8/22/08 at Shea Stadium

crowd_outside_gate_c.jpgBy the time Gate C opened at 4:40pm, the line of fans waiting to get in was longer than I’d ever seen it. (This photo, by the way, only shows the first part of half the line. There were just as many people behind me, snaking off into the distance in the opposite direction.)

During the entire Mets’ portion of batting practice, I managed to snag ONE ball. I was in the Loge Level in right field and got Luis Ayala (who didn’t recognize me because he was recently traded to the Mets) to toss it up after he finished playing catch. The ball was commemorative, which made me feel good for about 1.6 seconds, and then I went back to being annoyed that my day was off to such a slow start.

At least I got to have a funny conversation with Mets bullpen coach Guy Conti. A bit earlier, when I was standing along the right field foul line on the Field Level, I got his attention by asking if he wanted to play catch.

“I need to warm up my arm,” I said.

“So do a lot of these guys,” he replied while giving a little nod toward the pitchers. Then he asked, “When does school start back up?”

“I wouldn’t know anything about that,” I said, “because I graduated from college almost eight years ago.”

old_and_older.jpg
Conti couldn’t believe it. “You look so young!” he shouted.

“Good,” I said.

“It IS good,” he continued. “Feliciano is always trying to get young girls, but he looks so old. I keep telling him he’s got no chance.”

“No chance at all,” I said, and we both laughed.

Despite the fact that there was an enormous crowd waiting for autographs behind the Mets’ dugout, I was able to work my way into the front row just before the whole team came off the field, and I got a ball tossed to me by Mets bench coach Sandy Alomar Sr.

Jona (my girlfriend, in case you’re new to this blog) was with me again, and for the second day in a row we were able to get tickets for the picnic area. Once that section opened, I ran out there and immediately grabbed a home run ball, hit by some righty on the Astros, that clanged off the metal flooring.

Fifteen minutes later, I used my glove trick to snag a ball that had dropped into the gap between the bleachers and the outfield wall, and two minutes after that I got Michael Bourn to toss me another.

Ready for the funny photo of the day? It’s actually not THAT funny without an explanation, so let me first tell you what happened…

During the final round of BP, another unidentifiable Astros righty launched a deep fly ball 50 feet to my right, at which point I ran through the aisle and jumped as high as I could and made a backhand catch with people all around me. It WAS a nice catch, but considering the fact that most of the other fans were flinching, and that I played college ball, and that I’m still relatively young and fit…I’m sorry but it wasn’t THAT incredible. None of the grown-ups were wearing gloves. None of the kids even saw the ball coming. And there was lots of luck involved. If the ball had traveled six inches farther, my white-boy-vertical-leap wouldn’t have been enough, so after everyone was done oohing and ahhing and I was walking back to my spot in the middle of the section, Jona happened to capture me with a funny/telling facial expression:

zack_after_catching_home_run.jpg

It’s like I was thinking, “People. Please. That was easy. You’re all fools for thinking otherwise. I had it all the way. Now step aside.”

One minute before BP ended, I used my glove trick to snag another ball which I promptly handed to a little girl on my right who (of course) was wearing a glove and hadn’t yet snagged one on her own.

Jona and I stayed in the bleachers for the game. At least I think there was a game. I heard later that it was pretty good–that the Mets won, 3-0, behind another strong outing by Johan Santana. I didn’t know it at the time because this was my view during most of it:

view_during_game_08_22_08.jpg

Seriously, the kids were out of control–or rather the “parents” were out of control for allowing their kids to eat sugar all night and get hyper and run around the aisle nonstop and stand right in front of people who were there, ostensibly, to watch baseball.

H_balls_08_22_08.jpg
STATS:

? 7 balls at this game (five of which were marked with an “H” by the Houston Astros, one of which I gave away)

? 339 balls in 47 games this season = 7.2 balls per game.

? 543 consecutive games with at least one ball

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

? 3,616 total balls

0 comments

  1. jack@yankees.com

    i went to a minor league affiliate of the astros and got a couple of those h balls. Also are the picnic area seats general admission or are they assigned seats

  2. gjk2212

    good job..ive never gotten an h ball and i kinda want one..but i just dont see the astros enough..i did see a guy get one at a met-marlin game this year..anyway, im really pumped for my 1st washington trip tuesday. i want season tickets for batlimore but i dont think its gonna happen, im trying though. i know your going, if you happen to be able to grab an extra or any way i can get one, please email me.

  3. rickymcentire@yahoo.com

    i totally agree zack,
    i when little kids are sitting in front of me at sports events because they’re not there to watch the game, but just to go running around acting like morons. oh, guess what? bought a box of baseball cards(i think they were upper deck) from k-mart not too long ago and i found a boog powell rookie card inside(along with three autographed mickey mantles which makes five autographed mantles in my collection) and i was phsyced! Do you think if I mailed it to you you could get it signed for me the next time you go to a orioles game?

  4. Txbaseballfan

    I agree kids can be annoying, unless you have a cute 9 yr. old girl that gets you your 1st ball ever & then gets it signed by David Dellucci! Tex/Cle game 8/23, 2 balls from BP. (have some photos if you’re interested Zack). Ballpark in Arlington isn’t as hard for ball-hawking as I thought. Zack, you’re a great teacher & hope one day we’re able to go to a game together. Brian

  5. braves04

    There’s no way I would’ve kept my cool with those kids. Annoying kids are one thing, but when they continuously block the view of what others paid to see, that’s disrespectful on the part of the parents.
    The exterior of Citi Field looks great. Too bad they ruined the retro look with a corporate sign. At least the Yankees haven’t stooped that low yet.

  6. puckcollector@optonline.net

    i just always yell Down in Front! then they give me a nasty look and sit down.

    fatherpuck: do you mid telling your down in front story at the caps game?

  7. gjk2212

    ive been trying to get a hotel in baltimore for tuesday night, since ill be at nats park tuesday and camden wednesday. many places are full and when asked what the occasion is, they say baseball. camden never has alot of people, i dont get it. unless its just overflow yankee fans staying a few days more to check out the city..i really hope theres not..i wanna have a big 2 days since my whole september will probably be shea and yankee only..MAYBE one cbp trip, thats it.

  8. MLBallhawk

    Hey Zack! First off I am in the process of switching my MLBlog from http://majorleagueballhawk.mlblogs.com to http://ballhawk.mlblogs.com. I also have a new Logo! Ok so it might look like a Hawk or an Eagle but either way I like it!
    So everyone go over and check out my new MLBlog at http://ballhawk.mlblogs.com.

    As for the kids, i know that at times kids like that can be annoying but I am guessing you had your moments as well. I am guessing that if or when you have kids of your own you will appreciate just letting your kids act like maniacs at a game. The biggest thing, it means that you will get piece and quiet the entire drive home and the rest of the night!

    I will see you in Anaheim on Saturday!!

    John
    http://ballhawk.mlblogs.com
    http://mlballhawk.com
    mlballhawk@gmail.com

  9. MLBallhawk

    Ok now to fix the error in my comment ….. piece should be peace … and I meant that I am sure you had your moments as a kid at games!

    Either way it definitely makes the night a lot easier since they are so worn out!

    John
    http://ballhawk.mlblogs.com

  10. puckcollector@optonline.net

    ballhawk: when i click the link to the new blog, it says im not authorized to view the page.

    also do you count balls the same way as zack. only balls gotten from MLB games, or do you include Spring training or minors, or like college?

  11. ermetfan28@yahoo.com

    Nice Job Zack!
    I’ve been reading your blog for a few months but this is my first time commenting. I am 14 years old and a huuuggee met fan. I was at that game and didn’t find much luck during the visitors BP. I was at the corner by the dreamseats and balls were hit right in front of us and seconds later an Astro pitcher would come and just throw it back, not paying any attention to us. But in a way it was good because after the game rite outside the stadium I was able to get autographs from Hunter Pence and Jose Valverde.

  12. the72legend@aim.com

    Good job on the 7 baseballs Zack. I LOVE the pic of you after that catch. I have a dumb question for anyone who has a MLB blog like Zack’s of their own. How do you make one? Do you go to MLB.com or where? Thank you SOOOOOOOOOOOO much to whoever answers this.
    -Emma

  13. 333greystreet

    Zack,
    Sounds like you had a good game. I like Guy Conti. At the Pirates/Mets game on 8/18 I was asking one of the Mets pitchers if I could have his warm up ball after he threw in the bullpen prior to the game. The reliever was ignoring me. Conti turned and looked at me, pointed, and said, “You’ve got the right shirt on!” He tossed me a ball. It was a Shea Stadium Commemorative Ball. It was my first Shea ball. I stole a page from your playbook and bought a Mets shirt and hat.

    Erik
    http://countingbaseballs.mlblogs.com/

  14. rickymcentire@yahoo.com

    Did anybody hear about the tigers getting whipped by the royals? the royals!? the royals!!? the royals?!!! gee, you’d think that bringing in miguel cabrera and dontrelle willis would actually help you not suck. final score was 7-3. also, franky rodriguez collected his 50th save. 8 more to beat thigpen’s record of 57. phillies lost, d-rays lost, d-backs lost, why the heck am i saying all this? 9:12 p.m. here in utah. getting really bored, sad that the olympics are over, watching the news, hatin’ the red sox, mocking the tigers,
    trying to get on with my life, getting hungry, craving pickles, losing my mind, must stop typing, there we go.

  15. padreleigh

    John Witt….

    Are you going to be in Anaheim on Thursday the 28th? I’m supposed to be there and might say hello if I see you.

    Leigh

    Zacker….

    PETCO Park awaits….

  16. gjk2212

    picnic area sold out for tonight, just checked. im not goin, other plans, but i wanna be there. i miss shea (believe it or not) but im sure i wont after going to baltimore and washington this week.

  17. zackhample

    EVERYONE-
    I’ll have to answer comments later. Sorry…but I have a friend from out of town staying with me (who needs to be taken out for some New York pizza) and then I have to run back to Shea.

  18. rickymcentire@yahoo.com

    thanks for the correction on the phillies goislanders4,
    i must have read the box score on espn wrong. i always misread when im hungry.

  19. MLBallhawk

    Puck – I think you got it but it is broken down on the top of my MLBlog. 3730 total MLB Balls – 2813 of those at regular season MLB games. Just remember that I have caught, yes actually caught or ran down at least 75% of those balls.
    Anyway, I have it in broken down in a few different ways, gives me more milestones to hit. The next one that I hope comes SOOOOON is Game Home Run #100. The link to the new MLBlog should be OK now!

    Leigh – There is an outside chance I will be there. I am working the NASCAR race in Fontana this weekend so I might have to go to the track that night. I will be at Dodger Stadium one of the 2 nights at least that Zack is in town.
    John
    http://ballhawk.mlblogs.com
    http://mlballhawk.com

  20. zackhample

    JACK-
    It’s general admission.

    RICKYMCENTIRE-
    Sorry but I wouldn’t be able to get you an autograph from Boog Powell…or anyone. When I’m at games, I’m totally focused on fulfilling my own collecting goals.

    BRIAN-
    Thanks. I hope we can go to a game together, too.

    ERMETFAN28-
    Thanks for reading, and thanks for finally commenting. Sounds like you got a few good autographs. Congrats on that. Hope to hear from you again…

    EMMA-
    It’s not a dumb question. Just go to mlblogs.com (or maybe try http://www.mlb.com/blogs/) and then I think you just click the “register” link and go from there.

    PUCK COLLECTOR-
    Don’t be fooled by the way certain people word things. :-)

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