8/26/11 at Citi Field

Batting practice was never more pathetic. You want to know how pathetic it was? If it had rained and there WAS no batting practice, it would’ve been better. It was so pathetic that I only bothered taking one photograph — and here it is:

After Lucas Duda tossed me a ball along the right field foul line, I moved to left-center and got another from Manny Acosta.

And that was it.

Seventy-five minutes of batting practice. Two baseballs.

Does anyone want to guess what time it was when the first home run ball reached the left field seats? Let me just tell you: it was 5:53pm. The Mets didn’t reach the seats ONCE during their entire portion of BP, and when the Braves came out, they needed more than 20 minutes to go yard.

Welcome to Citi Field.

The day got a whole lot better after BP ended. When the Braves cleared the field, I got a ball tossed to me at the 3rd base dugout by Brian McCann, and then I got this:

Yes, a batting glove.
See the number on it?
Do you know who wears No. 22 on the Braves?
Jason Heyward, baby!

Here’s another photo of me with the glove…

…and here’s a two-part photo of the glove itself:

I didn’t do anything special (or anything at all, really) to get it. I was just standing behind the dugout. Heyward walked toward me and disappeared. I didn’t say a word. Moments later, the glove came flying up out of nowhere. Several hands reached for it, but mine was the quickest.

This was my view during the game:

Every few innings, the following message was posted on the JumboTron:

Why, you ask, were the following two games already postponed?

Because of this:

That’s a screen shot that I just took from a government weather site. Hurricane Irene is heading up the east coast, and things are getting messy here in New York City. You know that huge road trip that I’ve been planning for months? Well, my flight to Los Angeles on Monday has already been cancelled. I’m now scheduled to fly to L.A. (through Boston) on Tuesday night, which means I’m going to attend Wednesday’s day game at Dodger Stadium and skip Phoenix altogether — too bad because I probably would’ve snagged about 30 balls there in the two games that I was planning to see. At least I’ve already been to Chase Field this season, so my plan to visit all 30 stadiums is still intact. My plan to snag 1,000 baseballs, however, is taking a serious hit. Depending on how September goes, I might need to attend a bunch of playoff games, so if anyone has an extra ticket (that they’d sell me for a reasonable price) or a place to stay in Phoenix or Milwaukee or Detroit or Atlanta or Arlington (or maybe even Tampa or Anaheim or San Francisco), please let me know. I’ve come too far to let things fall apart now.

But let’s get back to Citi Field for a moment…

Chris Capuano pitched the game of his life. Not only did he record his first complete-game shutout in five years, but he surrendered just two hits, faced one batter over the minimum, and posted a career-high 13 strikeouts. Very very very very impressive. Final score: Mets 6, Braves 0.

After the final out, I got a ball from home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth — and then I gave a ball away to a kid. An hour later, when I exited the subway in Manhattan and had to wait for a “WALK” sign at a nearby intersection, I struck up a conversation with a father and his young son. They were both decked out in Mets gear, and the kid (who couldn’t have been more than five years old) was still wearing his glove.

“Did you catch a ball today?” I asked the boy, and when he shook his head, I pulled the Culbreth ball out of my backpack and handed it to him.

The kid was stunned. All he could do was stare at it.

“What do you say?” prompted his father.

“Thank you,” mumbled the boy.

He and his father happened to be walking in the same direction as me, so I chatted with them for another minute and told them that I’d gotten the ball from the home plate umpire.

“How did you do that?” asked the father.

I gave a quick explanation, and before we parted ways, I mentioned that the ball was rubbed up with mud. I’m not sure if he knew what I was talking about, but I do know this: that little boy is going to be a baseball fan for life.


• 4 balls at this game (two pictured here because I gave two away)

• 846 balls in 101 games this season = 8.38 balls per game.

• 762 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 16 lifetime batting gloves; click here to see my full collection

• 5,508 total balls


(I’m raising money again this season for Pitch In For Baseball, a non-profit charity that provides baseball equipment to underprivileged kids all over the world. Click here to learn more.)

• 56 donors

• $7.12 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $28.48 raised at this game

• $6,023.52 raised this season


  1. S

    Sorry to hear about your cancelled flight. We got seats for Dodgers Monday because our young “Hample proteges” wanted to find you to say hello and make a donation. When are you going to Anaheim? Friday, Sept 1? Sat. Sept 2?

  2. Zack Hample

    I’ll be screwed.

    Really sorry that I won’t be able to be there that day. Anaheim is September 5th.

    You’re truly insane. I want no part of Miami until the new stadium is up and running.

    Three things (and I don’t mean to pick on *you* because lots of people have trouble with the first two, but…)
    1) My name is not spelled with an “h” on the end.
    2) The term is “ballhawks,” not “ballhawkers.”
    3) Probably Camden Yards and Rangers Ballpark.

  3. Nick

    Sorry to read about the disappointment on Friday… Citi Field sure does stink… Great work on the batting glove and the ump baseball. I didn’t get anything from my seat though my brother got a toss-up. Hope to see you at Citi Field again.

    -Nick from Citi Field

  4. D

    wow really dissapointing your not going on monday.. we bought tickets months ago knowing you’d be there… go to dodger stadium like friday night or another time soon not wednesday day game. thanks…

  5. Skim

    You would know this: at batting practice at Citi Field, do you think Mike Stanton can reach the second deck or third deck?

  6. Zack Hample

    Thanks. Sorry you didn’t get anything. As you may have noticed, I didn’t end up sitting in the location that I mentioned to you before the game.

    Man, that sucks. Sorry about that, but I have to go on Wednesday because the Dodgers will be heading out on the road after that for two weeks. If I don’t make it to Wednesday’s game, I might not make it there at all this season.

    I have personally seen him reach the 3rd deck, but balls don’t go up there too often.

  7. Nick

    I noticed that you weren’t in the spot you mentioned, but that was probably better off for you. It would’ve been much harder to move around during the game if you had stayed up there. Good call!

  8. kslo69

    Howdy Zack. Sept. 24th is the expected date for the 200,000 MLB game. As the date gets closer Elias should be able to narrow it down to an exact game.

  9. Dave Mitchell

    Very cool snag of the batting glove! I scored one of Jeff Bagwell’s in Spring Training years ago … pure dumb luck. Was waiting to get Moises Alou’s autograph and Bags tossed his gloves in the crowd, and one hit me in the face! Has “BAGWELL” embroidered on the index finger!

    Really enjoying the blog. Good spirited stuff! Continued good hunting!

  10. Brendan Adams

    Hey Zack you are my idol! I watched just about everyone of your YouTube videos yesterday! I love the “To Tell the Truth” one haha! By the way I’m 14 and would like to meet you at SAFECO Field next season if you go there! I made the glove trick and it works and I can’t wait to use it!

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