5/31/13 at Yankee Stadium

It was a Friday night, the weather was perfect, and the Red Sox were in town. I knew it was gonna be crowded at Yankee Stadium, but I didn’t think it’d be THIS crowded. Check out the line at the left field gate:


That photo doesn’t show the whole line. It snaked waaaaay around the side of the stadium — and keep in mind that this was just one of four entrances.

Here’s what the inside of the stadium looked like from the outside:


As you can see, I had to run a long way (and then head up some stairs) just to reach the seats, and when I got there, this was waiting for me:


My first thought was, “Sweet! There’s a baseball just sitting there!”
My second thought was, “It’s really dirty — no way it’s an official ball.”

As it turned out, it *was* official, and when I picked it up, it marked the 200th consecutive Yankee home game at which I’d snagged one.

Moments later, a right-handed batter on the Yankees hit a home run that landed on the very top/concrete edge of the outfield wall and bounced all the way into the inaccessible bleachers. How’s THAT for bad luck? I was still the only fan in the seats, so if the ball had traveled four inches father and cleared the outfield wall, I would’ve been able to walk over and grab it. Thankfully, there was another homer that landed in the third row, and I snagged it without an issue. Here are the two baseballs that I’d gotten:


I didn’t snag another ball for 45 minutes. (FORTY-FIVE MINUTES!!) It was a homer by Dustin Pedroia that I caught on the fly after drifting 20 feet to my left and jumping as high as possible. I didn’t think I had any chance of reaching it, so it felt extra good when the ball smacked into the pocket of my glove.

Here’s what the stands looked like when I caught my next ball — a home run that pretty much came right to me:


I’m not sure who hit it, but if I had to guess, I’d say it was either Pedro Ciriaco or Jose Iglesias.

That was it for BP. Four balls. Meh. I could’ve snagged twice as many with slightly better luck and a bit less stupidity. I was half a second too slow on two toss-ups that landed in some empty seats, and I barely misjudged a pair of homers. What can I say? I just wasn’t on my game.

After BP, this young man asked me to sign a white piece of cardboard:


His name is Ben. I’ve seen him lots of times at Citi Field, but never at Yankee Stadium, and I don’t blame him. He’s an autograph collector, and this place is dreadful for getting signatures. Quite simply, there are far more places where you can’t go than places where you can.

After chatting briefly with Ben, I watched Jon Lester warm up:


In the photo above, do you see the two catchers sitting on the bench on the right side? The guy who was sitting farther away from me ended up tossing me a ball. Manny Martinez? Is that the dude’s name? Can any Red Sox fans out there let me know?

This was my view early in the game . . .


. . . and here’s what it looked like on my right:


The stadium was packed. The paid attendance was 45,141. There was absolutely *no* room to run for potential home run balls, and of course there was no way that I could move to another section, so I left. Screw it. I just wasn’t feeling it, so I went home and watched the rest of the game on TV.

Here are the balls I snagged:


Here’s the ball with the best invisible ink stamp:


I’m free today (Saturday, June 1st), and the weather is supposed to be nice again, and these two teams are playing at 7:15pm, but why bother? I think I’ll skip it and go have dinner with my girlfriend and/or mother.


• 5 balls at this game

• 259 balls in 34 games this season = 7.62 balls per game.

• 906 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 431 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

• 6,718 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)

• $8.40 raised at this game

• $435.12 raised this season through my fundraiser

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

• $30,341.12 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009


  1. Rocco Sinisi

    Zack, I love the “Dirty” baseballs!!! I love them all grass stained up, and beat up…I hate pearls! I love the long toss balls when they’re all “Blue looking” from being caught in black gloves. Mud rubbed are my favorite of course. Anyway, I also hate those days when you’re not on your game, and nothing goes wright, and you feel like everybody at BP is out snagging you!!! It sucks when you wait almost 2 weeks for your home team to come back from a road trip, and on your first day back to the park for BP, you’re all goofed up, and you feel out-of-sync! Man I hate that feeling! P.S. Zack, Yankee Stadium is not working with you…it sounds like a struggle to ball hawk there. I’d ditch that place for a while!

  2. DanR

    Did you venture over to right field for BP at all or stay in LF the whole time? I know your typical approach is direct to RF through Gate 6, check for easter eggs there/try for toss ups/HRs in right before sprinting over to left. I’m taking a friend from Cleveland for his first game at YS Monday and I’m planning on the Gate 6/RF approach. Just curious.

  3. jumpnhigh

    This morning was weird.

    I wake up at 6:30am and the first thing I see is that the Blue Jays and Padres merely finish their marathon west coast game 3 hrs ago and go a distance of 17 but my boys in blue fell short. Booooo!

    Secondly, there was already a updated posting from Zack “The Baseball Collector” sitting in my inbox from last nights game. I thought something was definitely off as the updates usually don’t come for 2 days or more after the games he attends.

    I read into it…

    Zack man what happened?!?! Yes we all have “off” days and I don’t mean to crash down on you, but you gave up. More importantly you gave up on a potential game used ball ($500) for Bigs Sunflower Seeds and the kids with Pitch In For Baseball. You gotta stick it out and hope for the best…you just never know.

    Now I haven’t been reading for long but in the short time I have you sternly grabbed my attention with your passion for baseball, collecting and the charity donations. I challenge you now…Here’s to you catching at least 2 game used balls at the next game you attend. Even though you will only get $500 per game and not per ball. I’m with ya and always rooting for you.

    “Keep Calm & Hawk On”
    – Jumpnhigh AKA SKottee

    Ps: if anyone goes to make a t-shirt just give me a small name credit also :)

    Pss: comments on here don’t get updated on the WordPress app. Ex. Here on the web link there was 3 comments and on the actual app there was 0. Glitch?

  4. Brian

    @jumpnhigh. Zack can only grab 1 ball from a stadium once, and Yankee Stadium was crossed off the list at the beginning of the year. Just thought I’d let you know.

    I don’t blame you for leaving Zack. I’m a Yankee fan, and even though I love the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry, going to the stadium for those games can be a bit much. Way too many people and way too many fights. I’d much rather bring my son to game when it’s not against the Sox and instead watch those games from the comfort of my home, on my couch and having a few beers.

  5. ch1088

    Aren’t easter eggs great? As for that bullpen catcher, that’s the one I was telling you about. I’m almost certain it’s Andrew Martinez. He has a linkedin profile that says hes the bullpen catcher. thats the only info i could find on him last week. Also, we all have off days… I had 4 in a row last week. Are you gonna put up a copy of the letter you sent to the Yanks?
    – Chris

  6. mlballhawk2013

    As usual another good night for you but wait …. whos the girlfriend this time?? A NEW one or a blast from the past?? Just curious …. girls are so much more exciting than balls!

  7. jumpnhigh

    Thanks Brian, didn’t think of that. Always great to hear about these games and how they concluded.
    All the best to you Hawkers out there!

  8. Zack Hample

    I’m considering going back tomorrow to Yankee Stadium (because I love baseball more than I dislike that place), but after that, I’m happy to say that I’ll have a two-week break from it. Nice to hear that you’re giving some balls away. As for the Switzerland article, no, not yet, but I want to. Can you post the link here so everyone can see it?

    DAN R-
    Nope, I never went to right field. The only time I was even on that side of the stadium was when I was walking through the concourse to the exit in the third inning. A supervisor saw me and said, “Where are you supposed to be?” That’s Yankee Stadium for you . . . or rather, for me. Right field is a good place to start for BP. The Yankees have lots of lefty batters. Gate 6 is a solid option.


    It looks like Brian already responded, but just to reiterate: BIGS Sunflower Seeds is donating $500 for every stadium at which I snag a gamer. At this point, if I were to catch three home runs at every single Yankee game for the rest of the season, it wouldn’t raise any additional money from BIGS (but it would sure make me happy).

    Thanks for understanding, and for setting the record straight.

    I think his name might be Mani Martinez. I’m still trying to find out. I do not intend to publicly share the letter that I sent to the Yankees, but next time I see you, I’ll paraphrase it.

    It’s someone who has never attended a professional baseball game in her entire life. She likes flying under the radar, and I’m okay with that.

  9. tc219hr

    How can u leave ?fights are cool. I stayed all 17 innings atSD Toronto game there was a seagull walking in the OF the whole gm.the bird was on jumbotron not any jays tho

  10. Zack Hample

    I didn’t see any fights yesterday. Things were crazy at the old stadium. The new place is tame. Red Sox games are certainly more crowded, but the atmosphere is the same as it is for any other visiting team. I’m jealous of your 17-inning game. I once attended one that lasted that long: a 1-0 game at Shea Stadium in 1993.

  11. Ray Burton

    You definitely deserve some free time away from ” the show “. Brush up on your girl- snagging skills if you know what I mean. Hope you go 4 for 4 with a couple of home runs !

  12. Mark McConville

    Im not positive but the bullpen catchers name might b alex martinez, i heard a couple sox fans call him that in philly and he responded

  13. Zack Hample

    Oh, Ricky . . .

    Turns out it’s Mani Martinez. A very very knowledgeable Red Sox fan emailed me and said so.

  14. Nick LaRosa

    Saw you at the game Zack!! We were talking during BP!Can’t wait to see you June 21st at the next Yankee Friday night home game!!

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