9/7/07 at Shea Stadium

Every good Shea Stadium entry should start with the latest pics of Citi Field, so here’s one from the back of that ramp that extends out from the elevated subway station:


And here’s another from closer up:


On the left, you can see the support beams of what will eventually be the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. On the right, you can see the finished outer edge of the ballpark. And at the top center, there’s a plane taking off from LaGuardia Airport.

As for Shea, it was another tiresome day of begging thanks to a solid 90 minutes of BP during which there wasn’t a single ball hit into the Loge level. I got Orlando Hernandez to throw me his ball after warming up with Guillermo Mota, and 10 minutes later, I got “coach” Randy Niemann to toss one up after playing catch with Tom Glavine.


After I caught the second ball, Jorge Sosa glared at me from right field and asked how many balls I was up to. To hell with him, I thought. If he’d been friendly about my collection (as many players are), I would’ve started a conversation and shared my exact number, but instead I cupped my ear and pretended that I hadn’t heard him. Thankfully, Carlos Beltran didn’t recognize me and soon threw me a ball from over 100 feet away.

As the Mets’ portion of BP was ending, I ran down to the Field Level and found an open spot in the front row behind their dugout. Shawn Green and Rickey Henderson tossed balls to the section on my right, and at the last second, Sandy Alomar Sr. flipped me a ball–my fourth of the day–with a funny marking sign_at_the_x.jpgthat I’d never seen before. You know how various forms and receipts have a little “X” at the bottom where you’re supposed to sign your name? Well, someone on the Mets had apparently made a joke about autograph collectors by drawing an “X” and a blank line on the sweet spot.

The Astros took BP for 50 minutes, and I got exactly ZERO baseballs during that time. Thanks, Shea Stadium. Thanks a lot for forcing me to stand in a worthless section near the foul pole while a dozen homers landed in the bleachers and nearly killed the little kids and their moronic parents who weren’t paying attention.


After BP, I got a ball from Astros hitting coach Sean Berry at the 3rd base dugout, and it had the famous Houston “H” on it. The Astros are stingy. They mark their balls. That’s pretty much all there is to it. (For the complete collection of marked balls, click here.)

Even though the attendance at this game was over 51,000, there wasn’t anyone else at the dugout trying to get the ball that Mark Loretta and Ty Wigginton were using to warm up before the first pitch. Loretta ended up with it and without my saying a word, he looked up and made eye contact with me and lobbed it into my glove. And that, my friends, was my sixth and final ball of the day.

I was up in the Loge during the game, going for foul balls behind the plate as usual. In the top of the first inning, one flew 10 feet over my head, and in the bottom of the frame, another came right at me but dropped five feet short. That’s how it went all night. Many close calls. No luck. I jogged out to the teeny patch of left field seats when Craig Biggio came up with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. I figured that if a future Hall of Famer was going to hit a grand slam, it was my duty as a baseball collector to catch it. What did he do? He hit a foul ball right to the spot where I’d been waiting all game and then lined softly to right field where Lastings Milledge made a diving catch to preserve a 5-2 Mets lead.

Milledge hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth to extend the lead to 11-2. The Astros tacked on a run in the seventh, and that’s how it ended: Mets 11, Astros 3.


• 210 balls in 30 games this season = 7 balls per game.

• 485 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 317 consecutive games at Shea Stadium with at least one ball

• 3,171 total balls…moves me ahead of Mike Tresh (3,169) and into a tie with Brian Roberts (3,171) for 1,416th place on the all-time at-bats list. Just kidding. I’ll stick to chasing Pete Rose for now…


  1. puckcollector@optonline.net

    I think someone said that there was an East Side line that is either bieng built now, or is still in its planning stages.

    Did anyone see Bond’s HR at Colorado like 3 nights ago. Only like 3 guys were going for what could be his last HR ever. And the MLB doesn’t even mark the balls anymore. If you catch his last HR and want to sell it, you have no proof that that is THE ball.

  2. db3par@aol.com

    I just checked out this other guys blog, Ballhawk. Have you ever tried competing with him or something? That would be pretty interesting. I think you would win because I read around, and he does more signing than catching during BP. Gets a ball, gets it signed. That would be an interesting show down.

  3. padreleigh@hotmail.com

    Hi Zack and everyone,

    Ok, so I knew I wasn’t at PETCO anymore when the Padres were hitting balls OVER the entire LF seating area onto the concourse. Man, the ball flys in Denver!! I was first in line at gate E at 4:30pm. The gates opened at 5:00pm. The security/ticket guys were great and had me all checked out and cleared ready to run in at 5. The gates open and I raced upstairs to a beautiful, empty LF bleacher section. I thought for sure there would be about 10 balls lying around in the seats, but there was NOTHING. I am assuming the ushers got them all. To be honest the Rockies BP was kind of weak. They were just going through the normal routine and hitting to all fields, etc. They hit a few out, but mostly to the very front disabled seating area. The ushers won’t let you go in there without a ticket for the section. The fence is short and it’s easy to lean over and get ground rule doubles and/or use the glove trick if you have one. I met a guy there that is going to let me hang with him down there tomorrow. He’s a season tix holder. Only in BP though. The Rockies hit for only about 10 minutes after the gates open, which was weird. The Padres got up and that’s when the balls started flying. Whenever a team comes to town it is always the best in BP on the first day. It seems the players are “testing” out the field and seeing how far they can hit it and how much it takes to hit it out, etc. if that makes sense. The Padres have a lot of lefties and switch hitters so a lot of homers were going to RF. Of course you are not allowed to go to RF until 5:30pm and it was only 5:15pm. Ughh!! So many balls in the first group went to RF seats for the vendors and ushers. Not fair at all. Well, the righties started getting up and the fun began. Right away I got a nice ground rule double on a high bounce from Milton Bradley. Next, Khalil Greene hit a line drive just to my left that I booted. A teenager and I tried to catch it at the same time and of course neither of us got it. I should have had it though. Not ashamed to say I made the boot. Like Zack said everything was going over my head so I backed up a bit. I then caught a rainmaker from Kevin Kouzmanoff on the fly. That thing hung up there a long time. I’m surprised I caught it. I had to drift left with it and made the catch. I went down lower again and tried to get some of the players to throw me a few, but they were being stingy. The Padres usually don’t throw too many balls up on the road. I had my Padres hat on, but I’m not a kid so they just kind of look at me. One guy that has been good to me on the road over the years is Clay Hensley. I got him to throw me ball number 3 on the day. Then, I ran into the problem that has plagued mankind since the first batting practice was ever held. The cute girl that asks you for the ball. For you younger guys on here, you should have been there. She hypnotized me into giving her the ball. 17, blonde hair, blue eyes, super cute, super smile. She gave me the old,”I’ve never, ever got a ball before” routine. Then, my hand magically reached into my glove and gave her the Hensley ball. Ha ha. I really didn’t mind giving it away though. Wink wink. Don’t tell my girlfriend guys, ok? Ha ha. Anyway, the third group really didn’t hit anything out so I finished BP with 3. I then walked all around the park. Coors Field reminds me of a cross between Chase Field in AZ and Anaheim. I did like the natural look of the bullpens. The area of town could use some work, but that’s what you get at a downtown ballpark. Well, I’m hoping for a better showing at BP today and at the game itself. No home runs last night to LF. I wore my yellow shirt and everything. I’m going to wear a grey shirt tonight. Padres got spanked too. Wish me luck everyone.


  4. yanksfan61293@aol.com

    Hey Zack,

    Did you get the check in the mail yet? I think if you didn’t get it Friday, you should get it today.

  5. wcimons@optonline.net


    Your pictures of Citi Field reminded me of a game this week at Yankee Stadium. Some Mets fan showed up at YS against the Mariners and made the stupid move of engaging with the Upper Deck rowdies. The usual back and forth went on–except one Yankee fan dissed the Mets by calling their new field the appropriately named “Sh**ty Field” in Flushing. Unfortunately, that moniker is now likely enshrined in my brain for the rest of my life. (Btw, the Mets fans was removed and got a nice forearm shiver from Stadium Security after making a vulgar remark at a girl wearing a N.O. Saints RB jersey)

    DB3Par-sorry about the difficulties in YS last week. The LF bleacher seats may be the worst in baseball, see., e.g., (lawyerspeak)


    For the record, the “history place” is Monument Park.

    Leigh, I was interested in your impressions on Coors Field. Most new stadiums incorporate the downtown skyline, which seems to have been an easy option because the skyline is East of the Field. However, I think they wanted the Rocky Mountains in view (much like the mountains in Anaheim), and the only way to do so was looking over a few miles of industrial area, freight trains, and highways. I’ll bet they had a big debate over that at one time, and opted for the signature mountains saying people could look at the skyline from the Upper Deck concourse. My one suggestion if you see this before tonight is to get a picture of yourself with your snagged baseballs in one of the mile-high purple seats upstairs as a true memento.

  6. patrick@wic.net

    Leigh – definatley get a pic of you in the mile high seats! Coors is designed to look out over the mountains and so you can see the sunset. Nice view, bad team.

    Looking forward to my first visit to Petco on 9/19. Only snagged one ball at Angels stadium in BP so far (and that was many years ago!). Zack and all of you have inspired me to go out and snag!

  7. goislanders4@aol.com

    hey i just got an “h” ball today! i thought it was cool but realized how stingy the astros are

  8. padreleigh@hotmail.com

    Hello Zack and everyone…

    BP was just terrible today. The wind was blowing in very strong from center. It knocked quite a few balls down. Once again, the Rockies only hit for 15 minutes once the gates opened. Total balls hit out between the Rox and Padres were less than 10. Very disappointed in coming all the way to Denver and have this wind happen. I met a really cool local named Dan who has five season tix in the very lower LF section in the disabled seating. It’s right on the field. He was kind enough to let me into “his area” for BP. I did get Justin Hampson to throw me a ball and that was it. I got one. Four for the two day trip. I could have got another today, but I got Clay Meredith to throw it to a little Padres fan. I did do the mile high seats thing, but I didn’t bring a camera. Duh on me. My daughter has it and I forgot to get it from her and pack it. I did like the view of the mountains, but the industrial area does detract from it. I did a long walk today around downtown and I enjoyed it. Hung out in some tourist spots and local spots and watched some football and the FOX game of the week with Dodgers vs Giants. In the stadium the ushers were a bit too strict. I was able to cruise around the stadium and sneak into sections, but I was busted twice as well. It was good to see Maddux win career number 345 and Trevor save the game. One of the Rockies picture people took a pic of me and TC at BP yesterday. It’s supposed to be in Gallery 7 of the 9/08/07 game. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m holding up the two balls I got. If anyone is interested maybe they can find it and check it out. Well, that’s about it. I have to get up at 4:30am to catch a flight home early. Next game is next Friday vs the Giants.


  9. puckcollector@optonline.net

    Leigh, my little sister and I took a picture like yours. She held a ball in each hand, I held one in my right hand, and the other 3 in my glove. It came out great.

  10. Zack

    Yeah, I saw the Bonds homer, and I’m glad to say that one of the “bullies” I wrote about during All-Star Week was the guy who dropped it. Of course, he’d probably be glad to know that I recently misplayed an A-Rod homer, but whatever.


    Thanks very much. I’m not sure how many H balls I have. Probably about 50. Maybe a lot more. I never counted.


    I think I know who you’re talking about, but no, we’re never had a face-to-face competition. He mostly goes for homers, whereas I get lots of balls tossed to me by the players. If we both went for the same type of balls, it would be interesting to see who’d come out on top.


    This was your first trip ever to Coors? If so, three balls (in Game 1) is pretty good at a new ballpark where you don’t know all the rules and angles and tendencies. There is no WAY I would’ve given a ball to the girl. Anyone that cute should just kiss up to the players and leave me the **** alone. Sorry. I’ll only give balls to little kids who have gloves. Too bad Game 2 wasn’t better for you in the snagging department, but at least you got to see a couple of future Hall of Famers lead your team to victory.


    Nope, no check yet. It’ll probably get here tomorrow…


    Ouch. Not smart to “tempt the fates” at Yankee Stadium, as my dad would say. I don’t think Citi field will be Sh*tty, but I’m sure that won’t stop Yankees fans from calling it that. Nice job finding that pic of Leigh.


    Glad we’ve inspired you. Good luck on the 19th, and let us all know how it goes.


    Maybe we should start calling them “A-Bombs.”


    Dude! Nice pics!

  11. padreleigh@hotmail.com


    Yeah, I know what you mean, but I really don’t like little kids during BP. They’re just annoying and get in the way. Ha ha. I’ve got 2 daughters, 14 and 15. When they feel like it, they get plenty of balls from guys and players acting “cute”. It’s all an act and I know it. I felt just fine giving this girl a ball instead of some little rugrat. It’s not something I do regularly, trust me. That’s the first time I’ve done that in two years actually. You younger teen bloggers would definitely liked her. Hey, thanks for putting the link up for that pic by the way. That is definitely me and TC. We had a pretty good time in Denver. Zack, thanks for the compliment. It was my first trip to Denver. It helped that I know the Padres tendencies pretty well. It didn’t help that the Rockies didn’t hit **** out. All four balls were from the Padres, I’ll take four balls in two days on a first trip. I don’t do any cup tricks or anything. I just basically try for bp homers and call to players from the outfield. I don’t really do the dugouts either. I’m a little too old and out of shape to do all the running around that you do. I have learned alot from your first book and this blog. I think I’m doing pretty good for a 40 year old fat guy! Ha ha. I really do like reading this blog immensely. I think it’s great and I’m glad I found it. I snag vicariously through you!!! It’s a fun hobby and I’m sure you’ve inspired many of these youngsters and a few old guys like me to try snagging. That was really funny what you said about the girl. You’re hardcore. The balls are for you!! Well, everyone I had a great time in Denver. I’d like to try it again sometime when it’s warmer and with less wind. I recommend all of you to go there sometime. Too bad the Padres lost two out of three. Darn!! We still lead the wild card though. Hey Zack, when’s your next game?


  12. goislanders4@aol.com

    hey zack
    did you get my e-mail about the met games at the end of the year? tell me if you’re free and I’ll give you my moms e-mail address. any of the games against the nationals or marlins at shea.

  13. Zack

    You should’ve gone.


    Funny! I remember that from when it originally aired.


    You’re welcome and thanks. It’s been great having you reading the blog and leaving all these nice long comments. Glad, as always, to be helping you out from afar.


    I got the email. Sorry. I’ve just been so busy lately and didn’t have a chance to write back. Why are you asking about those games? Are you considering a “Watch With Zack” outing or do you just want to meet up and say hey?


    Still no check. Did you send it to the “2020” address?


    Big game for me last night (Monday the 10th) at Shea Stadium. Equally big entry to follow…

  14. gjk2212@yahoo.com

    zack, when will you next be at shea, ill be there wednesday the 12th. however, for the 1st time in my life at shea, i am sitting in the picnic area!! WHOO! haha it just annoys me to see how many bp hrs go in there and bounce back on the field or whatever. i think im gonna have a field day there.

  15. ceetar@gmail.com

    I’ll also be there the 12th. Leaving from Grand Central at 5pm. I have free tickets from the Mets at the Movies promotion. UR section 41, row Q. lovely right?

  16. psu532@yahoo.com

    I have tickets for Mets game tonight. This rain better hold off!

    glk – Barely anyone gets to the bleacher seats early for BP, so you’ll have a field day shagging HR’s!

    ceetar – Wow, you’re way up there! You may be able to move around a little bit.

  17. gregorybarasch@yahoo.com

    I think I’m cursed. Whenever the weather is iffy, I make the wrong decision every single time. (Yesterday it wasn’t my fault. I had to decide to go or not at 2:30, at which time it was pouring up here in the Bronx.) Dammit.

  18. Zack

    Do you know what time the picnic area opens? I’m not sure if it opens as early as Gate C, but either way, it should be a great time. I might go to Shea tomorrow. Not sure.


    Don’t even go up to the upper deck. Just sneak to the back of the Loge, and then move down a few rows after a few innings.


    I’m pretty sure the game will be played tonight, but I doubt there’s gonna be BP.


    Wow, that’s rough. At 1:30pm, it was drizzling in Manhattan, and an hour later, it was hot and sunny. Hmm.


    I’m about to start writing the entry about last night at Shea. It’ll be done at some point this evening.

  19. gjk2212@yahoo.com

    yea i was wondering the same thing, if not ill just go to the loge corner until it opens…terriblke part about it is that i had to buy them online(the mets newsletter sends these offers every so often) and it wouldnt let me print at home so i hafta go pick them up. yeah. at 4:40. it **** s i know. maybe ill see you though…

  20. yanksfan61293@aol.com

    Uh-oh, this is not good…

    You didn’t receive the check on Monday and today is Tuesday…I’m guessing that you got your mail today before 1:33 PM, the last time you posted. That’s not good.

    I’ll tell my mom. We’ll see what happens…

  21. goislanders4@aol.com

    a “watch with zack” outing. i’ll tell my mom to e-mail you about it. but she wants to know if you’re free any of those games

  22. Zack

    That’s annoying about having to wait to get the tickets. I doubt you’re going to see me tomorrow. I heard that Todd Helton just hit his 299th career homer, so I’m leaning toward going to Philly tomorrow to make an attempt at No. 300.


    I just checked my mailbox again, and still no check. What’s happening? If your mom thinks I’m trying to pull a fast one, just have her cancel the first check and send me a new one.


    Cool. I’ll check my calendar and send you an email. No misinterpretation. :-)

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