came out of nowhere. Maybe came here for a game? Got his also. Next were Duncan, Chamberlin, Jose Molina and Ron Villone. The last person was arod. He came with scott boras. Arod only signed one. He told a little kid that to scream really loud at 1st base side so he will come over during BP but he didn’t (I asked other fans on Wed)

    Day Three-

    Didn’t get anyone before game. Wasted 4.5 hrs of my life. Tommy LaSorda came out of nowhere, only signed for little kid. He talked to the entire Yankee before BP. I was ready with my Taiwanese flag. I showed it to Wang he just waved his hand. Mattingly was signing in dugout. So few fans recognized the former captain I got his on sweetspot easily. Then it is Johnny Damon., totally missed his even I was only 1 feet from him. Some jerk was shaking (or waving?) his baby to get attention of Rivera. That guy is a pure a-hole to other people during BP. Rivera came over and signed. I used my you-can-use-my-pen tactic to get his auto. Lastly was Giambi, he signed a lot. Some gut got his auto 3 times. After the game line-up cards were tossed up. A freaky-looking old guy got it. I WAS SO PISSED!!! A PAIR OF YANKEE LINE UP CARD SLIPPED AWAY IN FRONT OF MY FACE. I rather see a kid got it. Or a father got it for his kid. I really regretted I had a heavy backpack with me. I gonna start putting my bag back to my car when game starts and make my best leaping and then diving catch. I swear I will never ever allow this to happen in my life!!! That old guy better watch out next time.

  2. tswechtenberg@gmail.com

    nice pic, you clean up good.
    so i thought some auction house was handling Bond 756 for the lucky mr murphy. e-bay? hmmmm. how tawdry for something of that importance.

  3. Zack

    You got Clemens?! Wow. I’ve been trying to get a ball from him for the longest time, but no luck. And Guidry and Torre and all those others?*****! Mattingly and Mariano? Good lord! Sorry about the lineup cards. That’s a real shame. I always make sure to take off my backpack at the end of the game (and whenever possible, really) so I can jump and stretch to my fullest.


    Thanks! And whoops. I think you’re right about the auction. I just deleted the eBay part from the entry. My bad. I hope I didn’t say eBay on the air yesterday. I don’t think I did. I think I only discussed the value of the ball.

  4. tswechtenberg@gmail.com

    hey, even if you did say it on air, it wouldn’t matter. people are so uneducated that they think
    ebay=auction. to most folks christies just sounds like the name of some chick’s house.

    you know what bothered me about bond756 is the IRS threatening to demand taxes, huge taxes on it. basically making him unable to keep it if he’d wanted to.

  5. Chris

    Thanks for sharing the entry with us Zack! That pretty cool. How many autograph baseballs/ ticket stubs signed do you have??


  6. psu532@yahoo.com

    Zack, last night’s Mets game was terrible. Wagner stinks! Anyway, did you see they switched the Sunday Mets game to the ESPN 8 PM game? Also, this just in: David Wells just signed with the Dodgers and he’ll be pitching on Sunday against the Mets.

    I got an email from the Mets last night, and they were offering $15 bleacher seats for the Sunday night game. The username/password was FLASH and METS, if anyone is interested. That would probably be pretty cool to take in BP from out there in the bleachers. I’ve sat there a few times, but I’ve never gotten there early enough for BP.

  7. anne_doula@yahoo.com

    Hey Zack
    im planning on doing a ballpark tour of ten stadiums but i cant decide what ten.

    What are the ten best parks (not from a snagging standpoint)in the bigs today

  8. puckcollector@optonline.net

    I got to Gate E 30 minutes early and was the only one there. I noticed one of the house rules was “Guests will sit in their assigned seats.” I missed that rule. At 4:45 an employee put out the rules for “re-entry” (hand stamp/keep ticket stub), which was a new concept in baseball for me. Then he checked everyone’s bags and let you stand at the turnstiles before the gates opened. Also a new concept to me. When I got into the left field bleachers, I realized that the first row of seats, which I would find out were ball snagging heaven, were blocked off. You needed tickets. A second later, however, a ball sailed way over my head, but the next ball landed in the first row and an usher handed it to me. Then within the next fifteen minutes, a Rockie who I couldn’t identify tossed me a ball, and then Rockies bullpen coach Rick Mathews tossed a ball to me over a pair of outstretched hands. If they had gloves, they would have got it. By now there were a ton of kids with gloves clogging the aisles. It was 5:20 and the entire Pirates pitching staff started throwing in foul territory. But because of Stupid Rule 1, I couldn’t go there until 5:30, when the rest of the stadium opened. Coors is a stadium that opens in stages. You are only allowed in the left field bleachers for the first half hour of BP. When the rest of the stadium opened, only Shawn Chacon was throwing, and one of his partner’s throws was off and rolled to about 3 feet in front of the wall. So as I was undoing my string to get the ball, Shawn finished throwing, and he flipped the ball to me as I was getting the string out of my glove. I barely had time to react and catch it because I was focusing on the string. Soon the Pirates began to take BP, and I got Ronny Paulino to toss me a ball. Left field was soon dead, so when I saw and unidentified lefty start to bomb some balls, I moved to the right field bleachers. There was a ball in the Rockies pen, but I was told I could not use the glove trick to retrieve it. Fortunately, Ian Snell soon tossed me ball Number 6. There were tons of balls in the Pirates’ pen, and I didn’t think to go to the second level to use the glove trick to get them. I couldn’t get them from the first level because they were too far away from the main concourse, which overlooks both bullpens. By the time I realized to go to the second deck ushers, who could not give balls away, had gone and collected them, and when I went to the second deck, and didn’t see any evil (AKA Greg hating), or nice ushers, I was fuming. There was not one usher there. But my rage was calmed down when Bobby Cuellar tossed me my seventh ball of the day about 15 minutes before game time. My seat was right near the ball boy, but I was not able to get a ball from him. In the 9th I headed over to the bullpens to try to get ball eight after the game. But I was standing there for a while due to stupid extra innings. My dad and two sisters joined me for the last half inning. Ian Snell threw another ball to me, but it was low and I dropped it. Then my dad called to Bobby Cuellar for a ball and after he tossed it to me he said “Didn’t I already give you one?” Hoping to avoid and awkward situation I handed the ball to my youngest sister. When I got home I noticed that the letters AB were marked on the ball. I think this is part of a bat’s model number.

    Day Two: I bought a one dollar ticket at 4:35 for Row 11 Seat 4 in the Rockpile. Then I proceeded to Gate E, and was first on line. As I was running up the steps at 11:05 (the gates opened late) an usher yelled to me “No BP!!” Shoot. At 11:30 I was still shutout. However a kid in a Broncos jersey, who I hung out with for most of BP, got a ball tossed to him, but it was over his head and landed where I was just minutes before. But soon after he let me get my first ball of the day, and didn’t obstruct when Matt Capps tossed me a ball after he finished his catch with Solomon Torres. Then later a Pirates pitcher tossed me and my Broncos friend – who is a Mets fan – a ball, but we dropped it due to fighting. As the player was about to toss it back to us, Franquelis Osaria told the pitcher not to toss a ball to me and my Broncos friend because we already had a ball. So the player tossed the ball to a dad with two young boys. A minute later John Grabow tossed me a ball which I gave to the earlier mentioned dad, so both boys will have a ball. I counted this as a ball, and John tossed me a replacement ball, which I could over my friend outstretched hands in the palm of my glove. I held my glove over the field for a second or two then opened my glove to find “Official MLB Ball” was facing perfectly towards me. After the two Grabow balls, I headed to the Rockies bullpen and Rick Mathews tossed me my fourth ball of the day, and twelfth on the trip. As I was walking back towards the Pirates’ dugout, where Tom Gorzelanny was throwing, I forgot to switch back to my Pirates cap. So when both my fiend and I asked Tom for the ball, he tossed it slightly to my left, and my friend made the catch. Soon after about 8 guys started playing catch, and although Josh Phelps walked away after my request, Jack Wilson was nicer. I stood up on a seat, made my request, and after he shook off two pitches that I didn’t call, he tossed the ball over everyone’s head right to me. As soon as Wilson tossed me the ball, and an usher picked up the ball that Matt Kata was supposed to give to me, I sprinted to the Pirates bullpen where Paul Maholm was making his final pre-game pitches. When he was done I asked bullpen catcher Herberto Andrade for the ball, but I missed that he had given the ball to Maholm. Thankfully, he reached into his bag and pulled out ball number six for me. I joined my family in the upper deck for the most of the game, and on my way to the Upper Deck, I encountered the Stupidest Rule Ever. I wasn’t allowed on the Escalator without an adult!! I’m 13; I mean what’s gonna happen? The game went by fast, and in the Rockies team store I bought a 2006 All-Star ball for 12 dollars. In the 9th I again headed over to the bullpens with my sister. She wanted a ball, so I told her to ask Herberto Andrade for a ball. She did, and I caught it for her and handed it over. Ball seven for me, ball one for her. Then after the game she asked Bobby Cuellar for a ball, and he replied “Didn’t you guys already get one?” I shouted down “That was my little sister!” He tossed me the ball with a grin on his face, and my day would end. 8 balls tied my record for most balls which I set the on Monday night.

    I noticed that when I said that I was form New York, and was a Yankee fan, every single person said something about the Rockies sweeping the Yanks. It was like they beat us in the World Series!

    Leigh: My two tips are to bring a lot of string if you use a glove or cup trick, and in BP stand BACK! The ball travels further in the high altitude so many balls flew over my head because I was too shallow.

  9. edeckarizona@gmail.com

    hey zack..first time commenter

    my names evan and i’m going to a mets braves game at turner on September first.. i was wondering where the best place on the visitors side at turner to get autos/balls was…can you help?



  10. kerryrhodes@aol.com

    Hey Zack, I was in Modells and they are selling 2008 allstar game balls already

  11. gregorybarasch@yahoo.com

    I just got my college schedule, and Mondays and Wednesdays are going to be my best days to go to games. Looking at the Mets schedule, I should be able to get to Shea for four games in September. But of course, it’ll probably rain for three of those, but whatever.

    Puckcollector – Wow! Awesome trip! It sounds like you’re really good at using your “youth look” to your advantage. (I wish I looked like a 13 year old.)

    psu532 – So you signed up for “Flushing Flash”?

  12. psu532@yahoo.com

    Anne, if you’ve never been to Yankee Stadium or Shea Stadium, try to hit both of those before the end of 2008, when they’ll be torn down. Then of course you’ll have to visit both of the new parks in 2009. Also hit Fenway and Wrigley too, if you can. Just my two cents.

    Greg, yeah, I signed up for it. You did too, right? Are you going on Sunday night? I’m going to Atlantic City this weekend and I’ll be way too tired to head to Shea on Sunday when I get back. Plus, the game won’t end until 11:30, then I’d have to get all the way back to NJ.

  13. adamhherbst@msn.com

    The Bonds ball is being auctioned by Sotheby’s, not Christies. I saw their most recent sports related auction and it was odd and interesting. 200 checks signed by Casey Stengel among other things.

  14. sheffro1@hotmail.com

    Hey buddy. I’m curious to know what you said about my Orioles and their new awesome record. Post it here or gimme a call…

  15. patrickgrudz@yahoo.com

    I’m going to Atlanta to see the Mets on the 31st and September 1st. Like Evan, I was wondering where the best place for snagging is and where to get autographs too. And do you know where the players (home and visitors) go into the stadium, not just at Turner but at other fields too.


  16. anne_doula@yahoo.com

    Hey Psu532
    ive been to shea but not to yankee. idont know if it would be worth it to see the old one when id probably rather want to see the new one. wich one do you reccomend?

  17. Zack

    It’s ****. That’s how.


    Thanks. I have 971 autographs on 812 diffrerent ticket stubs, plus I have a few dozen baseballs signed, as well as cards and 8 x 10 photos. And a few random items, like caps and books and so on.


    Yeah, I’m aware of the time change, but unfortunately, I’ve already planned to have a writing group meeting that day so I can’t make it to Shea. I’m NOT happy about that, but there’s really nothing I can do. It’s just another example of life getting in the way of baseball (and vice versa). Do you know if there was BP yesterday at Shea?


    My list of the ten most beautiful and/or interesting ballparks (which would give you the widest range of experiences) would be as follows: Fenway, Wrigley, AT&T, Camden, Kauffman, Minute Maid, PETCO, Yankee, Rogers, and Tropicana, which is as ugly and depressing as it gets, but I found it to be an interesting experience. It was sort of like, “Oh my god, so THIS is how an entire city in America watches baseball.” (Or doesn’t watch, as it were.)


    Very nice write-up. Thanks for taking the time, and congrats on all the balls. (See how much better is it to be a collector outside of NYC?) That rule about the escalator is so stupid that I don’t even know what to say. Didn’t I tell you that the balls would sail over your head in the thin air?


    Welcome aboard. I’ve only been to four games at Tuner Field, and the last time I was there was seven years ago, so I don’t remember that much. I don’t know anything about the autograph scene there, but as for balls on the visitors side, the LF seats are amazing for running after home runs. Just don’t get trapped in the first fow. And if you have a ball-retrieving device, you’ll clean up out there because of the gap behind the outfield wall that runs along the entire length of the stands.




    Yeah, where’s that retractable roof?


    Ahh, thanks for setting the record straight. That’s a lot of checks.


    When the host asked me how it was possible for a last-place team like the Rangers to score all those runs in one game, I said I didn’t know. I said Camden Yards is a pitchers’ park, and I said the Orioles’ pitching staff is one of the best in baseball.


    I told Even everything I remember about Turner Field so check out the comment to him, if you haven’t already. I have no idea about the players’ entrances, but if you get there early enough and wander around, you’ll see other autograph collectors hanging around, and voila! That’s probably where you should be.

  18. gjk2212@yahoo.com

    3 balls at shea last night-dave racaniello, aaron heilman, and brian lawrence. i hate shea security so much. after 6 mins of bp i was almost kicked out of the rf loge as the old security guy from the bullpen said bp didnt start yet. i could not believe it.i asked him how id get in if bp didnt start yet. he checked his watch and realized he was wrong. anyway, i thought the padres were not a great team to snag. i asked wil ledezma, and a guy with the last name risinger(couldnt find him anywhere) and they both said these balls are not your possession, there ours. like they rehearsed it. weird. and answering the question you asked psu, there was bp at shea last night. do you, or anybody for that matter, have info on who good throwers/signers are on the dodgers, as tomorrow will be a tough one(saturday game at 3:55..im guessing gate c will open at 1:25? )and its teddy bear day 12 and under. ill be lucky to get anything.(unless i pretend im 12 and get a teddy bear)

  19. padreleigh@hotmail.com

    Puck collector….

    Thanks so much for the info. It helps more than you know. One question though. If you buy a $1 Rockpile ticket, can you kind of mosey around the stadium or do they check tickets everywhere and make you sit in that section? I was thinking about sitting in LF for homers, but would like to only spend a $1 and still sit in LF if you know what I mean.


    Question for you. Are you compensated by these TV stations and radio stations for appearing on their broadcasts? You seem to like to be on radio and tv and I was wondering if there was some money involved in it for you?


  20. puckcollector@optonline.net

    Leigh, if you buy the dollar Rockpile ticket, you can’t go to the LF bleachers. If you can try to get tickets in the first row of seats. They’re only like 20-40 bucks, and it’s balls galore in BP, and the game.

    2008 ALL-STAR balls already? I just got 2005 and 2006 ALL-STAR balls.

  21. joneli24@yahoo.com

    so im up in keene now and i had a great week so heres the recap:

    tuesday i got 19 autos at the hotel. most notably morgan ensberg x2 and adrian gonzalez x2

    wednesday i again got 19 autos most notably morgan ensberg x6, cla meredith x3, clay hensley x3, and bud black x2. at the game i got 2 balls. the first one was a green official training ball (first one ive gotten) from dave racanello (i know thats mis-spelled) and then a second one from justin hampson of the padres who is a very cool guy and i got him 7 times on tuesday as well

    thursday was a day to remember though. unfortunately i didnt get any balls, but i did incredably well auto wise. the mets and padres maybe threw a combined 5 or so balls into the crowd, and my friend was lucky enough to get one.

    anyway the autos were just insane, first at the hotel i got peavy x2, adrian gonzalez again, michael barrett x2, greg maddux, morgan ensberg x2 (yes thats right 10 for the series) doug brocail x4, wally joyner. i got milton bradley, rob mackowiak, and brian giles outside the stadium, and inside my day was complete when i got trevor hoffman, which has an awesome story tagged to it…so he was apparently asking trivia questions (geography, state capitals, some sports) when he came into the stadium. i wasnt there by the subway more by the press gate and someone screamed out to him and he started asking the questions again…so he goes “name one college basketball team who has 4 colors on their jerseys” i paused and a second later called out maryland. he screams “right! thats a tough one” so he started o walk away but someone started to talk to him and i was like hey i got the maryland question right! and he remembered and game me a gorgeous auto on this amazing chrome/holographic card

    so for the series i got:

    55 autos

    2 balls

    pics with: barrett, adrian gonzalez and morgan ensberg

  22. wcimons@optonline.net


    Great NYC backdrop for the interview; I can see my office. Things are clearly going great for your baseball journalism career. Keep up the good work and most important, keep having fun.

    One newspaper that missed you is the Baltimore Sun, where they tracked nine days of foul balls at Camden Yards and charted them in the following story in the August 5th paper. Within the story are links to graphics of where the balls were hit. Enjoy!


    As for Coors Field, I thought if you bought the Rockpile seats, you can go anywhere EXCEPT that first row in the LF bleachers.

    Also Leigh, unless you’re 12 and under, the Rockpile seats cost $4–still a bargain–although I bought seats outside the stadium from a scalper at a 75% discount off face value.

    My experience at Coors on balls was less than thrilling. I watched the first two innings of the game in the Upper Deck waiting to get photos from the concourse of the sun setting over the Rockies (it was worth it–although I still can’t see!). Meanwhile about five or six balls were hit into or near my actual section (115 on the Field Level) down the line in right. Sure enough, when I went to the seats in the 3rd inning, not one ball was hit there the rest of the game–I am a total game ball repellent.

  23. puckcollector@optonline.net

    Leigh: You can meander around the stadium with Rockpile seats, but ushers check tickets once the game starts on the first level, which includes the LF bleachers.

  24. db3par@aol.com

    How can the IRS tax you for a ball that you caught?!?! That almost sounds like the IRS is some homeless guy begging for money (maybe they are that desperate). I would like to know the answer to this riddle…..

  25. Zack

    Sorry I didn’t get back to you earlier, but I was away from computers (and baseball) for most of the weekend. That’s pretty crappy about the security guard at Shea, but if it makes you feel any better, the same thing has happened to me there plenty of times.


    Thanks. Hope you’re doing okay.


    No compensation, but that doesn’t bother me; every time I’m interviewed it’s like a free commercial for my book.


    Congrrats on an amazing three-day series of autograph collecting. How did you get Maddux? I heard he doesn’t sign at all. Awesome story about Hoffman. He really IS a cool guy.


    Thanks for the link. Just read the article, and yeah, it would’ve been nice to be included, especially considering I snagged my 100th lifetime game ball at that stadium: a foul ball hit behind the plate by Nick Swisher. Oh well.


    Well said. I’d like to know, too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s