9/28/10 at Citi Field

New York City was wet. I knew there wasn’t going to be batting practice, but it was still frustrating to run inside Citi Field and see this:


At least there was a ball sitting in right field:


I headed over to that side of the stadium.

Twenty minutes later, Jon Niese signed a few autographs:


Rather than getting him to sign, I asked him (very very extremely politely) to get the ball for me in right field.

He said he’d get it for me when he came back out to throw — and then he disappeared into the clubhouse. While he was gone, a groundskeeper retrieved the ball and threw it to another fan. That fan happened to be a teenager named Mateo, whom you might remember as my Watch With Zack client on 7/27/10 at Citi Field. Unfortunately for Mateo, the groundskeeper air-mailed him, and the ball landed in that tunnel that leads to the handicapped section. This was the result:


As you can see, a gentleman in a wheelchair came up with the ball while Mateo was trapped in the seats up above.

The Mets’ pitchers finally came out and stood around:


It was a very exciting day.

Niese ended up throwing me a ball after he finished playing catch. Then I moved to the seats in straight-away right and got another from Mets bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello. (This was the 13th ball that “Rac” has given me since 2004; he’s one of the few guys who recognizes me and still adds to my collection.)

I raced up to the second deck and tried to get Manny Acosta’s attention…


…and failed miserably.

Soon after, Craig Counsell and Lorenzo Cain started playing catch in shallow left field. This is what it looked like when I ran over:


I got Counsell to throw me the ball, but he launched it ten feet over my head, and it took a series of ridiculous bounces, and Mateo ended up snagging it.

Then something really random happened. Some guy on the Brewers wandered out of the dugout and walked into the handicapped row behind the rolled-up tarp. I had no idea who he was, but he had a hint of gray hair and appeared to be in his 40s, so I figured he had to be a coach. He was wearing a warm-up shirt over his uniform, which had a tiny No. 83 on the back. I looked at my Brewers roster…and…nothing. Anyway, this random Brewer-guy met a female friend, pulled out his iPhone, and asked ME to take a picture. Here I am doing it:


I still had no idea who the guy was, and I was too embarrassed to ask. I did, however, ask him for a baseball in exchange for my photography efforts, and he said he’d get one for me. I spotted him 20 minutes later in the dugout. He was wearing his regular uniform. His jersey said “GUERRERO 83” on the back. I don’t have an iPhone, so I had to wait until I got home to look him up. I’m almost positive it was Sandy Guerrero — a former minor leaguer who served as the hitting coach this season for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds.

Here’s something else random for you: while I was waiting for Guerrero to come back out with a ball, I started talking to an older fan who was wearing a Yankees jacket. He was at this game for one reason only: to get Willie Randolph to sign a Yankees jersey. Ready to see the jersey? Check this out:


(The look on his face must have something to do with being forced to watch the Mets.)

I don’t often get impressed with autographs, but this was rather spectacular. How many of those autographs can you identify?

Shortly before the game started, two more Brewers played catch in shallow left field. Luis Cruz was one of them, and he threw me the ball when he finished. Look at the sweet spot:


It was like that when I caught it. (Marked balls are fairly common and are often much more interesting.) Meanwhile, Guerrero was nowhere in sight, so after the singing of the national anthem, I took off for left field. The seats out there were practically empty. I wanted to catch a home run. That was my official goal for the day. That’s why I voluntarily suffered through a BP-less day at one of my least favorite stadiums.

This was my view in the first inning:


This was my view to the left:


I had so much room to run, and of course nothing landed anywhere near me. Nevertheless, I still came very close to a home run, and if not for a swat team of security guards, I would’ve had it. Quite simply, Corey Hart led off the 6th inning with a homer that landed on the right-field side of the batter’s eye. I raced over to the seats in right-center for a closer look. This is where the ball ended up:


I could have easily knocked it closer and reached through the bars for it, but the guards wouldn’t let me. They threatened to eject me for *reaching* for it. I can understand not letting fans climb over the railing, but prohibiting fans from REACHING for a ball? Wow. Just wow. I was (and still am) furious about it. There’s absolutely no excuse for being so strict, especially when the team sucks and the weather sucks and it’s September and there are only a few thousand fans in the stadium.

With the Mets trailing, 3-2, I made my way to the 3rd base dugout in the bottom of the 9th inning…


…and was shocked when Ruben Tejada won the game with a two-run double to left-center. Ruben Tejada?! The guy is smaller than I am. He’s 20 years old. He began the night batting .199 — and he ended up going 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles.

Moments after the game ended, I got my fourth ball of the day from home plate umpire Tim Tschida and then saw Guerrero walk out of the dugout with a ball in his hand. It took a minute, but when I finally got his attention, he flipped it to me.



• 5 balls at this game (pictured on the right)

• 273 balls in 28 games this season = 9.75 balls per game.

• 657 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 496 consecutive games in New York with at least one ball

• 357 consecutive Mets home games with at least one ball

• 19 consecutive games at Citi Field with at least two balls

• 4,631 total balls


• 48 donors (click here to learn more)

• $7.53 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $37.65 raised at this game

• $2,055.69 raised this season for Pitch In For Baseball


  1. buschstadiumballcollector

    Zack, I finally broke my record of 4 balls in one game with 5. I only Kept 4 of them because i gave one to a kid who didnt get one. Ross Ohlendorf seen me hand the ball to a kid so he called Chris Leroux over to get him a ball and tossed me one. Then im guessing Ohlendorf told him the story and Chris Leroux tossed me one to. Then Brandon Moss was standing with a ball directly behind him so i yelled his name he turned and looked a threw a ball to me chest high right into my glove for #3. then i figured with low attendence the crowd was too small to keep yelling becuase i would be spotted and the team would be warned so i went to the dugout and got the dirtest ball ive ever receive all i have to say is Thank You Pirates Organization….. at least the players treat fans nicely i even had a 5-6 minute conversation with Chris Leroux about a kid from my school who was on the screen.
    Darron in STL

  2. MLBallhawk

    Zack –

    Pretty good night for such crappy weather! Security guards are idiots, especially at Citi it seems. We deal with similar idiots from CSC security here in So Cal.

    Last night I grabbed 3 balls at Anaheim. The 2nd ball got me to 3900 MLB Balls (includes spring training). Next milestone will hopefully come early next year. I am 23 away from 3000 regular season balls.

    I will be writing about the last week and a half here in Anaheim late tonight or tomorrow since today is the last home game in Anaheim this season and likely my last game of the year!

    Talk to you soon!


  3. cookandsonbats

    Nice job on the Tim Tschida baseball! We have a personal goal of getting a baseball from an umpire named Tim. We got a baseball from Todd Tichenor last season. But we’ve never been able to hook up with Tim Tschida, Tim Welke, Tim McClelland, or the ultimate, Tim Timmons. We would also accept a baseball from Tim Hudson.

  4. kyled5757@yahoo.com

    Sup Zack. Name’s Kyle. Long time reader, first time commenter. First wanted to say I love the blog.. second I’m pretty sure I saw that guy with all the Yankees autographs at a Yankees/Mariners game this season.. I was actually talking to him when I snagged my first ball (a liner from Ichiro no less).
    Anyway I remember reading you got Angel Pagan’s hat at the last game at Shea.. do you know if the players usually throw stuff into the crowd after the last game of the season? I’m goin to the last game of the season at Citi on Sunday (Mets-Nats) and if that’s the case, whats the best way to.. get some stuff? haha . And also what would be a better move you think, goin to the Nats dugout with a nats hat on, or the mets dugout with the other 2million fans ? Thanks man, gotta ask the expert.

  5. johnny5rocks@hotmail.com

    Here’s who I can identify on the Yankees jersey:

    Roger Clemens
    Tom Tresh
    Joe Pepitone
    Gil McDougald
    Rollie Sheldon
    Hank Bauer
    Luis Arroyo
    Stan Bahnsen
    Clyde King
    Paul Blair
    Clete Boyer
    Bobby Brown
    Moose Skowron
    Jim Coates
    Ching Ming Wang
    Mariano Rivera
    Gene Michael
    Johnny Blanchard
    Stump Merrill
    Hector Lopez
    Bill Virdon
    Frank Howard
    Jerry Coleman
    Bob Turley
    Ian Kennedy
    Phil Hughes
    Tyler Clippard
    Phil Coke
    Joba Chamberlain
    Goose Gossage
    Chris Chambliss
    Graig Nettles
    Sparky Lyle
    Roy White Mickey Rivers
    Aaron Boone
    Jim Leyritz
    Ron Blomberg
    Robinson Cano
    Andy Pettitte
    Carl Pavano
    Mike Torrez
    Tim Raines
    Lindy McDaniel
    Jim Abbott
    Cliff Johnson
    Shelly Duncan
    Darryl Strawberry
    Lance Berkman
    Al Downing
    Ramiro Mendoza
    Jose Tabata
    Dwight Gooden
    Oscar Gamble

    There’s quite a few that I can’t identify because it’s too blurry, folded, or I just can’t tell who they are. The guy hasn’t been to careful with the jersey…Roy White signed it twice, and a second guy that I can’t identify the signature also signed it twice (once by the second button under the NY, and a second time on the right side underneath Mike Torrez).

    Anyway, thought I’d step up to the challenge. :)

  6. jerseyboy

    You would have lost your mind – when I was in Oakland, Chris Carter hit his first career homer. In the first inning, I THOUGHT about going out there with like the 10 other fans and taking a chance on getting a homer. I opted not to. Worst decision ever. You would’ve had this ball with your eyes closed.


  7. zackhample

    I’m thinking about going tomorrow, but I don’t particularly want to be there if the weather sucks. The forecast right now isn’t great, so…I don’t know. It’ll be a last-minute decision.

    Thank you for confirming that, Sir!

    Congrats. Nicely done, and thanks for sharing the details.

    Well, let this serve as a warning: when you do finally make it to Citi Field, be careful.

    It’s bad enough when stadiums have overly strict policies; it’s even worse when security guards invent arbitrary rules on the spot. I’ve gotten to know many of the guards at Shea and Citi over the years, and a lot of them are really good guys, but some of them need to lighten up a bit.

    Hilarious!! Tim Timmons was actually the home plate ump last night for Game 2 at Citi Field. Sadly, he (politely) rejected my request for a ball.

    Thanks for reading and now commenting. I got the Pagan cap last year at Citi, not at Shea, but whatever. Players often do toss *some* stuff into the crowd, but there’s no guarantee. I usually go to the winning team’s side, but I suppose that even if the Mets lose, they still might poke their heads out of the dugout and hook up the fans with some goodies. I don’t know. It’s hard to say. It’ll probably be a zoo either way, but you won’t have to compete with me. I’ll be in Baltimore. Good luck. Let me know how it goes.

    Thanks for noticing.

    OhmyGOD. Thanks for stepping up to the challenge. That’s pretty impressive. Cool list.

    You just go to all kinds of sporing events, huh?

    Don’t tease me with stories like this. I can’t handle it.

  8. cookandsonbats

    Sorry about double commenting, but I was looking at that Yankees shirt trying to find the stuff mentioned by JOHNNY5ROCKS. I thought that it was funny that Jim Leyritz took up a huge amount of that guy’s jersey to claim that he hit the last homerun of the 20th century — which I presume is this same homerun hit in Oct. 1999 (http://www.seth.com/coll_histbseballs_12.html) — a little over a year before the 20th century ended. he should have just said “last homerun of the 1900s?” that would have been correct. FYI, accounting for the fact that our calendar started in the year 1 (not zero), it appears that the actual “last home run of the 20th century” was hit by Derek Jeter in the 6th inning of game 5 of the 2000 World Series on October 26, 2000 (http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYN/NYN200010260.shtml).

  9. zackhample

    Double-commenting is always welcome. Excellent point about Leyritz. That guy is just messed up.

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