5/15/08 at Shea Stadium

First the good news: I had three Watch With Zack clients at this game.

Now some bad news: A magazine writer had been planning to tag along and write about it, but he had to cancel/postpone at the last minute.

More bad news: Not only was this a day game following a night game…and not only wasn’t there batting practice as a result…but it was “Weather Education Day” at Shea. The ballpark opened an extra 40 minutes early because there were 18,000 kids on hand for a special program.

More good news: One of my three clients was a seven-year-old boy named Cooper who had never been to a major league baseball game. (It doesn’t get any better than that.) The other two were his father, Jon, and grandfather, Arthur–and we all ended up having a great time.

Really, though, this day was all about Cooper. He had gotten to skip school and fly up from Washington D.C. with Jon, just to go to this game with me. In fact, Jon had considered taking him to Nationals Park earlier in the season but decided to wait so that Cooper’s first game would be with me. It was truly an honor. I knew I was part of something–responsible for shaping something–that he’d never forget.

The stadium was dead when we entered Gate C at 10am, and I’m pretty sure it didn’t matter to Cooper. It almost didn’t matter to me. I just stood back and grabbed my camera as Arthur and Jon led him across the concourse for his first look at the field:


I remembered the first time I saw a major league field–Yankee Stadium…summer of 1984…me and my dad…walking through a tunnel on the first base side of the upper deck–and I experienced the rush all over again.

Arthur knew a LOT about baseball and could’ve explained everything to Cooper, but instead he let me do it, often with a gentle prompt. “You wanna tell Cooper about the retired numbers?” he asked. “Why is there all this netting?” And so on.

I asked Cooper if he knew what the big building was in the distance, and he did. He told me it was the new stadium. I asked him if he knew what it was called, and when he shook his head, I told him “Citi Field” and explained how it got the name. I kept telling him stuff until the team store opened at 10:40am. Then the three of us grown-ups picked out a Mets cap for him (to go with the Nationals cap he already had) and headed out toward the left field corner where several Nationals pitchers had begun throwing.

weather_education_day.jpgThe entire left side of the stadium was empty. The right field side, meanwhile, was packed with kids, and it continued to get more and more crowded. Not good. I wasn’t thinking about snagging ten balls. I just wanted ONE. Obviously I wanted to keep my own streak alive (505 consecutive games with at least one ball), but again, this day was all about Cooper. There was no way I was gonna let him go back to D.C. without a ball.

By the time we made it to the outfield seats, there were two other kids with gloves, and they each got a ball tossed to them. Thankfully the kids left as Nationals pitching coach Randy St. Claire began throwing with John Lannan, so Cooper and I slipped into the corner spot. Before long, there were a few other fans around us, but we were the only ones wearing Nationals gear. I was sure we were going to get the ball, but no, Lannan ignored my polite request and disappeared into the bullpen. After a few more minutes, Saul Rivera started playing catch with Jesus Colome. THIS would be the ball. Yes, I knew it. I paid close attention as their throwing came to a close, and I positioned Cooper in front of me and told him to hold up his glove. Colome ended up with the ball, and I asked for it, and he quickly turned and tossed it in our direction. TIME OUT…I wanted Cooper to enjoy the rush of catching a ball on his own, but I
didn’t want to take a chance that he’d miss it and possibly get hurt. I had asked Jon earlier if Cooper would be able to catch a ball that was thrown to him. The answer? Probably not. Jon said that Cooper simply wanted a ball and wasn’t too concerned about how it ended up in his zack_cooper_ball.jpgpossession…TIME IN The throw from Colome sailed right toward us. There was an older kid with a glove, standing just to the left–no way I was going to let him interfere, so I reached out and made an easy one-handed catch and immediately handed the ball to Cooper. Just when I was getting ready to apologize for it being one of those cheap training balls, I realized that it had the Nationals Park commemorative logo instead. Wow. How’s THAT for a first ball? If I hadn’t snagged six of these balls on April 10th, it probably would’ve hurt to give this one away, but as things were, it didn’t bother me at all.

We didn’t snag any other balls in that spot, but I helped Cooper get four autographs: Joel Hanrahan, Tim Redding, Jon Rauch, and Saul Rivera. Cooper got three of those guys to sign redding_rauch.jpghis cap and the fourth to sign his glove. I got Redding and Rauch to sign a couple old ticket stubs. (Of course Rauch signed it upside-down.)

Soon after the Nationals finished throwing, the Mets pitchers gathered in the right field corner and began their own warm-ups. The Field Level was completely packed, so we headed to the right field cooper_cow_bell_man.jpgLoge and shouted at the players from above. No luck. But Cooper DID get his ticket stub autographed by “Cow Bell Man.”

We got some food and went to our seats–just a few rows behind the Mets’ dugout. I tried unsuccessfully to get Cooper another ball before the national anthem, and finally, after having spent three hours and ten minutes inside Shea Stadium, the game was underway. Mike Pelfrey versus Jason Bergmann. Not exactly a match-up that we expected to yield a pitcher’s duel. But sure enough, that’s exactly what we got. Pelfrey was perfect through the first two innings, then allowed two walks in the top of the third before escaping further damage.

Cooper and I had been running back and forth from the Mets’ dugout to the Nationals’ dugout each half-inning. I really wanted to get him a game-used ball, and that was the best way to do it. Finally, after nearly half a dozen unsuccessful attempts, Carlos Beltran ended the bottom of the third with a line-out to right fielder Austin Kearns. Cooper and I scooted down to the front row right behind the dugout, and as Kearns jogged in with the ball, I yelled at him and asked him for it and pointed at Cooper, and he tossed it right to us. Again, I reached out and caught the ball and handed it over to my snagging companion. Another commemorative ball…this time with the Shea logo.

I have to give credit to Arthur and Jon. They get an unofficial assist on that ball. If they hadn’t trusted me enough to let me run around with Cooper, I never would’ve been able to get it.

Cooper and I made it back to our seats as the fourth inning got started, and every fan around us was amazed that he had two baseballs:


For the first few innings, whenever Cooper and I were behind the Mets’ dugout, we sat next to each other. Arthur and Jon sat directly behind us. We had a four-seat box. Two seats in front, two in back. Shea is weird like that. But it worked out fine. I kept telling Cooper lots of stuff about the field and the stadium and the players and the game itself. I made sure we talked about some fun stuff (skipping a day of school, for example) so he wouldn’t feel overwhelmed with his first MLB lesson. I’ve said it jon_cooper_during_game.jpg
before, and I’ll say it again…I’ve always wished I had a little brother, and for a while on this glorious day at Shea, it felt like I did.

Pelfrey kept cruising, taking his no-hitter into the fourth…fifth…and sixth inning. The game, however, remained scoreless. There were some amazing plays in the field. Cooper got some cotton candy. The weather was perfect. The world seemed right. Eventually I switched seats with Jon so he could sit next to Cooper. Father and son. It was a beautiful thing to see.

During the seventh-inning stretch, I moved back half a dozen rows for the t-shirt launch (no point in standing right next to Arthur and Jon) and ended up snagging one, and my logic paid off. That logic is as follows:

1) Spread out.

2) Cover twice as much ground.

3) Snag twice as much stuff.

Arthur also grabbed a t-shirt, which meant I got to keep mine. If he hadn’t gotten one, I would’ve given him the one I caught, and let me tell you, it’s a GOOD looking shirt. I’m thrilled to own it. No joke. It’s such a nice shirt that it’s almost worth going to Shea just to try to catch one. Check it out:


Anyway, Pelfrey lost his no-no when Aaron Boone led off the seventh with a clean/solid line-drive single to right field. An inning later, Jesus Flores ripped a lead-off double, advanced to third on a sac bunt by pinch hitter Willie Harris, and broke the scoreless tie by coming home on a Felipe Lopez sac fly.

After Jose Reyes ran the Mets out of a potential rally in the bottom of the eighth (by trying to go from first to third on a sac bunt), Arthur was ready to leave and beat traffic. Cooper wouldn’t have it. He wanted to stay. (My kinda kid.) So we stayed.

Matt Wise kept the Nats off the board in the top of the ninth, and the Mets came THIS close to tying it in the bottom of the frame. With Beltran on first and nobody out, Ryan Church sliced a fly ball down the left field line. Harris (who replaced Rob Mackowiak in left field) sprinted toward the foul line and dove headfirst and caught the ball IN FAIR TERRITORY inches off the ground, arm fully extended, kicking up a cloud of dust as he skidded across the warning track. Unbelievable. Beltran then stole second base and advanced to third when the throw went into center field. Carlos Delgado followed with a low line drive down the first base line, but Boone, playing first, snared it on a fly and chucked the ball to Ryan Zimmerman at third for a game-ending double play. Final score: Nationals 1, Mets 0.


? 2 balls at this game

? 96 balls in 10 games this season = 9.6 balls per game.

? 506 consecutive games with at least one ball

? 324 consecutive games at Shea Stadium with at least one ball

? 7 consecutive Watch With Zack games with at least two balls

? 3,373 total balls


  1. deleted

    I’m glad Cooper had a good time. Did you tell him how lucky he was to get 2 commemorative balls as his first? Hopefully he’ll eventually be able to snag a bunch himself, and post about it here! With everything you’ve taught him, he should be getting 9.6 balls per game in no time :)

  2. boodleheimer1@aol.com

    Zack –

    the entry about you and Cooper is perhaps the sweetest story I have ever encountered – in any medium – fiction or non-fiction. You are a born, spectacular teacher. I love how you recalled your own first trip to a ballpark, and summoned those memories to replicate for Cooper your own excitement. As you suggest, he will never forget this day. Major League Baseball would be wise to employ you to give kids all over America the great gift you gave Cooper as a way to build potential fans for the future.


  3. nycautographcollector

    i know it was slow game for you zack but its gotta be so incredible to see Cooper walk away with not only 2 balls but 2 commemorative, different balls for his collection and 4 autos…that alone right there is worth it

    very successful day and im sure Jon and Authur were just as excited for Cooper as you were…

  4. acsport79@yahoo.com

    Great Job!!! You were very compassionate toward the younger kid at his first baseball game. Just curious when is the next game you plan on going to? I may be going to some soon.

  5. puckcollector@optonline.net

    know that i think about it, i cant remember the first time i walked into a ballpark. dammit. and that kids luck. 2 commerative balls. nice

  6. .

    july 23, 1996. yankee stadium. yanks vs. rangers. yankees won 6 – 0. 1st base side, loge box.

    i dont think ill ever forget that but i remember my first mets game is a lot clearer. im doin one last visit to yankees stadium this tuesday against the orioles before they tear that museum down. is zack hample going to make an appearance? who knows…(ghosts and ghouls – o0o0o0o0o0o0o).

  7. meikd423

    he stole my role as the younger brother! haha i got a nats commemorative and a mets commem. in one game too! so ha, im as good as…. a seven year old. i love the pic where hes just walking through to see the field. that was great

  8. jberg08@gmail.com

    What a great first game. 2 commemerative balls from 2 teams. Way to show a kid a lot about a great sport. By the way, are you going to Yankee soon? Just curious.

  9. sammywu17@hotmail.com

    Need your help here. I am going to 3 Reds at SD game next week. The reason I go there is pretty much because of lineup card. My question is: how does it work with Dusty over all? Does he give up lineup card only at winning game or even at losing game? What did you say to him? Would he give away lineup cards to the same person 3 straight days? Of course, I will be studying you old Dusty entries and wearing a Red cap.

    Another thing, I was at Angel Stadium Friday and someone frim this blog recognized me. I was shocked. He said he is from NY and had gottenn 5 balls. I was really impressed. He also did a really good job sneaking behind of dugout after game.

    Last thing, how long ahead do you think I should book my NY trip?

    Thanks so much,

  10. padreleigh

    Hi Zack….

    Nice job with the kid. It looks like he had a great time. It also looks like you’re going to be in Denver when I’m in New York for the Padres vs. Yankees series. Thanks a lot. You’re ruined my trip. Now, I’m probably going to get lost on the subway AND get jacked too. Great. You’re also going to miss out on meeting the family and a FREE dinner out somewhere. Oh well, maybe we can get together in September. I might be coming to the Mets vs. Cubs series. I’ll let you know.

    We had a new Borders book store open up here in San Diego. I went to browse around and check it out. Out of boredom I decided to see if they stocked your newest book. I typed the search “Zack Hample” in their computer and got the big goose egg. No joy. Then, I typed the search “Watching Baseball Smarter” and your book popped up. In their computer they have your name misspelled “Zack Hampel”. Not sure if you want to, but you might want to talk to Borders about that. For the record, they had ONE copy of your book in the store at full price. I didn’t buy it because it is way cheaper on Amazon.com etc. Ha ha. I’ll buy it some time.

    I met Mike Tirico and Chris Berman from ESPN at my job this week. They were really cool. It was my second time talking to Berman. He’s got some great baseball stories. Good times. Also, I’m not sure if I told you this or not, but last Saturday night Adrian Gonzalez hit a three run homer to my section. It landed in my row THREE people to my left. I couldn’t get over to make a play because of said people. I was so mad. I tried to run around to the front row and cut over and make a play on the rebound but people were in the way too. Ugghhh! The girl it hit actually caught it with her stomach/GROIN as her hands were covering her face. It never hit the ground. I was shocked. If you want you can check it out on MLB.com and see the back of my head and body watching the ball hit the girl. So close. The balls aren’t exactly flying out of PETCO this year too.

    Well, once again, nice job with the kid and I’ll talk to you soon.


  11. padreleigh


    Are you surprised someone recognized you? Besides Yao Ming you’re the tallest Chinese person I’ve ever seen. Ha ha. You stick out bro!! I’m guessing it was Greg that saw you. I think I’ll see him at PETCO on Monday. I’ll see you next week too. Let’s catch a Griffey HR.


  12. puckcollector@optonline.net

    well, my advice would have been to book the NY trip when the schedule came out, but i would book it A.S.A.P.

    LEIGH: are you gonna see all 3 YS games?

  13. braves04

    Cooper’s story is the best baseball story I’ve heard this year. Two commemoratives at his first game is great.
    Went to the A’s/Braves tonight at the Ted and only got 1. It was an easter egg in right field, which opens 30 minutes after the plaza gates. Two guys were ahead of me and quickly found 3. I got to the bottom of the section when I looked to my right and saw an official game ball in a corner near the Braves bullpen. Don’t know how they could’ve missed it, but I quickly snagged it. While I did get 3 at a game last week, they were all training balls, so I was happy to finally get an official ball.

  14. PSU532@yahoo.com

    Zack, very nice story. What a thrill that must’ve been for Cooper to get those 2 balls. I can’t believe Arthur wanted to leave a 1-0 game early, on top of the fact that it was his grandson’s first game ever. That was a little disappointing.

    Speaking of disappointing, I went all the way to Yankee Stadium yesterday, only to have the game postponed. I was 90% sure it would be postponed, but I just knew that if I didn’t go to the game, the clouds would’ve parted, and it would’ve been played!

    My next game is May 31st – Red Sox at Orioles. I haven’t been to Camden Yards in 10 years, so I’m pumped to go back….

  15. zackhample

    I tried to explain to Cooper how special it was to get those commemorative balls, but I don’t think it’ll sink in for him for years…and that’s fine.

    Thank you SO much.

    Yup, slow for me (as I expected) but (hopefully) amazing for Cooper. Well said.

    Thanks. I’m not sure when my next game will be. If Manny hits #499 within the next few days, I’ll go to Boston, and if he doesn’t, I’ll probably go to Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, weather (and other factors) permitting.

    How could you have forgotten?!

    You crack me up. Loge box at Yankee Stadium? Interesting. As for Tuesday, we’ll have to wait and see…

    You will *always* be my honorary brother.

    Thank you…and as I mentioned above in another comment, I might be at Yankee Stadium next week.

    It’s almost impossible to get stuff at the losing team’s dugout because all the guys just disappear from sight and head straight to the clubhouse. If you can talk to Dusty early in the day and make an early request for the lineup cards, then you might be able to get them regardless of the outcome of the game. All I said to him was something like, “Dusty, can I have the lineup cards, please?” Pretty cool that you were recognized from this blog. Book your NYC trip immediately.

    Aww, man, I’m going to miss you when you’re in NYC? And miss a free dinner? CRAP!!! Sorry about that, but those Denver dates were a must. There just wasn’t another time to go that would’ve been nearly as good. Definitely let me know about September. I hope you make it back then. Thanks for letting me know about Borders. That’s really frustrating, and I just informed my editor. I’m thinking she might tell someone else at my publisher about it, and maybe something can be done. I wonder if that misspelling was committed at THAT specific Borders location, or if it’s a company-wide error. Ouch. Cool that you met the ESPN guys. UN-cool about missing the home run ball by three seats. That hurts.

    Seriously? The best story? Damn. Thanks. Congrats on finding the easter egg. I always LOVE getting those.

    Yes, I was a little surprised that Arthur wanted to leave early. Jon was on the fence about leaving, and as I said in the entry, Cooper was like, “No way, Jose.” I told Arthur that the best way to beat traffic would’ve been to stay late and wait around for autographs and let everyone else leave. The thing is, though, that he had to drive back to Connecticut, so in addition to the Shea traffic, he was facing post-work rush hour traffic from NY to CT. Anyway, sorry you got screwed by the weather yesterday. Sox at Camden should be fun, but probably not the best for snagging.

  16. kingdomeee

    Nice Entry,
    Last night I went to JJ Bobblehead night (not my choice of game but I got the bobblehead so it was alright) and it was ridiculously packed. I did get extremely close to some balls but since i’m only 5’4″ 105 pounds I ended up getting plowed down by several 40 year olds going for balls. I did end up getting a ball after the game from one of the padre’s trainers which lengthened my streak to two games. While I was over at the visitors dugout after the game, I looked over at the Mariners dugout and couldn’t believe what I saw. Nate the ball boy had a huge bucket of balls and was tossing two at a time into the small crowd of around 10 people. Numerous people came out with 2-3 balls. I was tempted to run over there but I hadn’t gotten a ball yet and thought that he might stop as soon as I got over there. But 30 seconds later I got one so I was relatively happy. Tonight I’m going with Max (best friend, and was unavailable last night) and I’m hoping the attendance will be way down from last night. Oh and BTW Max got your first book for his birthday. I really enjoyed it. I heard you were going to update it? Or write a new one?

  17. gregb123

    Last night at Angel Stadium was fun (but not especially awesome). I’m going to write up a report about my whole trip when I get back to NYC on Wednesday, but I’ll leave you with this: I now have a lead in our friendly season-long competition.

  18. meikd423

    i just got back from jankee stadium. i didnt get any balls cause i showed up late for bp. it was wierd but that place just gave me this feeling of if i left my seat than i would get thrown out of the stadium. it felt very strict. but it was so much fun cause the mets won

  19. puckcollector@optonline.net

    okay, i think someone has brought this kid up allready, but check out the name of his blog, and if you scroll down a little to the entry titled:going away, look at the name of his website. im sorry, but arent there like copyright laws in the US? wait… The Baseball Collector-Chris Los lives in Canada.

  20. acsport79@yahoo.com

    If you do happen to catch a historic home run ball, such as Manny’s #500, or Jr’s 600, would you sell it?

  21. braves04

    It’s always refreshing to hear stories like that when ESPN is only concerned with steroids and the latest Steinbrenner outburst.
    Hoping for BP Sunday morning since it’s always a craps shoot after a night game. I know there won’t be any Tuesday for the Mets/Braves doubleheader.

  22. goisles

    Zack, that was a great story! Hopefully, I’ll get there early enough on Tuesday to see you at BP (Btw, I sold my pair of HR Derb tix for more than $1k).

    July 23rd will mark the 40th anniversary of my first baseball game at Yankee Stadium (I had seen the football Giants), a 4-1 win over the Red Sox with a crowd of 19,000 . What I remember most was Mickey Mantle in the batter’s box–in his final season, and just seeing that big number 7 on his back. No HRs for the Mick, but he did have an RBI.

    Puck Collector–your first game was July 8, 1999–the Mets v. Expos. I hated taking you to Mets game, but I thought if we had to leave early, better the Mets than the Yanks. We lasted the whole day, went to BP (pre-Zack knowledge), and saw Vlad Guerrero and Mike Piazza hit HRs in a 4-3 Expos win. With that it was safe for your first Yankee game on September 2, a 9-3 Yankee win over the A’s. (Btw, the copyright laws only apply if you GET a copyright)

    Padreleigh-Need tix for Thursday afternoon game–at least one? I’m not sure I can get to this one and my two are available

  23. kingdomeee

    Just got home from the game tonight. Despite an 18 MINUTE BATTING PRACTICE because it was little league day and the kids paraded around the field, I extended my ball streak to 3 games with at least one ball by getting one tossed by a trainer of the mariners. That’s the second ball I’ve gotten this year from someone other than a player or coach. Oh and Max caught a ground rule double which extends his streak to 4 (since I got shutout on Ichiro Bobblehead night).

  24. padreleigh


    Thanks for the offer for Thursday tix. Right now our being there for the day game is a MAYBE. So, I’ll have to get back to you. I’ll email you. I was hoping someone out there in Yankeeland might be able to help with tix for Tuesday or Wednesday’s games? I’m trying to avoid stubhub if at all possible. This whole NYC trip is still a maybe, but I THINK I’ll be able to go. I’ve got the U.S. Open (Golf) at my job the previous week of the NYC trip and it’s going to be a busy clean up. I’m trying to get the time off from the powers that be.


    My first game ever was in 1979. I was 12. It was Padres vs. Reds (I think) at Qualcomm (then San Diego Stadium). I also went to a Dodger game that year too. That might have been the first one. I grew up in Florida in the 70’s and we didn’t have any Marlins or Devil Rays then. So, it took 12 years for me to get to an MLB game. Dad had to have the military transfer him across the country to do it. So sad. I remember Dave Winfield hitting a triple and thinking that guy was really tall and it looked funny when he ran fast. No short fence then in the OF either. To hit a HR you had to get it over the 37 foot fence out there. Anyway, that’s my story.

    First “snag” I ever made was in 1998 at then Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami. I was 31 and bug had officially bit me. I caught a Wally Joyner BP homer on the fly. I’ll never forget the way it felt hitting my glove. I still have it too. A nice NL ball. Now, 10 years later I’m around 700 balls total. I need to make an official count. What a decade.

    I’m hoping that was local issue with Borders as well and not nationwide. Good luck in any upcoming games. Griffey is in SD for four games starting Thursday. It could be fun. My money is on TC for the catch.


  25. gjk2212

    sounds awesome. my first game was july 1998, i was 7, at shea. my dad got suite seats, the last suite in right field. piazza homered but the giants won.

    ill be going to yankee stadium tuesday, its my birthday and im going to the bronx. yay. ill see whoevers going there, ill be at gate 6 by 430 since im not going to school.

  26. gjk2212

    also, snagfan-im going to comerica next month, like 90 % sure. your always posting about going there, could you email me with some tricks/tips of the place? gjk2212@yahoo.com thanks.

  27. csparks@zoominternet.net

    My first game was at muni when I was 2 years old. I dont remember it but apparently it was a miserable, rainy day. My favorite game was when I saw Omar Visquel hit a game winning, walk off, grand slam. My mom and my sister were in the bathroom and didn’t know what happened. Congrats to Cooper on two commemoratives including one used in a game!

  28. thomasb.

    Did you add stuff into your updated book? Because I just bought it today and I saw some stuff in there that I don’t remember seeing in the original.

  29. puckcollector@optonline.net

    do u need a ticket for tuesday. i have an extyra nd will be there early

  30. zackhample

    Meh, lead-schmead. You’re going down, pal!

    Good call. At least the Mets won. That’s the best way to look at it.

    Yeah, I’d have to sell it unless the player or the team or MLB offered me something that money couldn’t buy.

    It was! Thanks for reading.

    You called it. ESPN just did a whole in-game segment on Hank. Urrghh!!!

    Wow, that’s a LOT of money. I guess I can’t blame you for not selling them to me at face value. Hope to see you soon, and thanks again for Tuesday’s offer.

    Nice work. Those little league days are the worst. (Good for the kids, bad for snaggers.) Crazy about the ball boy tossing ball after ball into the crowd. I’ve seen that happen before, but it’s extremely rare, and I’m not sure why it happens. As for my next book…it’s kind of on hold right now while I figure out exactly what it’s going to be, but yes, my plan is still to update/expand my first book.

    Yikes, no baseball ’til you were 12? I don’t think I could’ve handled that. Wally Joyner…cool. Good luck with Griffey, but now I’m hoping he’ll hold off a bit longer. I’m thinking about going to Pittsburgh when the Reds are there in a few weeks.

    Happy birthday (in advance). Hopefully I’ll get to see you then, or at least soon after.

    I kinda wish I’d been to a game when I was two, but then I wouldn’t remember it either.

    Yeah, the update is complete. Does the book have a red star on the cover that says “revised and updated”? If so, you are the proud owner of the most up-to-date version.

    I might need one, and I just emailed “father puck” about it. I won’t know until tomorrow night, or possibly Tuesday morning, so I’ll call him then. Thanks so much. As for the OTHER “baseball collector,” I’ll discuss that with you in person.

  31. sammywu17@hotmail.com

    Thanks for the info!!!
    I am not really sure when do I talk to Dusty. Do you mean during BP if I catch him near tunnel or before the game time when I run into him under the skybridge?

    I didn’t realize Griffey is reaching near 600 hr’s until a freind told me. I intentionally bought the bleacher seat. I couldn’t believe how cheap it is and how easy to get. I should have the sand area for me and I guess it will be restrictive. I was looking up at the home run tracking website for Griffey . It is pretty cool. However, here is what I usually do when I see a fly ball coming to me.
    1. Freeze 2. Realize that the ball is coming at me and panic 3. Moving forward 4. Ball fly over my head 5. Turning around to chase the ball. During high school, I play 1st base because I suck at judging fly ball and being a big guy. Any advice on catching HR will be great!

    Any chance you gonna visit SoCal ballparks this year?

  32. sammywu17@hotmail.com

    I will be at PETCO from Thur to Sat next week. Don’t count me out on catching the Griffey hr, even I suck at catching fly ball. I got all 3 tickets in the bleacher area, one of the ticket is at first row. I like my chances. Will you be at the same seats as last years?

  33. padreleigh


    Yes sir, same seats as last year. I may not be there Friday. It’s my girlfriend’s daughter’s birthday. Have to do the family thing probably.


  34. .

    Hey Zack – Awesome Post! I won’t even give you a hard time on counting the balls. :-P It’s always fun to have a kid at a game that has never been to one before. The look on their face when they walk in, get their first autograph and everything else that happens during the day.

    If nothing else this year maybe you can make another PETCO trip in August? On August 27th our team is a part of the Padres doubleheader.

    The Padres play the Diamondbacks at Noon that day and the Lake Elsinore Storm play us (Inland Empire 66ers) right after the game.

    It will be really cool to be a part of that!

    Keep up the good work!


  35. dodgerduder


    I was sitting in the section next to the two best friends. It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen!

  36. ramones18

    and when you think the Red Sox are slumping……………Jon Lester happens :)

  37. 07nlchamps

    Hey Zack, after reading the story about the friends that each caught foul balls, I would like to know what the odds of me catching 2 home runs in the same inning a few years back at the Rockies/ Giants game would be? Mike Lansing hit one that I caught, then two batters later I caught Jeff Cirillo’s home run.

  38. gjk2212

    thats crazy! ive never even caught a homer lol. off for my license then to the stadium…who saw lester last night? awesome. its really a feel-good story when he bounces back from cancer to win game 4 of the world series, then throw a no hitter. congrats.

  39. padreleigh

    Dan (Go Rockies)…

    Your catching two homers in one inning has probably happened less than five time in baseball history if they tracked that sort of thing. It’s so improbable. I remember when the Padres released Jeff Cirillo and still owed him 14 million dollars. I still hate that guy. He was useless here. Anyway, thanks again for giving me that ticket to come down to your section in Coors for BP last year. Remember me? During the Padres series? You were very nice to an out of towner. How many total homers are you up to now?


    Nice meeting you tonight. Sorry our BP was so bad tonight. What a boring afternoon. You still did pretty good though. I’ll let you tell about that later. Did you see that first homer of the game land right in front of my seat? I guess I should have stayed huh? I would have definitely been in the mix for it. The guy who got it got thrown out for interference cause he reached over the fence. My friend said he was a Diamondbacks fan visiting San Diego and cussed everyone out as he was ejected. Nice. Well, I hope you did even better after I left. Glad I was able to help you get the one from the camera guy. As a hotelier, I’m still kind of sad you stayed at the Motel 6 though. There’s so many nice hotels in San Diego and you wound up there? Ughhhh. I could have hooked up something better. Four star for sure. Next time you’re in town email me in advance and I’ll help you out. Oh yeah, you got to see our new Hilton blow up while you were here too. That was kind of cool huh? Good luck in LA today.


  40. gregb123

    Thanks, Leigh. And don’t be dissing on Motel 6 (or Super 8 for that matter). Just kidding, this place really is a dump. (But at least Motel 6’s don’t blow up like your fancy Hilton…) And yeah, that Hilton blowing up was very scary. But only because I thought it might delay PETCO’s gate opening times. (How selfish is that?!)

    That’s pretty funny about the Diamondbacks guy. I couldn’t tell if he interefered with Hairston’s glove, but at the same time I was thinking about how unlucky it was that you left early… Speaking of which, I got several more balls after you left, but I’m gonna start writing up a full report with pictures when I get back to NYC on Wednesday/Thursday.

  41. "D" The Rockpile Ranter

    Hey Zack, big fan here, posted back on the Coors Field entry. Big green floppy hat on Floppy hat day if you remember. I have a blog up and runnning called the Rock Pile Rant. Being that you will be here shortly I was hoping you might want to check it out. I would be honored if you would leave a comment. Looking forward to hopefully bumping into you (but not slowing you down) on Floppy hat day at Coors Field..Laters..The Rock Pile Ranter

  42. gjk2212

    im not going to the bronx today. it sucks. im beyond mad. its disgusting out. god this rain isn getting old. i might go tomorrow, especially if they dont play.

  43. padreleigh


    I hate to tell you this, but BP was so much BETTER today. I doubled the average and got four. The Padres and Cardinals were hitting way more out. That’s good for me. Got Paul McAnulty to throw me one on the Beach early, picked up an Easter egg when the gates opened, scored one rattling around the seats after a Ryan Ludwig BP HR and…..I caught an Albert Pujols BP homer on the fly. That was my first ever Pujols ball. That one is going in the special bin. Hope you did well in LA. You missed Trevor Time tonight, but you did see two Pujols homers yesterday. Not a bad baseball day. Talk to you later.


  44. zackhample

    The weather is iffy once again here in New York City. I’m leaving for Yankee Stadium in about 20 minutes, but if I get there and see that the tarp is on the field, I’m going to make a U-turn and go home. I really REALLY don’t want to be there without batting practice. That place is tough enough even with BP.

    I think you should talk to Dusty any chance you get. Don’t worry about when. And even if you miss him early on, a simple request for the cards after the game can still do the trick. Not sure about SoCal ballparks. I’d say the odds are pretty slim that I’ll make it out this season, but who knows? As for how to catch a fly ball, my advice would be to go out to a park and get a friend to hit you some fungos so you can practice. A lot of it is just instinct.

    Nope, I have no connection to him other than being a fellow snagger.

    I did see that story. Almost shared it on the blog, but then I got pulled in eighteen different directions. Crazy stuff.

    There’s definitely a chance I’ll be at PETCO again this year, but I can’t plan that far ahead. The doubleheader sounds cool.

    You witnessed it?!

    Who said anything about the Sox slumping? Everyone knows they’re going to win the World Series again this year. But yeah. Lester. Wowness.

    Those are some *sick* odds. Now let’s see you do it on back-to-back pitches in the Series. :-p

    Can you give me the exact URL of the blog? I’d love to check it out, and hopefully a few other people here will as well.

    Maybe I’ll see you in a bit…

  45. puckcollector@optonline.net

    i loved the rockpile. i got in for 4 bucks! it was great.

    BTW, i got shutout last night at YS.

  46. deleted


    You think the two friends catching foul balls are lucky? How about a few years ago when ONE GUY caught both a Carlos Zambrano home run, AND a Juan Pierre “shot”. It wasn’t on back to back pitches, but I still think that’s less likely.

  47. nycautographcollector

    greg dude…nice to meet you by the way last week

    i think you should make ur own blog…rather than write on zacks wall (no offense)

    it would be so good and i know youd already have a large collection of readers

    i think im gonna do one but i need like a rainy day to sit down and start it…haha

  48. cubsfan716

    Awesome story. It’s nice to hear about that kid getting 2 commemorative balls.

  49. braves04

    What’s the point of those training balls? Are they cheaper for Rawlings and MLB?
    Tonight was interesting at the Mets/Braves. There was no Braves BP, so no “easter eggs” when gates opened. I moved around a lot during Mets BP since the outfield was crowded due to the 2-for-1 special. I spotted a friend in the front row in right field and while I was there, a ball came in our area and bounced back to John Maine. He tossed it back and I was able to outreach a few people for it. It was a standard game ball, though I was hoping for a Shea Commemorative. Going for the sweep tomorrow!

  50. gregb123

    joneli — Thanks, that’s really nice to hear. But I really don’t have the effort nor the commitment to run something like that. Over the last couple of years, I’ve really liked being able to come home from a game and choose whether or not I feel like leaving a comment about how I did at that particular game. I like that I can leave a really short/quick comment or a more in depth one depending on my mood/exhaustion after a game, whereas if I had a blog, it’d definitely become a burden to HAVE to write up an entry, let alone an entry that people would want to read and that would do justice to my experience. Another reason I don’t want to have one of these blogs is that I take FOREVER to write things because writing doesn’t exactly come naturally to me. Long story short, I like things the way they are right now and I really hate dealing with change; the status quo is my best friend. That being said, I’d happily read your blog if you were to create one. (It seems like you have some really interesting stories to tell.)

    Anyway, I’m back in NYC. I got a few more balls than I thought I would on my SoCal trip (nothing unbelievable), and I’ll start writing a detailed comment about it tomorrow.

  51. gregb123

    Leigh — Sounds like fun. PETCO was so much better than Dodger Stadium, and to an extent I wish I’d stayed in San Diego one more night. Glad to hear you did well though, and congrats on the Pujols HR ball. That’s a great addition to your collection. By the way, did they figure out why the Hilton across the street from PETCO exploded?

  52. beach71389

    went to the nats-phillies game tonight…

    i got 7 balls but I gave 2 to a security guard who I know that wanted to get them signed for his mom and sister… he’s been nice to me and wanted them as a mother’s day present. my first one was caught on the fly on a BP homerun. No idea who hit it, I was actually just standing in the middle of a row talking to my friend and the ball came right to me… easy catch. Everyone around clapped and congratulated me saying ‘nice catch’

    i love the nats new stadium. great for snagging. 10 balls in 2 games

  53. padreleigh


    The 4th through 7th floors exploded because of a natural gas leak. 14 injured, 3 critical. Not too good. They heard the boom all the way down near Mexico. I know I heard it at my house about 5 miles away. We will rebuild it and they will come. Remember your ground rule double the other day on the “beach”? Well, I got one of those today. That was it for the day. Another super boring BP. Pujols hit exactly 0 balls out during BP. He hit a grand total of 5 balls out in 3 days of BP. That’s weak. Barry Bonds used to do that once and a while. He’d just slap the ball around and not hit any out. Then, the next day he’d hit 20 out. Wonder why they do that? Looking forward to your post about your trip.


    Griffey is in town!! It would be cool to catch 598, 599 or 600. I hope he hits one out. Keep an eye out for me, TC and Sammy on Sportscenter.


  54. puckcollector@optonline.net

    greg, i agree with you about comments. i thought about doing a baseball/hockey blog, but i definetly agree with you about just posting when you fell like it with a brief, or descriptive update.

  55. zackhample

    I was at Yankee Stadium last night, and I’ll have the entry up within a couple hours…

    Sorry about the shutout. But there wasn’t any BP, right?

    Okay, yes, that’s pretty amazing. I didn’t think Pierre knew how to hit a home run.

    No! No more rainy days. I want to see a blog from you, but please, no more rain. I can’t take it.


    Yeah, I think those training balls just cost less. Lame, huh? They also don’t travel as far, so it might be a tool that teams use to get their players away from being too homer-happy. Glad to hear you got a ball from the Mets. Too bad it was a standard one. Keep trying.

    Everything you said about commenting/blogging makes sense. You’re always welcome to post long recaps here, and I’m looking forward to hearing about Cali, if/when you get a chance.

    Nice work. That really IS a good stadium. I wish I lived closer.

    I just checked out the blog and tried to leave a comment, but unfortunately I got a message that said, “You do not have permission to comment on this blog.” I think you just have to tweak the settings somehow so that anyone can comment as opposed to just your “trusted” commenters, or something like that. Also, your pics look stretched out. Did you notice that? Make sure when you upload a pic, you create a thumbnail, and if you want it to fill the screen, make it 550 pixels wide. Hope that helps, and looking forward to seeing more.

    I will definitely keep an eye on Griffey and all you guys.

  56. braves04

    If the training balls have a useful purpose as a learning tool, then I really don’t mind them. My mother will be with me at the game tonight, so I don’t know how much BP we’ll see. Looking forward to Santana vs. Hudson!

  57. "D" The Rockpile Ranter

    I’ll work on fixing the website/blog thanks for the tips . I tell you Coors Field sucks for getting balls. I have no problem getting a player to throw a ball when I have my son with me. But it is really hard to get a player to toss a grown man a ball because there are sooo many kids there . Every time I get a new spot at BP I get surrounded by kids. I have yet to see a player pass a ball to an adult who was next to a kid. So the best shot for me is to catch one. Check this out. I had my best seats ever yesterday at the Rockies game. Section 144 Row one. Let me tell you that in 10 innings of baseball only 1 ball rolled foul on the third baseline. Just one. I wanted a live game ball so bad I couldn’t even focus on the game(sound familiar Zack??) I didn’t leave my seat the entire time. Now im dealing with a wicked sunburn on my neck and knees. I think I saw a hundred balls go foul on the 1st base line. Has this ever happened to you? Im a Rock pile guy and never splurge for the good seats, so this was a rare treat for me. Was I just unlucky that game or is that common not to have any balls go foul on the third baseline the entire game. Thanks again for checking out my blog. I’ll let you know when it is up and working. Funny the website and pictures look fine on my Home computer, but look stretched out on my work computer so I know what your talking about…Laters…Rock Pile Ranter

  58. "D" The Rockpile Ranter

    Hey Zack, as far as having to sign in to comment, everyone has to, we have to sign in to comment on your blog. When I comment on your Blog I sign in like I’m gonna work on my blog. Once your signed in to Mlb.com you can coment on any blog…I’m still working on the pics…Rock Pile Ranter

  59. "D" The Rockpile Ranter

    Hi Zack,
    I had to redo my blog but its up and running and I have almost got it up to date. I was loggin in yesterday and saw my face on the front page of http://www.mlb.com/blogs. Freaked me out I’m the featured blog. Anyways and Thank you for the tips..It Took me a little bit but I figured it out. You know what I look like now so guess we’ll see you if I run into ya on Floppy hat day….Don…Rock Pile Ranter

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