6/12/14 at Citi Field

Have you ever heard of a three-minute rain delay? It happened in the 11th inning at Citi Field on Thursday night. When it started pouring, the players were waved off the field by home plate umpire Angel Hernandez, who never gets anything right, it seems. A minute later, several groundskeepers walked out and huddled with the umps in foul territory behind 3rd base. Check it out:

three_minute_rain_delay copy

The groundskeepers told the umps that it wasn’t going to rain much longer, so the players were then waved back onto the field. The game resumed while it was still raining hard, but sure enough, within a few minutes, the precipitation tapered off.

In the top of the 13th inning, the Brewers batted around and took a 5-1 lead. In the middle of the 13th inning, Brewers left fielder Khris Davis threw me his warm-up ball, which was my 4th ball of the day. After the game, I worked my way to the Brewers’ dugout, where I got a toss-up from coach Mike Guerrero, and then, moments later, I got this:

lineup_card_06_12_14 copy

Gorgeous! (Right?) Here’s a better look at it, and here’s my entire collection of lineup cards.

By the way, my first ball of the day was my 200th of the season, and it was a weird one. As the Brewers started taking BP, I was heading from the left-field foul line to straight-away left field when I heard a ball land in the seats near the foul pole. I was the only fan near it, so when the guards in the concourse saw me looking around aimlessly, they tried directing me toward it. It didn’t really help, but thankfully my friend Ben Weil had a perfect view of it from the 2nd deck. Evidently the ball had been thrown by someone on the Brewers (a left-handed white guy) and landed in the last row. By the time Ben definitively pointed it out, it had rolled down to the front row. See what I mean? Weird!

A little while later, I caught a Ryan Braun homer on the fly, and toward the end of BP, I got a toss-up from coach Ed Sedar.

Finally, since it’s been a while, here are some numbers for you . . .


• 5 baseballs at this game

• 204 balls in 29 games this season = 7.03 balls per game.

• 11 consecutive seasons with 200 or more balls

• 995 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 670 consecutive games in New York with at least one ball

• 447 consecutive Mets home games with at least one ball

• 111 consecutive games at Citi Field with at least two balls

• 7,380 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.)

• 20 donors for my fundraiser

• $1.62 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $8.10 raised at this game

• $330.48 raised this season

• $38,994.48 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009


  1. echardcore (@echardcore)

    Nice! Gary, Keith, and/or Ron (I forget) commented on the nice writing and that they capitalized denDeckker incorrectly. Looks like they got it right for this game! Nice score. I always wanted a lineup.

  2. Aaron M

    Isn’t the handwriting on the Brewers lineup cards amazing? I got one when I was the bat boy for the Brewers at spring training and it is definitely cool. Good Job.

  3. Zack Hample

    Very cool to know that the announcers were talking about the memento that I ended up with.

    I was in left field, roughly 375 feet from home plate, and even from there, the pitch looked low.


    AARON M-
    It’s incredible. How’d you get to be a bat boy in Spring Training? That’s so cool.

    Nah, I don’t want to predict anything. I just want to let it happen. (Hopefully it WILL happen — no assumptions.)

    Ha, nice.

  4. Aaron M

    I was wearing a Brewers jersey as they are my favorite team. An employee of the ballpark came up and asked if I would be interested in doing it and I said yes.

  5. The Dinner Portion

    Zack- Your situation is a tad different because you have some money and can enjoy NYC despite the high prices. I have a hunch if you were making $8-10 an hour like a lot of working stiffs that your tune would change. For me, at $75K or so a year I am able to own a home in an upscale suburb of St. Paul, drive a 2014 car, eat at restaurants daily, have nice things and take a boatload of baseball trips. If I move my $75K a year to NYC my lifestyle would go in the garbage. I love my car and driving. At any hour of the day or night, it can provide an oasis where I can go wherever I want not limited by some smelly subway or its schedule and crank my music up. It provides freedom. What do you do in NYC when you are older and mobility is an issue? I know that they say in an emergency like a heart attack a ton more people die in NYC because of the trouble of getting an ambulance there and the patient to a hospital. Not too mention both stadiums blow chunks. If know you have mentioned that you don’t really go and pick up folks at the airport because it is such a hassle. That sums up how I feel about big city life….everything is a hassle. Stuff I can do in 10 minutes takes you 2 hours. Stuff that costs me $20 costs you $50. I don’t fault you entirely because it is all you know. You didn’t get to experience life on the good side. However, with your travels you should know a bit better. I am not a hillbilly. We have world class food and arts here as well as all 4 major league sports…we even have the WNBA. Commenting on your blog, It looks like there are a couple of guys that do that fancy writing on the line up cards. Wakamatsu in KC does it too. Makes for almost a piece of art. The only thing good to ever happen in NYC is when Bernie Goetz shot those hoodlums in the subway.

    Big Glove Bob

  6. tc

    big bob hi come to anaheim when the twins come next week or two..we ll show u around TC and PADREleigh. well get u a deal at hilton hotel. split a room…. eat at hooters everyday .come to cali. if your going to sanfrasncisco be sure to wear some flowers in your hair zack you come too

  7. Zack Hample

    Friendly suggestion: when commenting on an old thread in a new post, it would probably be a good idea to mention it at the start so that everyone has context. (For those who are confused and think his comment came out of nowhere, check out his original comment on my entry from 5/27/14 at Citi Field.) Anyway, I hear ya. New York *is* crazy expensive. I’m aware of it, and it sucks, but I still think it’s worth it. I’ve spent plenty of time living temporarily for weeks or months at a time in rural areas, and it drives me crazy. I feel too isolated there. But I suppose you’re right that I would enjoy New York FAR less if I were earning a near-minimum-wage salary. I’ve considered moving out of New York and relocating in a city with a stadium that I love, but I won’t do that because what I’d be giving up here would far outweigh having a care-free baseball experience. I really wish you’d come visit me someday. I’ll show you around and blow your mind. You can’t bash a place if you’ve never been there and gotten an authentic experience with a native. Don’t believe everything (or anything, really) that you see on FOX News. The media love to scare people, but New York City is a stellar place.

    Ha, tempting offer, but I’m staying close to home for the remainder of this season. I’m going to avoid getting on another airplane, if possible.

    Sorry, no, nothing planned outside of New York at the moment, but I do have a game entry planned for next week. Stay tuned . . .

  8. The Dinner Portion

    Zack, you are right about adding context but I figured if people hadn’t read my previous comment they really hadn’t missed out on much. And I sure can bash the heck out a place I have never been. It just taints my credibility that is all. Although, I think having a Republican in office (Rudy) for so many years cleaned up the streets. I do not regard NYC as dangerous. I just look at things like food prices, gas prices, ease of getting around that I can objectively look at as an outsider and say “no thanks” I hear ya about the rural areas. They drive me crazy as well. I am a fan of a nice suburb close to a city with major attractions. Back to baseball, I completed a Milwaukee to Wrigley to Progressive to PNC trip a couple of weeks ago. Here are my thoughts. Miller Park loses a lot by having a retractable roof. You don’t get the total experience of outdoors baseball due to the high walls needed to make a seal. We were sitting behind home plate and the air was warm and stale. Once we left the park to get to our car, we all commented on the nice breeze and what a great night it was. We just couldn’t feel the breeze in the park or it would have been a lot better. Wrigley was “ok”. I missed the amenities of a newer park though. Progressive was nice enough with good sight lines and a great scoreboard. My take on Progressive was that it has not been kept up. If I remember right, Coors and Progressive are similar ages and Coors still looks new after 20 years and Progressive looked worn down in places. How hard is it for billionaires to keep a fresh coat of paint on things? PNC was the crown jewel. It was awesome to walk across the Clemente Bridge to PNC. A truly beautiful park in a beautiful setting. My only beef with the park that I saw is the money grubbing scummy ushers. We sat on the club level and the ushers up there check your ticket and then walk you to your seat(s). Once there they use a towel to wipe off your seat. Boy, do they make a production of it! While a brief brush off “might” be needed, they scrub the seat as if a homeless man with TB had just soiled it with explosive diarrhea. I get it of course. They are providing the illusion of a real service that one will feel compelled to tip for. Sure enough, everyone I saw went into their pockets for money for the guys. Thankfully, we got there at a time when the usher was otherwise occupied and didn’t have to pony up.
    Big Glove Bob

  9. DanR

    What’s up Z, hey man good to finally meet in person yesterday. Thanks for playing along with the, “What’s your favorite color? What’s your favorite vegetable? What’s your favorite pizza topping?” game with my 7 year old. He was excited to add “mammalian” to his vocabulary. Looking forward to your next entry and congrats in advance. We’ll catch up again I’m sure.

  10. Mike

    How can Erik Jabs be considered as MVP of the Ballhawk League when he doesn’t show up for Ballhawk Fest due to “too much competition.” Seems like a bitch move on his part. In order to be the best, you have to play with the best. That goes for anyone in the northeast who considers themselves to be a top-tier ballhawk.

  11. Zack Hample

    I agree about the ushers. I’ve had issues with them at both Wrigley and PNC. Most teams have done away with the whole seat-wiping scam. That’s how it used to be at Shea Stadium. Ushers would actually walk people to their seats. Now at Citi (and most stadiums), there are just guards at the top of the stairs who check tickets and wave you along. MUCH better that way. I never noticed Progressive Field appearing run down, but maybe you saw a different part of it. I still hope you’ll visit NYC sometime.

    Ha . . . I thought about it, but rather than making a statement, I preferred to just keep it.

    Yes, great to meet! No problem about playing that game. It was a fun way to pass the time until the gates opened. Sorry you didn’t get as many baseballs as you wanted, but it was a *tough* day. It was a super-crowded during BP, and there weren’t as many homers as usual — not a good combination.

    I don’t know why he didn’t attend last year’s BallhawkFest, so I won’t defend or bash him. Personally, I’m not planning to attend this year’s event, so whatever. We all have our reasons. For me, it’s not that I’m afraid of the competition. The issue is that I’m burned out on traveling, and I don’t feel like spending the time and money going to Nationals Park, as much as I would love to see everyone. I’m sure I’ll get criticized for my decision to skip it, but I don’t care. I have to do what’s right for me, and right now, I feel like staying close to home.

  12. Mike

    I know you’re not, as you have been to other competitions. I just don’t think you should/can be considered an MVP when you haven’t shown up for these. Wasn’t one in Pittsburgh a few years ago, and he went to like Cleveland so he didn’t have to deal with the competition.

  13. Zack Hample

    I don’t recall because I wasn’t at that particular BallhawkFest either. Some people love people. Some people just want to be left the hell alone (to catch as many baseballs as possible). I respect both types.

  14. Ira

    Loved the New Yorker article about your family (and you!). I’m a native NY’er (and a lover of books), but – despite having worked down the block from the Argosy for many years – have never been in the store. Will try to remedy that soon (especially after reading the article)!

    Also, for what it’s worth, would love to see you blog again on a regular basis – have very much enjoyed reading about your ballhawking adventures over the years (as a matter of fact, thanks to what I learned in your blog, I was able to snag my first ball a few years back).

  15. Ethan

    I am going to a Cubs game pretty soon, and am wanting to sit behind the visiting team’s dugout. The problem is that I don’t have tickets down there. Are the ushers strict about letting people without tickets sit there? Thanks.

  16. Zack Hample

    Thanks so much! I can’t believe you’ve never visited the store, though. Please come say hello sometime soon. I appreciate that you miss the blog, but man, you have nooooooo idea how much time it takes to crank out full-length entries. I’m going to blog about last night’s game at Citi Field, and I’ve already spent about three hours just on the photos and video. I still need to put in an hour’s worth of “work” on updating my stats, and then I actually have to write the dang thing, which will take all afternoon. I’m actually skipping a day of work (and therefore forfeiting a day’s pay) to stay home and write it. I’m doing it this time because last night was a really big deal, and I want to get the story out there, but I just don’t think I can ever go back to blogging 200,000 words per season. If I were actually paid to blog, then hell yeah, I’d do it, but if I have to sacrifice sleep, money, and time with my girlfriend, then to hell with it.

    Yes, they’re extremely strict (not to mention old and cranky).

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