9/14/10 at Camden Yards

This was my first game in more than a month, and let me tell you, it felt great to be back…

The story of the day was running. It seemed as if that’s all I did. Here’s a photo (that my girlfriend took) of me bolting toward a section in left-center for a home run that landed in the seats:


I grabbed that ball and caught a line-drive homer on the fly soon after. (I have no idea who hit either one.)

Things were off to a good start — but then it all fell apart.

The whole running thing? Not too successful. Despite the many rows of seats that I sprinted through and climbed over, I kept finding myself out of position. Here are two screen shots from a video that will illustrate my point. First I climbed over a row while the ball was in mid-air…


…and then I watched helplessly as it fell short:


And then the Orioles stopped hitting at 5:17pm — more than 15 minutes early. It was such a waste. All I could do was wander into foul territory and watch the Blue Jays get loose:


By that time, of course, I had changed into my Blue Jays gear, and it paid off. Lyle Overbay spotted me and threw a ball my way. Here I am behind the dugout, reaching out for the catch:


If you look closely at the photo above, you can see the ball in the pocket of my glove.

Once the Jays started hitting, I ran back out to left field and got some love from from Adam Lind. Here’s a photo that shows the ball sailing toward me:


Here I am running around some more and climbing over another row of seats:


Don’t forget, I had switched into Jays gear, so that’s me on the left with my back facing the camera. And in case you were wondering…no, I didn’t get that ball. I didn’t get this one either…


…but two minutes later, I did manage to catch a homer on the fly in the front row. Again, I have idea who hit it. I wish I did, but the batters were wearing shirts over their jerseys, so I couldn’t see their uniform numbers, and I didn’t recognize their stances from 375 feet away. Anyway, here I am reaching up for that ball…


…and if you look closely, you can see a little kid ducking out of the way on my left. I gave that ball to a different kid later on.

I had five baseballs at that point — a respectable total that could’ve been much higher if I’d been a little quicker and/or luckier. Here I am losing out in a scramble…


…and here I am losing out on a bobble:


In the photo above, you can’t see me, but trust me, I was there. Do you see the random glove in front of the left edge of the warehouse? That’s my glove.

Toward the end of BP, I got Blue Jays first base coach Omar Malave to throw me a ball in left-center, and I also snagged a ground-rule double in that same area. I think it was hit by DeWayne Wise, but I’m not sure.

Then I met a father-and-son duo named Gregg and Kyle. Gregg is the sports director for a TV station in Harrisburg, PA, and Kyle follows me on Twitter. (Here’s a link to my Twitter page. I haven’t been blogging much lately, but I’ve been tweeting just about every day.) They were both very nice, and I posed for a picture with Kyle before running off to the 3rd base dugout. Here were are together:


I won’t bore you with a photo of my dash to the dugout. Instead, I’ll skip to the good part:


In the photo above, do you see the player who’s about to throw a ball? That’s Shawn Marcum. He threw it to me. It was my eighth ball of the day.

Soon after BP ended, I got Marc Rzepczynski to sign my ticket. Here I am in the process of getting the autograph…


…and here’s the ticket itself:


Right before the game started, I got my ninth ball from John McDonald. He and Yunel Escobar had played catch in front of the dugout. Easy snag. No competition. Happy birthday to me. (Actually, it WAS my birthday.)

I spent the top of the first inning in left field. This was the view:


After that, I pretty much stayed in the standing room only section in right field. This was the view late in the game.


(It was Buck Showalter T-shirt Night.)

I also spent some time chasing (nonexistent) foul balls behind the plate. Here’s the view from that spot:


As for my girlfriend…


She picked a comfy spot and stayed put while I ran around and did my thing.

The game itself was whatever. I didn’t come within 100 feet of any of the three homers, and I never got closer than 50 feet to a foul ball. For the record, the Orioles pounded out 16 hits and won, 11-3.

Just after the final out, I got a ball from home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman. (GOSH, I love his name.) Then I got another ball from Jason Frasor near the 3rd base dugout when he walked in from the bullpen with his fellow relievers.

It didn’t feel like I had a great day — I wasted lots of opportunities during BP — but somehow still ended up with double digits.



• 11 balls at this game (10 pictured on the right because I gave one away)

• 231 balls in 25 games this season = 9.24 balls per game.

• 654 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 200 consecutive games outside New York with at least one ball

• 128 lifetime games with at least 10 balls

• 4,589 total balls


• 45 donors (click here to learn more)

• $6.49 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $71.39 raised at this game

• $1,499.19 raised this season for Pitch In For Baseball


  1. MLBallhawk

    Glad to see you are still alive! A little rusty though huh? I didn’t see any catches like me new lil’ buddy Jake though …… lol

    A lot of empty ballparks the last couple weeks of the season.
    It should be fun EVERYWHERE except in playoff towns!


  2. austinbaseball211@yahoo.com

    Zack- Glad to see you making a new snagging entry! I have been checking daily for a new one for quite some days… I actually missed the updates, lol. Ugh I haven’t been to a game as long as you have. Hoping to catch a few games before the season ends. Been acquiring team items for my ball hawking career, LOL. Such as team jerseys/shirts and hats. Actually traded some baseball cards for some Petco Park BP used baseballs. Believe it or not, lmao.

    Great to see you back in action. Hope the book is coming along well.


  3. redsox82696

    Glad to see another blog entry Zack. I’m sure you’ll warm up (although 11 balls is an awesome number) after a couple games. You may have had 18 or 19 if you were in “prime condition”.

    Looking at the ticket stub makes me sad to think that I pay $30 a seat to watch the 3rd place Red Sox. Jealous I didn’t live closer to Baltimore.

  4. danr@moviechurch.com

    The photo right under the signed ticket, I noticed the multiple “Showalter 26” t-shirts (outnumbering the Ripken, Roberts and Roy Halladay Phils jerseys) and thought to myself, “Really Orioles fans? It’s gotten THAT bad that you paid $25 at the gift shop for a t-shirt with your manager’s name and number on it?!?!” (it actually IS that bad, but still). Good to know they were giveaways, so did you get one? If so, that’s GOTTA replace your Ripken shirt for all future Orioles road games. Gotta love that thousands of people throughout Maryland and beyond are representing the manager on a t-shirt. Way to go O’s! PS I’m going to Yankees/Rays next Thurs the 23rd. Any chance you’ll be there?

  5. jskool81

    Great to see you back at it! And sorry for suggesting the guy who threw the ball to you was Taylor Buchholz. I thought it was Marcum at first, but thought the guy looked a little too scraggly around the beard. Very cool to get a ball from one of the Jays’ top pitchers.

  6. MLBallhawk

    No Zack, Jake Shuster ….. the little guy that caught the Home Run at Baltimore! Speaking of which, if you have any contacts or can get me contact emails of Yankees or Rays PR people let me know. I am still working on getting him to a Yankees / Rays game so he can meet Brad Hawpe and get the ball signed!


  7. zackhample

    Thanks. It feels good to be back, but no, I still have some edits to plow through for the next two weeks…and possibly beyond.

    You met Jake Frazier? Is that who you’re talking about? If so, how was it?

    Thanks. It’s nice to know that you were looking forward to seeing a new entry.

    I hear ya about living far from Baltimore. I don’t know how often I’d make the trip if I had to drive six or seven hours each way.

    I had my Mizuno with me just in case. The Rawlings glove is so much more comfortable, so I treated myself since it was my birthday.

    Thanks! It’s been a tough summer — way too much work and other issues — but I’m surviving. I’m just looking forward to next year when the book is out and I truly have NO work.

    Nah, just a glove that I don’t often use.

    Wrigley is such a great place to catch home runs. All those guys out there on Waveland Avenue (except one) are really cool.

    Funny idea about using the Showalter shirt from now on for road games, but Ripken is my all-time favorite player, so no one could ever replace him. I’m considering attending the game on the 23rd, but I still have a lot of work remaining on the book, and the next two weeks are kind of up in the air. I don’t know. Ask me again next week.

    Thanks…and no worries about the photo. I’m still not convinced it was Marcum, but some fans on a Blue Jays forum insist it’s him, so there you go.

  8. gu3_

    Looks like you had a pretty solid day, Zack. By the way, I’m in the fourth picture from the bottom, the one where you were sitting in left field. You should have stayed around there. I nearly missed Aaron Hill’s homerun and I caught Adam Jones’ late inning homerun.

  9. zackhample

    Wow. Nicely done. I’m always tempted to sit in LF, but there’s something about the Flag Court that keeps me going back for more.

  10. gu3_

    The only time I really use the Flag Court is if a lefty is going for a milestone (Josh Bell’s possible 3 HR game or Luke Scott’s 100th) or if the stadium is absolutely empty (then I will run from there to LF and back when necessary). I have come close to many HRs while in left this season and have caught two of them. I have never had a ball hit to the Flag Court when I have been over there, though.

  11. zackhample

    Gotcha. That makes sense, and while the flag court can be a really frustrating place (i.e., not being able to see the game), I still like my chances there. But hey, that works out well for us. It means that we don’t have to compete directly against each other when I’m in the stadium…speaking of which, I’m thinking of coming down this weekend. Hmm.

  12. gu3_

    I think you should stay away this weekend! Just kidding. But in recent seasons, they haven’t taken batting practice on either Saturday or Sunday.

  13. zackhample

    Well, screw BP. I just made official plans to be there. I promise to stay in RF (during the games) if you promise to stay in LF. :-)

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