6/26/13 at Camden Yards

This was my mom’s first game at Camden Yards. Here we are outside the gates:


By the time that photo was taken, we’d already had a long day in Baltimore, which included:

1) Hanging out at our hotel and looking at the previous day‘s photos from Nationals Park.
2) Going to an Indian buffet (where I stuffed myself silly).
3) Walking around inside Camden Yards when it was open early in the afternoon.
4) Wandering around the Inner Harbor.
5) Sitting in an air-conditioned mall and playing with our iPhones.

All of that stuff turned out to be much more enjoyable than the game. You’ll see why in a moment, but first, here’s a photo that I took during batting practice:


Looks good, right?

My mom was hanging out 20 rows back, watching from a safe distance:


Again, it all looks good, right?

Yeah, well, five minutes later, THIS happened:


I hadn’t even seen *one* full group of hitters take BP, and the stupid grounds crew pulled out the tarp. (Actually, they weren’t stupid. I’m just pissed off.)

Since it wasn’t yet raining, the Indians pitchers came out to play catch:


Two minutes later (and I do mean *two* minutes), this was the scene:


As you can see, it was raining like hell, the stands had pretty much cleared out, and most of the players were bolting for the dugout.

Somehow, within a three-minute span, I managed to get four baseballs thrown to me. Here they are . . .


. . . and now I’ll explain.

Ubaldo Jimenez threw me the first ball just before it started raining. Then, as the sky opened up, I got another toss-up. Then, as I started heading up the steps (because the ushers were ordering everyone to take cover), I got one more, and when I reached the cross-aisle, I got a final ball thrown my way. It all happened so fast that I forgot who had thrown what, but I can tell you this: Nick Hagadone gave me one of the balls (the 2nd one, I think), and Justin Masterson hooked me up with another (the last one, I believe). And here’s something else that’s kinda cool: my 3rd ball of the day was the 3,000th ball that I’ve snagged outside of New York City.

By the time this flurry of toss-ups took place, my mom had moved into foul territory, so she got a great view of all the action. It was nice to share the moment with her, but mainly it was great to finally spend some time with her at my favorite stadium.

The rain and thunder and lightning became so intense . . .


. . . that a weather/safety advisory appeared on the jumbotron:


My mom and I passed the time by making a list of all the major league stadiums that she’s been to:

1) Shea Stadium (a bunch of times, starting in the 1980s)
2) Old Yankee Stadium (a few times, starting in the 1980s)
3) Fenway Park (on September 7, 1991)
4) Veterans Stadium (on October 6, 1991 — the day David Cone struck out 19 batters)
5) Chase Field (back when it was called Bank One Ballpark on May 15, 1998)
6) U.S. Cellular Field (back when it was called Comiskey Park on June 5, 1999)
7) Citizens Bank Park (several times, including June 24, 2007)
8) Dodger Stadium (on May 18, 2009 — the day I snagged my 4,000th ball)
9) Citi Field (several times, including September 29, 2010)
10) Tokyo Dome (on March 29, 2012 for MLB’s Opening Series)
11) Nationals Park (on June 25, 2013)
12) Camden Yards (hopefully several more times)

That’s quite an impressive list for a lady who’s not really a baseball fan, don’t you think?

My mom was also with me when I took BP on the field at PNC Park in 2009, but we decided not to count that on this list because she wasn’t there for an actual game.

Anyway, here in Baltimore, the rain finally stopped . . .


. . . and the grounds crew went to work:


Eventually they folded up the tarp, but then they all stood around and waited for 20 minutes:


It was bizarre, and I didn’t know what to think until I saw this:


No, I’m not talking about the cop who was picking his nose. See the ladder on the warning track? See the guy standing near the top? He was putting big garbage bags over the camera that’s mounted to the protective screen. I figured that if he was putting in that type of time/effort, more rain was on the way.

Sure enough, it wasn’t long before the grounds crew re-covered the field:



My mom and I were gonna have to drive back to New York City after the game, and given the fact that she had an early-morning appointment the next day, we weren’t sure how long we’d be able to stay.

Finally, the Indians began warming up . . .


. . . and after a 66-minute rain delay, the game got underway. This was my view for most of it:


The following photo shows what it looked like on my left, with my mom circled in red:


Here’s a photo that she took, which shows me standing toward the back of the Flag Court:


It was a good setup. I ran around and did my thing while she sat in a spot where she could see me, and in case you’re wondering, it’s not like I ignored her. We talked between innings, and I hung out with her at other random times throughout the night.

As for the ballhawking . . . not only weren’t there any home runs out there, but Scott Kazmir took a no-hitter into the 7th inning. Take a look at the scoreboard:


My mom was getting antsy about the time, which was understandable, but damn, we couldn’t leave now — not during a no-hitter!

During the 7th-inning stretch, I said, “How’s this for a deal? We’ll stay for as long as the no-hitter is in progress.”

My mom understood the situation and agreed to it, and whaddaya know? Manny effin’ Machado led off the bottom of the 7th with a double down the left field line. Was it my fault? Did I jinx it? Regardless, a deal is a deal, so we left after that. I heard that the Indians ended up winning, 4-3.

On a final note, I’d like to say thanks to all the kind folks who met and schmoozed with my mom, including (but not limited to) Avi Miller, Tim Anderson, Alex Kopp, Doug Hakey, and a pair of ushers named Jim and Bobby. Great stadium. Great people. Can’t wait to go back.


20_the_three_balls_i_kept_06_26_13• 4 balls at this game (three pictured here because I gave one to a kid before the game)

• 325 balls in 43 games this season = 7.56 balls per game.

• 525 balls in 56 lifetime games at Camden Yards = 9.38 balls per game.

• 915 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 440 consecutive games with at least two balls

• 22 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, Rogers Centre, Miller Park, Busch Stadium, Wrigley Field, Target Field, and Nationals Park

• 3,001 lifetime balls outside of New York City

• 6,784 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.)

• 30 donors for my fundraiser

• $1.88 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $7.52 raised at this game

• $611.00 raised this season through my fundraiser

• $11,000 from BIGS Sunflower Seeds for my game-used baseballs

• $33,017.00 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009


  1. Cook & Son

    You’ve got me curious about my mom’s stadium list…so I’m gonna subject you to it. I’ll note that my mom IS a baseball fan. No dates with my list:

    1. The Kingdome
    2. Safeco Field
    3. Angel Stadium
    4. Dodger Stadium
    5. Oakland Coliseum
    6. Chase Field
    7. Wrigley Field
    8. Veterans Stadium
    9. Citizens Bank Park
    10. Camden Yards
    11. New Yankee Stadium
    12. Fenway Park
    13. PNC Park
    14. Tropicana Field
    15. Nationals Park (I think, but am not certain).

    Bonus: Pretty much the entire Cactus League slate of stadiums and the Orioles spring training stadium from the mid-90s.

    Hooray for Moms!

  2. philadelphia45

    They close Eutaw street at 4 pm for a 5 pm gateopening. If you go around 3:00-3:30, players might be throwing in the bullpen where you can snag a ball.The last time I was at OPACY, I had a Matt Weiters tossup 1:30 hours before the gates opened

  3. Jared

    Cleveland Indians FTW!
    Also, how has your mom never been to the New Yankee Stadium?

  4. fireant02

    Any chance you’re going to Camden Yards again this summer? I was out of town for this game and was bummed I couldn’t meet you.

  5. Brendan W.

    At least you and your mom had a good day before getting to the ballpark to make up for it. My first game I ever attended was delayed three hours, and the first game of a doubleheader!

    Camden Yards looks like a great park. I can’t wait until I can cross that off my list of ballparks. I always wait until the Mets face a team before I go. It just wouldn’t feel right otherwise. I might go to PNC Park or Nationals Park this month, which would be better for ballhawking than the norm (Citi Field.)
    Brendan (TakeThe7ToCiti.MLBlogs.com)

  6. Zack Hample

    Nah, no close strikes.

    Yeah, pretty nuts.

    COOK & SON-
    I like it.

    It’s a beautiful setup. I once got a toss-up after taking an early-afternoon tour of the stadium.

    Because she’s smart. I’d kinda like to take her there once just so she can see how awful it is in every conceivable way.

    I’d love to make it back, but I have no idea if/when it’ll happen.

    Pretty much any stadium is better for ballhawking than Citi Field, and if it’s not, then it would at least be prettier and more pleasant.

  7. Dennis

    Sorry about the rain! I was at the Sox/Indians yesterday in Chicago for a double header that ended up being the longest in MLB history (two nine inning games). The games clocked in at 4:02 (19-10 Indians) and 3:51 (9-8 Indians). There were foul balls for everyone due to the shrinking crowd! The Sox manage to continue to suck; but they were entertaining games!

  8. Ryan Moberly

    Darn! That would have been awesome to see a no-no. Oh well, circumstances in mind you did pretty well. As always well done Mr. Hample!

  9. Navi

    4 balls- Not bad for a 3-minute span and rain delay in my opinion. Great job Zack. Fair day in Camden Yards, no?

  10. Rocco Sinisi

    …for not being a baseball fan, your Mom still had a big smile on her face at the ole’ ball park!

  11. Zack Hample

    Thanks! I know I owe you an email, and you shall have it soon.

    Eh, I did okay, all things considered, but if I’d been on my game, I could’ve had four more during the few minutes that the O’s were hitting. Also, I was disappointed not to have any opportunities during the game.

    Don’t know yet.

    Great American Ball Park is much better for batting practice (because you can get in so early), but Camden is much better during games (because of the cross-aisles and standing-room area).

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