8/13/12 at Yankee Stadium

I’ve been to Red Sox games at the new Yankee Stadium. I’ve been to weekend games. I’ve been to playoff games. I’ve been to historic, let-me-get-my-3,000th-career-hit games. And I’ve NEVER seen the stands more crowded during batting practice than they were at this Monday night tilt against the Texas Rangers. Seriously: WTF.

The following photo, taken several minutes after the stadium opened, doesn’t capture the mayhem . . .

. . . so wait for it. It’s coming. And it isn’t pretty.

In the photo above, the dude in the blue shirt (standing several rows in front of me on the staircase) is my friend Greg Barasch. I took that photo shortly after catching an Eric Chavez homer on the fly. It was somewhat of a line drive that landed 15 feet to my left. In order to make the play, I had to scoot past a man in the last row and catch the ball thigh high while still on the run.

I headed to left field for the next group of Yankee hitters. Another ballhawk-buddy of mine named Mateo Fischer was there, and he’d already changed into his “Rangers” shirt. Take a look at this wonderful ridiculousness:

I managed to snag two more baseballs in left field before the Yankees finished hitting. The first was a lazy home run (if there IS such a thing) by Andruw Jones that sailed right to me in the 4th row. The second was a homer by Jayson Nix that landed in the seats roughly 20 feet to my right and deflected up perfectly as I ran over.

A bit later, when the Rangers were hitting, this was the view:

You think THAT’S crowded? Ha ha ha. Just wait for the next photo, but before we get to that, I need to point something out in the photo above. Do you see the guy holding a sign on the left side? It had a bullseye with two words written on it: “RANGERS” on the top and “TARGET” at the bottom. I found it amusing that the guy had to take off his glove in order to hold the sign. See him holding it in his right hand? Fail.

During the Rangers’ portion of BP, a 10-year-old kid named Dillon recognized me from this blog and came over to say hey. He was there with his friend Heim . . . so here’s my shout-out to the two of them. I was also recognized by a guy named Colten from St. Louis. The size of the crowd (as you’ll see in a moment) was maddening, but there *were* a bunch of nice people scattered throughout.

Several minutes later, I snagged a ground-rule double that was hit by some righty on the Rangers. I reacted a bit late for it and therefore had to do some fancy foot/glovework in order to reach the spot and make the catch without crashing into the man who was sitting in my row and blocking my path.

Then, when Josh Hamilton got ready to take his cuts, I raced to the right-center field bleachers. Why not the 100 Level seats in straight-away right field? This is why:


By the way, you can see Mateo and Greg in the previous photo. Mateo (wearing the fake red Rangers shirt) is half a dozen rows back at the far end of the bleachers. Greg (wearing the blue shirt) is standing in the second row with his foot up on a bench. We all had the same idea. Right field was the place to be . . . except not.

Hamilton did put on quite a show. Unfortunately, though, none of his homers came anywhere near me. The most impressive was an absolute bomb that reached the upper deck — not the suites at the very bottom of the upper deck, mind you, but the ACTUAL upper deck seats. I can’t recall ever seeing someone hit a ball up there.

I returned to left field for the final group of BP and snagged one more ball — a home run that landed in the tunnel. There was a lady standing there when it landed, but she was too stunned to realize what had happened, so I blew right past her and chased down the ball while it was still bouncing.

This was my view during the 1st inning:

Did you notice anything unusual in the photo above (other than Ichiro wearing pinstripes — I still find that hard to believe)? Here, let me zoom in on something for you:

What the–?!

Several minutes later, when there was a break in the action, I went to take a closer look:


I think that MLB should allow fielders to use any size glove they want. Do you think that Ichiro would be a better outfielder with something like that on his left hand? How about Robinson Cano (who’s by far the slickest defensive player I’ve ever seen)? I think it would make things much harder for the fielders. I can tell you that catching baseballs with my big glove is extremely tricky; I have to use two hands to pancake it shut, and even then the ball is likely to squirt out. And forget about running with it. It slows me down bigtime.

Just before the top of the 2nd inning got underway, I had to move. (My actual seat was in the middle of a row, so I was hanging out in an end-seat while I had the chance.) Wanna guess what the very next batter did? Knowing the brutal luck that I seem to have with home runs, you probably know what I’m going to say: David Murphy led off the 2nd with a line-drive homer that landed EXACTLY where I’d been sitting. It was painful. But you know what hurt even more? Watching helplessly as Nick Swisher crushed a 3rd-inning grand slam into the second deck. Here’s a photo of the crowd reacting . . .

. . . and here’s why it was painful:

I was totally aware that Swish had been sitting on 199. He’d been there since the previous home stand, and when he failed to go yard last week while the Yankees were on the road, I was thrilled. So yeah. Major disappointment. It’s an emotion I’ve grown accustomed to in the Bronx.

On a more positive note, here’s what was taking place behind me during The Wave:

I love summer. And by the way, the Yankees won, 8-2.


• 5 balls at this game (four pictured here because I gave one away)

• 413 balls in 51 games this season = 8.1 balls per game.

• 843 consecutive games with at least one ball

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

• 179 consecutive Yankee home games with at least one ball

• 6,232 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 about my fundraiser, and click here to see the prizes that I’ll be giving away to donors.)

• 40 donors

• $2.20 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $11.00 raised at this game

• $908.60 raised this season

• $20,065.60 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009


  1. Quinn

    Nice, 5 balls is great for a crowded BP like that. To bad you had tough luck with that HR. I did what Mateo did but with a marlins shirt and it was hand drawn. I got a compliment from LoMo about the shirt.

  2. Nick B

    I saw the link for the video for Swisher’s home run and wondered if you had caught it. After watching the video, I was sad to dind out you hadn’t gotten it. In random news, I don’t know if you saw this, but on Saturday, Brandon Inge dislocated his shoulder while making a diving stop for the A’s in chicago and after pushing it back into place, he preceded to drive in the go-ahead run that won the game for the A’s. Other than that, I have made friends with 7 security guards in Oakland, and 8 ushers. They all love me.

  3. ch1088

    Yesterday was pretty rough. I saw you a ton but couldn’t get over to say hi. Saw Mateo too a bit, that shirt is pretty ridiculous, but in a good way. It was so crowded it was getting frustrated. Only managed one though. We’ll have to get a picture next time we’re all there. I think I’m going Friday. I saw you almost snag that almost – home run that Ichiro missed. Maybe Yankee will be less crowded in September. Maybe.
    – Chris

  4. Zack Hample

    Funny about LoMo. Sometimes he seems like a cool guy, but other times, he seems like a rude/naive jerk.

    NICK B-
    What?! No, I hadn’t heard about Inge. That’s nuts. Is there a link to the video? Nice work with the guards and ushers. That’s how ya gotta do it.

    Ichiro and I seem to be a tandem. And I seem to ALMOST catch a hugh number of home runs. There’s going to be a season, hopefully next year, when all of the “almosts” happen to go my way, and I’m gonna catch about a dozen. Now that Swisher has hit his 200th, I don’t have much motivation to go this week, but I already have tickets for the next two days. I’ll probably skip Thursday and Friday.

  5. Andrew Meeusen (@DBaxFanAJ)

    Regarding the ball crushed into the upper deck… I saw one this weekend at Chase Field off the bat of (we all think) Ryan Zimmerman get hit into the Sandlot area of the third deck ABOVE Friday’s Front Row. Never have I ever seen a ball hit that far since Mark McGwire juiced one out of the stadium windows during BP (pun intended)!

  6. Lisankie

    I’m gonna be at the Yankee game on Wednesday. I know I’m going to miss part of batting practice because I’m going on a bus for Boy Scouts. Do you have any advice on how to get a ball during the game at Yankee Stadium?

  7. snagginsouthflorida

    Nice. I felt the same way last week at Marlins Park. Absolutely no room to run in right or left field. Not even when last place fish were on a losing streak and about 477670857 games behind .500. Sigh…

  8. Nick Badders

    Here is te URL for the highlight. He’s probably headed to the DL, which means I won’t be able to do the bernie in RF on Saturday, but it will still be fun. http://oakland.athletics.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=23832015&c_id=oak&topic_id=vtp_klondike Next thing, I was thinking about the Swisher home run and decided that the farthest 2 home runs I have ever seen were hit by Brandon Allen and Yoenis Cespedes. Allen hit a home run into the 4th deck I think it was in RF at Yankee Stadium last year, and Yoenis Cespedes hit a home run on Opening Day that bounced out of the 2nd deck in right-center field in Oakland. Estimated 462 feet. Lastly, I don’t know if you heard about this, but in April, when the Royals came to Oakland, Jeff Fancouer had 20 personal pizzas delivered to the RF bleachers in Oakland, claiming Tuesdays as Bacon Tuesdays. A few weeks ago, Josh Reddick reclaimed bacon Tuesdays and had 20 pounds of bacon delivered to the same section. And finally, last week, Tori Hunter had 6 boxes of Popeyes chicken delivered to the same section. Section 149 in Oakland can go up against the Bleacher creatures at Yankee Stadium any day. I could go into more detail, but won’t, mostly because I am starting to get tired. And this, my friends, is why I shall try to get season tickets for the bleachers next year in Oakland.

  9. Mark Ulriksen

    Hi Zack, I’m actually writing about a portrait I did of you some years ago, catching a rainfall of baseballs. My name is Mark Ulriksen and your father purchased it for you from me, if memory serves. You can see it in my website, under Work-Sports-Baseball-page 13. At any rate I need to get a better version of it for my archives and for an upcoming presentation. Can you please contact me asap. I’m much obliged.

  10. Zack Hample

    Could it have been Michael Morse? That guy hits bombs.

    Well, given the forecast, you might not be missing much if you arrive at game time, but anyway, as for snagging balls during the game, you pretty much need to be near a bullpen or dugout or be VERY lucky and have a foul ball or home run hit right to you. Hope to see you there. I’m going . . . rain or shine.

    Things’ll be easier there next year. The excitement of the new stadium will be gone, and attendance will likely plummet. Most crowds will probably be below 20,000. Mark my words.

    I’ve heard about all the food deliveries to the bleachers. Next year, I wanna hear some good stories about it directly from you.

    Wow! It’s great to hear from you . . . 13 years later?! Amazing. I’m going to send you an email, so we can discuss this privately.

    I already have a novelty glove. One is enough.

  11. Robert

    So the Yankee stadium security let that guy in with that big glove but when you tried back in ’08 at the home run derby, they didn’t allow it. Yankee Stadium, gotta love the security there.

  12. Kyle o

    Any chance you could get to progressive field on Saturday August 25 vs. The Yanks?? Would be awesome!!

  13. Nick Badders

    I plan on sharing many stories about the 2013 season in the bleachers! My parents are actually on-board with season tickets, so I think I might just have a little fun in 149 next year. I think you should try to make it out to Oakland for the 3rd annual Bacon Tuesday. But first, stop by Coors field and pick up some chocolate-covered bacon on a stick for everyone. They will love you and give you bacon.

  14. Zack Hample

    I wish I’d been there to witness it.

    The most I’ll do is the “micro-wave” — sticking one finger up in the air as the wave passes, but certainly not standing up.

    I thought of that as soon as I saw the guy’s glove! Awesome that it occurred to you too.

    You’re very welcome. Gotta love summer.


    KYLE O-
    Just saw your comment on my newer (8/14/12) entry and responded there.

    Cool. I’m really looking forward to hearing what it’s like out there.

  15. IvyC

    Love the pic of the hot bleacher creature! You should have introduced yourself as a the most famous ballhawk ever and signed a ball for her with your number on it. Chicks cant resist ballhawks.

  16. Zack Hample

    I was recently in awe of the Giancarlo Stanton blasts that were hit there. Too bad I had to watch it on TV rather than seeing them in person.

    IVY C-
    If only.

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