Book update No. 5 — ballhawk glossary

I’m compiling a ballhawk glossary of jargon and slang. Can you help me
come up with ideas? Feel free to invent a word. If everyone thinks it’s
good enough (and relevant enough), it might end up in my new book. Here are some examples (the first of which I invented):

balligraphy28.jpgBalligraphy — the use of baseballs to write a number or word

Berm — a sloped, grassy area inside a stadium

— a person who performs snagging-related tasks (such as carrying a
backpack or labeling baseballs) so the ballhawk doesn’t have to

Cross-aisle — an aisle that runs parallel to the rows of seats and provides lateral movement

Easter egg — a ball that’s found in the seats

— to be knocked down or crashed into by another fan while attempting
to catch a ball; named after an aggressive Bay Area ballhawk named Jake Frazier

mccovey_cove_glossary.jpgMcCovey Cove — the body of water beyond the right field edge of San Francisco’s AT&T Park

Pearl — a brand new baseball

Rubbed up — describes a ball that’s been rubbed with mud and was therefore probably used during a game

Splash Hit — a home run ball that lands in McCovey Cove

— a fan on the inside of a stadium who helps a fan on the outside snag
baseballs by indicating when to get ready and which direction the balls
are heading

Waveland Avenue — the street beyond the left field edge of Wrigley Field

This glossary won’t end up being anywhere near as long as the 41-page glossary I compiled for Watching Baseball Smarter. That book covered ALL of baseball; this new book (as you can see) is going to have a narrower ball-related focus.


  1. cookandsonbats

    moat – (i) the place balls fall into between the OF stands and the OF wall, perfect for the glove trick, (ii) the inside aisle and wall separate the common fan from the privileged fans at Yankee Stadium.

  2. 07nlchamps

    I know I’m always telling people I’m heading to “bp”, and 9 times out of 10 they ask me what that is.

  3. MLBallhawk

    Hey Zack – My word to add would be JABBIN’. This comes from the Wrigley Ballhawks. I believe it was the legendary Railroad Mike that used it most. JABBIN’ when a “passerby” grabs or steals a ball from one of the regulars on Waveland avenue.
    From that you all get the word PASSERBY which is ANYONE other than the regular Ballhawks.

    Chasin’ Baseballs – MLBallhawk


    bitch- security guard that wont let you use the glove trick
    secret police- yankee stadium security
    snubbed- when a person asks a player for a ball, but he just walks away, or throws the ball to a person with larger boobs, that didnt ask, and is in the opposing teams gear

  5. redsfan101

    How about “Lucky Ball”
    Definition: A great/lucky catch.

    Let me know what you think

  6. zackhample

    Good idea about “moat.” I’ve heard that term in the past but hadn’t thought of it for the book. I usually refer to the area behind the outfield walls as a “gap.” A moat (in the castle sense) is designed to keep people out. The area behind the outfield wall, however, is just…dead space that no one really cares about. (What does everyone else think?) Also, it’s not just Yankee Stadium that has a moat. There’s one in Dodger Stadium, and I believe the Twins’ new ballpark will have one as well. I’m glad that Shiti Field wasn’t designed THAT badly. “Decoy” is another good term, also known as a “dummy ball.” Thanks. I’ll probably include that. “Coghlaned”? Wow. I like the idea. It might sap the power of “Jaked,” however, to verb someone else’s name.

    Good call. Thanks. (And hey, did you get my email about your stats? Can you kindly update me when you get a chance?)

    Can you use “jabbin'” in a sentence? What does everyone else think about that term? I’ve never heard it before. I like “passerby” better. I’m more likely to include that one. Any other ideas?

    Umm, that first word you suggested might be one of the “off the record” ballhawk terms. I’m going to try to avoid being negative. Snubbed? Also negative. I think that word implies some degree of expectation — that a player is somehow obligated to throw a ball to a fan. Not sure if I want to include that. Again…what does everyone else think?

    I’ll consider that. Thank you. It might be a bit too literal. Not sure. Everyone? Thoughts?

  7. Alex

    Here are some:
    Gamer – A rubber up baseball that was most likely used in a game.
    Snag – To catch a ball whether it be hit or thrown.
    A Gem – Either an amazing catch or another word for a pearl

  8. zackhample

    Thanks. I already had “gamer” and “snagger” but not “snag” by itself. Gem could work, too, but I’d be inclined to go with “Web Gem” for the amazing catch.

    I already had “corner spot” (great minds think alike), but I didn’t have “Hample Jinx” or “Competition Factor.” I’m trying to avoid writing myself into the book, but I think you might be right about the jinx. If anyone else were writing the book, that term would probably be included, so I suppose it makes sense for me to stick it in there.

  9. wewill1992

    Maybe corner spot. How about that game factor (I don’t remember it off the top of my head) concept you have used. Hample jinx has to be in there.

  10. padreleigh

    Maybe Caddy should be Baddy? Ball Caddy. So many things to think about for a glossary. Each stadium has its own distinct things that locals call stuff. Like, in San Diego, we have “The Beach”. Everyone in SD knows what that is. I like the term “stealthed”. That’s when you’re all lined up on a ball and someone comes out of no where at the last second and snags it in front of you. Usually, TC. Ha ha. In each stadium there is also a “sniper”. That’s the top ballhawk at each stadium. When you go to a new place and look around and say to yourself….”Where’s the local sniper?” That’s my word. Let me think of more.


  11. zackhample

    These comments are all screwy with how they’re getting time-stamped. But anyway…

    I’m not sure I like “Baddy” but I love “Sniper.” I think I might have to include that. But “stealthed”? What’s wrong with just saying “robbed”? Plus, when someone cuts in front of you like that, you need a word that’s gonna roll off the tongue. You don’t want to be, like, “Dammit! I just got stealthtphthed!” Thanks for the “beach.” That’s totally going in the book. I used to call it the “sandbox” before I knew better.

  12. cookandsonbats

    these time-stamps are screwy…i noticed that earlier.
    I think you need a name for the RF flags at Camden Yards. Its “actual” name is “Eli Jacobs Plaza.” But on my blog, I prefer to call it the “Flag Pavillion.” Also, how about “umpire tunnel.”


    I do agree with you there.
    And Geinke wins the Cy Young and cc doesnt even get 2nd place! Finally the writers got it correct!
    Im not a fan of caddy or spotter. ive never heard them used
    i would make up a word for when someone who has no clue whats going on reaches in front of you/ends up with a ball that was meant for you, or that you should’ve had.
    Like at the ASG when the guy next to me got a ball tossed to him in Bp, called his wife and told her he just caught a home run during the game.
    Umm Hello, do you know anything about baseball.
    And instead of stealth i would say “pwned” that might just be an XBOX Live word though, for when someone just DESTROYS you in whatever game ur playing

  14. yankeehater626

    There are the ones used by the ballhawk oulation in Anahiem to describe the single ballhawk that no body likes.

    Witted – 1. To go to the right field foul pole with the sole purpose of preventing him from catching as many balls as possible. 2. To be falsely accused of stacking one’s ballhawk numbers.

    Sentence usage –

    1. “hey I’m headed up to the pavillion, how about you?”
    “I think I’m going to go witting today”

    2. “Yea, now 3 of us have been witted, and Erick Jabs won’t listen to our side of the story”

  15. chasicle

    What about one that describes leaning over the wall and grabbing it off of the warning track? Like leaner / hanger / stretcher / snatcher / picked upper / picker upper / grabber / reacher, etc.


    How about “bluck” for a lucky ball (one you really shouldn’t have caught?)

    And what about “stakeout,” for when you are waiting in one little corner of the stadium, where there are no other fans, for a ball to get hit there so you can ask the obscure player manning that area, whose name only you know, for the ball? You wait and wait, but when the ball comes, it’s a sure thing, because Clay Zavada is just stoked that you know who is he is (Sorry, Clay).

    And…one more…

    “Gifted and talented.” For a unique or rare ball. Like when I was in TB this year during BP and got thrown a ball from the 2008 World Series. Or when I got a WBC ball this year in Spring Training. You’d get the ball, not realizing what you have, then you look at it and go, “Holy ****! This ball’s gifted and talented!”

  17. gjk2212

    dont kill me for this zack

    but how about?

    sneg-(origin: toronto, canada) a term coined by a specific “baseball collector” as well as a great source of my daily entertainment for months. also can be used as “snegged” or “snegging”

    sorry, i got nothin..

  18. Crazy Baseball Stuff

    Zack here are a few tell me what you think

    jerkhawk: a ballhawk who “plays dirty” such as cuts in front of people, elbows, knees, and all that stuff.

    Ballhawk code of conduct “BCOC” :The unwritten rules of the ballhawk

    catch and go: referring to after the third out of a half inning running down close to the dugout to get a ball then going back up to your seat

    free for all: a ball that is hit, thrown, etc. into a crowded area

    a memory maker: when you give the ball to a kid, which is probably there first ball.

    loudmouth: a fan who wont stop talking and yelling, mostly New York fans

    ill have more later

    tell me what you think.

    The Shu

  19. padreleigh

    Hey Zack…

    Not sure if anyone already brought this up. I’ve heard this in SD, LA and Anaheim….

    Moneyball….A player’s milestone home run or hit. “That ball’s a moneyball.” One that you can trade for something from the player or sell. Different from Billy Beane’s Moneyball.

    Then, there is my famous word “Throw up” as opposed to “Toss up”. Good stuff. I like stealthed instead of robbed, but if you don’t that’s ok. Talk to you later.



    What’s up Zack. I’ve got three:
    ……………..STONEHANDS – an individual who did not take the time or effort to bring their glove with them to the stadium and yet thinks they’ll be just as successful at snagging a BP homerun as someone who did bring their glove. When, by some miracle a ball is hit directly at them, Stonehands attempts to make the grab but is obviously unsuccessful. The ball ricochets off of their hands and bounces into the seats, ensuing (what could be another glossary word), the “mad scramble”………………MAD SCRAMBLE – after a ball (especially when it comes to a “moneyball”) is hit and no one actually catches the ball on the fly, it bounces off a seat, rolls into the aisle, and the mad scramble ensues. Yelling, kicking, punching, swinging elbows. Pretty much UFC meet Royal Rumble, all for a taste of glory (or rather, a chance to exchange bank account information with Todd McFarlane or Marc Ecko)………………PETER PAN – an adult who goes out of their way to look/act/sound younger in order to persuade a player to toss them a ball. Hat turned sideways just a little bit, voice goes up a few octives. Calls everyone “mister.” “Um, excuse me Mr. Pelfrey. But gosh, could you throw me that baseball please, please, please, please, pretty please?” Grow up, Peter Pan. (Could also be used in verb form: “Look at that guy. He’s got a full beard and yet he’s trying to Peter Pan a ball from Alfredo Aceves!”)


    The one from Crazy Baseball Stuff “free for all” is interesting – but maybe it could be tweaked a bit to become “Free For Ball” or maybe, as a cousin to internet abbreviations, FFB.

  22. padreleigh


    Just remembered one. “Alligator arms”. When a ball is hit to a person without a glove and they act like they’re going to catch it, but at the last minute they pull their hands back into their sides and miss the ball completely. “That guy totally alligator armed that ball.” Why not?


  23. zackhample

    There’s some ballhawk-bashing taking place here:

    I just left a long comment (which won’t appear until the writer of that blog approves it), and I encourage you all to do the same. Just…be nice…and don’t use bad language or fire off insults. If you do, it’ll only prove her (yes, a female hater) point.

    I think it’s just known as the “flag court.”

    “Spotter” is big in Chicago and used to be big in Boston. There’d be no way (or purpose) for one to be a spotter in NYC. “Caddy” is a good one that I’ve used on many occasions; it originated in the Bay Area.

    Perhaps. I’m saving all these comments to review later (perhaps with my editor). My initial reaction to these terms is that they describe something that can already be easily described with plain and simple English, so I’m inclined not to invent a fancy term for it.

    I like “stakeout” more than “bluck.” Clay is not the friendliest guy out there. I’d think it’d take a lot more than simply knowing his name to get him to toss one up.

    Funny. I’m inclined to leave that out of the book so it can remain our own little inside joke.

    THE SHU-
    Good ideas. I think the “catch and go” concept is my favorite out of all the ones you suggested.

    I like it.

    Moneyball is a good one, although it implies that ballhawks are in it for the money, which some are, which is okay. Maybe I can explain this in the definition somehow. Alligator arms? Dunno about that one.

    Nice. I like ’em all. I guess I’m a Peter Pan at times. D’oh!


  24. bigappleblogger

    “streeter” or “outside snagger” would be somebody who stands outside the stadium for free and attempts to catch balls. Most likely found at wrigley and fenway. Also, aqua-streeters can be found at AT&T ballpark

  25. padreleigh

    Hey Zack…

    I almost forgot. Thanks for the phone call in the hospital. I know I was out of it, but I appreciate the effort. Thanks to the Happy Youngster too for the phone call. I appreciated it guys.


  26. MLBallhawk

    Zack –
    So I just finished a comment on Garys column on and I came up with a couple of new ones for you and your book!!
    “HAMPLEITES” = The new version of the Ballhawk that is a follower of ZACK HAMPLE
    “Presto-Chango” = when Ballhawks change from the Home teams garb to the visiting teams garb

  27. dbacks1985


    A clarification to your definition: a “splash hit” need not be confined to McCovey Cove balls. Here at Chase Field in Arizona, Diamondbacks fans define any ball hit into the RideNow Powersports Pool (and more broadly the Pool Pavilion) as a “splash hit” or “splash homer.”

    And as a piece of trivia, of the 41 true splash homers (actually into the pool on the fly, without bouncing off any other surface or a fan first) at Bank One Ballpark/Chase Field, Mark Grace was the first player to hit one on May 12, 1998. Grace is also the only player to hit splash homers as both an opponent (twice with the Cubs on May 12, 1998 and July 29, 1998) and a member of the Diamondbacks team (July 23, 2002). You could also say that Grace “owns” the Chase Field splash hit, as his three homers are the most by any single player (Devon White, Steve Finley, Rich Aurilia, and Stephen Drew each have two).

    Check out this website for the full list and for more info:

    Andrew M.


    Hey Zack,
    How about Diving in, the term for jumping in the batters eye at Kaufmann Stadium.

  29. zackhample

    I love “streeter.” Thanks. There *should* be a term for those folks.

    You’re welcome. Thanks for answering. :-)

    Funny. I’ll have to think about that.

    Thanks for the clarification. Very helpful! And thanks for the trivia, too. Not sure if that’ll make it into the book, but it’s great to know either way.

    Hmm, I’m not sure about that one, but I’m saving it, and I’ll consider it later when I go through all these suggestions. Thanks.


    hey, Zack
    I’m thinking “chameleon” is the word for all of us who change team shirts and hats to up the chances of snagging a few more baseballs. What do you think? -Dave

  31. thekmac

    LOVE “chameleon”! I can’t really think of anything else… (since I’m not an actual hawk). I’ll keep thinking on it.


    Good Samaritan – Giving a ball to a nearby kid (who brought a glove!)

    Benedict – When you have to wear your rivals colors to ballhawk. Like “chameleon” but in games with your rival (Like when you go to Phillies games as a Mets fan)

    Clogged – When your BP section is too full and you have to move

    T-Ball’d – Ending up with a training ball instead of a real one. (“I got T-Ball’d. Ugh, this is a T-Ball)

    Respect – Giving a fellow ballhawk his space. (“I gave him his respect.”)

    Weeds – Non-ballhawkers. (Think “muggles” in Harry Potter); I know it sounds kind of negative, but they’re in the way and you have to wade through them.

    Rocky – Climbing a set of steps to catch a ball (“Man, you just pulled a Rocky”)

    Best ones I have off the top of my head…Good luck with the book!


    How about “Rolodex” for your cheat sheets that you print up with the faces, names and numbers for players/coaches (as in “Hey Bill, can I borrow your Rolodex for a sec? I wanna look up who’s number 72 on the Rangers?”)? While actual Rolodex’s are now horrendously obselete (and I doubt anyone under the age of 20 even knows what one is), when you needed/need to look a quick “number” (phone or jersey), just turn to your Rolodex and find it like that. Keepin’ the term a part of American pop culture for years to come…


    While rolodex does make sense, i have always called it a cheat sheet, and whenever i use the term all the other ballhawks seem to know what im talking about so, that term has already caught on in NY at least.

  35. zackhample

    Perhaps…perhaps. Thanks for the suggestion, and sorry (to everyone) for the delayed response.

    Thanks for weighing in here…

    I love T-balled! Thanks for all of these ideas. I’m saving them all and will consider them later.

    I like the idea of “Rolodex,” but Puck Collector is correct in his comment just below yours. It seems that we already have a term for it.


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