9/5/08 at Shea Stadium

This was a Watch With Zack game with a 13-year-old named Jeremy, who took the subway to Shea Stadium with me nice and early…


…and his mother Cathy, who showed up a bit later.

When Gate C opened at 4:40pm, Jeremy and I raced out to the seats along the right field foul line, and I set him up in the corner spot:


The Mets wasted the first 10 minutes by stretching and running, and then when they finally began to pair off and play catch, I gave Jeremy (who had, up until that point, snagged two lifetime baseballs) an important piece of advice: when a ball was tossed to him, he needed to reach out for it as far as possible to prevent anyone else from stealing it.

Mets bullpen coach Guy Conti happened to walk by a few moments later, and I noticed that he had a couple balls in his back pocket. I identified him for Jeremy and told him to ask for a ball, which he did–but not quite loud enough, so Conti kept walking.

“Guy!” I said a bit more forcefully, prompting him to stop and look over. “Is there any chance you could spare a ball for my friend?”

Conti looked at Jeremy, noticed his glove, and then asked him to take off his cap. “Lemme see your hair,” he said.

Jeremy obliged and revealed the thick red mane that lay beneath.

“You got great hair,” said Conti as he reached into his pocket. “You get a ball for that.”

Conti then flipped a ball to Jeremy who reached over the railing and made the catch look easy.

“I wish I had hair like that,” said Conti as he walked off.

“Let’s see the ball,” I said to Jeremy, and when he took it out of his glove and turned it over, I told him how lucky he was. It was a BRAND NEW commemorative ball.

Jeremy was nice enough to let me catch the next ball so my streak wouldn’t end. Al Reyes tossed it in our direction after he finished playing catch, and it too was commemorative (though quite worn).

I helped Jeremy get another (commemorative) ball from Brian Stokes, and after he got it signed by Duaner Sanchez, we headed to the left field corner. I quickly changed into my Phillies gear (yuck) and lent Jeremy an extra Phillies cap I happened to own. Of course the cap wouldn’t have helped if the Mets logo on his shirt were still showing, so he put on his sweatshirt (even though it was still about 84 degrees with 110 percent humidity).

That’s when Jeremy’s mother arrived, and while they were talking briefly in the concourse, I got a Nationals commemorative ball from J.C. Romero. The Phillies had just completed a three-game series with the Nats and must’ve somehow gotten hold of some of their baseballs.

Jeremy and I went up to the Loge Level and Scott Eyre tossed a ball to him…but Eyre’s aim was off, and the ball sailed a few feet over his outstretched glove. I happened to get lucky and catch it because I’d been standing right behind him. There were a dozen other fans nearby, so it’s not like I could’ve stepped aside and let Jeremy scramble for it in the seats. If I hadn’t made the snag, neither of us would’ve gotten it, but everything worked out in the end because I convinced Adam Eaton to toss another one to Jeremy, and THIS time the throw was right on the money.

Jeremy and I each had three balls. Snagging equilibrium had been achieved:


Unfortunately (because a crowded Shea Stadium is a baseball collector’s nightmare) we didn’t snag anything else during the remaining portion of BP.

As for the game, Jeremy and Cathy and I grabbed some empty seats along the third base line and stayed there for more than an hour. That was Jeremy’s choice, and I don’t blame him. The view was excellent, and our chances of catching a foul ball were pretty good as well, but around the fourth inning, he decided it was time to head back up to the Loge. I took him to the best tunnels for both righties and lefties and showed him how far up he could crouch without blocking the view of the fans sitting behind him…


…and then stood back with Cathy and hoped that something would fly his way.

Nothing did. And there was nothing I could do about it. But I’m pretty sure he still had fun running and sneaking around. I think Cathy enjoyed herself too. At the very least, this was a new way to “watch” a game for both of them.

When the Phillies took a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth, I moved down behind the dugout with Jeremy and encouraged him to grab an empty seat in the second row:


Brad Lidge then worked into and out of trouble and closed the door on his 34th save. Game over. No more balls for us. Not a good night for Mets fans, but still a pretty good one for me and Jeremy. That’s one nice thing about snagging baseballs. Even when the team you’re rooting for sucks, you can still walk out of the stadium with a smile. (Aww.)


three_balls_09_05_08.jpg? 3 balls at this game (pictured here on the right)

? 426 balls in 57 games this season = 7.5 balls per game.

? 553 consecutive games with at least one ball

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

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

? 3,703 total balls


  1. Txbaseballfan

    Great entry Zack, Jeremy seems like a good kid! How cool it must be, that on the slowest of nights, you still get three balls. Pretty cool! Can’t wait to hear about monday’s game, go for 3750!

  2. .

    Zack –

    Once again sir, long time no talk, and NEVER see. I had been planning to attend the last regular season game at Shea for the entire season thus far and a couple of days ago decided to attend the three-game weekend, going to BP only for the first two days. The dates (if you are not aware) are September 26 – 28 and I was curious after reading this entry if you will be in-the-house? Get at me!

    – Donnie

  3. zackhample

    I’m home tonight. I actually have a little free time. I’m going to catch up on all the comments (just the ones in which people asked questions) from my California trip, so gimme a few hours and then take another look at my recent entries. I’m also going to get started on my entry about last night’s game in Philly. That should be up tomorrow afternoon, and then I’ll actually be up-to-the-minute.

    He’s a great kid. Thanks for noticing. :-)

    I can’t believe we still haven’t met. I don’t think I’m gonna be at the last regular season game at Shea. I’m still working out my plans for the final weekend of the season, and I’m leaning toward going to Baltimore.

  4. rickymcentire@yahoo.com

    A commemorative ball on the first try. wow, congrats to jeremy. nice job on the whole california trip zack.

  5. meikd423

    this game was fun and jeremy was very cool.

    i got 2 nats commemoratives, one regular and a shea commemorative that ended the inning and was thrown by ryan howard

  6. thet206kid

    Nice Zack, i was waiting for you to post this game, again it was nice meeting you that night (I took the pic of you and the kid with the first ball),, you had pretty good seats, i was up in the nose bleads with the drunk phillie fans,, a few fist fights actually broke out and it was ashame the mets couldnt pull off a win,, how many more games you going to this year?? if the Mets make the playoffs r you going to a few games?

  7. 47cardsfan

    Hey Zack,
    I was at shea on 9/7 for the first game and got five balls, 2 shea, 2 nationals commemoratives & one standard ball with no BP, including a third inning delgado 3rd out ball,
    Do you have any idea why the phillies are using the nationals commemoritive balls?

  8. scoeaj25

    Hey Zack this is Rob from the game out here at PETCO Park on 8/31/08. or Juveasts@hotmail.com is my email. You had an awesome west cost trip. I hope you really enjoyed yourself which I know you did. And the hat was beyond awesome. But I don’t know why I think I like the ball even more. Where is the hat sitting at right now. Hit me up when you can on email or anything. Good meeting Leigh also. Hope to see him tomorrow or this weekend out there. Hit me up also Leigh if your reading this still. Oh and Zack I am on my way right now to go pick up your book at Hazard Center. AHHHHH Sweet. You are good guy bro. Oh yeah I forgot to say sorry. Remember we were down the left field line and the ball went right over our heads. Ha that was all my bad. But have a good one brother. I am going to try to make it out to NY next week. Maybe we could meet up and chill. Hit me up at my email bro. Juveasts@hotmail.com


  9. zackhample

    I know…wow. Jeremy got really lucky.

    I would actually choose Dodger Stadium if I had to pick between the two. It’s not sold out every game. The fans are not as obnoxious. The tickets are cheaper. The outfield seats are more expansive. You can go on the warning track. But it’s still a dreadful place to snag.

    Cool. I saw you running around all night. You were really working it. Congrats on the balls you got.

    That was an excellent pic. Thanks again for that, and it was nice meeting you too. As I mentioned in a response to a comment from you on another entry, I appreciate the fact that you were so respectful while Jeremy and I were trying to snag in that corner spot. Anyway, I might be attending another 10 games or so. Maybe more if I can get playoff tickets.

    Nice buncha balls you got. As for the Phillies…I suspect they picked up some of the Nats’ balls when they were playing them earlier in the week.


    I’m considering going. The only way I wouldn’t go is if I end up going to Philly instead, but that game is at 4:05pm, so I’d have to get up early. And would there even be BP? I’m thinking there would. Has anyone been to a 4pm game this season? If so, was there BP?

    Good to hear from you again. At this very moment, the hat is sitting within arm’s reach on the big wooden table that I’m working at (while half-watching the Yankees/Angels game). If you make it to the Barnes & Noble, I hope that at least one of those copies is still there for you. No worries about the ball that went over our heads. That was as much my fault as yours. After all, it takes two people to have a conversation. :-)
    Let me know if you make it to NYC. You planning to attend some games? Let me know, and maybe we can meet up at the stadium.

  10. goisles

    Puck did well and got 10 today including a commemorative, and will write about it later.

    Greg: Thanks for not coming due to rain. The place was empty and gjk went into the picnic area (and cleaned shop BTW) so I had the whole place almost to myself. Also a security guard told me that I would make you proud.

    See ya!

    Puck Collector

  11. aefeq


    I was at a 3:55pm game in Philly back in July. The Phillies did not take bp because of a team meeting (That is was a security guard told me). The Diamondbacks, however did take bp. It was great because most of the fans were just wandering around when Arizona came out to warm up. At the same time, the Phillies pitchers came out to warm up and a lot of people ran over to their side so I had the left field foul line all to myself.

    I?ll be in Philly tomorrow. Are you going?

    Lastly, I am traveling to Dallas in 2 weeks on business and will be at the Rangers Ballpark. Any helpful hints??

    Your Dodger story was the best one of the year!!

    Brendan (aka helmet guy).

  12. zackhample

    What are you saying? That there was BP yesterday?!

    Thanks for letting me know about the 4pm BP situation. As it turns out, I’m not going to Philly today. I just don’t have enough time. But I’m planning to be at Shea tonight, followed by Baltimore tomorrow.

    I should be posting my 9/8/08 entry at some point this afternoon…

  13. maverick316

    Hi Zack. I’m a first time, long time reader of your blog. Like everyone else I am extremely impressed with your baseball collection. I have been catching up on some of your older blogs and read the blog about you getting buckets for your balls and saw the boxes of Reggie bars. As a Yankees collector I practially drooled on myself. How did you manage to find those? Are there bars still in the boxes?
    I’m hitting Barnes N Noble this weekend to see if I can find your books. Maybe I can get you to sign them If I see you at the ballparks one day. I’m taking in tonites game at Shea, but won’t make it there till after 6pm, probably too late to try my luck at shagging. If I see you, I’ll say hi.


  14. zackhample

    Thanks for reading and finally leaving a comment…and for the kind words. I got the Reggie bar boxes (sans bars) way back in the 1990s when the bars were being sold at the stadium. Whenever I saw a vendor empty out another box, I’d ask for it. Pretty simple. I just thought they were cool. It never occurred to me that they might one day be collector’s items. I’d be happy to sign your books, whether in person or through the mail, so just let me know. Hopefully we’ll see each other tonight or in the near future.

  15. maverick316


    I was at Reggie Jackson Day when they handed the bars out for free. As a kid, I remember the bars having caramel in them. When they remade them, the carmel was replaced with peanut butter. Love the line Nettles gave when he said “the only candy that tells you how good it is”.


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