9/11/14 at Yankee Stadium

DISCLAIMER: Do not read this blog entry unless you’re willing to experience a range of emotions, starting with shock and then moving on to hatred and jealousy.

I’m not kidding. You’ve been warned. Below is a photo of my ticket for the game, and once you see it, there’s no turning back:


That’s basically the fanciest seat in the most expensive stadium in Major League Baseball — a ticket with an obscene $900 face value for the ultra-exclusive “Legends” area near home plate. This ticket was on StubHub for a price well below face value, and someone split the cost with me in exchange for half of the commemorative Derek Jeter baseballs that I ended up snagging.


Several weeks earlier, I had given up on trying to snag one because I assumed they’d only be used during the September 7th game — the day of the Derek Jeter retirement ceremony. That game was sold out, of course, and tickets were so expensive that I would’ve had to sell a kidney to sit anywhere near the action. But then something weird happened. Over the next few days, several friends in New York got in touch and told me that the Jeter balls were still being used! I didn’t believe them at first, but they assured me that they’d actually seen the balls on TV. That’s why I got a Legends ticket for this game. Suddenly I *needed* to snag one of these balls — thinking about it actually messed up my sleep for a couple of nights — and the best way to increase my chances was to be as close to the dugouts as possible.

First, though, it was business as usual during batting practice . . . sort of. I raced to the outfield seats as I normally do, but something bizarre happened within the first minute. One of the Yankees’ right-handed batters pulled a deep fly ball to my right. I ran the full length of my section and then darted down toward the front. That’s where I predicted the ball was going to land, but it carried a bit farther than expected and plunked down two rows behind me. There were two guys standing near it who scrambled ferociously, and whaddaya know? The ball trickled under a seat and rolled into the second row, where I was able to lunge and grab it. As I walked back to my spot, I examined the ball and noticed that it was autographed — very unusual but not unheard of. Way back on 9/30/05 at Shea Stadium, I caught a ball that had already been signed by Omar Quintanilla, and over the years, I’ve snagged many more with random writing, like this and these. And wait! Here’s another example: on the day that John Santana pitched a no-hitter, Cardinals hitting coach Mark McGwire signed three balls after BP and threw them into the crowd, and I got one, so anything’s possible. But anyway, less than a minute after I snagged the ball with the mystery autograph here at Yankee Stadium, one of the guys who’d been scrambling for it walked over and asked if I’d picked up the ball with Paul O’Neill’s signature. Realizing that that’s indeed who had signed it, I reluctantly said yeah. He told me it was his and that he’d dropped it while trying to catch the home run, and he asked if he could have it back. Then, perhaps upon seeing the look of disgust on my face, he showed me some sort of police tag that was dangling on a skinny chain around his neck and said, “See this? I wouldn’t lie to you.” Given the fact that law enforcement is so honest, I handed him the ball and decided not to count it in my stats.

A minute or two later, I made up for my stupidity with a nifty catch on another home run. I drifted about 15 feet to my right, climbed down over a row of seats, and flinched as I stuck out my glove. That’s because a fan in the front row was reaching up helplessly for the ball, which ended up skimming off his bare hand into the pocket of my glove. Moments later, in the fourth row, I caught a home run that came right to me, and a little while after that, I ran one section to my left and grabbed another that landed in the seats. I handed that ball to the nearest kid, and in case you’re wondering, I don’t know who hit any of these homers.

As the Yankees began jogging off the field at the very end of their portion of BP, I noticed that Chase Whitley was holding a ball, so I shouted like crazy and got him to throw it to me from more than 100 feet away. He lobbed it high and a bit too far, forcing me to climb back over a row to make the catch.

At that point, I had snagged four balls and kept three of them. Here they are:


Don’t get all excited yet. The Derek Jeter balls were only (supposedly) being used during games — not during batting practice.

During the Rays’ portion of BP, I spent some time in the second deck in right field. This was my view:


I don’t go up there often, but when I do, I usually stand in the fourth row. This time, however, whenever James Loney stepped into the cage, I moved back to the seventh row because he’d been *crushing* balls deep into this section two days earlier. Want to guess what happened? On one of his first few swings, he hit a line-drive homer 20 feet to my left that landed in the fourth row. I was able to cut across and get in line with it, but I couldn’t reach it . . . and then I watched with dismay as the ball ricocheted down to the front and bounced over the wall, disappearing from sight. Sometimes I’m too smart for my own good.

I stayed in the fourth row after that, and before long, Loney hit another ball nearby. I caught that one on the fly and felt a tiny bit better about myself. Then I got a player (no idea who) to throw a ball to me, and five minutes after that, I caught another deflected homer on the fly. In the photo above, do you see the guy sitting on the left? The ball was hit to the bottom of the staircase; he stuck out a bare hand at the last second and tipped it right into my glove. Thanks, everyone, for not bringing your baseball gloves. I truly appreciate it!

I ran back to left field for the final group of Rays hitters. Here’s what it looked like out there:


Within a minute of arriving, I caught a home run in the front row — my eighth ball of the day — and realized that I’d reached in front of a kid in the process. He didn’t seem upset, but I gave him the ball anyway . . . and then he said he recognized me from YouTube.

Jeff Beliveau hooked me up with ball No. 9, but he didn’t simply pick it up and toss it. The ball was sitting on the outfield grass approximately 30 feet away from the stands. He took a peek to see where I was, then turned to face away from me, and swung his glove down at the ball in a front-to-back scooping motion. Does that make any sense? Let me try to explain it a different way. Beliveau is left-handed, so his glove was on his right hand; the ball was just to the right of him when he bent down a bit and swiped at it. Basically, he made a backwards, no-look shovel-pass directly from his glove, and the “throw” was right on target! It was incredible, and I let him know it.

I got one more ball in BP — a deep home run that smacked off the facade of the second deck and bounced down into the seats. I judged it perfectly off the bat and had to run quite a distance for it, so that felt good. I gave that ball to the kid pictured above in the Jeter jersey.

BP ended at about 6:05pm, which is awfully early. Normally I would’ve been complaining about it to anyone who’d listen, but on this particular day, it meant I had more time to stuff myself with free food before the game.

I headed through a side door of the suite entrance . . .


. . . and found my way to the check-in area. That’s where I got my ticket re-scanned and received a wristband:


And then?

I was free to wander around both dining levels . . .


. . . and eat.

And eat.
And keep eating.
And eat some more.

I started with a “Short Rib Slider” . . .


. . . before moving on to small portion of cheese tortellini with a sausage:


I was craving sugar more than ever, so I headed over to the Great Wall of Candy:


This area was unattended (except for when the candy was being replenished), so I . . . umm, you know . . . well, I helped myself to a lot of it. For the rest of the night, every time I walked past, I grabbed a handful and tossed it in my backpack.

Half an hour before game time, unfortunately, I ran into this guy:


His name is Eddie, and you know what? I actually like him a lot, but he’s a ballhawk who knows all the tricks, so my heart sank when I realized we were going to have to compete with each other. Of course, he was equally bummed to see me, so no offense intended or taken. That’s just the nature of how these things go, but thankfully he was super-cool about it. He waited at the bar while I got myself some dessert . . .


. . . and then we had a long conversation about our ballhawking plans for the game. He was there for the same reason as I was: to snag a Derek Jeter ball. He said he only needed one and that because he had to wake up at 5:30am the following day for his job, he was considering leaving as soon as he got it. But then he said he hoped to get two — one for him and another for his son. I told him I really wanted to get two — one for me and another for the guy who’d paid half the cost of my ticket.

“What would you do if I weren’t here?” he asked.

“I’d go back and forth every half-inning for the entire game and play both ends of both dugouts,” I told him.

“Oh, well, I wasn’t planning to go over to the Yankees’ side at all . . . ”

” . . . so I can have that?!”

“It’s all yours,” he said.

“What about you?” I asked. “What were you planning to do?”

“I was just gonna pick one spot behind the Rays’ dugout and stay there.”

This was the best thing he could’ve said, and I knew right away that it was going to work out for both of us.

“Okay, perfect,” I said. “You got it. YOU are GOING to get at least one of these balls, and *I* am GOING to get at least one. That needs to happen, and it *will* happen.”

I suggested that whichever one of us got the first Jeter ball should then not go for another until the other one of us also got one. He assumed I’d get the first one, so he liked this idea, but I wasn’t so sure about how it’d play out. I had a gut feeling that *he* would get the first ball, so my plan was a win-win situation. It’d be generous if I got the first one, and it’d protect me in case I didn’t. Suddenly we both felt really good about the whole situation, and we agreed that after we each got one of the Jeter balls, then whatever. We could each do our thing and not worry about the other person.

Roughly 20 minutes before game time, I checked out the 9/11 ceremony that was taking place on the field:


Then I headed back into the restaurant and got two more short rib sliders:



As the starting lineups were being announced, I got some chocolate cheesecake (with a camouflaged blackberry on top) and a couple of white chocolate-covered strawberries:


More yum!

I was happy but jittery. The sugar probably had something to do with it, but mainly I was hyped about the baseballs. Eddie and I had discussed our mutual love for Derek Jeter and how we both wanted this commemorative ball more than any other. Why was this such a big deal for me? Because I was 17 years old when Jeter made his major league debut on May 29, 1995, which means he’s been a fixture in my adult life. I’ve gotten his autograph, gotten him to throw me a couple of baseballs, and even caught his 254th career home run. On a personal level, snagging a Derek Jeter commemorative baseball at the end of his final season was (hopefully) going to be a perfect way to close things out.

My seat was behind the Rays’ dugout on the 3rd base side, but at the start of the game, I hung out in the cross-aisle behind the Yankees’ dugout. Here’s what it looked like:


In the photo above, do you see the man with white hair? That’s Brandon Steiner, the founder and CEO of Steiner Sports — an insanely profitable memorabilia company that has an exclusive partnership with the Yankees. When the old Yankee Stadium was demolished, Steiner was in charge of selling all of the seats, baggies of infield dirt, huge sections of the outfield wall, and so on. I think he has season tickets in the Legends area, and why wouldn’t he? The section caters to millionaires and billionaires . . . and now here I was after coughing up a few hundred dollars so that I could run around and try to snag some special baseballs and fill my backpack with candy. This was my third time in the Legends area, and I’ve always felt out of place.

In the bottom of the 1st inning, I noticed that most of the flags on top of the stadium had the Jeter logo:


Even on September 11th, the uber-patriotic Yankees (who honor a military veteran and play a recording of “God Bless America” during the 7th-inning stretch of EVERY game) had replaced most of the American flags with Derek Jeter flags. That’s how big he is.

I didn’t get any balls in the first two innings, but I did come close. At one point, Mark Teixeira ended up with a scuffed ball at 1st base. (It was a chopper down the 3rd base line that barely hooked foul at the last second; 3rd basemen Brendan Ryan fielded it and fired across the diamond before hearing the ump’s call). As he looked toward the dugout to find someone to throw it to, I darted down the steps and got his attention got him to throw it to me. Unfortunately the ball fell a bit short, smacking off the front edge of the roof and dropping down to the players below. Zelous Wheeler picked it up, but refused to even look at me when I politely asked him for it.

Other than that, it felt like I didn’t have much of a chance. There were several kids sitting behind the outfield end of the Rays’ dugout, and Eddie was camped out behind the home-plate end. Can you spot him in the following photo?


He was sitting in the third row on the left side of the staircase — and he was wearing a navy blue Rays cap and Rays T-shirt. I would have *loved* to be sitting there, but I’d basically allowed him to claim that spot, and I had the rest of the stadium to work with. Of course, it didn’t do me much good. Over on the Yankees’ side, not only were there several kids in the front row, but there was also father who walked down to the front every inning with a toddler in his arms. How was I supposed to compete with THAT?!

Perhaps the only good thing that happened in the first two innings was that I got a decent look at several baseballs that were tossed into the crowd, and OMG, there *was* a commemorative logo! I didn’t see any balls close up, but I could tell that instead of the standard, rectangular MLB logo, there was something bigger and rounder in its place.

In the 3rd inning, from my spot in the aisle on the 1st base side, I saw a foul ball roll toward the Rays’ on-deck circle, and not surprisingly, Eddie was all over it. He was standing in the front row before anyone retrieved it, and he got it tossed to him. AAAHHH!!! I was thrilled for him, but also jealous as hell . . . but it was good that he got one because the next Jeter ball was all mine. I went over to congratulate him and take a photo of his prized possession:


Seeing my friend actually holding a game-used Jeter ball made me crazy. I was more excited and nervous than ever, but what could I do? I just had to keep doing my thing — to use all my strategies and hope that a little bit of luck would work its way into my existence.

In the bottom of the 3rd, Brendan Ryan hit several consecutive foul balls, including one that bounced toward the Rays’ dugout. I was still on the Yankees’ side, but I could clearly see Rays pitcher Chris Archer lean over the dugout railing, scoop up the ball, and stick it in his jacket pocket. Fast-forward to the middle of the 4th inning. I *still* hadn’t gotten a Jeter ball, and Archer hadn’t moved. Figuring it couldn’t hurt to ask and knowing that he loves to hook up fans wearing Rays gear, I wandered down to the front row behind him and said, “Hey, Arch! Any chance to get a baseball, please?” He turned around, glanced up at me, noticed what I was wearing, and reached into his pocket. (OH, THE SUSPENSE!!!) And then he tossed me a ball. All I could think as I pulled it out of my glove was, “Please be commemorative!” And it was! Here I am with it:


If you want to know what pure happiness looks like . . .

Oh man. I seriously think I would’ve traded all four of the game home runs I’ve gotten this season for one Jeter ball. That’s how meaningful it was to me. Here’s a closer look at it:


As you can see, the logo was partially rubbed off at the bottom, but so what?! I had the ball! It was a done deal. No one could take it away from me.

In the bottom of the 4th, I stayed behind the Rays’ dugout, and with two outs, Mark Teixeira hit a ground ball to shortstop Yunel Escobar. First baseman James Loney caught the throw to end the inning, and when he jogged back with the ball, he tossed it to coach George Hendrick, who then flipped it back to Escobar.

“Yunel! Por favor!” I shouted as he approached the top step of the dugout, and without hesitating, he tossed it to me! Given the fact that I’d just gotten a ball there half an inning earlier, I waited until I made it back to the 1st base side before photographing it:


Much better!

The top of the 5th inning ended with a David DeJesus pop-out to Brendan Ryan. I had positioned myself one section past the outfield end of the dugout — not an ideal spot, but there was far less competition. I made sure to get Ryan’s attention early and shouted his name LOUDLY before he crossed the foul line, and it worked! He looked right up at me and under-handed the ball in my direction. Easy. Check it out:


Three outs later, I got another ball. For real. After getting none in the first three innings, I snagged four in the next two innings. The latest one was a Stephen Drew groundout to end the 5th. Ben Zobrist fielded it and made the throw to Loney, who once again tossed it to Hendrick. Some teams toss 3rd-out balls directly into the crowd, while others seem to have a go-to guy who handles them. With the Rays, Hendrick gets all the inning-ending groundouts, and he’s actually pretty tough. He normally only gives them to young women and little kids, but this time, for some reason, he hooked me up — and he seemed pissed off about it. Obviously he wanted to toss the ball to someone younger and prettier, but when he saw me standing several rows back in my Rays gear, he made an annoyed facial expression as if to say, “Ucchh, I don’t want to give YOU a ball, but okay, I guess you kinda deserve it,” and then he flung it at me.

Ready to hear about some expert-level ballhawking strategy? When the Rays were in the field in the bottom of the 6th inning, it would’ve made sense for me to hang out behind their dugout on the 3rd base side. That way, when they recorded the 3rd out, I would’ve been in position to make an attempt at snagging it, but instead I stayed on the 1st base side . . . for two reasons. First, I thought it’d be a good idea to give the Rays’ dugout a rest. Eddie was still sitting behind the home-plate end, and I’d pretty much exhausted my opportunities at the outfield end. Second, Alex Cobb was pitching. I’d looked up his stats before the game and noticed that he induces more grounders than fly balls. That was certainly the case during this game. He was doing a great job of keeping the ball down, and his pitches had natural downward movement. Therefore, when Jacoby Ellsbury stepped to the plate with two outs, I figured there was a decent chance he’d pull a foul grounder. Maybe he wouldn’t hit it hard and 1st base coach Mike Kelleher would be able to scoop it up? And maybe I could get him to toss it to me? It might be hard to believe, but that’s exactly what happened, right after I visualized it. Before Kelleher picked up the ball, I was already standing in the front row. In fact, I was the only person standing and asking for it, so he basically had no choice but to throw it to me. Then I gave a non-commemorative BP ball to a little girl sitting in the front row of regular seats, which made everyone extremely happy.

Here are the FIVE game-used balls I’d snagged:


When I know I might get a commemorative ball, I like to bring a few Ziploc bags. I find that it protects the logos from getting rubbed off in my backpack, and yes, that once happened . . . with this ball. I caught it during BP on 4/11/11 at Citi Field, and by the time I got home five hours later, it was in much worse shape. But anyway, as you can see in the photo above, I didn’t have enough bags. I assumed I’d get one or two Jeter balls and maaaaaybe three. But five?! Are you kidding me?! Also, in case you’re wondering, I took that photo in the Legends cross-aisle down the right field line. There weren’t many fans walking past, so it was a good spot — relatively private but in a place where I could still see the field. Before arranging the balls, I made sure to get permission from the security guards so that they wouldn’t falsely accuse me of trying to sell them and then eject me, and yes, that once happened . . . not at Yankee Stadium, but on 9/19/12 at Nationals Park. Crazy story. I hate the Nationals so much and hope they get swept in the playoffs. But let’s not dwell on negativity!

A little while later, Eddie emailed me to say that he’d gotten a second Jeter ball and gone home. This was great news. He’d achieved his goal, and we hadn’t gotten in each other’s way, and now I had the entire Legends area to myself, at least from the standpoint of no longer having to compete directly with an experienced ballhawk.

During the 7th-inning stretch, I got an ice cream bar . . .


. . . and then headed back to the seats.

This is kind of embarrassing, but I didn’t realize until the top of the 8th inning that Rays pitcher Alex Cobb was throwing a no-hitter! Check out the scoreboard:


For what it’s worth, my excuse is that I was so busy running around and playing my own little game within the game that I lost track of what was taking place in the actual game. Duh. Of course, once I *did* realize that there was a no-no in progress, I got extra excited about the game-used balls I’d snagged. Soon after, Chris Young broke it up with a one-out double in the bottom of the 8th.

During the pitching change that immediately followed, I got an ice cream sandwich . . .


. . . that I only ate half of, but whatever — it was all “free.”

Meanwhile, Jeter-Mania was at its worst. When the Captain batted with two outs, the fans in front of me took selfies with him in the background:


Two pitches later, this happened:


The new pitcher for the Rays — hard-throwing Brad Boxberger — drilled Jeter on the elbow, and although he was okay, the crowd was NOT happy about it.

Brian McCann batted next and reached on an error by Loney. Teixeira followed by striking out on three pitches, and I got the ball from catcher Curt Casali — no competition whatsoever. This was my 16th ball of the day, tying the single-game record at the new Yankee Stadium, set by me on September 25, 2013. It was also my sixth game-used ball of the day, which might, for all I know, be a record at any stadium. I wonder if Alan Schuster at MyGameBalls.com has any info on that. Mainly, though, I was excited because the logo was pristine. Here’s a photo of it that I took near the free junk-food area in the restaurant:


This ball was too perfect to toss directly into my backpack, and yeah, I could’ve swapped it with one of the others in a Ziploc bag, but those were buried under pounds of candy, and I just didn’t want to deal with shifting everything around. The solution? I wrapped it with a napkin and then found a Cling Wrap station in the dining area. Here’s what the ball looked like when it was fully protected:


I didn’t think there was any chance of getting another 3rd-out ball, but hell, there was only going to be one more opportunity after the top of the 9th inning. I headed to the seats behind the Yankees’ dugout, and when Ben Zobrist grounded out to end the frame, I stayed four or five rows back. There were a few fans down in front. Maybe they’d already gotten baseballs. Maybe they hadn’t. I figured I’d give them space, and if the ball somehow ended up getting tossed over their heads to me . . . well, that wasn’t MY fault. Stephen Drew made the play, and as the Yankees jogged off the field, Mark Teixeira threw the ball back to him. Long story short: Drew tossed it right to me. I don’t understand it. I didn’t particularly deserve it. But it happened.

The ball was a real beauty — heavily rubbed with mud and no signs of wear:


When I first saw the Derek Jeter commemorative logo several months ago, I thought it was pretty, but the more I looked at it, the more it occurred to me that it really sucks. Do you remember the Chipper Jones balls that I snagged on 9/29/12 and 9/30/12 at Turner Field? Take a look at this photo. See how nice it is for the logo to feature an image of the player? I realize that Jeter’s uniform number is iconic, but the Yankees could’ve done a better job by showing him. Also, did you notice that the Chipper Jones ball included the years that his career started and ended? I think it’s lame that the Yankees left Jeter’s years off the ball, and finally, what’s with the clunky working at the bottom? “New York Captain Yankees”?! I suppose the logo designers were striving for symmetry, but they failed in so many other ways. That said, I still love the Jeter ball, and I’m *so* happy to have snagged a bunch of them.

The bottom of the 9th inning was intense. With the Rays leading, 4-2, Chase Headley led off and got hit in the face by a 96mph fastball from Jake McGee. This was the scene soon after:


Here’s a closeup:


The ball hit Headley on the chin, but thankfully it was somewhat of a glancing blow that did not break any bones or cause neurological damage. It did, however, cause a large cut which required stitches and forced him to miss several games.

Scary stuff.

While waiting for the game to resume, I took a photo of my ballhawking notes:


As I’ve mentioned before, you’re not allowed to judge me on the sloppy handwriting. Those notes were scribbled extremely fast, sometimes between pitches and/or while walking briskly to another spot. And by the way, when a ball is crossed out (as is the case above for numbers 3 and 8), it means I gave it away as soon as I got it. After I snagged my 15th ball — the foul grounder that was tossed by coach Mick Kelleher — I gave a different ball to a kid, so that’s why there’s no cross-out.

Anyway, back to the bottom of the 9th . . .

Austin Romine pinch-ran for Headley, and Ichiro Suzuki followed with a double to center field. Suddenly the tying runs were on base with no outs. The next batter was Zelous Wheeler, and he struck out. And I was glad. He deserved it for not having not given me the ball earlier in the game that Teixeira had clearly intended to throw to me. Yes, I hold grudges, and at this point late in the game, I was especially agitated about every missed opportunity from earlier in the day. I had 17 balls and *really* wanted to push my total to 20. If the Rays held on for the win, I thought I might be able to get No. 18 from home plate umpire Marcus Pattillo, No. 19 from the throng of players of coaches walking back to the dugout after congratulating each other, and No. 20 from one of the players or coaches heading in from the bullpen. But then Chris Young ruined everything with a three-run, walk-off homer. What a jerk.

It was so loud as the umps approached me . . .


. . . that I nearly failed to get Pattillo’s attention. Or maybe he was just ignoring me? I kept shouting his name as he walked past and began heading down the stairs, at which point something must have registered in his brain. Just before he was about to disappear from sight, he looked back up at me, pulled a baseball from his pouch, and flung it awkwardly. I had to lunge over a slanted concrete wall to make the catch, pinning it against the wall with my glove and bare hand.

One minute later, I got ready for the bullpen stragglers . . .


. . . and ended up getting a brand-new (non-commemorative) ball from bullpen catcher Scott Cursi. He’s very nice and reliable. This was the ninth ball I’d gotten from him since 2011.

Before leaving the section, I gave one of my BP balls to a kid. Then, in a desperate attempt to get one more and reach the magical total of 20, I headed out to left field and took a peek in the bullpen. I hoped that maybe, through some stroke of dumb luck, there’d be an extra ball sitting around, and I could get a guard or groundskeeper to hook me up. That does happen sometimes, especially when a team suffers a sudden/dreadful loss and the players and coaches are too pissed to gather every ball. But no. Not this time. The bullpen was dead, and the guards told me it was time to leave.

Here’s the last photo I took inside the stadium — my final two balls of the night:


When I got home, I photographed the 15 balls that I’d kept:


I’d gotten eight commemorative balls, including seven that were game-used. Seriously, has that ever been done by anyone at any stadium? And by the way, has anyone ever taken as much candy from a stadium as I did on this night? Keep scrolling past the stats for a photo of it . . .


• 19 baseballs at this game

• 538 balls in 75 games this season = 7.17 balls per game.

• 1,041 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 257 lifetime games with at least 10 balls

• 65 different commemorative balls (click here to see my entire collection)

• 7,714 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.)

• 21 donors for my fundraiser

• $1.71 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $32.49 raised at this game

• $919.98 raised this season

• $39,583.98 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

Now, about that candy . . . here I am with it:


The moral of the story is that Yankee Stadium can be fun if you’re willing/able to spend a zillion dollars.


  1. Cameron

    Great entry! I’m not sure if you know this yet, but for the Yankee’s games on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, the gates will open at 4 pm for fans to see Jeter take batting practice for the final times. I’m not sure if you’re going or not, but if you are, I hope this helps!

  2. Jared

    Going to the game, did you think that more than half of the balls you would get would be commemorative? Yeah, me neither.
    P.S.- Other than Cursi, who are some of the nicer Rays guys?


  3. Ray Burton

    Possibly the best game blog you`ve ever written Zack. It had it all – suspense , drama , comedy , action , emotion , pathos , food. Only one problem – the Rays lost the game. Guess you can`t have it all.

  4. Larry

    Wow! Awesome game! Honestly, most of Yankee stadium looks pretty awesome, but like you said, you have to drop big bucks. Anyway, Congratulations on all your Commerative snags this season. Sorry I didn’t catch you at Wrigley. Maybe next year. (No pun intended)

  5. fsportswriter

    Amazing entry & congrats on the Jeter ball! I know you haven’t blogged as much this year because it’s a major pain. (That’s the same reason I stopped blogging this summer.) But I really appreciate the effort because this was a great story to share.The Jeter ball looks pretty freaking sweet! So you’ve gotten Jeter and a Wrigley 100 this year. Did you think at all about trying to get a Petco Park 10th year ball they randomly started using in the middle of the season?

  6. peter w

    Nice entry. Best in a long while. Those $900 tickets; are they only season tickets or can you purchase them at the box office?

    What was the price from stubhub originally (unless you’re really too bashful to say.)

    Yankees are one of the few stadiums not to have an electronic ticket deal with stubhub (along with Anaheim) which means you get the original tickets as souvenirs as well. Only problem is it makes last minute purchases a little more difficult.

  7. DanR

    4:00 gates at Yankee Stadium tonight and you’re not here?!? Hurry up and get here I’ll hold your place in line.

  8. David

    AMAZING BLOG ENTRY! We missed you and your daily posts, but it made this all the sweeter. Great job. I’m guessing you are in San Diego? Hint hint on these comments.

  9. Big Glove Bob

    Nice job on the Jeter balls! Someone is running their mouth on Facebook that you stole a ball out of the ball girl’s bag at Petco. That doesn’t seem like your style. Leigh said that you stated the ball girl said she was going to leave a ball there and whoever wanted it could have it. But, this guy said he was there and didn’t buy it. Haters going to hate.

    Big Glove Bob

  10. Zack Hample

    Ha, thanks. You get an “assist” on this one.

    I’m replying to your comment from San Diego. Heh.

    Thanks for the heads-up. You were one of the first people to tell me, so I appreciate it, but I’m out of town for that entire series.

    Hell no, I had no idea. I was nervous that I wouldn’t get any. Chris Archer is extremely cool, and Ben Zobrist is shockingly friendly.

    KELLY T-
    It certainly is! Thanks.

    Yeah, little boys like you.

    The “tomorrow” you mentioned is now three days ago. Great seeing you.

    Ever?! Thanks, I think, but that’s an insult to my other 1,300-plus entries since April of 2005. (Kidding.) I’m glad you enjoyed it, and I hope the Rays come back strong next year and make it to the playoffs.

    Thanks! The fancy parts of the stadium are . . . fancy. But it gets old fast, and the whole place is depressingly sterile.

    To call it a “major pain” is an understatement. It takes over every aspect of my life, and I’m not willing to do it anymore, but for special occasions when a good story needs to be told . . . absolutely. That said, thanks for recognizing the effort. I probably spent 10 to 15 hours on this entry over the span of a week. I don’t know how I managed to keep up with the blog for nine solid seasons prior to this one. As for the PETCO balls, all I will say is: wait for my forthcoming entries.

    IT’S ME-
    I allow you to be rude because you’re useful.

    Ha, thanks. Glad to hear it.

    Thank you!

    I think they’re available on the Yankees’ website on a per-game basis. I bought this ticket for $400 and then split that total, so for $200, I’d say it was definitely worth it. I’ve sat in the Legends area four times since the stadium opened in 2009. Two of the tickets were given to me for free, and I split the cost on the other two. I didn’t know that about Angels tickets, but as for the Yankees, you’re partially right. Starting 48 hours before game time, you can generate a PDF version of the ticket and then upload that to StubHub and avoid having to send hard tickets in the mail.

    I knew you’d enjoy them — and stay tuned! I’ll have more food pics coming up in my next entry.

    Thanks, but I’ve been in San Diego this week.

    Thanks! Glad to hear from you here in the comments, and it was great being there with you at the stadium. We made it work!

    Thank you. Good guess. :-)

    Thanks. Not sure about Camden. I’m kinda worn out at the moment, so I’ll see how I feel next week.

    Thanks! As for the trolls on Facebook, what can I say? I’ve been falsely accused of doing terrible things at baseball games 1,000 times, so now it’s 1,001. Yesterday I posted a response on Twitter, and eventually I’ll blog about it. Check this out:

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