4/29/15 at Yankee Stadium

I usually avoid day games, but I made an exception for this one. Not only was Alex Rodriguez one homer away from tying Willie Mays on the all-time list, but more importantly, my girlfriend, Hayley, wanted to go.

Here’s what we saw upon entering the stadium:

1_batting_cage_set_up_but_no_bp_04_29_15

The good news was that the cage and screens were set up for batting practice. The bad news was that no one was hitting.

After a few minutes, several Rays began throwing in deep left-center field, so I ran out to the bleachers to get as close to them as possible:

2_zack_in_left_field_bleachers_04_29_15

In the photo above, that’s me in the front row.

That turned out to be a waste of time, but thankfully I had another opportunity before long. Several Yankees began throwing along the right-field foul line, so I raced over there and got Justin Wilson to chuck me a ball. Take a close look at the following photo — see the ball in mid-air?

3_justin_wilson_throwing_ball7911

The ball sailed way over my head . . .

4_ball7911_landing_in_the_seats

. . . but the seats behind me were empty, so I was able to chase it down.

Here I am taking a photo of the ball . . .

5_zack_photographing_ball7911

. . . and here’s the ball itself:

6_ball7911

Nice! I love ’em when they’re worn and beat up.

The Rays started hitting 10 minutes later:

7_rays_taking_batting_practice

This was the extent of the action — me maneuvering into position on a ball that fell short:

8_zack_climbing_over_seats_as_a_home_run_ball_descends

But hey, it’s still a cool photo.

Batting practice was dead. The Yankees didn’t hit at all, and the Rays only had one group — that’s right, just ONE group of BP — consisting of two righties and a lefty, who combined to hit one home run into the left-field seats. It was so lame that I had time to catch up with my friend Eddie and inform him that he had a tiny of blob of sun block on his earlobe:

9_eddie_with_sun_lotion_on_ear

Yup, that’s the spot. You got it.

After BP I headed over to the Rays’ dugout and got a ball thrown to me by Charlie Montoyo, the team’s 3rd base coach. Then, moments later, after he had disappeared inside the dugout, I got another toss-up from the equipment guy. Here’s the ball in mid-air . . .

10_zack_catching_ball7913

. . . and here’s the guy (with the shaved head) who tossed it:

11_rays_equipment_guy_who_threw_ball7913

A little while later, I moved to the left-field foul line:

12_zack_left_field_foul_line_04_29_15

Here I am getting my fourth ball of the day from Ernesto Frieri:

13_zack_catching_ball7914

(Nice job, Hayley, with the photos!)

I think it’s funny that no one else made an attempt to snatch it. They’re all just . . . standing there.

Here’s the $16 meal that Hayley and I shared before the game:

14_fries_with_steak_and_cheese_sauce

It was a significant portion of food — probably two to three pounds of french fries, steak, onions, and cheese sauce. Last season I tried to eat that by myself and failed (I could’ve done it in high school, but I was a fat-ass back then), so I was glad to make this a team effort.

Here’s Hayley watching Michael Pineda warm up before the game:

15_hayley_watching_michael_pineda_warm_up

This was our view during the game:

16_view_during_game_04_29_15

There were a whole lot of empty seats around me, so of course the only two home runs were hit to left field.

Here’s something that amused me at first and left me shaking my head:

17_kid_playing_video_games

As you can see, the kid in the front row was focusing on the video game on his phone, but whatever — no big deal, right? Kids have short attention spans and are prone to being distracted . . . right?

Well, this was a special child. He was *so* disinterested in baseball, and the sun was shining *so* brightly on his mobile device that he ended up doing this:

18_kid_completely_covered_with_his_jacket

But who am I to judge? When I was 11 years old, my mom took me to Disney World, and I spent the entire week playing Arkanoid in the hotel game room.

For Hayley, this game at Yankee Stadium probably felt like it lasted a week. Take a look at the scoreboard:

19_scoreboard_in_the_13th_inning

It wasn’t the 3rd inning — oh no no no. It was the 13th inning. Hayley wanted to leave after 9 innings, and she was THIS close to bailing after 10. To get her to stay, I had to bribe her with fries and a chocolate shake from the Johnny Rockets concession stand halfway across the stadium — but *she* had to go get it.

There was no 14th inning, and that was fine by me. Nineteen days earlier, I’d sat through the entirety of a 19-inning game, which was incredible, but I didn’t feel the need for an encore.

Here I am with Hayley after the final out:

20_hayley_and_zack_postgame_04_29_15

Moments after that photo was taken, I found a crinkled-up $20 bill in the seats.

Perfect.

BALLHAWKING STATS:

21_the_four_balls_i_snagged_04_29_15• 4 baseballs at this game

• 108 balls in 15 games this season = 7.2 balls per game.

• 842 lifetime balls in 126 games at the new Yankee Stadium = 6.7 balls per game.

• 1,068 consecutive games with at least one ball

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

• 254 consecutive Yankees home games with at least one ball

• 7,914 total balls

CHARITY STATS:

(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.)

• 14 donors for my fundraiser

• $115.40 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $115.40 raised this season

• $40,070.90 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

7 comments

  1. Andy

    Zack, I’ve never seen someone find so much random money! Any idea what your lifetime total findings are?

  2. Zack Hample

    I really do find lots of money. When I was eight/nine, I kept a handwritten log of all the money I found in a calendar year, and it totaled something like $50 or $60. Four years later, I did it again and found more than $200 (including subway tokens which were worth more than a dollar at the time). I was taking lots of taxis back then with my parents — probably one or two a day, on average — and would always reach under the seats for loose change. It’s amazing how much there was. I might still have these lists tucked away in storage. If I ever find them, I’ll scan them and tweet/blog about it. As for my lifetime total, it’s gotta be around $500 including other biggish/random finds over the years.

  3. Eric

    I am always amazed at how many toss ups you get. We were at the Yankees/Red Sox game last night and during BP were out in LF where Brett Gardner tossed 0 balls up. How do you get ’email to toss up!?!

    Speaking of Boston, any plans to travel to other parks this year?

  4. Zack Hample

    ERIC-
    I used to get a lot more, but now that I’m getting/looking older, it’s more of a challenge. When there aren’t kids near me, it’s MUCH easier. I guess I’ve gotten really good at predicting when and where to be and knowing how to look and ask. I’ll be in Philadelphia for a game in August, but other than that, I have nothing planned outside of New York.

    RAY THE AUSTRALIAN-
    I thought the Rays’ victory was implied when I said that “there was no 14th inning.” And hey! I think you oughta pledge something this season before you tell me what to do with my hard-earned money. :)

  5. Rockiesfan12

    Zack-Read your book and loved it!
    Any thoughts on comming down to Colorado?

  6. Zack Hample

    Thanks! I probably won’t make it out this season. I’m staying close to home except for very special occasions, and if I have to pay for flights and a hotel just to run around Coors and snag a bunch of ordinary BP balls, it’s not really worth it. I’m friends with several people there, so that would be a motivating factor . . . so who knows? Hopefully I’ll be back in the not-terribly-distant future.

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