Book update No. 2 — equipment managers

What better time is there than the All-Star break to get some writing done?

(Click here for update #1.)

The latest update is that I’ve completed the first five chapters of Part One of the book. I’ve written about 17,000 words overall. (One double-spaced page is about 250.) As a reminder, the whole book needs to be about 60,000 words so I’ve made some good progress but I still have a long way to go. (Who knows how many of the 17,000 words will get cut by my editor?)

Want some even better book news?

I’ve interviewed two different guys who are equipment managers for major league teams. I asked them a ton of questions about baseballs. One guy was even nice enough to tell me exactly how much the team pays Rawlings for the balls. I can’t tell you the exact number here, but let me just say that whenever a player tosses a ball to you, the team deserves a thank-you note. Seriously, the balls are not cheap. I already knew they were expensive, but it turns out that they cost even more than I imagined.

One of the equipment managers is going to let me WATCH him rub up the game balls with mud. (I was nervous about asking him, but I decided to just go for it, and he was like, “Oh yeah, that’s no problem.” I couldn’t believe it.) We just need to figure out a time when we’re both free. I think the rubbing demo might need to wait ’til next month. Maybe he’ll let me try rubbing up a few myself? So cool…

BTW, it’s been really tough getting to talk to equipment managers. I called a bunch of teams, and most of them flat-out denied my interview request. Then there were a few that considered it, but they made me prove that I really AM writing a book that IS going to be published. A few teams even asked to speak to my editor at Random House! And even THEN some of the teams were like, “Nope, no interview for you.” It’s crazy how the inner/secret world of Major League Baseball is so hard to penetrate at times. Can you imagine how hard it must be to interview someone like Jeter or Pujols?

Anyway, that’s the story for now. I have one more chapter to write for Part One, and I hope to finish that by the end of this month. I still don’t know what the book is gonna be called, but I promise it’ll be interesting and fun.



    Your book sounds like it will be a very interesting. I’m looking forward to reading it.

  2. teemo

    Aloha Zack from Hawaii – Because we have no major league team in Hawaii and don’t have the same perspective of watching MLB games. In prep for my son’s (7 years old) first major league game we read your blog, took notes and bought a copy of your first book. Great ideas and yes people your hints/advice does work. First ball at Nationals Park – an Easter egg sitting in the flower bed (yes a practice ball) Would have never thought to look there. Still can’t believe you got 28 in that park and still in amazement of the 32 balls at Kauffman. Now we understand the excitement of obtaining the baseball.

    Can’t wait to read your new book and see a deeper insight into baseball. Really interested in the cost of the balls/hearing about the rubbing demo.

    We love the pictures, comments and stories on this blog. Keep up the good work and we are always looking forward to your updates – Todd

  3. bettencourt

    thats strange how its so hard to get an interview. tried to get your first book today at boarders BUT they did not have it. they did have your second though which i already have. any idea when this will be coming out.

  4. mikeindetroit

    Great update info. My dad and I did a clubhouse tour at CoMerica Park last year. I spoke to Jim Schmekel (Tigers Clubhouse Mgr). He stated that the reason that they were using Rawlings Minor League Pacific Coast League balls during BP (last year, they are using Rawlings International League Minor League balls this year) was that they paid $3 each for the Rawlings Minor League PCL balls and $6 each for the Rawlings ‘official’ MLB balls. He also stated that they go through 2500 dozen balls per season. Cool stuff.
    Mike in Detroit

  5. braves04

    I snagged an IL ball from the Tigers earlier this year and had wondered how they ended up with those. It makes me wonder why they wouldn’t just use the training balls, not that I’m complaining since those are so ugly.
    I figured the cost of an Official Game Ball was under $10, since retailers can sell them for $15 at a profit. Still, $6 times that many baseballs is a lot of money. My pizza slices cost less than that lol.

  6. MLBallhawk

    Hey Zack! Did you forget who else was an equipment manager? Ok so it was in the minor leagues but we still had to rub game balls a hell of a lot!

    By the way the last time I was in affiliated ball the minor league balls cost the team right around $3 each and the Major League Balls were $6.25 and I don’t think that it has changed to much. The cost on MLB balls might be little lower for the Big League Clubs but not much I am sure.

    I will tell you that baseball itself is like a fraternity. You are in a way trying to sneek in the Frat House door (the clubhouse). The clubhouse is treated like sacred ground. What happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse. For the few months I ran a MLBlog about my time with the Dodgers minor league team I was warned by management and others that I was VERY limited on what I could say and post!

    So don’t be surprised if at the last minute your excursion gets nixed but if it doesn’t make sure you listen carefully and ask what is cool to write and what isnt.

    By the way so far from my 8 years as a clubbie I have had 18 players that were in my clubhouses make it to the Major Leagues. Including 1 CY YOUNG winner in Jake Peavy!!

    Baseballs 4 MADD – MLBallhawk

  7. muddly17

    YANKEES42294 & Zack- I went to all star batting practice knowing that if I caught 1 that I’d be lucky. As it turned out, I caught 3!!! Two on the fly(1 from the bat of Adrian Gonzalez) and one was a throw from Joe Nathan. I was pumped. Some people were like, “You’re pretty good/lucky.” In all honesty I knew I was in a good place to snag, it’s where I always stand but, most people don’t go for a ball unless it’s like right to them. Granted I probably only drifted and wove around people for like 15 feet at the most but, really it wasn’t hard to get in position. I did hear some people say “That’s his third ball” but I wasn’t robbing people or reaching in front of kids. Someone offered to buy one from me but instead I found a little kid (who was trying) and gave it to her. A mere 5 is my record for one regular season game. I would’ve never guessed that I would catch this many

  8. bigglovebob

    Good news Zack- So now that you know how much the balls are worth are you going to stop stealing them from the playing field via your glove trick? :)

  9. zackhample

    Thanks very much.

    Well, I signed a contract to finish the book by March, so I *have* to be dedicated.

    Thank you! It’s nice to know that there are people checking out this blog from so far away. I’m also glad to hear that my tips helped you snag a ball for your son. Awesome.

    The first book is out of print, so you won’t find it in stores. My next book is supposed to come out in March 2011.

    Cool indeed, but I got a dollar figure from the guy I talked to that’s even higher than the one you mentioned here. Inflation is murder.

    We plan to do it when the team is on the road.

    I don’t know anyone who has. Maybe Heath Bell saved one for me?

    I haven’t forgotten. In this upcoming book, I’m going to be focusing on major league balls. You’ll be glad to know that you were my backup plan if I wasn’t able to get any of the MLB equipment guys to talk. :-)

    Wow. Nicely done!

    Hell no! And in fact…one of the equipment managers I talked to acknowledged that the team wants fans to get baseballs, almost as a “thank you” for spending so much money on tickets and parking and food.

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