5/27/14 at Citi Field

A funny thing happened after the Mets game last night. As I made my way through the concourse behind the visitors’ dugout, I heard someone yelling “Hey!!” from behind, and when I turned around, I saw a 6-foot-5 police officer walking toward me.

“Uh . . . hey,” I said as he approached.

“You’re the guy who catches all the baseballs, right?”

“Ha! Yeah, that’s me.”

“I knew it! I’ve seen all your videos — you caught a ball dropped from a helicopter.”

“Wow, you really *have* seen a lot of my stuff.”

“Hey, would you mind if I get a quick photo with you?”

“I don’t mind at all, but even if I did, there’s no way I’d say no to a police officer.”

This was the result . . .


. . . and yes, I got permission to post that photo on the internet.

A minute later, the cop asked if I get recognized often at games. I wanted him to feel special, so I was like, “Well, you know, it happens from time to time,” prompting my friend Ben Weil (who was standing nearby) to shout, “YES!! ALL THE TIME!! IT HAPPENS **ALL** THE TIME!!”

Ahh, Benny.

The other cop asked to pose with me for a photo, and we all chatted for a bit.

It was already past 11pm at that point — not because of a rain delay or extra innings. It was late because the Mets and Pirates took 3 hours and 43 minutes to play a nine-inning game with a modest total of six runs.

That’s awful.

Major League Baseball — especially at Citi Field where nothing interesting ever seems to happen — is becoming borderline interminable, and the new commissioner better do something about it. There’s no need to limit the number of pickoff throws or speed up intentional walks or shorten commercial breaks. (You want your advertising money? Fine. Take it.) There needs to be rule that actually gets enforced that limits the time that pitchers can take between pitches. Same for the hitters. Keep your ass in the batter’s box, stop adjusting your batting gloves, and hit.

Speaking of hitting (or lack thereof), the Mets finished batting practice at 5:15pm, which means that by the time the gates opened at 5:10 and I ran all the way out to the left field seats, there were about about three or four minutes of BP remaining.

During the 20 minutes of virtual dead time that followed, I managed to get a Pedro Alvarez toss-up in foul territory. I ended up getting six more balls before the game, including the 7,000th ball of my consecutive games streak (which began on September 10, 1993). Unfortunately I gave that one to a little kid standing nearby before I realized the personal significance.

Several minutes later, I got falsely accused by a woman of “taking” a ball from her son.

“Oh really,” I said, “exactly which ball did I take from him?”

She didn’t have an answer for that, and after being pressed further, she finally admitted that I hadn’t actually taken one and that her son was just upset because he hadn’t gotten a ball. While I was defending myself against her verbal assault, her son got a ball tossed to him by a groundskeeper — but the woman still didn’t leave me alone and ultimately insulted the way I was brought up. (I was brought up not to take crap from idiots. Thanks.)

Finally, adding to the randomness of this blog entry, I’d like to point out that (a) my girlfriend, Hayley, was with me and was understandably bored to death and (b) this would’ve been my Grandma Helen‘s 117th birthday and I miss her.


  1. Drew Gregg

    The game would be shortened if the strike zone was again made to the 1960’s standard–under the armpits down to the knees.

  2. Leigh Barratt

    Nice haircut on the cop taking the picture. I don’t think that would fly at San Diego PD. The cop you’re standing next to is HUGE.

  3. Larry

    The struggle is real. Just another day in New York baseball I guess, but nothing that Zack Hample can’t handle…..

  4. Mike

    You caught a ball dropped from a helicopter? Who did you convince to help you with that?
    I am going to see the Mets play in Seattle. Crazy buisness trip. I know you hate Citi field, but I’m still thinking of maybe coming out to catch a game there.

  5. Liz Merry

    Haha! Mohawk cop! Keith Hernandez has been quite outspoken about the length of games now, especially with the video review. I enjoy his broadcasts with Gary and Ron and I have learned a lot from him, but the whining is becoming annoying.

  6. Zack Hample

    Looks like we have a response from Hayley herself.

    That would certainly make things go faster, but I don’t think pitchers need any help right now.

    I didn’t notice his hair until I saw the photo later that night. New York City is the best.

    Ha, nice.

    I seem to meet the craziest characters who help me orchestrate all sorts of goofy things. Good luck in Seattle. I’m assuming the stadium is still opening 2.5 hours early at the center field gate. It’s kind of an aggravating place, but of course I’d take it in a flash over either New York ballpark. Let me know how it goes, and keep me posted on your plans to visit Citi. It’d be great to see you there.

    I’ll take that as a hint to keep my mouth shut about this from now on. (With maybe an occasional exception.)


    That would actually be awesome. If I buy you a cheerleader outfit and pompoms, will you wear it and use them?

  7. Big Glove Bob

    If a cop walked into a station house around here with that haircut one of two things would happen. Either the Sergeant would tell him to get his azz to the barber and don’t come back until he did or the old school fellas would pin him down and cut his hair for him. I have never been to NYC and I hate it.
    Big Glove Bob

  8. Nick

    Thanks for the advice on the Nats stadium Zack! Im so pumped to go now and i CANT wait for batting practice there with my little cousins!!

  9. Zack Hample


    That’s basically what happened to me as a freshmen on the Guilford College baseball team when I had the nerve *not* to want to shave my head like everyone else. I was actually threatened (by a teammate whose neck was as thick as his head) about what would happen if I showed up the next day without doing it.

    You’re welcome! Let me know how it goes.

  10. jvfuentes

    Nice Mohawk Cop!!! Awesome! And now for my annual “Papa’s brag byte”. I’ll keep it short; My boy’s team went 6-0 in the 10U division at the Memorial day tournament with 3 walk-off victories!!! Jeronimo tallied 9 hits for a .562 BA and 1.400 OPS with 1 BB and only
    1 K! From the mound, how does 2 runs allowed and a 0.71 WHIP with 10 Ks and only 1 BB in 7 innings strike you? The boys have lost only two games in May. Don’t worry, I don’t show him the numbers, I tally them purely for your benefit ;) Whoo Hoo!!! Proud Papa!

  11. Stephen

    Zack: Are you going to the Civil Rights Game tonight? I saw the logo with the 2 hands shaking and I was wondering if that logo will appear on the ball for tonight’s game. Love Commemorative Balls: I know you’ll have more in July!
    Good luck moving forward!

  12. Zack Hample

    If my kid did all of that, I would be proud too. Thanks for the update.

    Nope, I was at Yankee Stadium. I didn’t hear anything special about the balls that were going to be used. I assumed they’d look like this:

  13. jvfuentes

    Thanks! He’s a very determined young man. He keeps working during the off season and that has caught the attention of local coaches like Alan Embree, Dave McKae, and Brady Clark, who have started volunteering time with him on occasion. All-Star tourney coming up in July!

  14. Viktor Beach

    Hey I used your trick of going up to the home plate umpire after the game to get a ball and it worked! Got three game used balls that game! Love your blog man! I myself love snatching baseballs.

  15. Zack Hample

    Nicely done, although I would use a word other than “snatching.” That makes it sound like you took them from someone.

  16. Big Glove Bob

    Z-Man, just got back from a Miller to Wrigley to Progressive to PNC trip and I have a lot to say and most of it ain’t about baseball. I have a rant about big cities and since you are a New Yorker you are my prime audience. Let me use the “second city” as my example. We encountered traffic and lots of it at about noon on a weekday. Overland Park Kansas has SIX freeway lanes heading into KC but apparently Chicago thinks 3 lanes will suffice? We did a little sight seeing in Chi-Town and guess what? There are a million things to do and see and approximately 4 places to park. IF you find a spot to park expect both a stiff hit to your wallet and a very long walk to your destination. Anywhere near downtown Chicago you are in traffic and frustrated. Let’s talk about living expenses. I know for a fact that what you paid for your 1100 square foot or so apartment in that overcrowded hell hole NYC could get you a sprawling estate with a mansion sitting on it most other places in america. People in these big, crowded cities literally pay tens and tens thousands extra for a simple parking spot! Let us talk about public transit. After finishing a dinner in Chicago that cost us $223 for 3 people our waiter overheard us talking about getting a cab to Wrigley. He interjected and said the smart move was just to hop on the red line train just down the street and go to Wrigley. Well, to me as a Minnesotan “just down the street” means just that. Apparently in Chicago, 8 blocks away is “just down the street”. Once we get there we descend into the subway which is a few flights of stairs down and then encounter a ticket station that none of us knew how to work and didn’t give change. Once we figured it out and bought our $6 round trip tickets we descended even further into the abyss and waited for the train. The first two trains that came were so jammed with people we couldn’t get on. We got on the third train and they didn’t shut the doors until we were literally packed in solid. Talk about effing uncomfortable and unsafe and to add insult to injury…I PAID for the privilege! Same with those crappy and overcrowded roads… I Paid tolls to drive on them! Wrigley is a dump. You don’t know how much you miss the creature comforts and technology of a new stadium until you don’t have it. After the game, again we were packed into the train like sardines. What kind of a way is that to live? Let me tell you about my life just outside of St. Paul. I wake up 35 minutes before work and shower and dress in 15 minutes. I drive 11 miles in 11-12 minutes and make it to work with 8-9 minutes to spare. I park in a cheap ramp and walk 50 feet to the elevators. I take it to my floor and walk 200 feet to my office. When/If I go grocery shopping, I park 100-200 feet from the door and can buy 15 bags of groceries if I want. No lugging anything on a smelly train or bus or walking blocks to my car. When I get home, I pull into my garage which has a service door into my kitchen. I have a 5 foot walk from my car to my fridge and freezer. I went out to my favorite Mexican place to lunch today. Per usual, I had no trouble finding parking within 100 feet of the door and from the time I turned my car off and was seated at the bar with a cold beer it was only a minute or so. And, what I speak of is not rare or confined to one area or one state. MOST people live like I do. Why on earth do people PAY a ton of money to live in places like Chicago and NYC? Please tell me. I say you are crazy. You could live such a less expensive and less stressful life and if you love the city so much, use all the money you would save by not living there to go back on vacation. By the way, PNC has to be the nicest ballpark in the MLB.

    Big Glove Bob

  17. Zack Hample

    Wow. Well . . . let me start be saying that I thoroughly enjoyed your comment. And it’s hard to argue. In fact, at some point in the middle of your comment, I started hating myself. But then I remembered what’s it’s all about. For me, living in New York City is about the proximity to (like-minded) people and (interesting) things. I don’t need to get in my car to do anything. Ever. In fact I don’t even own a car, and I don’t need one. I would hate to live in the middle of effin’ nowhere (or even in the suburbs of a major city) and be forced to get in a car in order to go anywhere or do anything. You brag about the small number of steps you have to take, but I like the fact that I have to walk a lot because I get exercise. If I were to do nothing all day except go to work and then return home, I’d probably walk one to two miles. Imagine how much exercise I get when I have after-work plans and/or when I go to a baseball game. Paying high rent in New York isn’t just about the square footage you get; it’s the cover charge to the coolest club in the world.

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