8/21/08 at Shea Stadium

Jona (the G.F.) joined me for this game, and when we got off the No. 7 train at Shea Stadium, this is what we saw:

citi_field_sign1.jpg

Talk about timing! The (ugly) sign for Citi Field was in the process of being put up, and if you look closely at the photo above, you can see the “E” dangling backward as it was being hoisted.

Ten minutes later the “E” was in place:

citi_field_sign2.jpg

Thirteen minutes after Shea opened, the Mets still hadn’t started taking batting practice, so I was reduced to begging (unsuccessfully) for balls along the right field foul line. (I’m wearing a white T-shirt and blue cap in the photo below.)

zack_before_BP_started.jpg

Once the Mets finally started hitting, I headed up to the corner spot in the Loge and got two (non-commemorative) balls thrown to me during the next half-hour. The first came from Ramon Castro. The second came from Brian Stokes, and Jona snapped three quick photos as the ball was in mid-air. Here’s the first:

brian_stokes_thrown_ball1.jpg

Here’s the second…

brian_stokes_thrown_ball2.jpg

…and here’s the third (with the nearly-completed Citi Field sign visible):

brian_stokes_thrown_ball3.jpg

Jona and I had been able to find a couple bleacher tickets, and apparently Greg (aka “gregorybarasch” if you read the comments) had gotten one as well because we all ended up there when that section opened:

zack_bleachers_08_21_08.jpg

My third ball of the day was tossed up unexpectedly by a Braves player that I couldn’t see from my spot several rows back. Luckily, Greg had been standing in the front row and told me that Jo-Jo Reyes was the guy who tossed it.

Five minutes later, I scooted to my left along the top of a bench and caught a ground-rule double that Chipper Jones had hit while batting left-handed.

Greg ended up getting a couple balls that I easily would’ve had if he weren’t there, and I’m sure I snagged a few that he would’ve had if not for me. That’s just how it goes. There’s not much room to maneuver at Shea (or Yankee) so whenever we end up at the same game, we inevitably end up getting in each other’s way. (And yet we’re still friends. Awwww.)

Toward the end of BP, I got Julian Tavarez to throw me a ball in left-center field and then got another flipped to me by Vladimir Nunez in straight-away left.

That was it. Slow day.

I gave the Nunez ball to the youngest kid (with a glove!) that I could find. The kid was with some friends, one of whom recognized me from SNY, and Jona (who photographs everything, much to my delight) took a pic while I was talking to them:

zack_after_giving_ball_to_kid.jpg

Just to give you an idea of how I unfairly get a bad reputation…
During BP, there was a man (with no glove or kids) who complained every time I snagged another ball, and when I told him that I was planning to give one of the balls away to a kid, he said, “Yeah right,” and continued bad-mouthing me to everyone in sight. When I finally gave the ball away, not only was the man nowhere to be seen, but a security guard walked over and said, “I see what you did. You gave away the most beat
up ball you had.”

I tried to explain that all my other balls had been labeled…that I wanted to give one away that I hadn’t yet written on…that I simply gave away the LAST ball I had…that I would’ve given it away even if it were brand new…that I prefer to keep beat up balls because it’s fun to look at the markings and figure out how they got there.

He didn’t buy it.

The point is, if you read negative things about me on other blogs and message boards, don’t assume they’re true. I’m not saying I’ve NEVER done anything wrong–just that some people only see what they want to see.

As for the game itself…
yunel_escobar.jpgI stayed in the bleachers and nearly snagged two home run balls. The first was hit by Yunel Escobar on the first pitch of the game. I was lined up perfectly, but the ball fell about 10 to 15 feet short and landed on the netting that (in some places) covers the gap between the bleachers and the outfield wall. Just as I was starting to set up my glove trick, a fan who was standing down below was able to pull the netting aside JUST enough to reach up and squeeze the ball through.

david_wright.jpgIn the bottom of the fifth inning, David Wright hit a line drive homer about 30 feet to my right. I couldn’t have caught it on a fly because it fell several rows in front of the aisle, but because the fans dropped it and bobbled it, I was able to get close enough to it to ALMOST grab it off the ground. My right hand was about a foot away from the ball when I got pinned against the sharp metal corner of a bench (ouch), had my hat knocked off (whatever), and got a cup of beer splashed against my left shin (gross). If I’d gotten there half a second sooner, I would’ve had the ball, and I WOULD HAVE gotten there in time if not for three little kids who were standing right in the middle of aisle, completely blocking my path as I initially jumped up and started running. Some people might’ve knocked the kids over. I, on the other hand, was totally aware of my surroundings and valued the kids’ safety more than getting a David Wright home run ball so I slowed down and carefully slipped past them, and it cost me.

At Yankee Stadium, the people in the bleachers are crude and hostile, but I will say this in their defense: They are INTO the game. At Shea Stadium, the bleacher crowd is out-of-it and just plain annoying. I can’t count the number of times I had to get up and walk across the aisle and ask people to move or sit down because they were blocking my view. Sitting in the bleachers at Shea Stadium is basically like doing three hours of people-watching while something called baseball is being played way off in the background.

The Mets won, 5-4. That much I knew. But I had no idea that Carlos Delgado went 5-for-5 until I got home and read the box score.

I’ll leave you with a pic I took of some of the 51,952 “fans” heading for the subway after the game (followed by my stats):

crowd_leaving_after_game.jpg

STATS:

? 6 balls at this game

? 332 balls in 46 games this season = 7.2 balls per game.

? 542 consecutive games with at least one ball

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

? 3,609 total balls

? 1 last thing (in case you missed it in the comments on a recent entry): there are a couple regular ballhawks at PNC Park who recently started a blog about their snagging exploits, and you can check it out here. Unfortunately I didn’t meet them while I was there earlier this month. Thankfully they found me online and got in touch.

0 comments

  1. yankeesrock

    Hey Zack! Its Yankees Rock. Nice post. I think the dangling E is funny. Its says City Fi!

  2. gjk2212

    i get that impression from the shea bleachers too. and i hate fans like that. in philly thursday, i got 2 consecutive balls in left from wil nieves and jesus colome. when odalis perez told me he wouldnt give me one since i had “4 or 5” the guy and his 13 yr old next to me were like “well hes right, you have a ton.” first off, you saw me get 2 balls. if that qualifies as a ton, then you philly “fans” (thanks jimmy rollins, your right) really are dumber than i thought. also, if you want a ball that bad, 1) ask for one 2) get a nationals hat 3)show up early 4) recognize players with jackets on like i just had.

    honestly, i know you give away balls and its unfair you get a bad rap for doing something you love. last year, you gave my brother a pretty decent looking ball at shea, 9/24/07. it fell in the triangle and it had been thrown to my brother originally, and when security flipped it up, you ended up with it. you didnt even think twice about giving it to him after i inrtoduced myself from the blog and told you what happened. dont worry about people like that, and i think i know the guard your talking about. theres a supervisor, kimberly, who usually works the picnic area, who is really nice. she let me use my cup after bp once in the bleachers gap for a hidden ball after some jerk guard told me i couldnt.

  3. gregb123

    njmetfan — (Answering your question from the previous entry.) It’s the LF bullpen at Nats Park. Don’t even think about using your device. The guy hides underneath the seats, so you can’t even see him, and he won’t give you a warning. He’ll just detach the string and then take the cup.

    Zack — There are people who just strive to be a-holes. You know how it works. They’re just miserable people. Shrug them off.

  4. puckcollector@optonline.net

    yeha good point zack, and as i said, if you have the money to do it, its great, and the trip to your house (apt) would be worth it.

  5. josephfaraguna@yahoo.com

    sucks how people have to be like that even after you gave one away. are you going to have bleacher tix on monday, and who do you get them from anyway? congrats on cbp and shea- Joe

  6. thet206kid

    I dont like the citi signe either, o well at least its not bigger, I really like what the mets are doing now, i think they are going to get the division, my next game will be in a cple weeks when they play the phillies, hopefully they can bury them
    http://thet206kid.mlblogs.com/

  7. mlballhawk

    Zack,

    That is pretty entertaining about the guy that was complaining. In my entry about my game at Dodger Stadium I had a guy that was pretty much the same way. He even went as far as saying I would not get another ball after my 3rd of the day. I ended up with 2 more and both were basically right in front of him! People will complain and whine because they don’t get balls. Hell I even give people a chance if they have a glove on their hand. If you don’t have a glove then you really don’t have a chance!!

    See you next weekend!

    John
    http://mlballhawk.com
    http://majorleagueballhawk.com
    mlballhawk@gmail.com

  8. acsport79@yahoo.com

    zack,
    doesn’t that always happen to you? a person complains about you and not someone else? Oriole Park on monday?

    AC

  9. jack@yankees.com

    hey zack, do you have picnic area seats for monday, if not are you going to try to get them. I have looked for myself but not found any. Also if any knows anywhere i could find them, help would be greatly appreciated

  10. braves04

    I see it was DHL keychain night at Shea. Looks exactly like the same ones the Braves gave out last week lol.
    Jo-Jo Reyes and Gregor Blanco are generous most of the time. I’m surprised Nunez threw one in after he flat out ignored me last week multiple times. Any training balls from the Bravos?

  11. puckcollector@optonline.net

    my dad was there, and said he asked if the guy knew zack, and he said he didnt. maybe it was chris los. lying about knowing zack.

    also someone said it before and now i agree. the novelty is beginnig to wear off.

  12. 47cardsfan

    Hey Zack,
    I went to CBP today 8/23 and managed to get 2 baseballs with my cup trick and 4 balls all together which is alright considering its a sold out game and there are tons of people that come early for sat games. I just wanted to give you or anyone else a heads up to watch out for this crazy usher in section 101 who told me I cant use my cup trick here in this ballpark. After I reeled one in, so I told him I would put it away and not use it. So he said he wanted the string so I said okay, fair enough, but he couldn’t cut the string or untie it, {He was using his car keys HAHAHA} so he said he will be back, after waiting for 5 minuites he comes back and instead if just cutting the string like he said he would he completly ruined the entire cup. I complained and protested and he said the next time he sees me or anyone with a ball retriever they will be ejected. That was the end of that. If you see him stay away, this usher is about 5-8 in his mid 30s with a gotee so if you see him be careful. The only good thing about this is he decided not to take the ball away. JUST GIVING EVERYONE A HEADS UP!!!

  13. m3tsy3@yahoo.com

    Hey zacchie…..your original spelling was BORING, so i spizzazzed it up…haha. Long time me no post…nice photos on the Citi Field signs btw. I was actually by the player’s parking lot when they were putting up the first few letters. I believe the next day they put up the rest. N E WAY just thought i’d say hi even tho i ran into you today on loge. lol. peace man…

  14. 08isovernow

    I forgot, I just don’t think I can go on anymore. Chris had “LIVE CHAT with Chris Los” the other night and I missed it. I had alarm clocks set all over the house to remind me, and I still missed it:(

  15. puckcollector@optonline.net

    ok, i dont want to start another chris debate, so just drop it please. it was just a joke

  16. bigglovebob

    I can personally say that the big glove was a good investment for $100. It has gotten me balls I probably wouldn’t have gotten thrown to me otherwise and the fans get a big kick out of it. I was on Baseball Tonight and they talked about me on the local broadcast. It brings a big smile to a lot of people’s faces (especially kids) so that is a big plus. Believe you me, I have wasted $100 a heck of a lot more foolishly!
    I am known at the Dome as “the big glove guy” but the novelty definitely gets diluted with each big glove that shows up. I have never seen another big glove at the dome and if someone else bought one it wouldn’t be the same. People know that I am the big glove guy and the other person would be an imposter. I would probably invite the guy the engage in some fisticuffs out on the plaza for invading my turf.

  17. zackhample

    EVERYONE-
    Once again, I’m scrambling for free time so I’m just going to answer the comments with questions…

    JOSEPHFARAGUNA-
    I already have bleacher tickets for Monday because they’re being sold individually by the Mets for that ONE specific game. But on other days, I just walk around the outside of Shea before it opens and look for people with extras. It’s tough, but I’ve been getting lucky lately.

    AC-
    It happens from time to time, but I get along with most people at games nowadays. I’ll be in Baltimore on Wednesday. On Monday I’ll be at Shea.

    JACK-
    Yeah, I do already have picnic area seats for Monday (as I just mentioned above to “josephfaraguna”). There’s an email list called “Flushing Flash” that tells you when those seats are going on sale. My advice would be to sign up for that.

    GREG-
    I didn’t see it because I was at Shea.

    LSTHRASHER04-
    No training balls from the Braves.

    M3TSY3-
    Aha! So THIS is your email address. Good seeing you again. Thanks for the ticket stub, and enjoy that bag…

  18. rickymcentire@yahoo.com

    hey zack,
    sorry about missing those two homers. if i had enough jumping ability i would of flew right over those kids. maybe you’ll catch a manny homer in l.a. good luck!

  19. rickymcentire@yahoo.com

    is anyone tired of tim kurkjin from espn saying that tom glavine is the last 300 game winner in baseball? i sure am. he’s totally underestimating the young, talented pitchers in the game like edison volquez, felix hernandez, joba chamberlain, etc. etc. randy johnson may be old, but he’s less than 10 wins away from 300. mike mussina has about a 49% chance of getting there. come on kurky, get with the times!

  20. zackhample

    There will be more 300-game winners, guaranteed. Anyone who says otherwise is sadly misguided. There probably won’t, however, ever be another 400-game winner.

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