Ballhawk League

My friend and fellow ballhawk Erik Jabs recently came up with a great idea of starting a “Ballhawk League.” Basically, the way it’s gonna work is that Erik will be running a season-long competition to see who can snag the most balls. He’ll be keeping track of various stats such as:

1) games attended
2) total balls snagged
3) balls per game
4) batted balls snagged
5) thrown balls snagged
6) balls retrieved with special devices (like the glove trick)
7) Competition Factor

Can anyone think of some other key stats that Erik should keep track of? Maybe the number of game-used balls? The number of different stadiums in which each ballhawk snags at least one ball? The number of games at which each ballhawk reaches double digits?

maxim_cover1.jpgIt’s totally free to participate in this league. Five people including me have committed to it so far, and I hope a lot more will join us.

Check out Erik’s blog and leave him a comment if you’re interested. Read other people’s comments on his blog. Leave a comment here too if you have any thoughts. Let’s get a good discussion going and establish the rules for this league.

(In other news, I’m in the current issue of Maxim…very briefly and in absurdly small font. Click here to check it out–and to see the full-sized Malin Akerman cover–on my web site.)


  1. "D" The Rockpile Ranter

    Hey Zack I’m in this no matter how it’s run. But not every stadium allows cup tricks.
    Might I suggest a point system.
    > Say 10 points for catching a live game home run ball.
    > 9 points for catching a home run on the bounce or by beating someone to it.
    > 8 Points for catching a live game foul ball.
    >7 points for getting it on the bounce or beating someone to it.
    > 4 points for catching a batting practice home run ball.
    > 3 points for getting it on the bounce or beating the crowd
    to it.
    > 2 points if you get a player to toss it to you directly and you get the ball.
    1 point if the player tosses it into the crowd and you snag it or use a cup trick of some sort. Then divide by how many games attended. Just another option.
    What do you think? I’d like to see points awarded for getting autographs too…D

  2. baseballexperiences

    What a great idea! I cant be in it though, im only going to 14-17 games this year, alot for me but peanuts for most people. And new yorkstadiums are the worst with attendance, but yankee is opening 3 hours early, and shea opens 2 1/2, so us new yorkers dont have it that bad. Joe

    Puck- Im going wednesday 3/25and probably saturday 3/28 to the isles. Then im going on vacation so there the last ones for me.

  3. .

    The Ballhawk League is a good and what seems to be a fun idea, but, considering I’m in the same boat as YANKEES5221, I cannot participate in this competition because I am only attending 15 games this season. The point system that Don of the Rockpile Rant suggested works perfect. Although, I would scratch point numbers 1, 3, 7, and 9 and just keep the other four, receiving 10 points for catching a live game HR ball, 6 points for catching a live game foul ball, 4 points for catching a BP HR ball, 2 points if a player tosses you a ball, and 1 point if you snag a ball while on the run. I understand the majority of baseballs ballhawks retrieve comes from how many times they beat out a fan while storming the bleachers for a ball, but, that depends all about speed, not so much skill. One person can be closer than the other, or one can be older or younger, there’s still that possibility of another person getting there before you. With catching the ball or having good fan – player speaking skills, there is skill to the game, not speed. That’s why instead of having three different point totals you can receive from running after a baseball, you can just have one, worth one point.

    – Donnie

  4. .

    …and congrats getting your name into MAXIM. What’s next Zack? Playboy? Wow..that would be somethin’ if you re-shot the picture of you in the bathtub with the baseballs and playmates. I think everyone in the world would know who you are, if not already by watching you every other day on SNY’s Memories of Shea. Your catch of Beltran’s two-run HR is constantly being replayed.

    – Donnie

  5. "D" The Rockpile Ranter

    Donnie, I wouldn’t have a player throwing you a baseball ranked higher than actually snagging a ball at batting practice. Takes no skill to ask for a ball. I’m not sure about the glove/cup tricks either. Not every stadium allows that and some snaggers collect a considerable amount of baseballs that way. I think adding points for autographs snagged during the game would be cool and would allow a lot more people to participate. I may start something like that myself. I think we should take a vote on which way to do the majority are happy…D


    Oh contraire, Rockpile Ranter, it *does* take skill to get balls by asking for them. I’ve been to a bunch of games where kids (and adults) are begging and screaming for a ball only to come up empty-handed cuz… all they know how to do is scream. But…if you’re smart and creative (insert Zack Hample) you’ll find a way to get the player’s attention in other more imaginative ways (i.e. asking for balls in the player’s native language, ask to play catch, etc.)and get thrown a ball. I think being visionary and quick on your feet requires hard work and practice, so… yeah, it should be rewarded when it’s done well. : )

  7. 333greystreet

    Puck Collector,

    I added you to the list. You can post a comment in my blog with your bio or you can email it to me at ErikJ_100 (at)


    Personally, I’m not a fan of the point system. A ball is a ball. Also, it would make the standings more cluttered, and it would be harder to track. That’s just my opinion.

  8. "D" The Rockpile Ranter

    Agreed, a ball is a ball, but how hard is it to snag a ball with a cup, or ask for one from a player, it isn’t. It’s more difficult to make a nice snag or beat another fan to it. Points reward hard work and just counting balls does nothing. I could go to a Rockies game and ask for ten baseballs. Does that make me a good snagger? Nope, it makes me a good beggar, again just my opinion…D

  9. zackhample

    Glad you’re in. Is this going to motivate you to attend more Yankee games?

    I thought about having a point system for my charity drive this season…you know, where different types of balls would be worth different amounts of money, but I decided it would be too complicated. In this league, however, it could work quite well, kinda like how the Rolaids Relief Man award gives extra points for a “tough save.” Also…it could be argued that there’s no skill involved in catching a home run ball if it comes right to you. Any type of snagged ball can be easy or hard, given the circumstances. As for the issue of donating balls, I’m definitely not going to give away everything this season. “Everything” would include Sheffield’s 500th home run, so you can forget about that. Any balls that are already in my possession at this point, will remain there. I love owning them, and my future kids deserve to see them. As for donating balls from this point on, that remains to be seen. I know I’ll be giving away some balls this year, but I’m trying to think big and get Rawlings to donate a DOZEN balls for every ball I snag. It’s all about getting other people in on it, so we’ll see how it all plays out. I’ve already donated $500 to Pitch In For Baseball by hiring a programmer to help me design the automated pledge system, and of course I’ll be spending thousands of dollars of my own money to attend games this season and snag balls (which will then raise money) so at this point, I’m really not thinking about what ELSE I can give. I’m just ready to go to games, snag balls, have fun, spread the word, make a bunch of kids (of all ages) happy, and write my next book.

    Yes, but you could compete in some of the categories, like Competition Factor and balls per game. I hope you’ll consider joining even though your total numbers won’t be as high as some people’s.

    See my response above to “Yankees5221.” It applies to you too. Thanks for the Maxim props and for letting me know about the Beltran homer. I knew it had been replayed recently, but I wasn’t aware that it was STILL being played.

    The issue of some stadiums not allowing glove/cup tricks is moot. Go to a different stadium or learn to beat the system or exploit something else about the stadium. Coors Field doesn’t allow those tricks, but the crowds there are small and the outfield seats are incredibly expansive. I would gladly give up the glove trick for the chance to chase all the home run balls that are catchable there. Also, if we’re going to include autographs, then things get messy. Should we include lineup cards and batting gloves, too? How about wrist bands and jock straps? I miss out on a LOT of autographs because I’m in the outfield seats going for balls. And no offense to the autograph collectors, but it’s really not as hard to get autographs. You can get one player to sign 20 cards for you in a minute. Do you think I’ve ever had a player hand me 20 balls? And also, it’s easy to get autographs before the stadium opens and after security gets kicked out. The total amount of time during which people can get autographs is FAR greater than the window of time to snag. If I can snag balls at the teams’ hotels, then I say autographs can be included as a stat in this league.

    Excellent point! I was hoping someone would mention that so I wouldn’t have to.

  10. raysrenegade

    One of my lifetime obsessions is to get a blurp, even in the jokes of Maxim. It is such a great honor to get into actual copy. Major Kudos points for that man.

    That league sounds pretty intense. But with the exeprience you have, thank goodness you do not have a handicaping system where you are down 4 points a game for being a professional hustler of the sphere. Best of luck in the league, and there should be points for catching a ball in a beer cup lol, beer not included.

    Rays Renegade

  11. baseballexperiences

    Zack- Alright, i guess ill join. Im going to 2 nationals games prob 3 arizona games and a baltimore game along with the 6 yanks and 5 mets games, so i wont be THAT far behind. Joe


    zack: nope. im still furious with the yankees, and i never thought a new stadium should be built in the first place. and shea is a pain in the *** to get to. im content with going to 5 games this year and right now, especially with the steroids in baseball, i could care less about the actual game. the only reason for me to go a game is to snag.

  13. "D" The Rockpile Ranter

    Let me further explain my thinking on the point system. The reason I put asking for a baseball from a player as one point is although it may take some skill, it’s still asking for a ball. In my eyes does it count as a snagged ball? Yep, but those are by far the easiest as far as requiring the least amount of physical effort.
    A home run ball is easy to catch if it’s hit right to you agreed. Unless you get nervous, bet bumped, sun hits you in the eye, plus the ball coming right to you is random luck unless you do prior planning like Zack does. Do the prior planning, figure out where the batter is going to hit it and try and snag it. Then you get the big ten points.
    The reason I considered adding autographs as points was as a leveler. Zack you can’t get as many autographs as someone who’s at the game just for autographs , just as a autograph hound can’t get as many baseballs as a snagger. But in some instances each can do the other.
    To further explain, by adding autographs it would give more people the opportunity to enter our contest. Say you have a bad day snagging, not everyone can get 7.8 baseballs a game, you could partially make up for it if you snagged a few autographs. As far as getting jockstraps autographed that’s not really my thing but I do remember a certain blogger making a big deal out of a water bottle that a player had given him :)
    Finally yes there are a lot more opportunities to get autographs than there are to snag baseballs. You have to remember that for the most part this competition will have to be built on trust. If someone says that they snagged 3 autographs at a game we have to believe them, just as we believe you Zack when you snag 18 at a game. If we can’t trust each other then this competition is moot
    My advice, if a snagger is losing to an autograph hound, the snagger better step up his autograph game…D
    Maybe we could use pictures as proof. Say if you get 2 autographs and 3 baseballs you would have to take a picture of the items with something identifiable from the ballpark in the background?…D


    well, i do like the points system, but it needs to be more generic.
    ex. 10 points for game homer (it doesn’t matter how you get it)
    5 points for a game ball (foul ball, it doesnt matter how you get it)
    3 points for a ball during the game, either a warm up ball, or a ball after an inning has ended
    1 point for every bp ball, or a ball after the game has ended.

    No points for bonus items like lineup cards or batting gloves.

    then as was suggested before, the total number of points you have at the end of the season is then divided by the number of games that you attended. and if you want to take that a step further, the last number (points divided by games) is the multiplied by the average attendance at the games you attended. i

    it would be the responsibility of the snagger to provide an short account of each ball snagged, and the number of points that they ammased each game, including the attendance of each game. then, at the end of the year, they would have to figure out their final stat (points divided by games, multiplied by avg. attendance)

    as for autographs, they would have to be gotten INSIDE the stadium, and there should be a limit of two autos from the same player per game. its possible to get one person to sign 4 ticket stubs in 30 seconds if you the player is just grabbing whatever is closest to his face, or if you change your appearance, a player may end up signing 3 or 4 times for you.

    it should be just by honor system, and if anyone cheats they would be then subsequently shunned by the snagging community, and there is no prize, and zack will probably win (no disrespect to the other snaggers here), so there is not much incentive to cheat. its not like there is money on the contest


    and erik, when i went to leave a comment on your blog, it said i dint have permission to comment.

  16. thomasb.

    How about this for a stat, balls snagged using another language other than English to get the ball (e.g., asking a Japanese player for a ball in Japanese, Dominican player for a ball in Spanish).

  17. 333greystreet

    Puck Colletor-
    That happens to me too sometimes, try clicking sign out and signing back in.

    Theoretically, a player could win the league by collecting a large amount of autographs and snagging 0 balls, so I don’t think we’re going to count them.


  18. ladod4ever

    Zack I wouldn’t be able to particepate but I wish you the best and show your the dominant ballhawk..and plus you live in the two toughest ballparks which are in newyork

  19. goislanders4


    Im here in Florida and its amazing so far! I saw greg at thursday’s astros gae in the berm at tradition field. I got 3 balls that day (1 in BP and two by the astros bullpen). My mom and i became very friendly with the astros bullpen catcher becase he criticised my long hair and told me to get it cut. he then pulled out scissors and threw them to my mom, who actually cut some of my hair off as the whole right field bleachers section cheered. He even gave all of us balls and i asked him why the stros are so picky with which balls to give away and he said it was beause they don’t usually bring a lot of them on the road.

    anyway, the next day (friday) i went to fort lauderdale and it started off horrible. i found out that i wasnt allowed into the outfield bleachers, but only the stadium because i had the wrong type of ticket. Luckily, i was with my moms friend, who is amazingly nice, and he got bleacher tickets as well as the regular stadium tickets. i ran inside as the mets were taking BP and instantly, Luis castillio (of all people) launched a homer in my direction (di i mention that the maximum amount of people in the bleachers at all times, even game time, were about 10 people scattered out without gloves?) and i went right and caught my first ever homerun on the fly. It felt as if someone standing 10 feet from me had lobbed me the ball. It was SO easy and effortless. It seemed as if it floated on a cloud into my glove. I looked at it and it was a brand new 2008 all star ball! i then got 2 more on a lucky bounce and a toss up from elmer dessens. the game was good, but i failed to get any more balls.

    I spent today with my grandpa, and tomorrow i’m going to the braves v. mets game at tradition field. I amsupposed to go to a pre-game brunch with the mets players, but instead, im going to go to half of the braves BP (only the away teams take bp on the field at traditon. the mets take bp at a training field behind the batters eye.) After half of bp, I’m gonna go get autographs at the brunch. I’m hoping to catch another homer on the fly after seeing how easy it was. I plan to play for homeruns on the berm rather than ask players for balls.

    So any way, its going great and i’ll lt you know how everything goes tomorrow. sorry about any spelling mistakes. im hurrying because we recentl found out the mets are staying at my hotel ad i want to rush back to see them. I already saw dan murphy and fernando tatis. omar minaya is sitting in the lobby with johan santana. its great!


    clif, if you get a chance, ask why the mets are using 08 ASG balls

  21. MLBallhawk

    Hey Zack! I went to the WBC Semi-Finals game last night with Korea and Venezuala and picked up 3 more WBC balls giving me a total of 4 WBC balls so far. I will be headed off to the Championship game tomorrow as well!

    I have the bug big time right now and I am seriously thinking about doing it FULL TIME this year! Especially after I made a great catch running down the stairs in the LF Pavilion yesterday.

    Talk to you tomorrow!


  22. Howie


    I am going to the college game at citi field. U thinking of dropping by for a look at the new stadium? or actual opening day (vs padres)?




    I think you need to factor in attendance. Considering how much harder it is to get balls at sold out games. Maybe go some gymnastics or diving type scoring, a sold out game will have a higher multiplier effect than a game where the attendance is 20%.

    Adam D

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