6/23/08 at Shea Stadium

I did something really stupid…

Yesterday afternoon I charged the battery for my digital camera, and when I left for Shea a few hours later I forgot to take it off the charger. I realized I’d done this as soon as I got off the No. 7 train and tried to take a pic of Citi Field, and for a second I considered heading right back to the subway and going home. You know how some people feel naked without their cell phone or jewelry or makeup? That’s how I feel when I don’t have my camera.

ticket_june_23_2008.jpgAnyway, I decided to stay, and it’s a good thing…and as for the no-camera issue, I was able to scan a couple things when I got home (like my five-dollar ticket) and take some pics of the balls and dig up a few old photos of Shea to illustrate the day’s better stories.

My first 50 minutes inside Shea turned out to be a complete waste of time. First of all, the Mets hadn’t even started taking batting practice when I ran inside at 4:40pm, and when I finally headed up to the second deck (aka “the Loge Level”) in right field there was no action. There were exactly ZERO balls that landed in the seats, I couldn’t get any players to toss me a ball, and it got worse from there. I tried to use my glove trick to snag a ball that (for some strange reason) was resting on a little wooden platform above the gap behind the right field wall, but unfortunately it was stuck in a rut against a metal pole and before I had a chance to dislodge it, an usher on the Field Level noticed what I was doing and ordered me to stop.

My friend Greg (aka “gregorybarasch” if you read the comments on this blog) was at this game, and when he saw my failed glove trick attempt from the seats below, he ran up to the Loge and snagged the ball fairly easily with his own ball-retrieving device: a cup trick. In most situations, my glove trick has its advantages over cup tricks, but this wasn’t one of them. Greg’s cup had a thin edge that slid between the ball and the pole, whereas the thicker fingers of my glove couldn’t fit.

2008_all_star_ballot.jpgNot only had Greg already snagged a ball before he came upstairs, but he then got Billy Wagner to throw him his third ball of the day.

As soon as Greg caught it, he ran over and said, “You gotta see this!”

“Something tells me I don’t want to see it,” I said, but it was too late. Greg was already holding out the ball, and I nearly had a heart attack. The stitches weren’t red…they were gray and navy blue…it was…a 2008 All-Star Game ball…WHAAAT?!?!?!

I couldn’t believe my eyes, but it was true. It was the same ball I’d been trying not to notice every time I filled out an All-Star ballot. Weeks before Greg caught this ball, I was already so worked up and pissed off about NOT being able to snag one (because I can’t afford to go to the All-Star Game) that I’d been planning to go out of town during All-Star week and NOT watch any of the festivities on TV. It was just going to be too painful to see these commemorative balls sailing into the seats at a stadium I’d been to hundreds of times.

Greg went back to the Field Level, and I was on a mission like never before. I figured that if there was one All-Star Ball in use, there had to be another and I paid extra close attention to every ball that rolled anywhere near me. Of course, I was about 30 feet above the field so it was tough to distinguish the standard balls from the prized All-Star balls, but I tried my best.

oliver_perez.jpgSoon after, a home run landed in the bullpen, and while I couldn’t pick out any special logo, I knew what to look for: the ball was brand new and the seams did not appear to be red. I kept my eye on that ball for five minutes, hoping that a player or coach would stroll into the ‘pen and retrieve it, but eventually some random employee went and got it, turned down my request for it, and flung it back onto the field. The ball rolled to a spot about 20 feet behind Oliver Perez (who’s always been friendly to me).

“Oliver!” I shouted, “right behind you!”

pedro_feliciano.jpgPerez turned around and looked briefly at the ball but didn’t move. That’s when Pedro Feliciano (who has NEVER and WILL never throw me a ball) walked over and picked it up and took a long look at it. Ohmygod, it WAS an All-Star Ball, and I begged him for it. What did he do? He turned around and waved condescendingly at me and then tossed it to another fan on the Field Level.

claudio_vargas.jpgI made sure not to ask for any balls unless I was certain that they were of the All-Star variety…but most of the balls that rolled onto the warning track were standard balls. Finally, Claudio Vargas walked over and retrieved a ball that had the All-Star logo. I was the only fan who asked him for it. He looked up at me, told me he’d give me a ball later, chucked the All-Star ball back toward the bucket, and promptly moved to center field.

The Mets’ portion of batting practice was going to be ending soon, and not only didn’t I have an All-Star ball…I didn’t have ANY balls. It wasn’t late enough in the day to start worrying about being shut out altogether but the thought did cross my mind.

dave_racaniello.jpgEnter Dave Racaniello. He’s been the Mets bullpen catcher since 2001, and although he doesn’t know me by name, he does recognize me. He knows all about my
baseball collection, and he still tosses me a few balls per season. It’s awesome. Usually, whenever a player or coach (or bullpen catcher) recognizes me, that’s it. No more balls. But that’s not the case with this guy. I can’t explain it. He’s just cool like that.

With 15 minutes remaining in BP, I saw Racaniello pick up a standard ball in right field and head into the bullpen. I kept my eye on him but didn’t say anything. That’s when HE looked up at ME and took the ball out of his glove as if he were about to toss it up and shouted, “Here ya go, ball number three thousand–“

“Wait! Wait! Wait!” I shouted, holding out my open palms as if to say “stop.”

Racaniello gave me a funny look, and I kept talking: “I noticed you guys are using a few All-Star balls in BP…”

“We are?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I said, “and I would DIE to get my hands on one. Is there any chance that if you happen to see one, you could hook me up?”

“I’ll see what I can do,” he said and disappeared from sight.

Ten minutes passed. He was nowhere to be seen. It was 5:30pm. The Mets were going to wrap up their portion of BP in five minutes. I had to get downstairs and try to work my way into the seats behind the dugout. I knew there was a good chance to get a ball there, even a regular ball. I was getting desperate. And just as I was about to exit the Loge, Racaniello appeared in right field and looked up at me. He had a ball in his hand. OH MY GOD. He waved me over to a section in foul territory where there weren’t any fans. I ran through the aisle, and then he waved me back. Ha! He was messing with me, and a few Mets pitchers were looking on. I rolled with it and kept moving back and forth as he made gestures like a traffic cop. The usher in my section realized what was about to happen and pretended to jump in front of me and interfere, but he soon backed off, and Racaniello unleashed a throw. I was right in the aisle, about six rows back from the railing. That way, if his throw fell short, it would at least reach the empty seats and I could pick up the ball, but “Rac” (as the players call him) threw a perfect strike, and I made the catch. I opened my glove, and this is what I saw:


I thanked him profusely, then hugged the ball and blew kisses at him (which he may or may not have appreciated–let’s not make any assumptions either way) and flew down to the Field Level. There was an all-out mob of fans behind the dugout, but none of them were going for balls. They were all there for autographs, and I managed to find a spot in the front row. Three minutes later, when all the players and coaches came off the field, I made a leaping catch for a ball thrown by Duaner Sanchez and then got coach Sandy Alomar Sr. to toss me a ball 30 seconds later. What kind of balls, you ask? Voila!


Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…there is now extra incentive to see the New York Mets.

I was beyond happy as the Mariners took the field. I’d never felt so light on my feet as I raced around to the left field side. I’m telling you, I was so pumped up I felt like I could’ve dunked on an 11-foot rim. (Believe it or not, I did once dunk on a standard rim so this isn’t THAT much of a stretch.)

The Field Level was both packed and dead, so I headed up to the left field Loge and got one more ball–a standard ball–tossed to me by a pitcher that I couldn’t identify. He was young and white and tall and fairly thin and right-handed and had a beard that wasn’t particularly thick or dark. Any ideas who it might be? I know it wasn’t R.A. Dickey, who also has a beard.

eddie_rodriguez.jpgI made my way to the Mariners’ dugout as BP ended and got my fifth ball of the day–another standard ball–from 1st base coach Eddie Rodriguez.

After batting practice, I hung out with Greg and a couple friendly ushers (yes, they actually DO exist at Shea), then failed to get a warm-up ball after the national anthem, and spent the whole game running around for foul balls in the Loge. I came close to a few, but luck wasn’t on my side, and that was fine. I was still glowing about the All-Star balls. Even though the Mets had been using 2005 All-Star balls during BP in 2006…and 2006 All-Star balls the following season, I never expected to get one (let alone three!) from the 2008 All-Star Game. That was just too cool.

The game itself had a rather depressing moment for Mets fans, but since I’m really more of a “baseball fan” than a fan of any one team, I was able to appreciate it. With two outs in the top of the second inning, David Wright made an error that loaded the bases and Mariners starter Felix Hernandez blasted Johan Santana’s next pitch over the wall in right-center field–the first grand slam, I later learned, hit by an American League pitcher in 37 years. Those four unearned runs made the difference. Final score: Mariners 5, Mets 2.

After the game, I got another ball tossed to me at the dugout by Rodriguez, and then I met up with Greg to take the train back to Manhattan…but before we left, he wanted to head out to the right field corner. He’d seen Ichiro hit a ball in BP that landed in the gap behind the outfield wall, and he thought there was a chance it might still be there. Well, it was, but neither of us could get it. Take a look at the photo below and I’ll explain:


This is a photo of the gap from above. The thick orange beam is the right field foul pole. The red arrow is pointing to the spot where the ball was sitting. There wasn’t quite as much trash in the gap yesterday as you see in this photo, but still, it’s always pretty nasty and cluttered back there. (That’s the beauty of Shea Stadium.) I took this photo from the Loge Level (during batting practice last season), b
ut we couldn’t get up there after the game last night because security was kicking everyone out. The only place where we could get close to this ball was in the Field Level concourse. Unfortunately, we were blocked by several large screens/nets, so we weren’t able to lean over into the gap, and since the ball was several feet out–and since there was also a mess of cables and wires hanging from an adjacent camera platform–it would’ve been nearly impossible. Still, I helped Greg by holding his string while he worked his cup through a small hole in the netting. Then I moved the string over the top of the netting to a point where he could reach it. I know this is tough to visualize, but you get the point. There were all kinds of obstacles, and we stood there and schemed for 15 minutes, waiting for the brief intervals when the two nearest security guards happened to be looking away simultaneously, but eventually we decided it was too tough and too risky (I was afraid my glove would get caught on something) and decided to leave.

At the bottom of the ramp…right where the ramp meets the ground-level concourse that leads to the area behind the Mets bullpen, I happened to see a familiar face. It was a guy named Shawn who’s been working at Shea for years. I first met him when he was a bathroom attendant on the Field Level, and then one day I saw him out on the field. He’d been promoted to the grounds crew, and ever since I’ve been shouting his name and waving to him from the stands and keeping him updated about my baseball collection. Here’s a pic I took of him back in 2005:


Even though Greg was the one who first thought about checking the RF gap for this ball, he knew he couldn’t have asked Shawn for it because he didn’t know him. Thus, it was all mine…

When I got to the bottom of the ramp, I walked up to Shawn and shook his hand and explained the situation.

“Where exactly is it?” he asked.

“In the narrow gap behind the outfield wall,” I said, “all the way in the corner, just foul of the foul pole.”

“Meet me back in the Field Level seats,” he said, and as I bolted up the ramp, a nearby security guard who hadn’t heard what we’d been discussing said I wasn’t allowed to go back up.

Shawn explained what was going on, and the guard said it was okay…but once Greg and I reached the Field Level concourse, a different (on-field) guard spotted us and walked closer along the warning track in foul territory. I tried to explain that a groundskeeper was about to give me a ball, but I knew I wasn’t making any sense. It even sounded absurd to me…twenty minutes after the final out…in an empty stadium?! I entered the seats and tried to explain that I had to be there to get the ball, and just when the confused guard was about to radio for backup, Shawn walked out onto the field through a door in the right field wall (that leads to the bullpen), and he had the ball in his hand. He told the guard to chill, and that he was giving me a ball, and he walked closer and finally flipped it to me from about ten feet out.

Unbelievable. I loved the fact that my day’s snagging began and ended with a personal connection.

From now on, whenever I’m asked about the weirdest way I ever got a ball, I won’t be sure what to say. It’s a toss-up between this one (that you just read about) and THIS one (from 2003). What do you think?


? 7 balls at this game

? 217 balls in 28 games this season = 7.8 balls per game.

? 524 consecutive games with at least one ball

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

? 3,494 total balls


  1. "D" The Rockpile Ranter

    Wow, those All Star baseball are sweet. Love the Multi- colored stitching…I feel you on the camera thing…Good day snaggin..D

  2. nycautographcollector

    thats sick zack about the all-star game balls…im heading over to the hotel tomorrow…and i was debating about going to shea but now im going

    also, i didnt post put i did read all of your trip to coors…so congrats on maybe not a top-notch performance, but it seems as if your experiences kinda complete the trip…

  3. acsport79@yahoo.com

    Nice game, getting closer to 3500. I predict that you get 400 balls this season because you already have 217

  4. Jake

    I caught a homer on the fly last night, off of the (aluminum) bat of Tommy Mendonca of Fresno. As for Rosenblatt, the bleachers (General Admission) are on a first come first serve basis, none of the GA tickets are guarenteed so you have to get there early to get a seat. So during BP the bleachers were full.
    Right now it is pouring, hopefully it lets up.

  5. Stuart Jon

    Dam I really want one of those all star balls, the non red stitching is cool! The cup guy sounds like the guy I saw at the Padres game, but he said he had not heard of you..? hmmm…..

  6. Jake

    Glad that you got a ball from Eddie, he is a nice guy. Wish I could get my hands on one of those All-Star balls. Don’t know why but I REALLY want one.

  7. thesmith7@yahoo.com

    Have you seen the ?Veterans? stamped balls
    MLB will be using over July 4th as part of
    ?Welcome Back Veterans? promotion?

  8. Kylie

    Beautiful All-Star baseballs. I can’t believe they’re using them before The Game… that seems like a waste. And I know how you feel about wanting to get out of there–when we hosted the game, we just stayed home and avoided the traffic and the people. Someday I’ll go to an All-Star Game… just not when it’s in my city.
    I’m voting for “got a baseball out of a gap full of trash from the groundskeeper” for weirdest snag ever. It’s cool to have groundskeeper friends–all my friends at the ballpark are ushers, which I suppose is to my benefit, except they’re ushers on the upper deck.
    Kylie — http://kylie.mlblogs.com

  9. meikd423

    im going to shea tomorrow and hopefully i’ll get an all-star ball but its wierd. im not as drawn to the allstar balls as i am the final season and first season commemoratives. still tryin for the yankee one. i cant go back for 3 weeks which really sucks but i hope i can just get one before the season ends

  10. puckcollector@optonline.net

    WTF did the Mets do? jack tha yanks balls from like an empty storage room? if the YAnks had been using them, it would be different, but the Mets? ive heard that the Tigers tokk a bunch of comm. balls, but they just collected them from BP and the game. unless the yanks are using them in BP, there is no way the Mets could have done this.

  11. jhess@si.rr.com

    Hey – I was at this game to and caught a foul ball. It was the of the third, Raul Ibanez was up. I was a 2-2 count with 1 out. He hit on into the Mezz Box in between home and third and I caught the ball one handed (no glove) with my phone in my other hand. Got tons of high fives and people even came up to me from other sections to say good catch, to see the ball and to ask me if it hurt (it actully didnt). Did you see my catch?

    When I watched the replay of the game, you see the ball go into the crowd, then you see people in the field level go “wow” or something like that and hear very noticable cheer. That was for me. It was so cool.

    It was my third ball. My first was a foul ball that I dropped and picked up. It was the second pitch of the game. My second ball was a batting practice homerun that ARod hit (also caught on the fly 1 handed) and then last night.

  12. jhess@si.rr.com

    Also – I was in Fenway the last time the Mets played there. Guy Conti threw a ball from the prior year all star game into the crowd. I had my hands on it but didnt get it. The ball I caught last night has an insignia of Shea Stadium and says 1964-2008.

  13. acsport79@yahoo.com

    time to update the commemorative part of the baseball collection of your website

  14. eve12ett

    Hey Zack, congrats on the All-Star balls. They look great.
    I have a quick snagging question: At some ballparks, I’ve read online that they only allow bags that are 16x16x8 in. Are they really that strict about it? I mean, I was hoping to bring one of those drawstring bags, like the the one you blogged about in Florida.

  15. dhbball

    Zack those all star balls are nice and you and Greg are lucky to get your hands on them espescially before the all star game, pretty good game for you after such a rough start.

  16. dhbball

    Are gonna be here at Shea all week, I not looking foward to the Yankees coming in for BP it is gonna be a mad house.

  17. Graham

    Nice report on the snagging session. The all-star balls look sweet! Two months ago I fell upon your blog by accident, now I am totally addicted to catching up on each game you attend. Keep up the good work! When you hit ball number 5,000 you should have a huge party. That’s only a couple years away right?

  18. gjk2212

    WOW. i cant wait to go to shea tomorrow, wow. i want an all star ball. basically if i get a few balls from the mets i have a good shot? omg. i only have 3 types of balls so far in my collection-standard, training, and 4 sheas. whoa. i want an all star ball. bad.

    also, i may have an extra ticket for tomorrow at shea. im trying to get ahold of a friend but if he cant go anyone interested? i have an extra upper, 10 bucks. thats the face on it, im surprised yours was only 5? hmm, maybe they changed it when they saw how bad the mariners are, but wait theyve beaten us 2 in a row. anyway, if anyone wants it lemme know please. gjk2212@yahoo.com

  19. pabslovesrox@coloradorockies.net

    I think the one in 2003 was wierder. Just walking by a sucurity guard. The sucurity guard must have been asleep.

  20. csparks@zoominternet.net

    I vote for the one from Shawn as the wierdest. Tonight I went to Progressive Field for the first time, showed up an hour late and got 2 balls, one was a flip from a giants player and one was a bp homer. I gave one ball to a girl. I also got Jamey Carroll’s auto and my sister got a give away tee shirt with no advertisement on it. It was a fun game because Omar (Vizquel) returned to Cleveland for the first time (his bunt may have costed us the game, but nobody cared!!) My lifetime total is 3, but when I get my drivers liscence I will go to more games.

  21. .

    Zack –

    I too received a 2008 All-Star Game ball today. I spotted one earlier in BP this afternoon at Shea then later on, whoever the batter was in the rotation drilled one deep inside the Loge Level slightly to the right of the foul pole. One kid was my competition and he didn’t even flinch so the ball was all mine. My blog should be up tomorrow morning if you care to take a look-see about tonight’s stomping of the mets.

  22. deleted


    So now I have to hope to get a commemorative ball AND an All-star ball? I’ll try my best!

    I got one ball today, but could have got 3. All of them were ones that I had to run through aisles to get. the first one landed by somebody’s feet, who only noticed it and picked it up after I was running towards it. The second landed a section behind me, and I simply got beat to it. The last one happened to land in my row a section over (with no one in it). I happened to be the first one there and picked it up. I guess 1 is good for me, but I was hoping for 2-3 today…

    That’s cool that you got Shawn to give you one. I (sorta) know a security guard at Wrigley (JoJo) who MIGHt do the same thing…. If you want my opinion, I think the Shawn Snag beats out the Sneaking Around Snag.

  23. zackhample

    Indeed. Thanks…and I’m glad you get the whole camera issue.

    You see? This is another example of how my blog leads to more money (in the form of ticket sales) for MLB. I swear they should be paying me. Good luck at the hotel. Brandon Morrow…are you sure? Did he grow the beard since Spring Training?

    I’d love to get 400 this year, but I’m not sure if I’ll get to enough games. My web site, BTW, is already updated. Have you checked it out?

    What’s the deal with the July 4th balls? No, I haven’t heard a thing. Is there an article about them or even a photo? Has anyone heard anything about these balls?

    Hold on…do you mean a game homer? He’s hit a few this series, hasn’t he? Thanks for explaining the seating situation in the bleachers.

    Not sure what to make of the cup guy you met at the Padres game, but I can assure you it wasn’t Greg.

    I know, I’m shocked that these balls made such an early appearance. I figured I wouldn’t get one until until July, at the earliest…if ever. Thanks for your vote on the weird ball. Now you gotta make friends with ushers who work the dugouts.

    I really hope you get an ASG ball later today. Let me know how it goes. Mark Lowe? I don’t think so. He pitched tonight against the Mets, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t him.

    You’re hilarious. I have no idea how these balls got into the Mets’ hands.

    You know something…I vaguely remember seeing someone make a crazy catch. That was YOU?! Way cool. Sounds like your few balls have all been pretty memorable.

    Thanks, and yeah, the bag rules are strict in most places. But you don’t need to worry because those drawstring backpacks are SMALLER than the 16x16x8 measurements.

    Very cool story. For some reason, though, I can’t comment on your blog.

    Yup, we’re really lucky. As for this weekend, I will not be attending any games. No sir. Not me.

    Dumpy Shea…heh.

    Thanks. A “Number Five Thousand” party sounds like fun. Might be a little too early to start planning, but I like it.

    Yeah, you’d have a great shot at getting an ASG ball if you can snag even two. If you get three, you might get two ASG balls. There really seemed to be a lot of them, but they came and went in bunches. My ticket was only $5 because of yet another connection, mwahaha!!!

    Shea security is weird. Sometimes they’re really strict. Other times they’re clueless.

    Sounds like a good day. I really need to get back to the Prog. When do you get your license?

    Nice work! Between all of us who leave comments here, we’re gonna form our own All-Star Ball Club.

    I love it when a ball lands in my empty row and then just stays there. At least you didn’t get shut out. Meanwhile, another vote for the Shawn ball. Hmm…

    Thanks for all the comments…and to those who read but don’t comment…thanks for reading.

  24. csparks@zoominternet.net

    I get my license on November 20 as long as I pass the test. I will have to wait the whole offseason to go on my own!!

  25. padreleigh


    Don’t lie to these kids. You KNOW you have never straight up dunked a basketball on a 10ft rim. Don’t make me get Shaq to rap about you.


  26. padreleigh


    That was very sweet about the All Star balls. Very nice snags. What I think happens with the all star balls and other random balls is this. MLB’s home office is in NYC. When they get a shipment of these balls and they have extras or the balls that didn’t pass inspection they dump them on the two local teams, the Yankees and Mets. Also, at the end of the season when there are left over World Series balls and left over All Star game balls they dump these on the two local teams as well. Over the last ten years or so of my snagging career I always seem to get the weird, different, random balls when the Mets or Yankees were visiting the Padres. Nothing this year from the Mets though. I was disappointed. I wonder if MLB has a top secret little warehouse somewhere in NYC where all the ball shipments come in for the All Star game and the World Series every year from Costa Rica? That would make for a nice article. Hint hint.


    PS. Trevor Hoffman sucks and needs to retire…now.

  27. puckcollector@optonline.net

    Leigh, that makes sense. and BTW when trevors kids were snagging BP balls, some guy yelled “Godd arm! whne are you gonna start blowing saves!” i wouldnt have said that cuz there’re kids, but it was pretty funny.

  28. padreleigh


    Your weirdest “almost” snag. Remember that random ball when you were in Arizona in 2007? The one you guys saw in the picture? It was way up there on top of an advertising sign in left field. I think it was below the TGI Friday’s Front Row and above the left field seats? That would have been a great snag. I’ve thought about that ball alot. I bet it’s still up there too. Ha ha. Someone should check that out and post your findings.

    Puck Collector…

    That was a pretty wrong thing to say to Trevor’s kids, but what do you expect at Yankee Stadium? Ha ha. I just thought I’d tell you that I do a raging fist pump in the stands every time a Padres pitcher strikes someone out. Which doesn’t happen too much. I do all of this in Jabba the Hut Chamberlain’s honor. Ha ha. Just kidding Puck Collector!! You’re up early…

  29. gjk2212

    anyone want that ticket? 10 bucks, ill meet you outside of gate c before it opens. help a collector out?

  30. puckcollector@optonline.net

    leigh: 7:30 isnt that early. usually i get up at 6 on a school day (today was my last!!!!!!!), so for me 7:30 on a weekday is late.

  31. puckcollector@optonline.net

    oh, and it was wrong to say that to trevors kids, but remember it wasnt me that said it. now if the guy said that to trevor…

  32. Jake

    Yeah, it was a gamer. It was to left-center field on Monday. He has probably been one of the best players during the CWS. I think that he leads the CWS with four HR’s.

  33. Jake

    I think that ball may still be up there, but when the Nats were in town a few weeks back, Lastings Milledge hit a BP homer that hit the AC vent and dropped onto the platform. My first thought was back to that story.
    Zack, I bought your 2nd book yesterday, 8 out of 11 on the fair ball quiz.

  34. sheffro1@hotmail.com

    Hey Zack. Without looking it up, was the last AL pitcher to hit a grand slam Mike Cuellar of the ORIOLES???? He bombed one in the WS…..

  35. PSU532@yahoo.com

    thesmith7, glad to see someone else read’s Zack’s blog and the UniWatch, like me.

    I actually sent Paul over at the UniWatch the picture Zack took of the 2008 ASG game balls that he got during BP. Why in the world would the Mets be using them, before the game even takes place, no less!

    Zack, you’re going to the home run derby (and possible the all-star game). Who are you kidding? That’s like Paris Hilton staying in on a Saturday night. Seriously! One of your many connections will come through with derby tix, and I bet at the last minute, somebody will even have an extra all-star game ticket for you. The game won’t be in NY again until like 2011 or so, when it’s at Citi Field, and it’s not like it’s going to be easy to get tickets to that game either!

    I’m going to the both the Yankee Stadium and Shea subway series double header games on Friday. I’ll be up in the upper deck for both games, so I won’t get a chance to go down by BP at all…..

  36. braves04

    Glad to see another UniWatch reader here. It and Zack’s are the only ones I read regularly lol. He grilled MLB suits on donation % from the cap sales.
    Zack, this is just more incentive for me to get my butt to NYC next month. Time off from work was approved, so now I just gotta book it! Looking at July 22-26 when both teams are home.

  37. tracycollinsbecky@yahoo.com

    hi Zack,THE wELCOME BACK VETS PROMOTION IS JULY 4 5 6,ALL GAMES USE SPECIAL BALLS BASES LINE UP CARDS ..YANKEES ARE HOME AND PHILLIES ME AND PADRELEIGH ARE GOING TO JAYS AT ANGELS..And you can buy an all star 2008 ball gold ball BP home run derby ball at SportsAuthority.com .for $30.oo .thats the golden ticket WillyWonka .

  38. puckcollector@optonline.net

    Tracycollinsbecky: you cleaned up the grammar, but the caps? LOL!

  39. evan181038@msn.com

    dear Zack,
    hi my names Evan, i am in 10th grade and i am a big fan… i have been reading your blog for a couple of months now and i find it so amazing how you can sometimes get 10 baseballs a game…
    recently on June 13th i went to Shea for a game to get my first baseballs… i got there an hour late and i went over to the outer field box where i tried to get a ball… i told the players how i could get a baseball with the glove trick… i got his attention and he brought over a baseball to see what i was talking about… meanwhile i swore on my life to him that i would get this baseball… he said i can kill you if you don’t get this baseball… meanwhile i was in a crowd and these two 12 year old kids were being so annoying saying how i wont get the ball. Castro put the ball against the wall and i couldn’t see the ball… it was so embarrassing because 30 seconds later he tossed it to one of the a holes who said it was their birthday… liars! it was a yankees commemorative baseball and he signed it for the kid and when i tried to get an autograph he walked away… by that time i felt like killing myself because i am a die heart yankee fan and i wanted that baseball…
    after that i decided to get Pedro Martinez attention by asking him for a ball in Spanish… after 20 minutes of begging i moved up got on a chair hit my glove alot and was determined to get a ball hoping it was a Shea commemorative. he looked into my eyes and finally threw a ball towards me… i leaned forward and made THE GREATEST CATCH OF MY LIFE!!! my best moment at a baseball game by far Pedro Martinez just threw a ball at me and it was a commemorative… don’t want to write an even bigger book right now Zack… so ill wrap it up.
    stats this game
    1 ball
    4 tickets(found 2)
    3 things signed by josh Hamilton (ticket, card, glove)
    2 Shea stadium prepaid parking tickets (found 1)
    1 once in a life time experience!

    YOU ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    your fan,
    PS. what is the next Shea game you are going to… i think i am going to is sept. 9th or 10th… maybe we could meet up there and you could teach me some of the tricks of the trade.

  40. nycautographcollector

    haha i guess i missed the beard part…sean green or mark lowe would be that player then…

    game tonight…got 2 balls one from morrow and one from ryan rowland-smith…both normal balls so i gave them both away…

    jerry manuel…literally 2 mins after the stadium opened down the right field line…he was really friendly and did alittle reinactment of yesterday’s ejection…it was hilarious

    felix hernandez x1
    erik bedard x1
    jarrod washburn x1
    miguel batista x9
    r.a. dickey x5
    jamie burke x2
    jeremy reed x1
    willie bloomquist x1
    brandon morrow x6
    sean green x3

    31 total…not bad but alot of players refused at the hotel…vidro, beltre, ibanez, silva, putz, clement…and prob a few more too

  41. zackhample

    This is going to be one loooooong off-season, but just think how awesome the ’09 season will be for you.

    Okay, I guess I should admit that my one dunk came on a self-alley-oop while messing around in a mostly empty gym…but I *did* have two witnesses. Interesting theory about special balls being shipped to NYC. Poor Trevor.

    Funny, but that’s just WRONG.

    Good call with the “almost” snag. That one definitely would’ve taken the Weird Award. How was Shea tonight? Did you manage to sell the extra ticket?

    Wow. Thanks so much for the links. I would looooove to get one of those balls.

    Probably not.

    VERY cool. Congrats…and thanks for picking up the book. Which three did you get wrong? Do you remember?

    Dude! Good to hear from you again. It feels like you’re 8,000 miles away. We need to do something about that. And I have no idea about Cuellar.

    I’d say the Derby is more likely, but even that seems like a major longshot. Now that I’ve snagged a few All-Star Game balls, I don’t really feel the need to BE there for the actual game itself. Does that make sense? Anyway, I hope you’re right. Have a GREAT time on Friday. What a crazy day that’ll be.

    That seems like a great week to be here. Keep me posted. I might be at a couple of those games.

    Excuse me, but Zack Hample does not *buy* baseballs. (Sorry for referring to myself in the third person, but some things are just too important and need to be emphasized.) Thanks, though, for the info about the July 4th weekend, but how do you KNOW that the balls will be in use during games?

    Thanks so much for everything you said, and believe me, I understand how frustrated you felt. After 19 years of snagging baseballs, I’m still struggling to accept the fact that there are ups AND downs…and it seemed like you experienced both in one day. Glad to hear you ended up getting a ball and congrats on the nice catch. The best places to go during BP at Shea are in the LF or RF Loge…or on the Field Level down the foul lines…and of course you can get much more info about Shea by reading my blog entries about it. As for when to leave, that all depends on where you live and how long it takes to make the trip. The ballpark opens two and a half hours before game-time, and it’s good to be at Gate C at least half an hour before it opens because the line starts forming early. I’m not sure when I’ll be at Shea next, but it might be after the All-Star Break. I’m trying to go to Shea as little as possible this season (as you may have noticed). September 9th is a possibility, but I won’t know for sure until I wake up that day and check the weather and read my emails and find out what (if anything) else I have to do.

    You’re incredible. I’m blown away by the number of autographs you get. Cool that you got two baseballs. Sorry they were both regular balls, but that was to be expected from the Mariners. I would’ve loved to see Manuel’s reenactment.

  42. padreleigh

    Hi Zack….

    Got a ball yesterday in a kind of neat way. While I was at the beach in right center I was watching two Twins pitchers talking in right field during bp. All of a sudden one of them tries to throw a ball all the way out of the stadium over the right field seats. Well, he shorted it by a few rows of course. The ball banged around way up there somewhere. The entire right field section there was empty because the stadium hadn’t opened yet. I kind of laughed and looked around and NOBODY had seen him throw the ball but me. I kind of filed in my mind kind of where the ball was and continued my bp snagging. At the end of bp I all of a sudden remembered that ball way up there. The section was still totally empty. It was a small crowd last night. Well, I hiked over there, climbed my butt way up to the top and found it still sitting there an hour later in the second to last row. I just thought it was a neat snag. Ever get a ball a similar way? You probably have.

    Puck Collector….

    I want to choke out my boss sometimes, but I’ll get more than suspended, so I won’t. Ha ha. Enjoying summer vacation yet?


  43. PSU532@yahoo.com

    Zack, I sent in your 2008 All-Star game pics to the UniWatch, because I thought it was really unique that the Mets were using those balls already, and he wrote about you in today’s Uni Watch News ticker:


    Chris Flinn reports that baseball-snagging guru Zack Hample snared a few BP balls at Shea a few days ago and was surprised to discover to find that they were All-Star Game balls. (As an aside, I had no idea there was a ?baseball-snagging guru? out there, but the guy actually has a blog devoted to the topic ? cool.)

    He linked to your site too…….pretty cool…..

  44. puckcollector@optonline.net

    well, not yet. my “moving up ceromony” (AKA move to the other end of the hbilding ceremony) is today, but then, i will definetly enjoy summer vacation, and lots of baseballs.

  45. meikd423

    i just got 6 balls at shea 5 with the cuptrick ansd brought my friend marco to his first batting practice ever and he got 5 balls including a homerun on a fly. yeah he plays center field in baseball so thats why but it was amazing for a first time. plus i got a brand new shea commemorative with a tricky cup trick in the picnnic area. there were a bunch of wires and the ball was below them and i had to maneuver. once i saw a commemorative blogo, i wouldnt give up and got it after 5-10 minutes. the picnic area is amazing. you have to TRY to not got a ball out there. Zack, remember how you got 11 and everyone else got their balls and you said it was a snagging love fest? thats what its like everytime. and if you cant get in the first time, go to the loge for a little, than check back in about 15-20 minutes, and there might not be the same guard there anymore.

  46. yankees42294

    can u use the cup trick from the loge? cuz im goin to this sundays mets game and idk where to stay for bp

  47. thesmith7@yahoo.com

    MLB has said the ‘Veterans’ Balls will be in use over the July 4th weekend and Sept 11 Games….Can’t wait to see a pic of how you got one next week!!

  48. meikd423

    you can use the cuptrick from the loge but you need really, really long string. i tried once and my string was too short. if i were you, i would try to get into the picnic area. it might be hard but try………

  49. zackhample

    That is *messed* up. Damn.

    Way cool, and yeah, I’ve gotten some balls like that over the years, especially at Shea which was a ghost-town in 1993. Nice job.

    Awesome. Thanks so much. I love it.

    How the hell did you get into the bleachers? Did you have a ticket for that area or did you sneak in? I would go to Shea SO much more often if I could get in there.

    Yeah, you can, but it’s really tough. If you have time, dig through my archives and check out my previous Shea entries and you’ll see.

    Doesn’t look like I’ll be able to make it to any games during the July 4th weekend (unless I want to spend about $400, which I don’t). My only chance, unfortunately, will likely be on September 11.

  50. yankees42294

    Can u give me an estimite of how long the string needs to be because mine deffinetely is too short. Also how would i get into the picnic area?

  51. puckcollector@optonline.net

    Yankees42294: i think someone once told me 40 feet of string.

  52. gjk2212

    yankees 42294-my string is 40 ft and it easily reaches with much to spare..theres a few balls down there that i couldnt go for after yestrdays game

  53. philydwg18@aim.com

    Hey Zack!!

    I’ve been following your advice about how to get balls. I am going to Phillies-Mets game on the 4th of July weekend and I am going to try your advice. I already printed out the lineup cards for the Phillies and the Mets. I am hoping to get at least 4 or 5 balls. Thanks for all your help and wish me luck!!!!

    P.S. I have read almost every entry that you have made and I am sure I’m gonna get at least 1 ball.

  54. steve

    I just read your blog about the 2008 all star game balls, i was the fan that Feliciano threw the other ball to. I still have it and am getting rid of my collection if you have any intrest in having it.

  55. Zack Hample

    Thanks for the offer, but I have all the 2008 All-Star balls that I need. If you’re just looking to GIVE it away, I’d be happy to take it off your hands and offer it as a prize for my charity fundraiser this year, but if you’re looking to make some money off it, then I’d say . . . just put it on eBay.

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