8/1/08 at Fenway Park

I left New York City at 10:30am, blasted my iPod in the car the whole way up, got stuck in traffic half a dozen times, and finally parked in the garage behind the Green Monster at around 3pm. As soon as I walked down the garage ramp onto Lansdowne Street, a college-aged Red Sox fan walked up to me and asked if I was Zack Hample.

In my previous entry, I had mentioned that I was going to be there, and sure enough, this
guy had seen it. His name is Garo. He’s a semi-regular at Fenway Park. And the first thing he did was show me how to get a sneak peek inside the stadium. Check it out:


There’s a new restaurant/bar tucked underneath the seats in center field. (The entrance is right on Lansdowne.) This was it. Pretty simple.

behind_the_monster_08_01_08.jpgFenway wasn’t going to open until 5pm, so when the Red Sox started taking batting practice at 4:30, Garo (wearing the red shirt in the photo on the right) and I went to the roof of the garage and camped out for home run balls. Of course nothing came over, so at 4:55 I left empty-handed and ran over to Gate A.

This was another Watch With Zack game–my second of the week and fourth of the season–and my clients still had not arrived at that point. They were from Tallahassee and included two 13-year-olds named Lars and Cody, as well as Lars’ grandmother Jean who had gotten in touch last year after hearing me on NPR. Even though we’d planned this game months in advance, they waited until the last minute to make an appearance. Lars and Cody had the basics–baseball gloves and Red Sox caps–but we didn’t have time to discuss any specific strategies for BP. All I could do was give them each a sheet with the rosters of both the Sox and A’s and tell them to follow me as soon as everyone was allowed in. With 30 seconds to spare, I asked them how many games they’d been to. Lars said he’d been to “one or two” major league games, and as for Cody…this was his first professional game! What a way to start. (Jean said she’d been to about 50 games, going back to the days of the Milwaukee Braves. And by the way, if there’s anyone from Tallahassee who’s reading this, or
even anyone who’d just like to talk baseball in general, Jean would
love to hear from you. Leave a comment and let me know, or email
me and I’ll put you in touch.)

When the stadium opened, several dozen fans got in ahead of us, but we were still the first ones to reach the seats along the left field foul line. Sweeeet!!! I grabbed the corner spot and positioned Lars and Cody about 20 feet apart against the wall in the middle of the section. You can kinda/almost see them leaning out with their gloves in the following photo:


Here’s a close-up. Cody is the one wearing blue, and Lars is in black:


Once the A’s took the field, I told Lars and Cody to turn their hats backward so the players wouldn’t see the logo. (I think Cody turned the logo toward me just for the photo and then quickly switched it back.) This simple form of trickery worked for Lars; he used the roster to identify pitcher Lenny DiNardo and then got him to toss up a ball. Cody, on the other hand, wasn’t as lucky. He had a few close calls during BP but didn’t end up with anything to show for it.

As for me…
Two minutes after the stadium had opened, Justin Masterson tossed a ball to a kid ten feet away, but his aim was off and the ball sailed high and landed in a patch of empty seats. There was a mini-scramble for the souvenir, which I ended up snagging as it trickled down the steps…and yes, I felt a bit guilty. Under normal circumstances, I would’ve handed this ball to the kid for whom it was intended. But this day was special. I had my own “kids” to take care of, so I held onto it, and as it turned out Masterson went and got another ball and hooked up the original kid. Everyone was happy.

Before the Sox finished hitting, I got a second ball by using what I refer to as the “half-glove trick.” I didn’t need the rubber band and magic marker. I only needed the string because the ball was just a few feet out from the wall…in a spot where the wall was nice and low…so I let who_the_hell_are_these_guys.jpg
out a bit of string and swung my glove out and knocked the ball closer and then leaned over the wall and grabbed it. Easy.

Despite the fact that I had a green and yellow A’s shirt to match my green and yellow cap, I couldn’t get a single player or coach to toss me a ball. I partially blame myself for not being able to recognize anyone, but seriously…Joey Devine? Dallas Braden? Sean Gallagher? Jerry Blevins? Who the hell ARE these guys?!

I managed to get one more ball during BP. It was a rocket-shot, pulled on one hop a few feet to my left. I wish the fan behind me had been holding a radar gun. I’d say it had to be traveling 80 to 90mph. Maybe even more. According to Hit Tracker, some balls fly off the bat in excess of 120mph, so there’s no telling how fast this one was traveling. I was about 200 feet from home plate, and it couldn’t have taken more than a second to reach me. Anyway, I half-dove and half-lunged over the wall and reached way out and half-snared the ball between my upper palm and the pocket of my glove. Yes…ouch. But I had it and that’s all that mattered. Between the ball that Lars snagged and the three that I got, there was exactly one ball for each of us.

After BP, Cody and Lars and I each got an autograph from Greg Smith…


Then Jean joined us and we posed with our loot:


There were a few more snagging opportunities that we passed up…like, for example…when the A’s were playing catch before the game along the left field foul line, the four of us were eating pizza in the fourth row on the opposite side of the stadium. That’s where our seats were. Check out the view:


This game was Jason Bay’s first as a member of the Red Sox–or the “Bayston Red Sox” as one fan’s T-shirt read–and the ovation he received during his first at-bat gave me goose bumps and jason_bay_welcome.jpg
almost made my eyes a little misty. It was THAT thunderous and heart-warming. I didn’t get the sense that anyone at Fenway missed Manny. He’s behaved so poorly that even I (a longtime Manny supporter with a personal connection to him) have a tough time rooting for him now. On the other hand, Jason Bay is one of those quiet/professional types who consistently puts up solid numbers but gets no respect because he plays in Pittsburgh. I felt so happy for him. After five years of rotting in baseball hell, he was rescued and thrust into a pennant race in front of 37,832 fans who were truly thrilled to have him. With all due respect to the four million-plus fans who’ve been filling up Yankee Stadium each of the past few years, I have to say that the people in New England are without a doubt more passionate about their team than ANY fan base I’ve EVER encountered. There’s no comparison. It’s not even close.

Bay ended up drawing a five-pitch walk in the bottom of the second (you’ve never heard such loud cheers for a walk), moving to third on a J.D. Drew double, and scoring the game’s first run on a sacrifice fly by Jed Lowrie. Tim Wakefield and Justin Duchscherer matched zeros after that, and it looked like the Sox were going to hang on for 1-0 win until Jack Cust (who’s on pace to strike out 205 times this season) hit an opposite field bomb off Hideki Okajima to tie the game at 1-1 in the eighth.

Jean knew a lot about baseball, and in fact, so did Lars and Cody because they’d read my book. I don’t know if they tried to memorize it or what, but I was blown away with the amount of facts and details they remembered. We all wore our gloves, but since there wasn’t much action in the foul ball department, we focused on watching the game. They asked dozens of questions and I explained everything…from the stats on the scoreboard to the Pesky Pole (which was less than 20 feet to our right) to double-play depth…and on and on and on. I had lots of fun, and I’m pretty sure they did as well.

As the game headed into the 10th inning, I was surprised when hardly any fans left the stadium. Six outs later, however, a few seats opened up so I led Jean and Cody and Lars toward home plate…and this is where we settled down:


With two outs in the bottom of the 11th, I took Lars and Cody to the third base dugout and explained exactly how to get a third-out ball. We were all set to charge toward the front row and yell at whichever A’s player ended up with the ball…when Kevin Youkilis took a called third strike and the catcher rolled it back to the mound.

Five outs later we were back in position, but we didn’t get another shot. Bay hit a towering fly ball high off the Monster for a triple, Drew drew an intentional walk, and Lowrie punched a weak grounder past the left side of the mound that allowed Bay to score the winning run. Final score: Zack 3, Red Sox 2, Athletics 1.

free_seeds_and_gum.jpgLars and Cody and I still went down to the dugout (even though I knew the A’s would be in a foul mood), and it paid off…sort of. We got some gum and seeds from one of the bat boys. He was carrying a few boxes of it, and after I called out and asked him if we could have some, he walked over and held it out and let us grab whatever we wanted. The photo on the right shows what I took. Cody and Lars each got their own stash.

We all lingered inside the stadium as long as possible, then headed outside and I told them where they might be able to get a few more autographs. I didn’t stick around for that, however, and they understood why. It was already well past 11pm, I’d been up since 8:45am, and I had a 211-mile drive ahead of me. Before we parted ways, Jean told me she might send me to a game at Citi Field next season with her son who was born on the day that the Mets won their first World Series…


? 3 balls at this game

? 273 balls in 39 games this season = 7 balls per game.

? 535 consecutive games with at least one ball

? 128 consecutive games outside of New York with at least one ball

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

? 3,550 total balls


  1. boodleheimer1@aol.com

    So American, it could have been painted by Norman Rockwell! Watch With Zack is now part of the national pastime. Come out of the dugout and tip your glove.

  2. "D" The Rockpile Ranter

    Great entry,
    Isn’t it cool how people you have never met before can give you little insider secrets.. I’m referring to the Garo tip on the sneak peak. Being able to get that early sneek peek could give you the info you need on batting practice…Very Cool.
    Do you feel extra pressure when your at a “Watch with Zack game”? I mean, if it is just one kid, when it’s all done you only have to make sure you’ve snagged two balls. With two kids the number goes up..Just curious…Thx…D


  3. nymetsgrrl94

    A similar thing happened to me like how you got the gum and sunflower seeds. I was at a Mets game a bunch of years ago and I was in the first row behind the Mets dugout. We were trying to get a baseball but instead somebody threw gum on top of the dugout. I guess it was to shut us up but I didn’t care because I was like 7 years old so I thought it was cool.

  4. gammonsisgod


    Great read about your trip to Fenway! It really is a beautiful park to watch a game. Hope you had fun!

  5. the72legend@aim.com

    My friend Alex and her family were in Boston for that game. Yesterday she called me andtold me that before the game Tim Wakefield had been warming up in the bullpen. When he was done, he handed the ball to his coach. She said she asked for it and he gave it to her. Anyway, must have been cool to watch Bay debut for the Sox. Emma

  6. nysetrader76@aol.com

    Hey Zack – First time post, long time reader. I’ve gotten a lot of great tips from your site on snagging balls. This weekend at yankee was tough. Saturday no BP due to old timers and the rain, just got back from today’s game and was lucky enough to get 1 ball via the glove trick during the Yankees limited BP (only a few guys took swings). The ball I got was a regular ball, not a commemorative ball. I was going for ball #2 using the trick (which was commemorative) when i had issues with my sharpie losing it’s position and the glove closing too tight so I had to reel up to adjust, i forgot who came over and picked up the ball but needless to say didn’t wind up getting that one. I thought you would find this interesting – the first ball that rolled to the wall, a guy started lowering a cup trick, the security guard in right field said no cups allowed and they reeled up thier cup. I said what the hell, i’ll try my glove trick, worse comes to worse he says stop, he didn’t say a word. I thought that was odd how he allowed a glove, but not a cup. Thanks to your comments, tips and good advice, I’ve gotten 7 balls in my last 3 games at Yankee, not bad considering the nightmare Yankee is for BP. Keep up the good work. Erik

  7. braves04

    I can only imagine Bay’s reaction when he was told he was traded to Boston. Now he gets to show his stuff on a much bigger stage.
    In the last 3 weeks, you’ve snagged bottled water, sunflower seeds, and bubble gum. Who needs a concession stand?

  8. gregb123

    I have an extra ticket in the Picnic Area for the Tuesday night game at Shea vs. the Padres. I’ll sell it for $20 (which is the price of the cheapest seat available for this game anyway). If anybody’s interested, leave a comment here or send me an e-mail.

  9. 81timesayear

    Hey Zack, I just saw that Griffey’s 600th home run ball just sold for $42,000 and was wondering what you would have done with it had you caught it.

  10. josephfaraguna@yahoo.com

    Zach- I’ve been reading your blog for a while but never commented. I’m going to Shea on Tuesday and wondering if you are going. I’ve been to the same games as you recently but never crossed paths. – Joe

  11. goisles

    Hey its puckcollector here. My family and I just got back from a trip to Nationals Stadium. Before I start my recap, I want to say 2 things

    Zack, I have no clue how you got that ball between the flower box and the wall. I could barely see halfway down, never mind fit my glove
    Second, I didn?t think that the ballpark was anything special snagging wise. Zack, you got lucky in having a ton of glove trick opportunities, and the Nats sucked so there was no one there. Now here?s the recap.

    Saturday started with a trip to the National Zoo to see the pandas for my sisters. However I HATE HATE HATE the zoo. I can?t stand it, and I was complaining the whole time, trying to make the time so miserable, that my sisters would want to leave. Well that didn?t work, and gave me bad karma. At 3:20 we headed for the metro, but as we were about to enter, I realized that I had left my cheat sheets of faces in the car. So after going back to the hotel, we finally got to the metro station and had to wait 7 minutes for the Yellow train. Then once we transferred to the green line, we had to wait 11 minutes for that train!! I wanted to be at the park at 4, and when we finally boarded the train at 3:50, my blood pressure was probably sky high. But as it turned out it didn?t matter. I didn?t take into account that the Nats suck, so there were like 10 people there when the center field gates opened at 4:35. As I got my ticket scanned instead of hearing the normal ding, it was a beep. That was bad. It turns out the guy who my dad got the tickets from also sold the electronic set to a different guy, so my tickets didn?t work! Luckily because I told the security guy that my dad got the tickets on Stub Hub (which he did) and the tickets had the right date and teams on them, the guy let me in. When I ran in to left field, the nats hadn?t started BP yet. I checked out the bullpen, and they gap in front of the red porch, before heading back to right field when the Nats began BP. My first ball game as I was trying to glove trick a ball a minute or two after BP started. Saul Rivera walked over and flipped me my first ball in Nationals Stadium. Then maybe 5 minutes later Jesus Flores ripped a deep fly ball. I was in the last aisle before the bullpen began, and took two steps down so I was at the wall. I reached out and felt the ball smack into the palm of my glove. Although it was a training ball (just like the first one of the day) it felt really good cuz I hadn?t caught a ball on the fly since Pittsburgh last June, and was beginning to fell like I couldn?t catch one. Before I was able to identify the batter, I asked the guy who was next to me when I caught the ball if he knew who it was. He replied ?Hey, I’m a Yankees fan.? I almost said back to him ?Hey so am I,?, but decided not to. At about 5:10, karma got me, and it started to POUR! After a string of four letter words that start with the first letter in ?father? and rhyme with ?puck? the grounds crew put the tarp on the field, where it would remain til about 6. Bp was washed out, and I was pissed. After getting a Five Guys burger, I made my way to the 3rd base line where the Reds pitchers were warming up. After he finished throwing, either Edison Volquez or Johnny Cueto fired me my third ball of the day. I thought it was Edison, until later when I was behind the Reds dugout, the same person was signing autographs, and I asked the person next to me to see that ball that they had just gotten signed by him, and it said J. Cueto. Before the game began, I was hanging around the Nats dugout when I coach who wasn?t on the Nats website came to the top of the stairs and turned around. I opened and closed my glove as to ask for a ball, and he said he didn?t have one. He kept looking at me though, and when I turned back, he held up a finger and disappeared under the dugout. After what seemed to be the longest thirty seconds of my life he returned, and rolled a beautiful commemorative ball across the dugout. I still didn?t know who it was though, and when he turned around, which revealed the name on the back of his uniform I jotted down Jo. Martinez # 89. It turns out he?s the BP pitcher. My entire family hung out with friends who had seats at the very end of the Reds dugout maybe 15 rows back. Even though the entire team entered the dugout on that side, I didn?t get any balls during the game. For most of the game it looked like the Reds would win, which would leave me with a good chance for a ball at the end of the game. But in the 7th the Nats scored 4 runs to take the lead, which they would hold on to for a 10-6 win. I went back to the hotel upset with only 4 balls, and even more upset because tomorrow was Sunday, so no BP, and tomorrow?s game was a 1:00 o?clock game time, so gates opened at 10:30, the same time church ended.

    Sunday started out nightmarish. The Catholic Church had a gospel choir, so they took forever to sing the songs, but also at the end of mass it seemed like EVERYONE had an anniversary or birthday to share with the church. So when we got into the car at 10:35, 5 minutes after I believed the gates opened, I was fuming. But I was able to breathe when I looked at my ticket, and saw that game time was 1:35! My dad had made a mistake, and was complaining how early we would be there. I was psyched, and got even happier, when I ran inside and saw that the nats were on the field about to start BP. I later found out from an usher that this was the first time they had taken Sunday BP. My dad and I figured it was because BP was washed out the day before. My first ball came from Reds Bullpen Catcher Mike Stefanski. He walked into the pens with the ball bag, and as he took a few balls out I called out ?Hey Mike! Any chance I can get one of those please?!? he said no, but a minute later he yelled out ?Hey!? and threw me a perfect commemorative ball. Maybe 10 minutes into BP, as I was walking across a row back towards the bullpen, I saw a ball fly through the air, towards two Cubs fans. Lucky for me, they bobbled it, and I scooped it up, a split second before they got their hands on it. I came close to the few balls that were hit into the stands, but didn?t get any. Soon, I realized that left was dead, and moved into the less crowded Red Porch. A ball had fallen into the gap, and I missed a ball that was thrown into the crowd right behind me because I had stopped to set up the glove trick, for a ball that I didn?t get because a security guy had walked into the gap and gave it to a kid. Soon after Jason Bergmann (I think) arched a ball into the crowd two rows behind me. I turned around as a fat guy reached into the aisle to make a one handed catch, but he missed and I dove as the ball rolled down a row into my glove. I scraped my knee a little, but as renowned ball collector Chris Los would say, sometimes you need to sacrifice your body in order to sneg yet another stinking? training ball! A short time after the Bergmann ball, a ball ended up it the gap, and me and a Red Sox fan my aged both asked the worker who went a picked it up. The Bo Sox fan yelled ?He already has one!? and the guy threw it to him. When he turned around I told him he should use that excuse to get a ball when he also already had one. But it was a Red Sox fan, so that says it all. Lastings Milledge was in the last group to take BP for the Nats, and was crushing balls. He hit one that landed two rows behind me, and trickled down one row into the palm of my glove. It was 11:59, and the rest of the stadium was about to open, so I waited for a minute on the concourse, and rushed into the seats above the scoreboard in right at 12:01, where Jay Bruce (!) threw me my 5th ball on the day. Reds BP was very empty because of ?Signature Sundays.? This is where fans can line up behind the dugouts, and players will sit on the dugouts and sign and take pictures. Lucky for me, most people were occupied by this, so the seats were relatively empty. Maybe 10 minutes after the Bruce ball, and after a few close calls on MONSTER home runs by Adam Dunn, a ball rolled to the base of the wall, and I called out to Gary Majewski, who I recognized by the crazy hair, who on his first try threw the ball straight up the wall, and just out of reach. I knew I could miss, and second and I didn?t. The ball stayed in the tip of my glove. There was still a good half hour of BP, and I really wanted double digits, so I needed one more ball before BP ended. There was a ball that bounced into the Nationals bullpen, and rolled to the base of the back wall. Unfortunately, I couldn?t get it because the seats overhand the bullpen, and my glove couldn?t pick up a ball that was a foot behind me. Brandon Phillips almost threw me a ball towards the end of BP, and after that I moved behind the Reds dugout in an attempt to get a ball thrown to me as they excited the field. That was unsuccessful, but I got a good look at the Long Haul Bombers (who looked juiced) before I moved back to left to try to catch a softball. The guys were crushing the balls, and the third batter up (don?t ask me who) launched a ball in my direction. It hit a guy in the chest behind me as he tried to catch it, and bounced down. I reached across a railing, and got it. It was brand new, and like the players who were hitting it, it was juiced. It said ?DISTANCE? underneath the logo. After that I moved to my seats in section 128 and moved down to the third row on the home plate end of the Nats dugout. I didn?t get a ball before the game, and my only chance came after the first when Colin Balester recorded a strikeout to end the inning, but Wil Nieves rolled the ball back to the mound. The only other inning ending strikeout was in the 9th. I didn?t get any other third out balls but in the sixth, with one out and one on, Adam Dunn hit a little roller, and Alberto Gonzalez didn?t make the throw. Balester was pulled, and Gonzalez tossed the ball to the bat boy, who tossed it to 1st base coach Jerry Morales, who tossed it to me for my 7th ball of the day. The Nats won 4-2, and closer Joel Hanrahan got the ball. It was his first save, so he was being interviewed, and because it figured he would keep the ball from his first save, I turned me attention away from him. Soon, someone flipped a ball up from under the dugout, and after having it drop out of my glove, and bounce on the roof of the dugout, I made the recovery and got my 8th ball, which I quickly put in my pocket, and then snagged a ball that Jose Vidro tossed up for my 9th and final ball of the day. Hanrahan was done with his interview, and as I turned toward him, he surprisingly flipped another person the ball!? All in all, I had a good trip.

    13 balls
    2 games

    One last thing: as we were listing to the post game show on the radio on the way home, winning pitcher Colin Balester said the magic words: PLAYOFF RACE! Well Colin if you team wins the next 60 games and is in the NL West, you have a chance.

    2,203 words.


    Hey Zac it’s Garo

    That was one hell of a game wasn’t it? My plan (and only reason for going to this game) was to go to the on deck circle near the sox dugout and say something encouraging to Jason Bay before his first AB, stupid i know, but i felt like i had to. Anyway, I went down the aisle near the dugout boxes, reached over the short wall and said “WELCOME TO BOSTON JASON, BEST OF LUCK TO YOU” then i stuck out my hand and HE GAVE ME A HIGH FIVE. It was unbelievable, then from the 6th inning on my friend and I watched the entire game from the second row behind the plate. We ended up befriending the security guard and he even let me have one of the baseballs that got stuck on the screen after the game. Let me know if you’re ever in beantown again and I’ll pull some strings and get us on the monster.


  13. goisles

    sorry, the last ball wasnt vidro. the guy next to me siad it was and i didnt check the roster before i wrote that to check because father puck was yelling at me to finish up cuz its midnight. :)

  14. zackhample

    Thanks so much.

    Nah, I don’t feel any extra pressure. My guarantee is just for one ball, regardless of how many people I’m with…although I definitely try like crazy to get a ball for everyone.

    It’s pretty cool at any age. :-)

    It’s a beautiful place, no doubt, but it’s not the best place to snag baseballs.

    Nice story about the Wakefield ball, and yeah, it was REALLY cool to be there for Bay.

    Thanks for reading and for finally commenting. It’s good to hear from you. Sorry to hear you had some trouble with the glove trick, but at least it worked once. I’m not sure what the deal is with security not allowing cups, but it just goes to show that the glove trick is superior! Seven balls in three Yankee games is VERY impressive. Keep up the great work.

    Funny. I hadn’t thought of it like that.

    I’m gonna have to pass because I’ll be in Philly. GAH!!!

    I probably would’ve kept it. $42,000 is obviously a LOT of money, but it’s not life-changing money. I don’t know. I’ve never sold a ball. It’s hard to say. I kept the Bonds home run ball (No. 724), and that’s worth at least a few thousand bucks.

    I’ll be in Philly on Tuesday. Hope we get to cross paths soon, though.

    That was quite a comment by you…and quite an experience at those games. I read every single word you wrote, but don’t ask me to comment back about every single thing you mentioned. I don’t want to be up all night. Basically, I’m just glad you were about to get a few of those commemorative balls. That’s key. Nice work on the softball as well.

    Welcome to the comments section! Thanks for everything. It was fun hanging out, and I hope we get a chance to check out the Monster seats someday. That would be incredible…but not as incredible as your experience with Jason Bay.

  15. 07nlchamps

    Hey everyone, we have the Nationals in town for the next 4 days. Does anyone know if they take their commemorative balls on the road. I just need to know since I give all of the balls that I catch away, if I need to bring some other balls to trade out. Thanks, Dan

  16. deleted


    Don’t hate on Sean Gallagher! He was a former Cub.
    And even Jerry Blevins was in the minor league system of the Cubs.

    Yankee Stadium didn’t work out for me at all. Long story short, because of an airline, I didn’t have my mitt at the game. It didn’t matter though, no BP. Maybe a three or four balls tossed total. Not exactly what I had pictured, but at least I had made it to an historic park before it was torn down. However, I can also say that the new Yankee Stadium cannot be here fast enough.

  17. deleted

    I take it back, reading the comments I guess there was bp.

    Since it was my first time to Yankee, I walked around the stadium a bit, and had a bite to eat before going to the field.

    Oh well

  18. jigsawbolander@aol.com

    Zack, I’ve been reading your blog for a couple months but this is my first time commenting.

    Anyway, I live in Indianapolis so there are no major league teams around but the Pirates AAA team is here and I went to one of their games the other night. As batting practice concluded, there were still a couple of balls on the warning track, so I set up my glove trick to try and reel them in. As I lowered my glove, the string was tangled, but then it all unraveled at once and my glove hit the ground and my sharpie fell out onto the field. So I brought my glove back up and put a pen in and got the ball. My brother was trying to get a different ball in right center field, but an usher came over and told him to stop, so we left it there. When the game started, both the ball and the sharpie were on the field, and they stayed there until the grounds crew finally saw them and picked them up in the fifth inning after a ball was hit near them.

    In the eighth inning, we moved to some seats behind the third base dugout to try and get a third out ball, and the third pitch after we got there, a lefty fouled off a monster pop-up. I was on the aisle and in an empty row, so I had plenty of range, but the ball came right to me. I literally stood up and turned around and caught the ball on the fly; my FIRST career game ball.

    I snagged four balls in total and my brother got four as well. Thanks for the tips and keep up the good work.


  19. buschstadiumballcollector

    hey zack it darron from st.louis yesterday was build a bear day at the stadium so there were a ton of kids which made the bleachers packed ut i still managed to get two baseballs but ill start of with a couple quick storys from yesterday first when i first got in i ran to were all the pitchers were playing catch in left feild i was setup in the second row and asking for a ball well when kyle kendrick got done playing catch he pointed at me and flipped a ball towards me well the guy in front of me was reaching for it well i could see Kyle throw the ball and this guys hand shot up real quick i was close enough to this guy that i could reach out with the tip of my glove but not make the catch so this ball was about a foot away from his hand so i swatted out of the air well then i looked at the ball laying on the warning track and guess what i seen on it a Washington Nationals Inagural Seaon logo so that means the phillies are using the nats balls in bp well back to my other story this one is shorter then the last one pretty much i was one person away from catching a ryan howard bp homerun ball it hooked at the last second and the kid just reached out and caught it. Alright back to my 2 baseballs i got during bp the first one i got from brad lidge then i got one from Kyle Kendrick that i lyed to get told him it was for my nine year old cousin good thing she was with me i even faked the hand off and wispered when we get back to the seats give it back she said ok but i talked my parents into staying after the game they said ok and she ended up getting a ball from Les Walrond i got my 30th ball last night 2 so im doing pretty good i have 15 balls this year

  20. xholdourownx@gmail.com

    gorockies – the nats had their balls with them for bp when they came to atlanta recently.

    zack – havent commented in a while. been busy moving and getting ready for school. i would definitely be interested in talking to jean. i would love to talk to her about the old braves teams. or just anything. here is my email address:
    glad to see you had a good day at fenway. i hope to go next summer.

  21. fenwayballhawk

    hey zack ive been following ur blog 4 a couple of weeks now and finally decided 2 post. fenway is my home ballpark and its cool to see u attend there sometimes. if ur ever in fenway 4 a game, maybe we could meet up and go 2 one 2gether.anyway i created a blog to talk about my ball collecting at fenway park if u wanna check it out
    lansdowne street is the title of my blog
    it was funny seeing u in the lasndowne parking lot as thats where i get most of my balls

  22. districtboy

    Puck Collector, WOW, 10 people in line! That’s almost three times as many as usual. I’m not surprised Saul Rivera threw you a ball. Saul is the man. This year he threw me a ball in four straight games, and tossed me a ball in six straight games last year. The Nationals having BP on Sunday is actually a permanent thing from now on. Acta and Lenny Harris just reported that. Can’t argue with doing anything possible to make the Nationals slightly better. Ugh

    Zack, good post, I still don’t how you managed to get balls at Fenway in the middle of summer. I wish I could visit Fenway. I’m not sure anything could be as nice as PNC Park though. Jeez, it’s beautiful. What a shame for that lame fan-base (and lame team).


  23. zackhample

    I’ll have to answer comments late tonight or tomorrow. I’m about to head off to Philly. If I snag anything less than 10 balls, I’ll be disappointed…

  24. Jake

    Hey Zack,
    I went to the Pirates – DBacks game last night and got 3 balls. I was hoping for a gamer because we had seats front row down the line, but I came up short. There were two rollers that came my way during the first innning and they were both scooped up by the guy right to the left of me. That was it except for a towering foul pop off the bat of Mark Reynolds that landed about a yard away from the seats directly in front of me. Of course that one bounced way over my head and about 12 rows back. After the game I headed down to the dugout and got a ball from Lou Frazierthat looked to be game used. It was rubbed with mud and scuffed so I believe that it was. As for the two in BP, I picked them both up of the ground. Andy LaRoche and Steve Pearce were the suppliers.
    I’m probably going on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Good luck at CBP tonight.

  25. PSU532@yahoo.com

    Zack, hit the ATM machine…….

    With Shea Stadium set to be demolished after this season, fans and collectors can buy seats from the 44-year-old ballpark — for $869 per pair — online at Mets.com beginning Aug. 25.

  26. gjk2212

    for the seats at shea, i heard season ticket holders get first pick of their seats.

    anyway, tonights shea recap. VERY interesting night, some good some bad. i met greg in line, with our picnic area tix! and we learned we couldnt get in the bleachers until 540. i tried to work right field but it just didnt work out. ill let greg share his snag details. anyway, we finally got in the bleachers and it was kind of dissapointing. i badly misjudged a ramon castro homer and got an arm wave from joe smith. players werent throwing balls up and i was still at zero with the padres taking the field. a ball was hit and stayed on the warning track for a few minutes, didnt think anyone saw it. i hung back a few rows, watching for homers but keeping my eye on that one. finally, after what felt like a year(probably 5 minutes), i saw a padre walking along the wall. he took a few steps out, and when i saw his face, i got VERY excited. greg maddux. he walked to the ball, i made my polite request, and he looked at me. he examined the ball, and i said “for a pads fan, please.” he saw the hat, gave me a little look, then i had it. big first ball out of the way, and who better to get it from. btw, josh banks is an @$$. anyway, the rest of bp was pretty bad. nobody was throwing anything up, and nothing was reaching me on a fly. bp ended, and i decided to stick around the picnic area, wanted to go for a game homer. there was no on field action, so i went to the triangle in the bleachers, in front of the farthest section in left field. tons of garbage and tall weeds and grass. i had searched there before and seen nothing. this time though, i spotted a white spot under an old potato chip bag, i swung my cup out and moved the chip bag, and sure enough, there was a ball. 15 minutes and tons of cup swinging to move bottles and grass later, it stuck in the cup. during the game, i sat in one of the short handicapped rows in rhe main aisle. i made sure nobody needed it, dont worry. anyway, kevin kouzmanoff crushes one that i line up. it was coming. i was thinking, could it really be this easy, my first game homer? but no, it was losing distance. i couldnt hop the bar in time and it landed 2 rows short. i was pissed, but still, what a rush. a few innings later, fernando tatis hit one that i ran over to where it was going near, and bounced around a few hands, but i was just too far away to begin with. now, my most frustrating/angry moment of the night. carlos beltran finished warming up pre-top 9th, and held up the ball. i was in the big main aisle, center field side. i waved my glove, we made eye contact, and he lobbed it perfectly to me. the guy on my right, with his family, wrapped his hand around my glove arm, held it down, and when i went to barehand it, he took his other arm and swiped at me. scratched me and threw my arm down. my arm was pinned to a rail, the ball hit my stuck arm, bounced down, hit his wife in the face, and his kid grabbed it. he let me go and i just stared at him. i said “are you KIDDING ME??” he kind of gave me a look, so i said “wow. pretty good sportsmanship there. gotta hand it to ya” he sat down and didnt talk anymore, the whole ninth. i was beyond angry. nice shea ball from carlos beltran, and this jerkoff screwed it up for me. hope your night in philly was better!

  27. dodgerduder

    hey Zack! It was cool running into you tonight. I’m going to try email you asap. I only have Internet on my phone. Hopefully I will be able to tonight. Hope to see you tomorrow.

  28. fenwayballhawk

    zack u should try and head up to boston for the futures at fenway game this saturday. minor league clubs play against each other at fenway while the sox are on the road. its great for ball snagging, i went last year and all the players were really nice and always completeley willing to give baseballs to the crowd, also the place does not sell out so its not as busy as a sox game, and the tickets are reduced to 5 dollars! the players also give many autoographs and its just a rlly fun dy for a baseball fan!

  29. padreleigh

    Aaron Heilman is the BEST! He’s good enough to be a Padre. The Padres are so BAD that the Mets tried to give it to us tonight and we wouldn’t take it. Geeze. So, how did you guys all do getting autos and balls from the Padres tonight?>


  30. gregb123

    Well, Shea sucked @$$ tonight. What a ******* let-down. The one day I get Picnic Area tickets and the ******* Padres are in town.******** Padres. If not for Kevin Kouzmanoff and his first row power, they must have hit two home runs during that whole ******* hour. Why couldn’t it have been a real team instead of some lame quadruple-A ballclub. (And they almost beat the Mets.******** Mets. (I’m taking everyone down with me.))

    Can anybody explain why Brian Myrow and Nick Hundley and Luis Rodriguez and Mike Adams and Justin Hampson are in the big leagues? Oh right, because they’re on the Padres.******** Padres. And can anybody explain to me why the Shea Stadium bleachers don’t open during the Mets portion of BP?

    If I offended anybody in this comment, I’m sorry. I just can’t stand it when something that should be awesome is so ******. Citi Field: hurry. Actually, tomorrow: hurry. The Marlins better hit some balls out at Citizens Bank tomorrow.

  31. gregb123

    By the way, I got four balls. And if anybody is thinking about trying to cheer me up by saying that 99.999% of the population have never snagged four balls in their entire lives, shut the hell up.

  32. gregb123

    Oh, and Gary and Sammy Wu, nice hanging out with you guys. Joe, nice meeting you. Good luck in the future.

  33. josephfaraguna@yahoo.com

    nice metting you greg. the padres are pretty terrible, and Greg Maddox couldn’t throw one of his hundred precious baseballs to anyone. how was citizens bank park zack? got 4 yesterday @ shea even with the padres there.

  34. josephfaraguna@yahoo.com

    btw, tatis’s 2nd homer landed 10 feet away and the guy two seats away from me got it, but i got on sportscenter 4 it!

  35. padreleigh

    Hi Joseph…

    Yeah, Greg Maddux doesn’t ever throw many balls up. He really has to be in a good mood or something. That’s cool you got four. Did you get them from the Padres or Mets?

    Hey Greg…

    You know, when you were in San Diego and I met you I was really nice to you and didn’t bag on the Mets to you. I just bagged on your choice of cheap hotels. I even let your really weak handshake you gave me slide. For future reference, people take offense if you don’t really grip their hand. Man up next time. I’ve been keeping that to myself, but after your anti Padre rant you deserve it. I know the Padres are bad this year, but you left out the fact that we SWEPT you all four games here this year and we darn near won again tonight. So, I guess we are a “REAL” team. We’re just not a “real good team.” Good enough to sweep you here though I guess. You knew I was going to read your post and you know I am a Padres season ticket holder so don’t feel all hurt. You pushed the button. You should expect a response. Totally uncool post since you knew I would read it. You probably get way more balls than most of the kids (and adults) that post on here. So, honestly, quit your crying. You still got four balls. Direct your frustrations somewhere else next time. Your whining makes your handshake deficiency all the more clearer.


  36. gregb123

    Leigh —
    You’re absolutely right, and I’m very sorry. I was really frustrated last night because of a series of extremely annoying events over the course of yesterday, the least important of which was the Padres not hitting any BP home runs. (What the hell is wrong with New Yorkers? So what if I’m wearing a Padres cap? Don’t yell at me.) Long story short, I took out my frustration on your team and that was uncalled for. I really have nothing against the Padres, and I definitely have nothing against the city of San Diego, so once again, I’m sorry for the offensive rant. Zack, you can delete that first post if you want. By the way, Leigh, what’s your ball count up to this season?

    njmetfan —
    The fourth ball? Cup-trick in the LF Loge, right before the end of BP.

  37. bloggingboutbaseball

    I just went to my first game since reading about your tips and tricks… GOOD NEWS! I snagged 2 balls (tying my record) and got Garrett Olson to sign an autograph at last night’s Angels/Orioles game.
    Thanks for putting up such great stuff!
    BTW, my fiancee just bought me your new book as a birthday present. Can’t wait to start reading.

  38. thet206kid

    no balls at shea last night,, but I did get my 600th auto (Pedro Martinez) I also saw and talked really quick with Ron Darling and I saw Jerry Coleman (Padres announcer and former Yankee) and Jody Gerut

  39. zackhample

    I wasn’t sure, but it looks like you got an answer from someone else.

    Damn. I’m afraid to know what happened to your glove. Sorry for hatin’.

    Thanks for reading, and welcome to the comments section. It’s always nice to hear from new people. Gotta watch out for tangling string. That’s definitely one of the hazards when it comes to using a glove (or cup) trick. Very strange that the game started with that stuff still on the field. Congrats on the gamer. Very cool.

    That’s quite an impressive 600th autograph. Nice work!

    Sounds like a crazy day. Thanks for sharing the details. I hope to get a ball from Lidge at some point. I’ve always liked him.

    I just passed along your email address to Jean. If she doesn’t write to you within a few days, I guess I’ll just give you her address.

    Welcome to the comment section. As I mentioned above to Brendan, it’s nice to hear from new people on here. (And for all the old people, it’s great to keep hearing from you.) I’m not sure when I’ll be back at Fenway. I guess the best place to find out my plans is right here on my blog. I’ll have to check out your a bit later. I’m crazybusy right now and getting ready to leave for Shea. Oh…and I’m gonna pass on the Futures Game. I don’t collect minor league balls (or even major league balls if they’re used by minor leaguers).

    Well, I didn’t get THAT many balls at Fenway. I might be at PNC in the *very* near future. Stay tuned…

    Wow, the same guy got two foul balls in one game? Sorry he did that at your expense.

    I would pay NOT to have seats from Shea.

    Man, that is one of the most frustrating things I’ve heard in a while. When other fans use physical force to prevent me (or in this case YOU) from getting balls…wow, there’s absolutely no excuse for that.

    Great running into you too, and thanks for the pic. I’ve already posted it on my new entry. See you again very soon.

    I hate Heilman. You guys can have him.

    You’re the best. (Do I have to delete that first comment? I like it sooooo much.)

    Philly was pretty good yesterday. My entry about it is now up.

    Awesome! So glad to hear it. Hope you enjoy the book.

  40. deleted

    Hey Zack –

    It was a lot of fun to meet you today.
    Quick recap. I could have got 3 balls, SHOULD have got 2 of them.

    First one was thrown in the general direction of a little(er) kid, so I didn’t go all out for it.

    Second one was thrown by Johan Santana to a group of 3 or 4 people, I got right behind them, but when it went over them, it went over me too. If I was standing in my original spot it would have been mine. I dove over the railing, killed my shins, and the little kid from ball #1 got it. He said it was his second ball overall, and his first from Shea, so I’m glad he got it.

    The third one was the home run I told you about where I was reaching over as far as I could and it barely hit the tip of my mitt. If only I brought my less broken in, but larger outfielders mitt, or if I was an inch taller, or if the railing was an inch shorter.

    Whatever, it was awesome to finally meet you, and watch you in action. I’d have to say it was the best day of getting shut out ever.

    I did try for the third ball out in the first inning, but it was a strikeout, and I was far away from where it ended up. In the second inning I was kicked out by the usher. Oh well, thanks for telling me how to get down there in the first place.

    I’m sure you know the feeling of just missing some balls (not getting shut out though). The only thing I want to do now is go to a place like washington or pittsburgh and get 10…

    Once again, it was great to meet you and get some tips. Good luck on saturday if you go.

  41. maor215

    pretty sweet what you do, takng ur advice and going to snag some balls next season!

  42. yankeehater626

    i went to an angels red sox game at fenway and i loved it!

    i kow what your saying about the A’s even in Anaheim I have a hard time figuring out who is who with oakland switching up their roster so much…

    little known secret about fenway : the visiting team walk through the concourse after they change…if you can avoid security long enough, you can get some cool autographs

  43. zackhample

    Wow, talk about a delayed response! Sorry about that. Anyway, I remember you very well, and it was great meeting you too. Thanks for the recap…although I wished it’d turned out better for you.

    Another delayed response. Sorry…but thanks so much, and I wish you success in ’09.

    Cool. Thanks for that tip. I hope I get a chance to try that this season.

  44. chasicle

    I accidentally clicked on this link and found a gem. “…Dallas Braden?… Who the he’ll ARE these guys?!”

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