So much for No. 500

I check Google News every morning. Moments ago, when the headlines appeared on my screen, my reaction was “OHHHHH NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” (I’m alone in my apartment, and yes, I shouted out loud.) This is what I saw:


I already have a flight and hotel booked for the Tigers’ first series of the season. They’re playing in Toronto from April 6-9. Gary Sheffield has 499 career home runs. The entire purpose of my trip WAS going to be to make an attempt at catching No. 500. Sure, I’ll still be able to raise money for charity, but this absolutely sucks. I can’t say I didn’t see it coming, though. Two months before Spring Training started, my incredibly wise friend Brad said he thought Sheffield might end up getting released, and we’ve been monitoring his performance ever since. Crap, crap, crap. NOW what?


  1. cubs0110

    The first thing I thought of when I saw that headline was that Zack isn’t going to see Sheff in Toronto.

    If it were me, I’d go anyway, since everything is booked.
    But it would also make sense (if you could) to move things around so you CAN be wherever he ends up starting the season.

    Good luck, wherever you do.


    Ooh no mr bill, you have to hope the jays pick up shef,their outfield is weak,Remember Eddie Murray s 500th sold for 500 k? Sheffield must be a clubhouse cancer.I caught a mariner home run vs the royals sunday check the bottom of 8th inning at, game archived,they did a slow motion replay and commented on me ,someone please link it on here[padreleigh]the announcer thought i barehanded it.Chris Woodward home run #196 for TC…Eat at subway before you go to citi field ,eat it on the subway?

  3. baseballtourist

    Zack..the timing sucks. If you dod decide to go, I’m sure you will have a blast and also kick off your fund raising whiel starting your season totals of in the right direction. Toronto is a great town. I haven’t heard back from my Jays connections, beyond what I was able to share with you. I can only assume that they are swamped getting ready for the home opener? If you are sure that you are still going, I can reach out again and see if there issn’t anything they can do to get you a little more access. chris

  4. zackhample

    I’ve decided to still go to Toronto. The whole trip is already paid for and non-refundable.

    Thanks for thinking of me.

    Congrats on No. 196. I hope you reach 200 this year. Can’t wait to see how you get it.

    Yup, I’m still going, 100 percent, so if you can make anything happen, that’d be awesome.

    Different Chris.

    You still going?

  5. Alex

    You still have some other Milestone Home Runs you can try to catch later in the season, like Giambi’s 300th at Yankee Stadium in April, Carlos Delgado’s 500th, David Ortiz’s 300th and Carlos Beltran’s 300th. So look foward to those, there’s a full list on The Happy Youngster’s site.

  6. nycautographcollector

    i saw that this morning and my first thought was…hmmm, poor zack! anyway, it seems as if the phillies are the front runners to pick him up as they just released geoff jenkins, and are looking for a right handed power corner outfielder to come off the bench…so that wouldnt be horrible if he went to philly…and if he doesnt hit 500 while your in toronto, you could go down to philly and try for it…but im sure you will have a nice time in toronto anyway, and i think you will do pretty well there, and its for charity also so theres always that that can make you feel just a little warm and fuzzy inside

  7. popejonash

    Ah man, sorry to hear that Zack. Konerko and Dye are both just 2 away from 300 and Big Papi is only 10 away. Have you got any specific plans to try and get to any early series with these, especially the first month or so with the White Sox?Ash

  8. phillies_phollowers

    Looks like he may be coming to Philly…UGH! I really hope not! He’s had a great career and all, but the guy is way past prime and a pain in the behind to boot. That really sucks about your trip…see, he really is a pain! :O) Good luck though…if anyone should get #500, it should be you!


  9. .

    ZACK – That’s a bummer man. I’m sorry for even bringing it up but I feel so sorry and I had absolutely nothing to do with this…500 would have been very delicious but, they giveth, they taketh away. Or whatever the saying is….

    PUCK – Chris effin’ Los brotha! Where is that kid? I actually looked up his blog the other day and he deleted absolutely everything. He even cleared out all of his YouTube videos that I LOVED watching. He’s such a master baseball snegger. You know?! hahahaha…ps..NOT sarcasm..

    – Donnie

  10. stlfan

    Ah dude, that sucks. At least you’re getting the charity stuff, ya know.

    Btw I love the tags, so funny. Even though they may not be funny for you. Haha,

  11. Charlie

    that is so sad. I learned new like that recently, when the Rcokies got rid of one of my favorite Rockies prospects, Joe koshansky.

    good luck in Detroit!


    hi zack i know i dont comment much im going to be attending a mets game on april 17th against the brewers and i was wondering if you will be attending- Andre

  13. kmcleod

    In my book, Sheff best chance to play is in TOR anyways. Maybe he will sign there and you can catch it anyways!!!!!!!

    P.S. I caught 14 balls at Spring Training this weekend. I thought it was impressive, and then I thought of your total!

  14. yankeekid

    Bummer Zack.
    That was gonna be your higlight wasnt it.
    Oh well there will be other chances.
    By the way will you be attending any Yankee Exhibition games or Workout day?
    I will be at all that.
    Wokrout day and The 1 Exhibiotion games against the Cubs

  15. zackhample

    You mean Giambi’s 400th. I won’t get on a plane for anything less than a 500th career home run, though. If they happen in NYC or maybe Philly or Baltimore, then I might go. But not for Ortiz. Too many fans at Sox games. Nice to see you got your blog up and running. Looks good…but you gotta rotate that one pic.

    Yeah, warm and fuzzy. Great. :-)

    Actually, I do have some Chicago plans in the works. I’ll be blogging about it once I’m back from T’ronto.

    You’re too kind. (And totally right about Sheff being a pain.)

    Well, Sheff’s 500th will be the least valuable of any of the 500 balls. I’ll just keep that in mind when he hits it in Philly next week.

    Thanks for noticing the tags.

    True that.

    You mean Toronto…but thanks.

    I’m not planning to be there as of yet, but I suppose that it’s still a possibility. Check back a day or two before and ask me what’s up then.

    14 ain’t nuthin’ t’sneeze at.

    It sure WAS going to be my highlight. No exhibition games for me.

  16. jerseyboy

    Hey Zack,
    When I saw this on the bottom line tonight, my reaction was “Oh no!” thinking for your sake. That sucks man. I’d say change your flight to Cincy and see the Mets on opening day haha. Or go to the easiest place in the world to get balls (which is also quite warm)…Florida. Anyhow, so I actually had a couple of questions, and you say commenting on your blog is the best way to get an answer. First off, I was recently in Ft. Myers for Spring training, where I was suprised to see a 15 year old(my guess) using his version of a glove trick. I had planned this day to be my first ever attempt at using it, and was soured to see someone else already doing it. Anyway, i tried getting a ball that was stuck under the right field wall with the trick, failed, and had security come over. I asked for the ball, he said if I gave him the rope. I agreed, cause I had a whole spindle in my bag. Have you ever done that, or would you do that? And what do you do when you encounter security. Also, how thick of string do you use? I was definitely torn when trying to decide how thick it should be.
    Next, where do you encounter the most ballhawks, and where do you find the easiest place is to get a ball?
    And lastly, I just wanted to ask/tell you, I got 2 balls…was my first day trying, so yeah, I guess I did ok, I did take your advice, cause I asked Tiger catcher Ramon Santiago for the ball he was warming up with on his way back to the dugout, right before the game, and he had been hiding it in his glove, so when I called his name, he tossed it right to me. Anyway, the balls they were taking bp with were International league balls, or at least those were the 2 I got. Is this common in Spring Training?
    Thanks for everything. Ben

  17. .

    Zack, you really think Gary’s going to end up in Philly? I heard that from my dad this morning as well, where he heard it from WFAN, but, I don’t think so. If he does, congrats for him. It’s nothing really to worry about, being a Mets fans and all. Pat Burrell was the main Met killer and now that he’s gone, it’s really Jimmy Rollins I care about. Sheff got a bat and can hit extremely well as we’ve all seen but, he’s old. I’ve never seen the man play before though, so, that would be pretty sweet…

    – Donnie


    disaster? tragedy? i think you’re being a little over zealous there. being from NY you should know this.


    As it is expressed in “Let’s Make A Deal” after choosing the wrong curtain,”Wa, wa, waaaaaaaah!”

  20. zackhample

    I can’t change the flight or hotel. It’s nonrefundable. I’m flying to Toronto on Sunday. Done deal. Anyway, I always keep extra string on me. I’ve been forced to cut it off at least half a dozen times, or been forced to watch as a security guy cut it off himself. No big deal. Trading string for a ball? Umm, yeah, that’s something I’d do any day. What do I do when I encounter security? Just be nice and apologetic and beg a lot so they feel sorry for me, and I pretend to be really dumb and ignorant. But in my own defense, some ballparks are completely inconsistent with their rules on the matter. In one section, the guard will let you do it, whereas the guard 50 feet away with threaten you with trespassing for “going on the field.” So it really IS hard to tell a lot of the time what you ARE allowed to do. I use fairly thin string. Probably an 8th or even a 16th of an inch thick. Any thinner and it’d get tangled too easily. Any thicker and the ball of string would be too big to fit inside the palm of my glove. The Bay Area has the highest concentration of ballhawks that I’ve ever encountered. Next would be Chicago. Easiest places? I don’t know…there might be a few regular/longtime ballhawks in every stadium but I can’t remember meeting any at Fenway or Baltimore or Cincinnati or Kansas City or…lots of other places. It’s hard to say. I’ve been to every stadium, but some I haven’t been to for a decade, and even then I was only there for a day or two, so I didn’t fully experience the culture of the place. But when you start talking about guys who’ve snagged 3,000-plus balls, I think I probably know (of) them all. I haven’t been to Spring Training since ’95 and I didn’t see any Minor League balls then, but it’s possible those balls are floating around more nowadays. I’ve also heard plenty of stories of guys getting MLB balls during BP at minor league games, so it all evens out.

    I hope he does because it’ll make BP better at Citizens Bank Park for that first hour when fans are trapped in LF.

    I was just kidding with those tags and being silly.

    Yeah, thanks. :-)

  21. .

    Well, for Hample’s sake, let them bring Sheff to Philly. I hope he becomes a cancer as well there, and it makes them weaker. Let us begin the ‘Mets in 09!’ campaign!

    ****And to the people going to Citi Field tomorrow, April 3 vs. the Sox, I’ll be there…if that matters, lol. Section 126, Row 9.

    – Donnie

  22. bigglovebob

    Zack, The season is so close I can taste it. As of this time next week I will have 4 games under my belt. I booked a trip to Miller Park in June. I will be sitting behind home plate in the first row for both night games. Bad for snagging opportunites during the game, but great for watching a tilt at a park I have never been to. I e-mailed Happy Youngster for some tips since that is his home park, but I have not heard back from him. Have you ever blogged about Miller Park?

  23. cubs0110

    Hey Zack, what days will you be in Chicago?

    You’re probably coming for the 2 Sox players close to 300, but do you have any Wrigley plans?

  24. zackhample

    I can’t imagine there’s BP today…which makes Citi Field 0-for-2 in terms of BP even happening. Great.

    First off, I love the use of the word “tilt.” I haven’t ever blogged about Miller Park because I’ve only been there for one game, and that was in 2003, two years before I started this blog. But…I’m planning to be there later this month, so you’ll have some info about the place before your trip. In the meantime, see if you can track down “Waldo” and get his contact info for me…or give him my email address. I’d love to ask the guy a few questions.

    Wrigley, U.S. Cellular, and Miller Park. Ooh yeah. Gimme a week to finalize a few details and then I’ll post an entry about it…

    I feel sorry for anyone who is.

    That means you. (Just because of the weather.)

    I have no interest in seeing photos of the New Yankee Stadium. I want to walk in there and be surprised.

  25. happyyoungster


    I’ve been in Arizona for the past week and my wife’s stupid laptop wouldn’t allow me to log into mlblogs…damn.

    Anyway, I’ll still be in Toronto. I’ll be attending the games on the 7th/8th/9th. Sheffield or no Sheffield.

  26. ssweene1

    well…. 500 still might be in the cards now that he signed with the Mets, eh?? :) haha


  27. jerseyboy


    Thanks for the long and full response. I really appreciate it. And go figure that Sheffield signed with the Mets. At least if he hits in the new stadium, you’ll have a better chance to catch it, compared to Shea.

  28. bettencourt

    zack i just bought your book and i looks great. i am from rhode island and i plan on going to see a Yankees and mets game in august. it will be really cool seeing both stadiums. saw your pics from citi field it looks like they did not think some of the things through like the stairs and the top teir seats. Hope to see you there. GO YANKEES!!!

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