9/12/13 at Citi Field

This was a day game, and the Mets had played the night before, so I didn’t expect there to be batting practice . . . but there was . . . sort of . . . but not really. Check it out:


Did you notice the catcher inside the batting cage? You never see that in regular BP.

The batter was David Wright — he was wearing Tom Goodwin’s jersey for some reason — and in fact he was the *only* batter. Mets bullpen coach Ricky Bones was on the mound, and he was throwing hard. Wright wasn’t up there to tee off on easy pitches; he was taking simulated at-bats.

During the ten minutes that he was in the cage, he managed to hit one home run. I didn’t snag that ball, but I did get one tossed to me in left-center field by coach Bob Geren. That was it for “batting practice.” No other Mets took any cuts, and the Nationals didn’t hit either.

Thankfully, the Nationals pitchers came out to throw:


In addition to getting toss-ups from Erik Davis and Fernando Abad, I got a bunch of autographs. Here’s a photo of Dan Haren signing . . .


. . . and here’s what I actually had him sign:


That’s a ticket from the game I attended on 6/20/13 at Nationals Park.

Here’s Gio Gonzalez signing . . .


. . . and here’s his autograph:


I only had three Nationals tickets on me, so everyone else I got had to cram their signatures close together. Here’s Tyler Clippard . . .


. . . and Xavier Cedeno . . .


. . . and here’s the ticket itself:


How many of the other signatures can you identify?

By the time the Nationals headed back to the clubhouse, the Mets were already playing catch in right field, so I ran over there:


Several players ended up tossing balls to little kids in the front row. A few other players kept their baseballs and headed to the bullpen. And then there was Dillon Gee, who did something else entirely. While standing near the foul line, he launched his ball at the Home Run Apple in dead center. The ball landed on the slanted black surface to the right of the Apple and bounced behind it and disappeared from sight. I figured there was only one place it could be, so I ran over to take a look:



The way I saw it, there were three ways for me to attempt to snag that ball:

1) Use the glove trick (and get yelled at).
2) Jump down there (and get ejected).
3) Ask security to get it for me (and get laughed at).

I went with Option Three, and to my surprise, the guard told me I could get it myself. I should’ve taken a photo or two while I was down there, but he told me to hurry, so I didn’t want to delay things by fumbling around with my camera.

Rather than jumping over the side rail, I retrieved the ball in a most civilized manner. More specifically, I walked down the staircase to the party deck . . .


. . . and then headed behind those green stools and stepped over the low black wall at the far end.


That was my fourth ball of the day.

After the Tae Kwon Do demonstration that no one paid any attention to . . .


. . . I got a pre-game toss-up from Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos in left-center. I gave that ball to the nearest/smallest kid . . .


. . . whose entire family was thrilled. This was the kid’s first game ever.

Just before the national anthem, I headed into foul territory and got Anthony Rendon to throw me his warm-up ball from more than 100 feet away. Here’s a photo of the ball, which I took in the spot where I caught it:


This was my view in the bottom of the 1st inning . . .


. . . and here’s what happened after the third out:


Several fans grumbled about the fact that it wasn’t even raining. One guy yelled, “Typical Mets!” as he marched up the steps toward the concourse, but I figured the grounds crew knew what they were doing.

Moments later, a “weather update” appeared on the jumbotron . . .


. . . but it still wasn’t raining.

Then, all of a sudden . . . BAM!!!!!!


It rained about as hard as I’ve ever seen, and I have to admit that it was fun. This was the scene near Shake Shack:


The left field concourse was crowded . . .


. . . and when the rain finally let up, there were massive puddles on the warning track:


I watched the grounds crew pull back the tarp . . .


. . . and get rid of the water . . .


. . . and after a 56-minute delay, the game resumed.

Here’s what the seats looked like on my left . . .


. . . and for an inning or two, this is how empty it was on my right:


For the record, I took that photo during the game.

If ever there was a time for a home run to be hit, THIS WAS IT. But no. It didn’t happen.

Before the rain delay, Ryan Zimmerman launched one onto the batter’s eye in dead center. In the 2nd inning, Adam LaRoche went oppo and barely reached the party deck in left-center. In the 5th inning, Wilson Ramos blasted a 416-foot line drive to left-center; I ran for that one, but given the fact that it landed in a small cluster of fans two sections to my left and five rows back, I had no chance. Finally, in the 9th inning, I got an unexpected opportunity to snag a home run, but things didn’t exactly go my way. Here’s the video. Basically, when the ball was hit, I could tell that it was going to fall short, so I climbed down over three rows of seats, only to watch helplessly as it took the most unexpected ricochet of all time, sailing OVER my head and pretty much landing in the exact spot where I’d originally been sitting. In the highlight, you can see me lunge for the ball, but I *barely* missed out. If my arms were a few inches longer or if I’d spotted the ball half a second sooner, I would’ve had it. It sucked so much that I nearly stormed out of the stadium. Since the game was almost over, I convinced myself to stay, but I had to get out of left field, so I went here:


After the final out of the Nationals’ 7-2 victory, I got my seventh and final ball from home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but who cares? I was so bummed . . . all the umpire balls in the world wouldn’t have made me feel any better.

Just before heading out, I noticed that Stephen Strasburg (who, by the way, is NOT friendly) came out to play catch with a coach. See them in the following photo?


I had visions of outlasting stadium security and running back down into the seats and asking for the ball . . . but no. Let’s not even get into the reasons why it didn’t happen. Let’s not even think about this game anymore. Bye!


30_the_six_balls_i_kept• 7 baseballs at this game (six pictured here because I gave one away)

• 613 balls in 81 games this season = 7.57 balls per game.

• 722 balls in 93 lifetime games at Citi Field = 7.76 balls per game.

• 953 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 29 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, Nationals Park, Marlins Park, Tropicana Field, Turner Field, Citizens Bank Park, Dodger Stadium, Chase Field, and the Oakland Coliseum

• 7,072 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, and if you donate money, you’ll be eligible to win one of these prizes.)

• 39 donors for my fundraiser

• $3.48 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $24.36 raised at this game

• $2,133.24 raised this season through my fundraiser

• $14,500 from BIGS Sunflower Seeds for my game-used baseballs

• $38,139.24 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009


  1. Eric

    Zack: What do you end up doing with all of the autographed items you collect? I wonder if there was a way that you could sell those items on somewhere like eBay for charity? Especially the items that you aren’t personally interested in?

  2. Garrett Meyer

    Okay okay. What is the deal with the batter’s eye at Citi Field? Can you run out and get baseballs like you can in Arlington? I thought you said something about how that was allowed in your all-star game entry.

  3. James Lee (@esigs)

    We got rain at the Cell last night too, and after a 17 minutes delay, play resumed. The rain returned a few times, but play was not stopped, so the already light crowd thinned out considerably. Have you ever seen fans just standing around and not seating down? From the front row up to the rows under the roof, the few people left were mostly standing, many with the intent of snagging foul balls. It was like BP but with a game on. And the ushers didn’t say anything! I remember that you wrote how easy it was to move around seats, but this was something else. I could move around depending whether the batter was a righty or lefty. Maybe because all seats were wet and they didn’t want to dry them (and it was futile since it rained intermittently), they let people stand wherever they wanted, including on the stairs.

  4. Zack Hample

    Uh, yeah.

    No, but thanks for asking.

    I guess I’m more pissed at my stupid luck than at myself.

    I have nearly 1,000 signed tickets going back to 1992. I cherish them all and have no intention of parting with them for any reason.

    Almost. I didn’t get Perez.

    Yeah, but it’s not something I want to do.

    It’s allowed, except the guards on the left-center field side don’t know that — or perhaps they do, but still don’t want people doing it because it’s a big jump down from that area. On the right-center field side, the guards don’t care.

    That sounds like SO much fun. I’ve seen a few situations like that, but it’s rare. I hope you realized how special it was.

  5. Navi

    Wow, pretty bad day huh, im going to citi field today mets vs marlins, tips on the marlins? i wanna get a third out ball really badly, my total lifetime baseballs are 0

  6. Zack Hample

    Yes . . . Solano. Nice.

    Jose Fernandez throws lots of balls into the crowd, so if there’s BP, hang out near him. Other than that, I’d just say that all the typical strategies apply.

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