5/17/14 at Citizens Bank Park

I attended this game for two reasons:

1) I was visiting family 25 miles away in Ambler, Pennsylvania.
2) My mom was with me and wanted to go.

And look, here she is in the right field seats:


Before I complain about how lame batting practice was, I need to complain about how stressful it was to even get to the stadium in the first place. Basically, we didn’t wrap things up with the fam until about 4pm, at which point I told my mom that we should forget the game and just head back home to New York. I had all my stuff with me for the game, but we hadn’t bought tickets, so it really wouldn’t have been much of a loss to bail. Also, Google Maps was telling me that the drive was going to take 45 minutes, which meant we were gonna have 20 minutes to park, buy tickets, and get on line at the gates — insanity, right? Well, my mom convinced me to go for it. We arrived at 4:48pm, and while she parked, I ran ahead and bought myself a $20 ticket (which was the cheapest available) and then rushed off to the nearest gate. My mom then took her time and found the ticket office and eventually caught up with me in right field.

By that point, I’d snagged one baseball — a toss-up from A.J. Burnett in left-center field. Meanwhile, everything else went wrong. I had missed a ball or two when the gates first opened because I wasn’t the first one to race out to the left field seats. Then I managed to maneuver myself out of position twice . . . as in, I was in a perfectly good spot, but decided that it wasn’t good enough, and as soon as I moved, batters ended up hitting home runs to the exact spots where I had been. Then, over in right field, there were hardly any home runs. (Ryan Howard, by the way, is about as useful in BP as Ruben Tejada.)

Here’s what it looked like in left-center when the Reds were hitting:

A little while later, I tracked two home runs perfectly, picking the exact spots where they were going to land and climbing up steps and over seats to get there. And both times, other fans reached up and caught/deflected these balls at the last second. Then I had a perfect opportunity to use my glove trick for a ball that rolled to the wall nearby . . .


. . . but a coach ran over and grabbed it, moments before I was about to unleash my magic.

There are days when everything seems to go right and I end up with 15 or 20 balls. This was the opposite. Yeah, the toss-up from Burnett was nice, as was the homer I caught at the end of BP in left field that would’ve drilled my mom, but overall it was a pathetic and unlucky afternoon.

I wandered for a bit after that and caught up with my mom, who had grabbed a spot in the last row behind the Reds’ dugout:


Before the national anthem, I snagged EVERY ball that the Reds used during pre-game throwing. That is . . . zero.

Nice day, huh?

Actually, is *was* a nice day because I was with my mom. This was our view during the 1st inning:


(Yes, that’s a TV monitor dangling off the overhang.)

In the 2nd inning, we moved a bit closer and took a selfie:


As you can see, I was wearing my Reds gear, but it didn’t help.

Here’s something that made me smile — take a look at the photo and then I’ll explain what I’m talking about:


That’s Billy Hamilton, who always makes me smile, but more specifically, I liked the fact that he had FOUR batting gloves. What’s the deal — two for hitting and two for running/sliding?

In the 3rd inning, my mom and I moved even closer to the field . . .


. . . and in the 4th inning, we left:


When we got back to New York, I learned that the Phillies had won, 12-1, and that Cole Hamels won his 100th career game. I was glad to have missed it. I used to like him, but ever since he intentionally plunked Bryce Harper in 2012, I have lost all respect for him.


• 2 baseballs at this game

• 122 balls in 18 games this season = 6.78 balls per game.

• 308 balls in 34 lifetime games at Citizens Bank Park = 9.06 balls per game.

• 984 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 7,298 total balls


(I’m raising money again this season for Pitch In For Baseball, a non-profit charity that provides baseball equipment to underprivileged kids all over the world. Click here to learn about my fundraiser, and if you donate money, you’ll be eligible to win one of these prizes.)

• 19 donors for my fundraiser

• $1.47 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $2.94 raised at this game

• $179.34 raised this season

• $38,843.34 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009


  1. Larry

    Sounds hectic, kind of like my family going to a game…. But, still a nice day with your mom. Moms who like baseball are the best.

  2. Leigh Barratt

    I 100% agree with you on Cole Hamels. When he did that to Harper……I was done with him. He’s from San Diego, but EVERYTIME he’s here with the Phillies he’s just a total DICK in batting practice. Someone needs to plunk HIM.

  3. jvfuentes

    Hey, at least Hamels DID admit intent! I’ve got more respect for Hamels than I do for Ryan Dempster, denying intent against Rodriguez, even though my feelings for the two batters are on totally opposite sides of the spectrum. Dempster’s body language told the real story. Plus, Hamels plays in the NL.

  4. jvfuentes

    …Also, Harper going 1st to 3rd and then stealing home made for one of the most awesome displays of retribution ever. Score settled, as far as I’m concerned.

  5. erik

    Zack- just found your blog recently and noticed your mlb logo hat. Where did you find it? I enjoy reading your blog and seeing where you have been. Thanks!

  6. Zack Hample

    I remember that game, and I was torn over who to root for (or rather root against).

    Baseball or no baseball, my mom is definitely the best.

    I would love to see that. And I’m glad you agree.

    That’s a good point, but personally, I don’t care if a pitcher “admits” it or not. I was glad when A-Rod got hit, but I was also pissed at Dempster for doing it.

    I found it online. I forget which site. Sorry. Thanks for checking out my blog.

    Those pics of Hamels are interesting, but I don’t think they can be used to disgrace him. To me, they just look like a model-y guy doing dopey model-y things. He’s good looking, and he gets paid a lot because of it. I think he gets the last laugh on that one.

    Hello! (That’s all I got.)

    Cool. You shoulda said hello . . . unless you were very far away from me, in which case . . . oh well. Next tim.

  7. jvfuentes

    @ Leigh Barrett, if I remember correctly, J Zimmerman plunked him later in the game and both teams got warnings. No DH for the NL!!!

  8. jvfuentes

    I agree, intentionally hitting a batter is not at all something I like to see. But from the the pitcher’s perspective, when pretty much every rule change and new rule introduced since the late 1800s has favored the batter, and offense is at such a premium that teams bring in the fences to artificially inflate it (which ties into my theory on the cause of escalating injuries and surgeries on pitchers arms), it’s not surprising to see it happen. To me there is a HUGE difference between admitting intent and lying about it, and I will always have more respect for a pitcher who does the former, regardless of any other opinion I may have of them.

  9. Aaron

    -zack just wondering what I should do after getting busted for the glove trick and what to do next time I go to that stadium and want to use the glove trick when the security is already pissed off at me.

  10. Zack Hample

    You should not use it anymore . . . or use it and be VERY VERY VERY careful. I have stopped using the glove trick in New York City for that reason. Security is insane and often unreasonable, and it’s just not worth the hassle.

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