5/26/13 at Citi Field

Occasionally, depending on the circumstances, snagging baseballs is embarrassingly easy. That was the case for the first half-hour that I was inside Citi Field because I’d gotten my hands on a season ticket which gave me early access. But after that, when the stadium opened for everyone else, my day completely fell apart.

This was the scene early on:


In the photo above, that’s my friend Ben Weil and his girlfriend Jen (who was dancing to all the crappy pop music and being ridiculous). Our friend Greg Barasch was also at this game, and for a little while, he hung out in second deck in right field:


The four of us combined to snag 34 balls, and we got most of them during the first half-hour. Did you notice the empty party deck two photos above? See the usher standing atop the stairs at the far end? Well, when we first got there, there was no security on the party deck. Ben and Greg actually camped out there, and when they finally got the boot, we still ran down the steps from the regular seats to grab home run balls that landed on it. It feels weird to say this, but for a little while, Citi Field was actually fun.

I snagged eight balls during the first half-hour:

1) A home run in the regular seats in left-center field. I think John Buck hit it.
2) A John Buck homer that I caught on the fly reaching over the railing.
3) A Marlon Byrd homer that landed on the empty party deck.
4) Another Byrd homer on the party deck.
5) A toss-up from Mets pitcher Jeremy Hefner.
6) A homer on the deck hit by a lefty — probably Daniel Murphy.
7) Another lefty homer on the deck, once again probably hit by Murphy.
8) A Justin Turner homer that I caught on the fly in the regular seats.

Then it got stupid-crowded . . .


. . . and I only snagged ONE more baseball for the rest of the day — a B.J. Upton homer that I caught on the fly with fans crowding me from all sides. I handed that ball to the nearest kid.

This “regular” portion of BP was about as unpleasant as it gets; the lowlight was nearly getting trampled by an aggressive fan who plowed through a half-empty row as I was reaching back for a loose ball. Ben, unfortunately, took the brunt of this idiot’s recklessness and ended up with a sore, swollen ring finger.

Shortly before game time, I tried to go here . . .


. . . but was denied by the usher because I didn’t have a ticket for that section.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME, METS?! IT SHOULD BE ILLEGAL TO CHECK TICKETS IN ANY SECTION WHERE YOUR TEAM IS UNABLE TO HIT THE BALL. Seriously. Wow. I was more than 500 feet from home plate and simply wanted to watch Braves starter Julio Teheran warm up in the bullpen. I explained this to the usher, who peeked over his shoulder at the field and snapped, “They’re done warming up.” Nice.

Five minutes later, with some help from a friend, I worked my way down to the seats near the Braves’ dugout. A few players were warming up, and when they finished, I called out and asked for a ball. Dan Uggla happened to be jogging past me, and he turned and said something.

“What?!” I yelled.

“You have enough balls!!” he shouted.

Since when does Dan Uggla know who I am? And more importantly, how does he know who I am? This is very strange. And annoying. I suppose I should be honored to be recognized by players, and sometimes I am, but when they refuse to throw me baseballs and/or give me crap, it’s really just a pain.

This was my lousy view during the game:


These were the astoundingly bad stats of the Mets’ first baseman:


Why, exactly, is he still on the team? Matt Harvey would have better offensive stats if he played every day. Come to think of it, so would Jason Bay.

Somehow, the Mets won this game, 4-2. On my way out, I gave away another ball to a kid and got a photo with Ben, Mateo, and Greg. Here we are:


Ben ended up snagging six baseballs, Jen got four, and Greg collected fifteen plus a Juan Francisco batting glove, which you can see in the photo above.

Here are the seven balls that I kept:


Here are some interesting smudges, stamps, and marks:


Here’s an invisible ink stamp on one of the balls (seen here in regular light versus black light):


A different ball had *two* invisible ink stamps, which means it failed an inspection at the Rawlings baseball factory and had to be fixed. Check it out:


Citi Field drives me crazy — can’t wait to hit the road again next week: Miller Park on June 3rd, Busch Stadium on June 4th and 5th, and Wrigley Field on June 7th.


• 9 balls at this game

• 254 balls in 33 games this season = 7.7 balls per game.

• 905 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 430 consecutive games with at least two balls

• 17 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, Camden Yards, U.S. Cellular Field, Comerica Park, and Rogers Centre

• 6,713 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.)

• 27 donors for my fundraiser

• $1.68 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $15.12 raised at this game

• $426.72 raised this season through my fundraiser

• $8,500 from BIGS Sunflower Seeds for my game-used baseballs

• $30,332.72 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009


  1. jumpnhigh

    I read twice but which was the actual game used ball scooped up? It sounds like you only caught 9 BP balls but gave 1 away. :s

  2. Ray Burton

    Why so few people at early BP ? Did Ben thump the guy that barrelled him ? He looks like a pretty mean dude ( lol ). What’s your next snagging milestone ?

  3. Zack Hample

    He doesn’t seem like the reading type.

    No, but I grabbed him when it first happened and later directed a profanity-laden rant at him that would’ve made George Carlin blush.

    My point exactly.

  4. Michael

    Hey Zack,
    I never commented before although i’m reading your blog since a year. First of all,i want to apologize for my english(I live in Montreal,so i don’t talk english everyday). I wanted to tell you that i think that what you are doing is really great(raising money and of course catching balls)! I tried some of your tricks on many trips that i did and i succeed to catch a few balls. I hope to meet you someday at a stadium!
    P-S:I found an article in a newspaper about you. I know it’s in french,but it may interest you! http://blogues.lapresse.ca/baseball/2011/03/31/connaissez-vous-zack-hample/

  5. Rocco Sinisi

    Zack, the players are all getting hip to this “Ball hawking thing”! They’re squashing my balls too…the Security guy at the bullpen is coming up to the bullpen coaches and pointing me out, and telling them that I’m NOT a *REAL* fan of “XYZ team” when I go for a bullpen ball now in the other teams gear!!!!!!! The Cop at the dugout shoos us (Ballhawks) away now if he sees us go for Umpire balls; there is about 5 or 6 of us he keeps his eye out for…you have to be really stealthy in the 9th inning before you can make your move! I watch our (REDS) pitchers come up to players of the other teams, and I swear I can see them pointing to the ballhawks in the stands at early BP, and probably telling them not to throw balls to us. G.A.B.P. is picking up ALL the Easter Eggs now too…they have an army of security guards that scour the stands everyday before I get to run for the eggs!!! I’m down at least 30 balls this year that I would of normally had if they left the eggs alone like they used to. It’s getting tough Brother, and soon the “Munchkins” will be out of school too…stay strong!

  6. ch1088

    Dude, I need to get my hands on a season ticket on Sundays… wow. Damn, Greg, fifteen? I saw him running around during BP. I think since I’m still relatively new to ballhawking, I am learning new decision making skills. I missed out on a bunch I could’ve had. I didn’t even bother with left field, it was way too crowded… IT seems like it’s definitely worth getting the season ticket though for Sundays.
    – Chris

  7. Zack Hample

    Thanks so much! Your English is much better than my French. I’m glad that my tips have helped you snag some baseballs, and I hope we can meet someday. Let me know if you’re ever planning to visit New York City.


    That sounds AWFUL. Wow, they’re really targeting you, huh? I think that *you* are the one that needs to stay strong.

    Dude, yes you do. Give it a shot at least once with the season tickets. I think you’ll have a great time.

  8. Ben Weil

    I could’ve sworn I commented on this. Oh well. Yeah, bp was heaven for the first 30 minutes and hell for the rest of it. Unbelievable. If Jen would be wiling to learn to use a glove, she’d have had more than both of us!

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