9/1/09 at Citizens Bank Park

The highlight of the day BY FAR was hanging out with my mom. Here we are outside the stadium:


The baseball portion of the day, unfortunately, was rough. I ran all over the place while the Phillies were taking batting practice…


…and I only managed to snag ONE ball during that time. I won’t even bother listing all the close calls and unlucky moments (most of which were the product of being in a sold-out stadium). All I’ll say is that I snagged the ball with my glove trick and that my mom took a cool photo of me while I was stretching across the flower bed. Check it out:


Once the Giants took the field, I changed my outfit accordingly…


…and it actually paid off. I headed into foul territory as the Giants pitchers were finishing playing catch. Matt Cain ended up with the ball and considered tossing it to a bunch of Phillies fans, but I got his attention. He then looked back at the other fans (which included several young women). Then he looked at me again. I tipped my cap and flaunted the Giants logo on my shirt. He looked at the other fans one last time. Then he looked at me, and I shrugged as if to
5_ball4222.jpgsay, “Come on, I’m wearing Giants stuff. It doesn’t matter how cute the Phillies fans are. You can’t possibly be serious about giving the ball to them.” (Yes, my shrug communicated all of that.) Cain finally turned and threw me the very dirty ball, pictured here on the right.

Twenty minutes later, I caught a home run that was hit by a righty on the Giants. I have no idea who. He was wearing a warm-up jersey over his uniform number, and I was way too busy jockeying for position to pay any attention to his stance or swing. There was a swarm of fans around me. I had to jump up and reach above all of their gloves to make the catch. There was such a frenzy that my mom (who was standing 10 feet away) didn’t even know that I’d gotten the ball until I took it out of my glove and showed her.

That was it for BP.

Tim Lincecum signed autographs for five minutes at the dugout. People were going crazy. I couldn’t get near him. I settled for taking his photo:


After that, I met up with David Rhode, the executive director of Pitch in For Baseball, the charity for which I’m raising money this season. David was there with his 14-year-old son Casey. They’re bigtime Phillies fans, which is understandable given the fact that they actually live in Pennsylvania, but still, when the three of us had our picture taken, I felt compelled to wear my Giants gear and try to cover up their evil Phillies logos. Here we are:


Ten minutes before the game started, I worked my way down to the front row along the left field foul line. Juan Uribe was playing catch with a couple other guys, and when they finished,
I got him to throw me the ball. (The ball is pictured here on the right. As you can see, it has a smudged MLB logo, which I find somewhat
interesting.) It was easy. Not only was I the only person there wearing
Giants gear, but no one else was even wearing a glove or standing up.

After that, my mom and I headed to the Diamond Club seats behind home plate. We stayed near the back of the unofficial standing-room-only area, just in front of the glass doors that lead into the club. This was our view for right-handed batters:


It’s a great foul ball spot — not ideal because of its close proximity to the field — but it’s good enough that I feel like I have a genuine shot on every single pitch. I got my chance with one out in the top of the 2nd inning. Randy Winn hit a very high foul pop-up that was pretty much heading right to me. As I was drifting with it and preparing to make the catch, a man walked up from behind me and inadvertently cut me off…or maybe *I* was the one who cut *him* off. It doesn’t matter. The point is…from my perspective…he got right in my way at the last second. But he wasn’t trying to catch the ball. He didn’t have a glove. He was carrying beers. He didn’t even know the ball was coming. He just happened to stroll out through the doors…and THWACK!!! The ball clocked him on the forehead. Direct hit. Holy hell. My instinct, of course (because I’m such a kind-hearted person), was to grab the ball, which conveniently landed at my feet. The man, meanwhile, spilled his beer and staggered backward and spouted an incredible string of obscenities (not at me, but at his general misfortune) as security whisked him off for medical treatment. I noticed that he had a big bloody welt on his head. It was alarming, to say the least. I was planning to give him the ball (or at least *a* ball) when he returned, but I didn’t see him for the rest of the night.

Here’s a photo of the ball:


(Nope, no forehead imprint.)

I had another shot at a foul ball in the 9th inning, but I totally blew it. It was hit way over my head — into the third deck, I think — and was dropped by some fans. The ball fell all the way back down and landed on the pavement near me in the standing-room area. I ran toward it and tried to smother it before it bounced back up, but I failed miserably and deflected the ball right to some other fans. It was a lot more complicated than that, but I don’t want to relive it by telling the story here. Some things are better left unsaid. Anyway, I was so upset (not just because I’d booted my chance at a foul ball but because I was getting booed by so many people) that a teenaged kid walked over to me and handed me a ball. It wasn’t THE ball. It was a different game-used ball that he happened to have. Long story short: I tried to convince the kid that I really *really* didn’t need his baseball, but he was determined to give it to me, and there came a point when I realized it would have insulted him if I didn’t accept his gift. So, I reluctantly allowed him to hand it over (no, the ball doesn’t count in my collection), at which point a bunch of people (his mom included) started cheering him for his generosity. And then, 15 minutes later, I turned the ball over to a younger kid who was heading out of the stadium with an empty glove.

Those final 15 minutes were action-packed. Cole Hamels completed his two-hit, 1-0 masterpiece — only the fourth 1-0 game in the six-year history of Citizens Bank Park — and I got a ball tossed to me at the Giants’ dugout by one of the relievers.


11_six_balls_09_01_09.jpg• 6 balls at this game (pictured on the right)

• 406 balls in 48 games this season = 8.46 balls per game.

• 617 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 176 consecutive games outside of New York with at least one ball

• 132 lifetime game balls (not counting game-used balls that get tossed into the crowd)

• 4,226 total balls


• 122 donors (click here and scroll down for the complete list)

• $25.01 pledged per ball

• $150.06 raised at this game

• $10,154.06 raised this season for Pitch In For Baseball


  1. royhoon@hotmail.com

    hey zack… do you know if the blue jays have batting practice at all? because ive been to many games, and there wasnt batting practice.

  2. bradfordbatboy@gmail.com

    Zack, Yo! You have a GREAT-lookin’ mom!
    Would she like to meet a Bradford Bat Boy?
    P.S. Congrats on crashing the 10 G mark for
    Pitch In For Baseball. Good work for a noble

  3. .

    I’m diggin’ the disgusted look on your face in the fourth photo you posted, especially since you’re surrounded by a (sort of) sea of red Filthies (not Phillies) fans and you’re wearing a Giants shirt. It really looks like one of them just said something about your Mom, but I’m sure since she was there she could have handled things by herself lol. Also, congrats on passing ten grand for Pitch In For Baseball. Truly awesome and respected man. I only have three games left this season (9/8, 9/22, 10/4) so just let me know what’s good and hopefully we can meet up again. Have a good one…

    – Donnie

  4. Txbaseballfan

    I missed a foul ball myself last night (9/1), so don’t feel too bad, you’re not alone. Plus, I forgot my camera & there was no BP, and it was a doubleheader! So I think that trumps your evening. At least you came away with 6!

  5. jaqua04@comcast.net

    hey zack, jacob again…..ill be attending on september 4th so ill miss seeing you….. good luck and thanks a lot for replying. i dont think ill bring my cubs hat to the game though because we no luis alicea and his family….his daughters in my class. He’s the first base coach for the mets and he might supply us with tickets. Hey my brother was at the game when i got a ball using the glove trick and from across the field, he took a video. He put it on facebook and its hilarious. Thanks again!

  6. redsfan101

    Nice job. Yankees stadium= 0 balls

    Some came close, but nope not my time.
    You wouldn’t believe how amazing the Legends Suite is ( where we sat )

    Lets just say: COME HUNGRY

  7. cookandsonbats

    Zack, how many games you have planned for Sept/Oct? You think you’ll make it to 500? That picture of the field from the Diamond Club threw me off. I’ve never been in there before. I saw the picture before I read the entry and I couldn’t figure how where you were to get that picture with all of the concrete behind the seats. Special people seats! Good job.

  8. tommyd2107

    Hey Zack,

    Scott Eyre tossed me your sharpie after you dropped it while doing the glove trick by the left field foul pole.

  9. Stuart Jon

    Hey Zack,

    Just a few random questions, how’s the book coming along? (I enjoyed the baseball ‘mud’ blog entry!) do you have a title yet? are you on course? I will be at Citi field this sat for the Cubs game (first time seeing the Cubs), and at Yankee Stadium again on the 29th to see Royals (first time seeing them too), which got me thinking after these two games I will have seen 16 of the 30 Major League teams. Do you remember when you completed ‘the set’ (current 30 Major League teams) I know it was from 98 onwards of course!

    Stuart Jon

  10. phillieswschamps

    Hey Zack,

    Any chance you could come for the phils game on the 16th against the nationals I’ll be there with my dad and I’ve missed you every time you’ve come to philly.

    J. Evans

  11. eric_idol@sbcglobal.net

    Hey Zack, Congrats on hitting the $10,000 mark, got my first 2 balls last night at the Rangers – Blue Jays game, both during BP, one on the fly and one from the Vistor bullpen, oh I ended up grabbing the Lineup card from the bullpen to, I think I’m addicted. Next game is Sept 11, sitting right behind the Ranger Bullpen, sweet!

  12. goisles

    Zack, you’ve been ball hawking for a long time–and your presence in Philly reminded me to ask this question: When was the last time both the Mets and Yankees were on the road at the same time for at least four days? It used to be very rare when home games would overlap until recently–but I simply can’t remember both stadiums being dark for so long.

    Btw, off to see the KC Royals this weekend, but sans Puck Collector, so ball hawking is not in the cards.

  13. zackhample

    I’m really pressed for time (and it’s about 4am) so I’m only going to answer the comments with questions…

    The Jays take BP at home, but the stadium doesn’t open early enough for the fans to see it. It’s a horrendously stupid and un-fan-friendly policy.

    I’m considering the September 8th game, but I might end up skipping Citi Field entirely next week.

    I don’t have too many more games planned. Only about a half-dozen more, I think. Hard to say. I don’t think I’ll make it to 500.

    Nice. Keep it and enjoy: my unintentional gift to you.

    Hey there. It’s been a rough couple weeks for the book because of Denver and other happy distractions. I’ve started working on a HUGE section to begin Part Two of the book. I’m learning a lot of historical stuff in the process. Very cool. No title yet. Any suggestions? I have no idea when I first saw all the teams. I never even thought of that when I was younger. I just wanted to go to all the stadiums.

    J. EVANS-
    It’s not likely. I’ll either be in Baltimore that day…or at home, working on my blog/book. I think I’m probably done with Philly for the year unless they make it to the World Series.

    Nope. Sorry. But I’ll be at Citi on Sunday for a Watch With Zack game (in case anyone else who’s reading this will be there).

    It has happened a few times in recent years…where both NYC teams are home at the same time and then, as a result, also have to be on the road at the same time. It never happens for more than one series, I don’t think.

    The countdown is TWO! Are you ready?

  14. dx326

    Hey, I was in the back row of the Diamond Club and saw when that little kid gave you the ball. You had such a pained look on your face because you really wanted him to keep the ball, but he was so persistent.

  15. harry.jackson@wagner.edu

    Hey Zack,

    I just stumbled on your blog and I’m amazed at all the balls you’ve snagged. I’m a lifelong Phillies fan (20 yrs, haha) and in all my time going to games, I’ve never caught a foul ball, homer, or any type of game ball. This is partially because I’m just now discovering the wonders of BP, but also due to extreme bad luck. Haha.

    I’m heading to Citizens Bank Park in late October, and was wondering if you had any advice on the BEST places to get balls during BP or the best place to stand during a game. To get down to the Diamond Club Standing Area, did you need a Diamond Club ticket? Hopefully writing to you will change my luck, haha!

  16. Kyle o

    Ki mr. Hample I’m going to citizen bank park for the giants series this weekend and on Saturday sitting in section 144 row 2 my goal is too get some balls. Do you have any tips if so please send too my email koblyfootball@aol.com. Thanks!!
    Kyle O

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