7/13/08 at Yankee/Shea

2008_futures_game_ticket.jpgDoes the name Robert Harmon sound familiar? He’s the bearded ballhawk from Denver–the guy who came THIS close to snagging Barry Bonds’ 762nd home run ball. I wrote a big article about it a few months ago. Remember?

Robert was in New York City and joined me for this monster day, which started with the 2008 Futures Game at Yankee Stadium and ended with some Mets-Rockies action at Shea.

Even though I wasn’t going to count any balls from the Futures Game in my collection, I still printed rosters for both teams. I had to take my 2008_futures_game_rosters1.jpg
snagging seriously enough to familiarize myself with the bleachers. That’s basically the only reason
I went to the Futures Game. I’d never been in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium, and I was going to be there the following day for the Home Run

Outside the stadium, there wasn’t a single security guard who knew what time the gates were going to open. Some of them shrugged, others said “eleven o’clock,” and I ended up getting in at 10:30am. As I bolted into the bleachers, I got Nate Schierholtz to toss me a ball despite the fact that I wasn’t yet wearing my glove. (I wasn’t wearing it because the geniuses who run Yankee Stadium recently decided not to let me bring my dangerous drawstring backpack inside, so now I’m forced to smuggle it in while cradling all of my belongings in my arms.) Phew! I caught my breath, took out my bag, put my stuff in it, looked around…and wow.


From a ball-snagging perspective, the bleachers were truly glorious. I couldn’t believe it’d taken me nearly two decades (and an impending Home Run Derby) to make it out there.

Robert didn’t have a ticket for the bleachers. He’d never been inside Yankee Stadium, and because he’s a semi-professional photographer, it was important for him to be able to wander robert_from_bleachers.jpgand explore the ballpark from as many angles as possible. (At Yankee Stadium, you can’t move back and forth between the bleachers and the rest of the stadium.) But before he wandered, he grabbed the corner spot in the RF grandstand and snagged a few balls during batting practice.

BP went pretty well for me. I got my second ball tossed by Rockies prospect Dexter Fowler, then grabbed two home run balls that landed behind me in the empty benches. I got my fifth ball tossed by Casey Weathers–another Rockies farmhand–and got my sixth and final ball tossed up by…someone. I forget who, and it doesn’t matter. I ended up giving away two of my six balls, and I passed up opportunities to snag others because I ran into someone that I simply HAD to talk to.

At the end of BP, I approached a middle-aged man who was wearing a black Marlins cap and said, “Excuse me, you look familiar.”

“Okay,” he said, waiting for me to take the lead.

“Do you live in Miami?” I asked, and when he nodded, I said, “Griffey six hundred.”

“Oh my GOD!” he shouted to his friends. “Someone recognized me!”

After catching Ken Griffey Jr.’s 600th career home run, this guy had revealed himself to the media simply as “Joe” and did not allow anyone to take his picture. (He’s lucky my camera joe.jpgbroke earlier that day.) Naturally, when I spotted him at Yankee Stadium, he asked how I knew who he was, so I told him I was five feet away from catching that ball. Then I said, “I was the guy who tried to give you a contact card.”

“Oh yeah! I remember that,” he said. “I didn’t want it. I just wanted to get out of there. You’re some sort of businessman? A memorabilia dealer?”

“Not exactly,” I replied, “but I do collect baseballs.”

I started telling him about myself, and when I mentioned my name, not only did he know who I was, but he pulled out a folder which contained a copy of the New York Times article that was written about me in 2006. (His copy of the article was from another newspaper that hadn’t used the photo.)

We ended up talking for the next half-hour. He told me every detail about his pursuit of No. 600 and the controversy that followed. Turns out he’s snagged more than 1,000 baseballs including 65 home runs DURING games! (So at least I didn’t get outsnagged by some random/lucky chump.)

Joe never told me his last name, but he did take one of my cards, and he promised to keep in touch.

As you can imagine, there’s a LOT more I could say about our conversation, and perhaps I will at some point. Joe mentioned that a publisher has already approached him about writing a book….and I mentioned that I’d be interested in co-authoring it with him, or perhaps writing the foreword…so we’ll see.

After we parted ways, I explored the bleachers and took dozens of photographs. Here’s the gap between the bleachers and the grandstand:


Here’s the “platform” seating in front of the bleachers:


Here’s a view from the left field bleachers (which, I discovered, are accessible via a long concourse that begins under the right field bleachers):


Shortly after the game began, I exited the stadium and used an extra (non-bleachers) ticket I’d bought to re-enter.

2008_futures_game_ball.jpgI caught up with Robert in right field and photographed one of my four remaining Futures Game balls. This
robert_photographs_ball.jpginspired him to do the same with one of his.

I don’t know what inning it was. I don’t know who was winning at that point, and I didn’t care. My mission for (the first part of) the day had been accomplished. I just wanted to chill out with Robert and help him take the best possible photographs, so I led him to the upper deck and ended up taking a few pics of my own. Here’s a look at the New Yankee Stadium (which we saw from an escalator landing area on the way up):


Here’s the view from the last row in the upper deck:


Here’s a look at the auxiliary press area…


…and here are two cops on the top edge of the upper deck:


I think there were more cops than fans. It was insane.

Robert and I left Yankee Stadium at 2:45pm. The Futures Game still had a couple innings remaining (and there was still an entire celebrity softball game to be played), but we had to go. Why so soon? WELL…if bags were allowed inside Yankee Stadium (as they should be), we could’ve brought our stuff for Shea and stayed longer and then headed directly to Queens. But no. We had to go all the way back to my place on the Upper West Side for a pit-stop and then head back out to Shea. Thanks. Thanks a lot, Yankees. I really appreciate it.

We arrived at Shea at 4:55pm–forty minutes before Gate C was scheduled to open. This gave me time to buy two tickets and get on line, and it gave Robert (who’d never been to this stadium either) an opportunity to take more pics.

Here’s one I took of Citi Field on the way to the ticket windows:


Here’s a rare photograph of Robert wearing anything other than Rockies gear as we waited for the gate to open:


Robert really wanted to snag a Shea Stadium commemorative ball, so I lent him a Mets shirt and printed him a Mets roster and showed him exactly where to stand during BP and convinced him to beg for balls.

It worked.

Less than five minutes after we entered the stadium, Robert got one tossed to him by Mets bullpen coach Guy Conti, and it was indeed one of the prized commemorative balls.

As for me…
I ended up snagging seven balls, and I got each one in a different spot.

1) A 2008 All-Star Game ball (the Mets have been using them in BP) from Brian Schneider along the right field foul line.

2) Another All-Star ball from Billy Wagner in the second deck (aka the “Loge Level”) in right field.

3) Yet another All-Star ball from hitting coach Howard Johnson at the 1st base dugout when the Mets came off the field after their portion of BP.

4) A regular ball (which I later gave to a kid) from Rockies bullpen catcher Mark Strittmatter at the 3rd base dugout after BP.

5) Another regular ball from Joe Koshansky during pre-game throwing along the left field foul line.

6) A commemorative foul ball hit by Ramon Castro in the bottom of the 8th inning which I caught on a fly behind home plate in the Loge.

7) Another commemorative ball…after the game…from a security guard who got it from home plate umpire Marvin Hudson…in the seats behind the plate on the Field Level.

Earlier in the day at Yankee Stadium, Robert had collected a bunch of those commemorative plastic cups–you know, the ones that come from concession stands. Brilliant! Why hadn’t I done this yet at Shea? I don’t know. Maybe because I’m so focused on snagging baseballs that I forget to collect anything else. Anyway, I followed Robert’s lead and grabbed a bunch of these cups after the game. Final score: Mets 7, Rockies 0.


Speaking of collecting things other than balls, I suppose I should mention that I got Jeff Francis to sign my ticket after BP. Unfortunately, he used someone else’s wimpy pen:


I think that about covers it. In the next day or two, I’ll post an entry about my experience at the Home Run Derby.

STATS (not counting the Futures Game):

? 7 balls at this game

? 235 balls in 33 games this season = 7.1 balls per game.

? 529 consecutive games with at least one ball

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

? 118 lifetime game balls (not counting game-used balls that get tossed into the crowd)

? 75 lifetime game balls at Shea Stadium

? 3,512 total balls


  1. csparks@zoominternet.net

    Wow, one day and 3 different commeratives! Cant wait to here about the derby

  2. legkick26

    Good to see the “Armitron” and “Sharp” signs got a new coating of paint for the festivities. They were both chipped in a few places when I saw them a few weeks ago.
    How many more decorations and changes were there to the stadium that you noticed?
    You’ve never sat in the bleachers before? Scared of the Bleacher Creatures eh? Just kidding. You should do a game/ bp there before the stadium closes.
    Glad to see you came out with a good number of baseballs.

  3. deleted

    Alright, I ALSO want a commemorative ball. Where would you say is THE place to get one? The corner spot? And why is that a good spot? Home runs? is it a good spot to get noticed by the players?

    And of course, congrats as always.

    I always find a bunch of those kind of commemorative cups at Wrigley. I told myself I would never buy cups again. If I ever wanted more cups, I would just go to Wrigley and get 20 for free.

  4. padreleigh

    Hi Zack…

    I find it interesting that “Joe” wants to have all this anonimity and he gets a Reds shirt made that says “Caught #600”. Kind of a contradiction don’t you think? I think it’s kind of obnoxious too. Why don’t you get a Yankees shirt made of “Caught Shelly Duncan’s #8”? I can get a Brewers one made that says “Caught Ryan Braun’s #1”. That’s funny stuff. Glad to see you had two good games in one day. It’s fun to double dip sometimes. Out here you can do the Padres and Angels in the same day if you want. It’s just not as close as NYC and no subway. Ha ha. TC got Brian McCann’s HR at PETCO the other day. I need to get a “gamer” soon. I’m having withdrawls. Talk to you soon and good luck in the second half. Go for 400!!


  5. danlcox77@yahoo.com

    Zack, It was great to meet you at Coors Field last month.
    I liked your composition of the Mets drink cups; showing 8 different sides of the cup, coming back to the original side.

    I look forward to reading about the Derby; Sorry you couldn’t make it to the ASG. I was lucky enough to see the ’81 game in Cleveland when they came back from the strike. Dan…

  6. sammywu17@hotmail.com

    You ever gonna visit Angel Stadium this season? I think that last Sat’s Braves game will be my last game ever at SD possibly in my life.

    BTW, the one dollor hotdog surprisingly taste not bad. Dodger Stadium got the worst hotdog(Dodgerdog) in the history of mankind. It is the most disgusting ballpark food ever. One problem, I couldn’t find $1 soft drink anywhere.

  7. braves04

    Leigh, I enjoy those 2 stadium doubleheaders. I did the Padres & Dodgers in one day last year (when Wells was thrown out and threw the ball at Petco). This year, I saw the Mets/Cubs at Wrigley and the Yankees/White Sox at U.S. Cellular. Funny how both games were NY vs. Chicago.

    Sammy, I agree on the DodgerDog. Highly overrated.

  8. padreleigh


    You can get the $1 drinks at any stand. It’s the “Regular Soda” size. Yeah, the dogs haven’t been too bad. I kind of like the Dodger Dogs. I like hot dogs in general though. I went to an Angels vs. A’s game in Anaheim about two weeks ago with the girlfriend. A’s won 6-1. I only got one ball in right field. My girlfriend was nagging on my snagging. She is the ultimate anti-snag. I’m surprised I got the one I did. Talk to you later.


  9. joshscards

    I understand you met alot of people you knew..and you had 2 long days of snagging, but how bout some love for the guy who got the assist of your 4th ball, thrown by Mark Strittmatter?

    haha its ok
    it was nice to meet you

  10. .

    If you haven’t yet, and decide to take a trip to Boston and hit up Fenway Park, the Fenway Franks are one of the best hot dogs I’ve tasted at a ball-game and I definitely suggest one (or two) of them. Although the stadium is always ridiculously crowded, the Fenway Frank will take your mind off of the slow movement.

    ZACK –
    Too bad the only time I saw you the entire night at Shea was when you made the catch behind the plate off of Ramon Castro’s bat. There’s always next time. Can’t wait until you get that Home Run Derby entry up. A Repeat of it is being aired on ESPN at 7PM, just incase you wanted to record it…

  11. meikd423

    if you can, buy a ticket to the picnic area. not only will you get commemoratives, you will get so much more balls.

  12. Graham

    I like the collecting cups idea. I will never have to buy glasses or cups for the cupboard again!

  13. xholdourownx@gmail.com

    Will you at the Yankees game next Monday or the Mets game Wednesday? I’ll be at both and hope to get a commemorative ball at each. It will be my first time at each stadium. Also be my first time trying to get balls at a stadium other than Turner Field or Coors Field. Can’t wait to read about your derby experience and I hope to meet you next week.


  14. yankees42294

    haha i got alot of crap for wearin my yankee hat to the met game but it was funny. are you goin to this sundays Yankee game

  15. mlballhawk

    Zack –

    Have you figured out if you are going to make it out west yet this summer? If you do maybe finally we can meet up!
    A lot of new stuff going on for me and a couple of things that might interest you. When you get a chance shoot me an email and I will let you know more.

    Also if any of you “snaggers” on the west coast go to a game in LA don’t be shy an introduce yourself!


  16. puckcollector@optonline.net

    Got at the gates at 3. met a guy on line who said zack argued with a Chinese lady about a corner spot, refused to give a ball away after a cop told him to, and that he knocked over a kid. Anyway? small line behind me when gates opened at 5. minimal security. kids could bring string bags. 1st one in. Fox camera guy in the corner spot I wanted. Found a spot on the wall. Joe Nathan = *******. EVERYONE around me gets a ball. All derby or ASG balls. All morons. One guy said it was a foul ball, another said he was in the bleachers, and 3rd was drunk (and got 2!) a fourth said he was in the left field upper deck, and a fifth had boobs, so naturally got 2 baseballs. ichiro caught balls behind his back, and tossed them like 8 rows back. Would?ve had a couple if I was in the corner spot. Fun booing paplebon. Billy looper had a 27 ERA. Poor dan uggla. Congrats scott kazmir who threw 107 pitches Sunday, had 1 day rest and got the win. Ha ha roger Clemens. And the rays will have a fit that kzamir had to pitch. And the stealth bomber looked like a UFO. Ball snagging wise, AS weekend sucked.

  17. braves04

    I like how the All-Star Sunday ticket says “Watch on ESPN” when obviously the user is attending in person.

  18. zackhample

    At the Home Run Derby, I did NOT steal a ball from anyone, nor did I knock anyone over. The cops were power hungry and strict and the fans were crazy, and I took a lot of abuse which was TOTALLY undeserved. My next entry will cover all the details. Right now I gotta run off to my writing group.

  19. gjk2212

    im really not sure when my next game will be..i cant make friday at the stadium or any twins games next week because of hockey training. it may be the next mets home game vs philly, i really dont know.

  20. csparks@zoominternet.net

    I knew you wouldn’t do that, and if it happened by mistake, you would give them a ball.

  21. thet206kid

    When i went to the mets game last week i saw so many of those cups left behind, i was thinking about taking a few, but since i bought one i said forget it,, i might take a few the next game i go to though

  22. thebigticket0021@aim.com

    Zack, i was searching for some youtube videos of you. i found this one with CBS News.

    At 1 minute 38 and 39 seconds, when you and three guys were going for a ball, (which was thrown short to the guy in front) did you lose your balance and were about to fall back onto the seats, or were you imitating the guy in the green shirt and green hat, using his elbows to push you back.

  23. 07nlchamps

    Hey Zack, the guy’s name that caught Griffey’s 600th was Joe Scherer from Fort Lauderdale. It was good talking to you on Saturday, talk to you later. Dan

  24. bloggingboutbaseball

    Really great ideas and dedication, sir. I just recently started reading up on your exploits and how can anyone not be impressed? I’m heading to an Angels game in Anaheim soon. Any tips for snaggin’ there? Special spots, generous players/coaches, etc.? Thanks for the work you’ve done to inspire this collector… and many others, I’m sure. And best of luck!!!

  25. puckcollector@optonline.net

    zack i told him that that doesnt sound like you, but hat about arguing with the chinese lady for the corner spot?

  26. santanaf

    OK, I am totally going to all of the remaining Nats Mets games to try and get a shea commemorative and All Star ball. I’m also headed up to Camden to try to grab a Yankees commemorative ball.

  27. edeckarizona@gmail.com

    Thats pretty cool that you recognized him. i guess it was a moment you’re not really likely to forget.

    On a different note, please say you’re not going to the mets-phils game the 23rd. Haha i’d like to be able to get at least ONE. :)
    keep up the good work

  28. muddly17

    Does anybody know where the umpires exit the field at after games at Busch Stadium? I am going to try my luck at getting a ball from them tomorrow.

  29. karent

    Kool Zack, that was a busy day for you and your friend. I was glad I was able to share a peace of it at Shea. I still don’t know what happened to that ball under the sign when we were on the loge. It’s like it disappeared. O, and sorry you missed that other one too. Hope it didn’t leave a mark. When will you be at Shea again? You know me, I’ll be there all week.

  30. dannyz

    Super cool! And during the first week of July, I finally got to go to New YOrk City and visit all the baseball places I’ve read on your blog. And now it’s incredible cause I can relate personally to your posts (such as pictures of Shea/Citi and Yankee Stadiums, outside of ballparks, subways…)

    Even cooler, I got Chipper Jones’ autograph on the 28th of June in Toronto!!!! There was a huge crowd and I’m proud to say being small sometimes does help!

  31. joshscards


    i might actaully go to another game while i’m up in new york against the phillies (not sure when). it’s likely going to be either the tuesday or wednedsay

    ill comment you when i find out
    hope to see you AGAIN

  32. bravesgeek10


    I noticed on your Dolphin Stadium and Camden Yards post that you obtained ticket stubs during the game. How did you get them?


  33. zackhample

    Something weird is happening with my computer. Some site called “wsearch.net” has basically taken over. When I click the “home” icon in my browser, it automatically takes me there (instead of Google) and when I try to log into MLBlogs, it takes me there as well. What in the hell is going on? I got booted off MLBlogs as I was in the middle of writing about the Home Run Derby. Thankfully I had saved all my work in another document 10 minutes earlier. I’ve already written more than 2,000 words and used more than a dozen photos. It’s going to be a MONSTER entry, but right now I can’t seem to log back in and work on it. Very strange and unsettling. I’m on a Mac. Could I have a virus? What’s the deal? Any insight? Is this happening to anyone else?

  34. zackhample

    Okay, well, nevermind. I restarted my computer and downloaded some software updates, and it looks like I’m back in business. I still have a LOT of work to do on my Derby entry, so I’ll have to finish it tomorrow (Friday). I hope the wait will be worth it. I have some good stories, and I’m trying to share ALL the details. As for all the comments, I’m sorry but I just don’t have the energy right now to answer them. I’ve been up since 7am with four hours of sleep. My eyes hurt. I gotta go to bed. I’ll answer questions at some point this weekend and start plowing through my emails as well.

  35. sammywu17@hotmail.com

    I think your computer home page is hijacked by adware. There are free online adware removing programs but they are for PC. Do you have parrellel PC? Another thing you can do is to do a system restore, I don’t know if Mac has that function, restore your computer to an earlier time. I would highly recommend taking your mac back to apple store just to be safe.

  36. .

    Zack –

    Although your problem has already been fixed, the reason why the website, “wsearch.net” redirected you to there when you attempted to go to other sites could be the problem with you resetting your modem. Mac’s have SMC wireless modems without a DSN changer so instead of that site redirecting you all over the net which is what a DSN changer would do, the SMC wireless modem will only bring you back to “wsearch.net” I am a Mac user as well and an all around computer “geek” so any time man…hahaha.

    – Donnie

  37. zackhample

    New paint? I hadn’t noticed. Didn’t really see any other changes except the obnoxious/unnecessary amount of security. I’ll be in the bleachers on July 22nd (unless it rains, in which case I’m not going at all).

    You’re talking about Shea? The corner spot up in the Loge is lousy for getting batted balls, but it’s great for getting a thrown ball or two. You can be spotted easily by the players, and no one can get in your way.

    Well, I don’t think Joe actually wears the shirt. I like the idea of a Duncan shirt to commemorate the fact that I caught his 8th homer. That’s hilarious.

    Thanks for noticing my cup composition!

    I agree with you about Dodger Dogs being awful

    Sorry for not giving you any love on the blog. You’re right…I met a TON of people that day and then had to rush through my big blog entry, so I ended up leaving out a bunch of details. No offense! You totally get the assist on that ball.

    I don’t ever want to watch a replay of that Derby. It was just one frustrating moment after another.

    I think I’ll be at Yankee Stadium on Monday the 21st as long as the weather is nice. Not sure about Shea. Hope we get to meet. Just flag me down. I’ll be outside Gate 6 by like 4:30pm at Yankee Stadium, if I’m there at all.

    Me? A Sunday game in the Bronx? Hell no.

    Nope, still not sure about a west coast trip, although it’s now looking unlikely. Time is slipping away!

    Whoever told you that I knocked a kid over should be slapped. That is a flat-out lie.

    Thanks for backing me up.

    Good question. I was imitating the other guy.

    How do you know that?!

    Thanks so much! I really appreciate it. I haven’t been to Anaheim since 1995. That was pre-renovation, so I really can’t give you an tips on the ballpark in its current state. As for generous players…I haven’t had much contact with anyone on the current roster, so I can’t help you out there either. Sorry. The AL West is like an alien division for me.

    I hope you get one (or ten).

    Well, actually, I *am* considering going that day. I’d say it’s kinda unlikely, though. I won’t know until I wake up that day and see how I’m feeling.

    As I mentioned above, I might be at Shea on Wednesday, but I’m not sure yet.

    I just asked people for them as they were leaving the stadium.

    Parallel PC? I’ve never ever heard of that. Anyway, things seem to be working fine, once again. Phew!

    Umm, what? I think you said a lot of high-tech, impressive stuff, but it’s all gibberish to me. Don’t say “anytime” because I really will call you at 4am for computer help. :-)

    Probably not. I think I’ll wait for the attendance to drop in ’09 and then make another appearance.

  38. edeckarizona@gmail.com

    haha alright then. oh, by the way, do you think its worth trying to ge down by the dugouts for autographs? do you know where people usually sign at shea? i’ve gotten pitchers in the corners before, but this is my first night game there. any help would be appreciated.


  39. Txbaseballfan

    Thanks for the emails Zack! Will try to grasp this whole blogging thing. Going to the Ballpark in Arlington Fri. 8/15. Attempting the “glove trick” for the 1st time, will let you know how it goes. Keep up the awesome work!

  40. Alex

    I know this is a bit random, but your last ball this day was your 2,000th at Shea, I believe. You have 2,081 total balls at Shea, so I counted back from that ball and got your 7th ball this day.

  41. zackhample

    Yikes…sorry for the super-slow reply. Anyway, yeah, it’s always great to be able to get down to the dugouts.

    Thanks, and I hope the trick worked out for you.

    Nice job counting the balls, but my total from Shea is just an estimate. I know the exact number of balls I’ve snagged in my life, but I don’t know the exact totals for Shea/Yankee.

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s