5/16/13 at Yankee Stadium

I realize that I’ve started a few recent entries with photos of baseballs, so for a change, here’s a shot that I took while waiting in the shade for the gates to open:


Nothing special — just a different look at a lesser-seen part of Yankee Stadium.

As for the baseballs . . .

My 1st of the day was my 200th of the season. It was thrown by Phil Hughes in right-center field, and here’s a photo of it:


Moments later, I caught a Brett Gardner homer on the fly (which came right to me) and soon after that, I ran to my left and grabbed a Curtis Granderson homer that had landed in the seats. Check out the beautifully smudged logo on that one:


The next/final group of Yankees had one lefty (Travis Hafner) and three righties (Ben Francisco, Alberto Gonzalez, and Austin Romine), so I went to left field. I figured it was a good decision, but as it turned out, Hafner hit more balls into the right field seats than all three righties hit to left.

This was my view:


I caught one home run there on the fly (I’m not sure who hit it) after drifting down the stairs and reaching over the wall beside the TV camera. That was my 4th ball of the day.

In the photo above, the player wearing No. 38 is Preston Claiborne. Several minutes before I caught the home run, I had asked him for a ball. His response went as follows: “Didn’t you get about six yesterday?” (No, Preston, I got eleven. Pay attention.)

When the Mariners started hitting, I headed back to right field and battled the sun. The following photo kinda shows how hard it was to see:


My 5th ball was a Jesus Montero homer that I caught on the fly. I drifted 15 feet to my right and jumped a few inches to reach it.

My 6th ball was a Kendrys Morales homer that I should’ve caught on the fly. I expected it to slice more than it did, so I headed down the steps, and it ended up landing on my right. I felt stupid about that one, but hey, at least I got the ball, and by the way, a bit later, Morales hit an opposite-field homer into the second deck in right field! He also went oppo into the right field bleachers. Very impressive.

My 7th ball was a line-drive homer that I caught on the fly in the front row. I’m not sure who hit this one, or either of the next two. Maybe Dustin Ackley?

My 8th ball was another line-drive homer that I caught on the fly, this time looking directly into the sun. I had seen the ball go up in the air, and I knew that it was heading to my left, so I began drifting in that direction. Then I completely lost sight of it, so I stopped moving and looked to the  to the side and waited for it to reenter my line of vision. At the very last second, I saw it flying toward me, so I lunged to the left and somehow managed to glove it. There were people all around, but no one else had even flinched. We were all temporarily blinded, and I ended up seeing spots for next minute. Look what number ball this was for me:


How appropriate that the ball with “666” — and then some — nearly ruined me.

My final ball of BP was another homer that I caught on the fly. I had to run 40 feet to my right and jump as high as possible in order to backhand it. I’m sure it looked impressive, but the previous ball that had ended up in the sun was much more challenging. Anyway, I gave the ball to the nearest kid and discovered later that someone had tweeted about it:


Thank you, Joey Bag of Donuts. Much appreciated.

When I headed through the tunnel and reached the concourse, I was recognized by two guys named Sean and Tom. They’ve been reading my blog and wanted to say hey, so we chatted for a few minutes and eventually asked a cop to take our photo. I would’ve spent more time with them, but I needed to meet up with a friend who had access to the Audi Club.

Ooooh-hoooo! The Audi Club! Let’s all say it together: “OWW-DEE CLUB.” Wow!! Sounds fancy, right?!

The first thing I did was show my friend’s ticket to a security guard to go here:


Did you see the elevators under Babe Ruth? I rode one to the “250 Level,” and when I got out, this was the view:



In the photo above, did you notice the “suite level” sign on the right? The guard standing below it let me take a peek inside. There was some sort of office directly behind him . . .


. . . and a mosaic-lookin’ thing from the Old Yankee Stadium on the wall nearby:


Here’s what the suite level itself looks like:


The word “sterile” comes to mind. It was nice to see all this stuff for the first time, but I wouldn’t want to be there for an entire game.

Back in the elevator area, I took a photo of the entrance to the Audi Club:


I wasn’t sure if I was gonna be able to get in. Why? Because the Audi Club page on the Yankees’ website says, “Appropriate attire is required at all times. Attire will be deemed appropriate at the sole discretion of the New York Yankees.” And here I was wearing sneakers, jeans, a sweaty t-shirt, and a baseball cap.

The guard let me in, and I wasn’t the least bit underdressed. (“Appropriate attire” my ass.) Here’s what it looked like when I headed inside:


In the photo above, the metal stand on the left has Audi pamphlets.

Give. Me. A Break.

The club has a bar, of course:


On the other side of the bar, two guards were blocking a dining area:


They told me that for $65, I could go in there and enjoy the buffet. (Ha-HAAAAAA!!! Good one, Yankees.) It was the least baseball-y atmosphere that I’ve ever experienced in a stadium, and given the location of this club, I’m not surprised. Check out the view:



Here’s a photo of the seating area:


The Audi Club feels like an airport (although that’s an insult to some lovely airports out there), and of course it’s in the worst location imaginable — just below the upper deck, all the way out past the left field foul pole. It strikes me as a place for people with crappy seats (who think they have good seats) to go and feel special. I can wrap my brain around some of the most heinous crimes that people have committed throughout history, but I really don’t understand why anyone would want to spend time in the Audi Club at Yankee Stadium.

Shortly before game time, I returned the club-level ticket to my friend and headed out to my normal spot in straight-away right field. That’s where I snagged my 10th and final ball of the day — a pre-game toss-up from the bullpen by Yankees coach Mike Harkey, which I handed to a group of fans seated nearby. I’ve gotten more than half a dozen from him this season.

This was my view during the game:


The good thing about it was that the Yankees lost, 3-2. The bad thing was that the security guard was out to get me. As I tweeted in the middle innings, I had a ticket in the middle of Row 12 (which is the 3rd row in that section). I wanted to move back to an end seat in Row 16, but the guard wouldn’t let me. He told me that I had to sit *in* my seat, yet he didn’t stop anyone else from moving around. The section was two-thirds empty. There was plenty of room, especially as the game dragged on, but the guard wouldn’t let me budge. Eventually, I moved down one row (where there was lots more space), and when he saw me, he said, “Now you’re just trying to play games with me,” and he ordered me back to my seat. This is the same guard who (a) spends half of every game on his phone, (b) has no problem with fans cursing loudly at the players, and (c) told me during the previous home stand that I’m not allowed to leave my section to catch home runs, yet never enforced that rule with any other fans. This guard (who, by the way, is 19 years old) is out of control, and I don’t know what to do about it. I’ve given him baseballs. I’ve talked at length with him. He knows about my collection and the charity. He even tried out for the baseball team at George Washington High School, where I’m great friends with the coach. What’s the deal? Can anyone offer some advice? I don’t need special privileges in right field. I just want to be left alone.

I’m so pissed at the Yankees that words can’t begin to describe it. The way their employees treat people is sickening, yet I keep going back. Why? Because I love baseball more than I hate their stadium, but I’m not sure how much more of this I can take.

During the game, I learned that my segment had aired on the MLB Network. It would’ve been nice to get some notice, but whatever. This is the piece that was taped on 5/7/13 at Progressive Field, and I think it turned out pretty well. It’s only a minute and a half, so check it out:

Anyway, here are the eight baseballs that I kept . . .


. . . and here’s the one with the best invisible ink stamp:


Did I mention that I’m pissed off?


• 10 balls at this game

• 209 balls in 26 games this season = 8.04 balls per game.

• 898 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 14 stadiums this season with a game-used ball: Citi Field, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Angel Stadium, PETCO Park, AT&T Park, Safeco Field, Kauffman Stadium, Rangers Ballpark, Minute Maid Park, Great American Ball Park, Progressive Field, PNC Park, and Camden Yards

• 6,668 total balls


(For every stadium this season at which I snag a game-used ball, BIGS Sunflower Seeds will donate $500 to Pitch In For Baseball, a non-profit charity that provides baseball equipment to underprivileged kids all over the world. In addition to that, I’m doing my own fundraiser again this season for Pitch In For Baseball.)

• 26 donors for my fundraiser

• $1.63 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $16.30 raised at this game

• $339.67 raised this season through my fundraiser

• $7,000 from BIGS Sunflower Seeds for my game-used baseballs

• $28,745.67 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009


  1. alexgiobbi

    First of all, let’s start off with the obvious, The Audi Club has nothing compared to the Delta, Acela or the Caesar’s Club at Citi Field. I’ve been to all three. I like their spreads, I like their prices, I like the fact that the Caesar’s Club is near the Scoreboard control room. Yeah, let’s put it out there, at least those clubs have some semblance of character.

    Secondly, regarding your security guard issue. All I can suggest is you file a complaint with the team. Granted, your level of notoriety at Yankee Stadium is that of legend, and don’t look at this as a lecture, but since you did break the rules, security is going to recognize you more than, perhaps someone who is going to their first baseball game.

    Me on the other hand, I’m about as old, if not older than that security guard, so if he were to bust my balls, I’d point out that fact and tell him to kiss my Connecticut-transplant ass. That would be an awesome way to get kicked out of my first game at New Yankee Stadium, and I’d do it too just for the lulz.

    Moving on from that diatrebe, the only other suggestion I can offer is that you sit somewhere else and bother another security guard.

    Anyway, glad I could offer my two cents to the situation. And for the record, Citi Field is better.

  2. Dave Wright

    Contact the P.R. Department and file a complaint. The guy is clearly discriminating against you. Explain what you’re doing and what your charity is all about. Typically the organizations take each complaint seriously and at the very least they can provide you with a clear explanation, which you absolutely deserve. I’ve done this before several times and has always worked to my benefit.

  3. Ray Burton

    Typical Yankees to let you into a “special ” club section and then charge you an exorbitant amount to eat there. Any way to pay for inflated team salaries and over -priced facilities.

  4. mike

    I am a big fan of your blog but I have to disagree with you being treat differently and so forth..

    1. You did break the rules and they have been nice to you and let you move around and so forth. I dont know how many have complaint about you but I bet you would not be happy if someone else is doing the same thing you are doing.

    2. There are season ticket holder who wants to enjoy the game and that’s that. But it is difficult for them to do so, if someone keep moving to different seats during the at bat and so forth.

    3. If you are a SEASON TICKET holder, I dont think they would say much to you. But then again, if there are other ballhawks doing what you do in YOUR area, how would you react? Would you complaint to security and so forth about “how I pay serious money to be season ticket holder and I cant even my game in peace without worry about idiots who chased after the baseball and might end up hurting my kids and so forth”

    PS. they did cut you A LOT of slack since the time you caught TWO HOMERUN balls in different locations while you have only one ticket! If that was someone else, they would have been tossed for being trespass the first time around.

    just my two cents.

    PPS. I have seen you and your special skills during BP. Very impressive.

  5. mike

    This is just a follow up about complaint to PR and other BS department.

    With your ticket, you are entitle to your seat as dictate on the ticket. It does not give you any special treatment to be in someone else seats – even if they are there or not.

    So complaint about you being discriminated/picked on/and other BS while you are breaking the rule – they would just look at you and like “are you serious?”

    If you were in your assigned seat and they harass you, then that is a completely different story.

    Bottom line, do what you do within your seat when the place is not so pack, then it is all good. But kids are around, running into them would cause you some serious problem along with the sponsorship.

    If I was there with my kids and you do what you and some how hurting one of my kids in the process , I would doubt very much that you will be catching another baseball for a while. My kids are my life and it is NOT worth a baseball – during BP or during live game. Just be mindful with people — especially those who cant defend themselves at the game – kids and senior citizens.

  6. Ray Burton

    No offence intended Mike , but you don’t sound like your usual easy going , eloquent self. Is that really Mike the chopper pilot or someone with the same name ? Surely , as long as you don’t interfere with other spectators , there is no harm in sitting in unoccupied seats in other areas of the stadium ? A lot of these stadium ushers are just taking delight in ordering people around rather than acting in the best interests of the spectators in general. There is absolutely no excuse for over-enthusiastically chasing baseballs if there are children or the elderly in harms way. Unfortunately the actions of the few tarnish the reputations of ball chasers in general. It’s the job of stadium staff to deal with these [ usually drunken ] knuckleheads.

  7. Tommy M.

    Im from the west coast and go to alot of baseball games at different MLB stadiums. Everything you write about Yankee Stadium and its employees, rules, and fans, really makes my angry too Zack. One thing i cannot stand is an usher or security guard who takes their role to their own hyped up level. Yea, rules are rules, and they are everywhere, but c’mon now… Really… Its a baseball game. Relax. Dont hassle the people who go and have fun and arent hurting anyone in the process. The pretexted crying about “What if you hurt a kid…” Doesnt even matter. No kids are being hurt. Now the “Im a season ticket holder” crying is garbage too. Who cares if you are. For one you bought seats in the wrong area if chasing homerun balls, or baseballs at all, bothers you. Secondly, dont feel so entitled. Seriously. You dont own the section your seat happens to be in. I agree with you Zack. Your not ruining anyones enjoyment of the game, and you sure as heck dint hurt anyone, so you, and im sure many others at Yankee Stadium, should not be hassled for petty stuff, like reacting to a baseball hit into the stands. Afterall, would they not let anyone move OUT of their seat or section if they DIDNT want to have a ball hit them? I wonder. Keep up the good work Zack, and good luck with the “Adventure!”

  8. LarryNY

    Put it like this fellas. Without getting deep into detail, I have been a fan of the Yankees since about 1985. I have followed them each year very closely and used to attend about 20-30 games a year in the old stadium. Well now that number had dwindled to about 2-3 games a year. It’s a shame to say that I almost hate the team that I used to cheer on hardcore for the last 28 years. They have destroyed the fun at Yankee games and are the only team in baseball (maybe besides the mets) who continue to take the enjoyment away from the fans. Then they wonder why attendance is down and nobody wants to go anymore. Once the Jeter and Rivera era comes to an end, that place is going to be ghost town. Very sad what that place had become. I am going to write a letter and make a verbal complaint to customer services the next time I attend a crappy game there…

  9. Zack Hample

    Man, you’re quite the clubber, eh? You’re right about my being recognized because of my notoriety. I just don’t think it’s fair that I get picked on and forced to obey made-up rules that don’t apply to anyone else. I might need to find a few spot in right field. Or just stay in left field. Or avoid Yankee Stadium entirely if things get any worse.

    Thanks. I’m going to do that on Monday.

    It’s a different Mike. I know this because I can see everyone’s email/IP addresses.

    Thanks for the comments, but I need to set the record straight about a few things:
    1) I don’t mind at all when other people do what I do — but what IS it, exactly, that you’re accusing me of doing? Moving to an empty seat within my ticketed section and trying to catch a baseball? There’s nothing wrong with that. People do it every day at every stadium throughout baseball.
    2) I never move around during at-bats, and I don’t appreciate the fact that you’ve accused me of doing that. If anything, I would move once when I see that a certain seat is likely to remain empty, and then I would stay there for the rest of the game, the exception being to go use the bathroom during the 7th-inning stretch. In rare cases, when I *am* moving during an at-bat, I actually crouch down on the stairs as the pitch is being thrown so as not to block anyone’s view. I’m the most careful person you will ever meet in any stadium about NOT blocking people’s views. If anything, people in my section are more likely to enjoy the game *because* I’m there.
    3) Anyone has a right to try to catch a baseball, whether they attend one home game per season or all 81. I have no problem with people chasing baseballs as long as they’re careful and respectful. I’m extremely careful, and I’ve never knocked down or injured anyone in my life — in more than 1,000 games at 50 different major league stadiums.
    If someone else had caught two home runs in two different sections, they would not have been ejected. In fact, they would’ve been treated better because security would mostly likely not have recognized them in the first place.
    Another thing: if security is consistent with its rules, then I’ll follow them. In other words, if the RF guard were to make *every* other fan stay in his or her seat, then I’d have no basis for a complaint, but when I see him allowing other fans to switch seats, and then he targets me and forces me to stay in mine, then yeah, I have a serious problem.
    And again, what’s with all the references to running into kids? You even said yourself that you’ve seen my “special skills during BP.” I appreciate the kind words about that, but if you’ve seen me with your own eyes, then you know that I don’t run into kids (or anyone). I give baseballs to kids in my section at just about every game. None of the fans have a problem with me — or if they do, then they have yet to man-up and to say anything to my face. I’ve been giving away about a third of my baseballs this season. If I weren’t there, those balls would be snagged by other adults who mostly likely would keep them for themselves. What I’m saying is: more kids leave the stadium with baseballs when I’m there. Sounds crazy, right? But it’s true.
    If your kids were at a game, they would never be hurt by me. NEVER. How are you even suggesting that I would hurt them? I can’t say enough how careful I am with other’s people’s safety. Damn, man.

    TOMMY M.-
    Thanks very much! I love your comment. Excellent point about people hypothetically moving away from a baseball. I never thought of it like that, but it’s a great point.

    Glad you’re on my side, but sorry to hear that your experience as a Yankee fan has been so unpleasant. It’ll be interesting to see what the stadium is like in several years when Jeter, A-Rod, Pettitte, and Mariano are all gone. I think you’re right that attendance will plummet. I just wonder if management will take a hint and start being more friendly.

  10. LarryNY

    WFAN just announced today that attendance numbers and revenue are at an all time low within the past 15-17 years. They refuse to say that part of it is the rude rental security team that’s at the stadium. I really wish Steinbrenner sons would sell the team. It’s obvious they don’t care for it as much as the father did and are in it for the dollars. I think once the Yankees go in a funk for a couple years which is coming VERY soon that things will calm down. Ignore the haters Zack! Some people are extremely jealous of your accomplishments buddy…

  11. Zack Hample

    Daaaaaamn, seriously? That’s serious. Thanks for letting me know. And by the way, I don’t consider Mike to be a hater. I actually appreciate that he took the time to leave long comments and that he explained himself and didn’t just bash me. He made some good points, but he was wrong about certain things.

  12. mike

    Just a follow up …

    … so it is okay to move to “empty” seats when they are not occupied? Does this means, when I see someone’s garage door open, I can help myself with their tools? Or how about if the car key is in the ignition and the door is unlocked, I can help myself with the car? (this is the same idea the law enforcement used on “bait car” and other stuff leaving around and see if people going to help themselves. Next thing you know, you will be handcuffs and explain yourself to the judge how you feel you are entitle to stuff laying around/unoccupied. And “finder’s keeper, will get you petty larceny to grand larceny depends on the determined amount)

    If the answer is yes to the above, please let leave your door opens so I can help myself with PS3, iPad or whatever you have laying around also. Dont forget to stock up on the beers and pizza. Cant “help” myself with unoccupied stuff on an empty stomach. And Zack, sunflower seeds aint going to help. :)

    Bottom line, these securities/employees have a strict set of rules to follow. Sitting in unoccupied seats and so forth is NOT the same as “borrowing staples and pens” from the office. Again, it seems harmless until you get the pink-slip for borrowing the office items.

  13. Tommy M.

    Mike, seriously….. Your plain ‘ol ridiculous! Absolutely ree-diculous! Just dont even go to a baseball game again.

  14. mike

    I was looking forward to the game today at the stadium. Got the kids and their gloves and tickets in 104. When I saw the rain, I knew batting practice would not happen – so this would be a sad day for the kids.

    Got there and the tarp was on the field so I let the kids and their uncle getting the sight-seeing while I search out for security to verify some information (for myself and maybe on your behalf Zack).

    Sure enough, found Larry along with his coworkers. And here are some of the tidbits I got from the long conversation: (And I also spoke with someone else higher up to confirm the story and sure enough, they matched up)

    1. Two stadium security guards got fired for the incidents when you caught the two HR in two different locations. They were NOT doing their job.
    2. Larry and his immediate supervisor got disciplined because you were in the are that you had no ticket for. And their reasoning, you just ran by Larry before he had a chance to check your ticket. And by the time his supervisor gets there, the correct protocols were not handle correctly – according to the reports filed.
    3. Larry and the security DID NOT “picked on you” – you almost got them fired. So, moving forward, they had no choice but to do their job correctly. If they dont, they will lose their job also.

    I also ran into the “cool” gentleman you talked about on your blog. Told him how I was disappointed that no batting practice today and my kids will have no chance for a BP ball. He told me to hang out in the area and see if he can ask someone for baseball for the kids. I didnt think much of it since I dont know what he does or if he can get my kids anything. To my surprise, right before they made the announcement that the game has been postponed, the gentleman came back. Not only with a BP baseball, my kids also get a Yankees ring – which was the same one that was given out to kids a couple weeks back. I have to agree with you on your “cool” comment. He was cool and very friendly toward the kids.

  15. Zack Hample

    Sorry, but I don’t believe that anyone got fired. Larry himself recently told me that everything’s fine and not to worry about it. He was super-cool with me on Wednesday (when I apologized to him for the fourth time), and then he suddenly turned on me the next day and became militant about forcing me to stay in my seat. That said, all the regular guards, team leaders, and supervisors are still working in right field, as they have been since Opening Day, so who exactly are you claiming got fired?

  16. mike

    Right field people got disciplined – Left field people got replaced.

    Zack, what you are doing during BP is all good as I said before. But when you are doing during the game, that is when they have problem with.

  17. Zack Hample

    Left field?! I had a left field ticket at that game. I was *supposed* to be in left field, so no one there could’ve possibly gotten in trouble for anything I did. I’ve been going to games regularly for the last month, and all the same people are still working there. You’re gonna have to give me some names. Otherwise . . . sorry, I just don’t buy it.

  18. Zack Hample

    UPDATE: People who make slanderous/false accusations will be banned from leaving comments here. If you have a *truthful* problem with something that I do, for example kissing my girlfriend after catching a game home run ball, please tell me in person when it happens. If you wait a year to complain about it anonymously and claim that your kids could potentially be traumatized by my future actions, that’s not really helpful — though I am sorry if I’ve made anyone feel uncomfortable. Here’s last year’s kiss, for those who missed it:

  19. mike

    hmmm, now you banning people from leaving comment?

    Did someone struck a chord? or did someone really set the table straight?

    I didnt read the deleted comment(s) but my first reaction would have been — I want to see what was said?

    Zack, I have no qualm with you during BP with your chase for the BP balls. But, I might take it into consideration if you did the same thing during the game. Maybe, next time you are planning to attend the game at the stadium, I will show myself so I dont have to hide behind the keyboard and telling you stuff and all.

    And yes, I did remember the sloppering you planted on the the blonde when you got the HR in the past. Some of bleachers screamed for you to get a room and I was too far off in 104 to see the details. :)

  20. Zack Hample

    Since I started writing this blog in 2005, I’ve had to ban a handful of commenters who went totally overboard. I really hate doing it because I feel that everyone should have a right to express their opinions, but on the flip side, I have a right to draw the line. While you and I might disagree on a couple of things, I’m glad that we’re able to have a civil discussion about it. Next time you see me at the stadium (not sure when that’ll be), please do introduce yourself. Maybe we can chat for a bit after BP. I’m sorry if the kiss bothered you or anyone. Personally, I’m bothered by all the sexist, racist, homophobic, hateful, threatening things that some folks in the bleachers scream at visiting right fielders. If I were there with a child, I’d be much more upset about that than seeing two people doing something affectionate that can be shown on network television: kissing. Yet no one (not even the almighty security guards or the police officers who are stationed nearby) does anything to stop them.

  21. alexgiobbi

    Mike, seriously. Chill the freak out. You know what? I move my seat at games too, so that I can get a better view of the action if nothing else. You don’t like it, you can sue me. It’s called taking advantage of an opportunity. And here’s a spoiler alert: it works. We live in a country which was founded on principles of opportunity. You think we’d be an independent nation if we just sat in our seat and let Britain dictate what we could or couldn’t do? Sooner or later, the higher ups are going to realize that we’re not going to listen to petty rent-a-cops and if they want to get the money they so desperately need, then they will have to listen to the fans. So my point is, you can cry foul all you want and say people like Zack are a-holes for being opportunists, but in actuality, it is you who is the a-hole who doesn’t strike at opportunity. To that, I wish you the best, and hope that you don’t let opportunity pass you too far by.

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