5/8/15 at Yankee Stadium

My friend Brandon Sloter joined me at this game and started taking photos as soon as we entered the subway. Here I am just before boarding a No. 4 train to the Bronx:

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Here I am outside Yankee Stadium . . .

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. . . and here I am catching a home run during batting practice:

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I think it was hit by Chase Headley, but I’m not sure.

That was actually my fourth ball of the day, but it was the first that Brandon saw. Before he made it inside, I had found a ball in the left field seats, gotten a toss-up from David Carpenter (who’s very very nice), and retrieved a home run that landed near me.

When the Orioles started hitting, I didn’t have to wait long to see more action. Here I am tracking a deep line drive:

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It ended up carrying a bit farther than I expected, so I had to jump to make the catch:

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Here I am with the ball:

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I don’t know who hit that one or any of the other homers I’m about to tell you about — just mentioning it now so I don’t have to keep repeating myself.

Here’s a funny photo that makes it look like I’m afraid of the ball:

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Why was I flinching instead of running over to catch it on the fly?

Two reasons . . .

First, when that ball was hit, I wasn’t standing there. I had to dart down the steps and then move to my right, so that was as close as I got before it landed. Second, deflections are the worst. Remember when this happened to me on 7/31/13 at Turner Field? I was trying to avoid a similar situation here at Yankee Stadium, so once I realized that I wasn’t going to catch the ball, I didn’t want to get too close. I ended up snagging it, though, so whatever.

After that, I headed over to right field for a bit and caught two home runs. The first one was fairly routine, and I gave it to the nearest fan. The second one, however, required a bit of an effort including fighting the sun and jumping. Check out this amazing photo that Brandon took as the ball was entering my glove:

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See the guy behind me in the dark blue shirt? He and I are friendly acquaintances. He’s often in that spot, and whenever we see each other, we say hello. After I caught the ball, I apologized for jumping in front of him, and he was super-cool about it. He was like, “Don’t even worry. I just did the same thing to someone else, and anyway, we got eleven balls today, so it’s all good.” Then he told me that he’s not able to run and jump anymore like he used to, and he encouraged me to do it while I can.

THAT is the true spirit of ballhawking. You go for what you can (while making sure not to crash into anyone). Sometimes you rob people. Sometimes you get robbed. And you just accept that that’s how it goes.

I finished BP with eight balls. Then I headed to the upper deck with Brandon:

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In the photo above, that’s him on the staircase. He’s a professional videographer/photographer, and he wanted to get some pics up there. (FYI, he’s the guy who has filmed me at PETCO Park, Wrigley Field, Citizens Bank Park, and Dodger Stadium.) Of course, before we headed back downstairs, he offered to take one of me:

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Just before the game started, I got my ninth ball of the day . . .

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. . . from Orioles bullpen catcher Jett Ruiz.

This was my view during the game:

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As I mentioned on Twitter, Delmon Young was playing right field for the Orioles, and this fan in the bleachers . . .

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. . . was yelling, “MARKAKIS!!! I HATE YOU!!!”

Just about everyone on Twitter thought the guy was a complete idiot for not realizing that Nick Markakis no longer plays for the Orioles. At the time, I didn’t feel like tweeting back and forth with dozens of people, so let me set the record straight now: the guy was joking. Trust me. He knew what he was doing. And he was LOUD. He was yelling in a comical, raspy/nasal-y way that somehow made his voice carry like you wouldn’t believe. I’m sure there were at least 1,000 people who heard every word he was saying, including Delmon Young (who deserves heckling). Later on, the guy spent a few innings yelling, “MARKAKIS!!! YOU’RE TERRIBLE!!!” and eventually he screamed, “MARKAKIS!!! YOU’RE LUCKY SECURITY IS HERE!!!” which might seem threatening or menacing, but the guy was so over-the-top goofy that it just made everyone laugh.

You know what else was funny? All the mustache photos of the Yankees on the jumbotron. Look at this nonsense:

13_mark_teixeira_jumbotron_mustache

This was my dinner — garlic fries with cheese sauce:

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As for the game, the Yankees jumped out to a 5-0 lead. Then the Orioles scored four runs to make it interesting, but that was it. Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller each pitched a scoreless inning (YET AGAIN) to shut things down. Neither one of those guys has given up an earned run all season! That’s great if you’re a Yankee fan, but if you’re like me, and you just wanna watch baseball and see compelling games which might feature a comeback once in a while, it kinda sucks.

Check out the following photo, which I took after the game:

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Did you spot the baseball in the bullpen? See the groundskeeper working on the mound? I asked him for it (in the most polite way imaginable), and he just shook his head. Thanks.

Here are the eight balls I took home:

16_the_eight_balls_i_kept_05_08_15

Not bad overall, though Yankee Stadium always stresses me out and makes me considerably poorer.

BALLHAWKING STATS:

• 9 baseballs at this game

• 169 balls in 22 games this season = 7.68 balls per game.

• 859 lifetime balls in 128 games at the new Yankee Stadium = 6.71 balls per game.

• 1,075 consecutive games with at least one ball

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

• 256 consecutive Yankees home games with at least one ball

• 7,975 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.)

• 15 donors for my fundraiser

• $118.40 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $118.40 raised this season

• $40,073.90 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

27 comments

  1. Stephen

    I know that pink balls are being used, but I heard the lineup cards are pink today. Can anyone confirm this? Thanks

  2. Eric

    Zack- how do you decide which games to attend? We’re headed down to NYC for a game over Memorial Day long weekend. Also since you’ve been posting all your dining choices recently, what’s the best food (not in a luxury suite) at Yankee Stadium?

  3. Zack Hample

    STEPHEN-
    Funny you should ask. I actually saw a fan holding a pink lineup card on the warning track today (you know, in that little barricaded area), right near the Yankees dugout. A coach was showing it to her. That’s all I can tell you.

    ERIC-
    I pretty much go to every night game when the weather’s good enough for BP. And I cram in some other games too. I don’t eat often at games (because I don’t like giving the Mets or Yankees any extra money, if I can help it), but I like the steak with fries and onions and cheese sauce. You can get it at an “NYY Steak” stand down the right field foul line. It’s $16 and big enough to feed two normal people. I also like the chicken and waffles, which you can get from a little stand in the so-called Great Hall near the RF foul pole, but the portion size is terrible.

  4. ThatBallhawk

    Since you mentioned the mustaches…I heard Michael Kay and Paul O’Neill talking about how DiDi can’t grow a mustache. They all look odd to say the least.
    -Demetrius

  5. Zack Hample

    DEMETRIUS-
    I’m not surprised. He looks like he can’t grow one.

    LARRY-
    Very little. Maybe Houston for a commemorative ball. Maybe Cincinnati for the All-Star festivities. Definitely Philly for a game or three. That’s all I can think of.

  6. TC

    astros comm caught in anaheim they do have a few in the bags saw 3 other ones too TC

  7. Sanjay

    Not a bad game. Sadly the Braves weren’t at home for mother’s day, so I couldn’t try to get a pink ball. Maybe they’ll be used during batting practice this season.

    Sanjay

  8. Zack Hample

    TC-
    That’s good to know. I would love to avoid traveling to Houston this season, but I really do want one of those balls.

    SANJAY-
    I would be shocked if those balls turn up in BP, but it seems like it’s going to be a permanent thing on Mother’s Day, so hopefully you can try again next year.

    IAN-
    Because the stadiums in New York suck so much that they’re not worth writing about.

  9. Ian

    You have a great point. I went to a Yankees game and I got kicked out of a section because I caught two baseballs toss ups. :/

  10. Zack Hample

    That’s awful. I got ejected from Shea Stadium four times basically for catching too many baseballs. The ushers and guards didn’t like me, so they made up a special set of rules for me, and when I refused to follow them, I kept getting tossed. It’s why I stopped being a Mets fan.

  11. David

    Zack, I haven’t posted here in a long time, although I still check in and read your blog. I’m back because I wanted to send you a thanks. I’ve been going to ballgames in Milwaukee since 1974 and never got a foul ball there…until April 23rd!! I was on the 2nd deck, section 220, working that beautifully wide walkway. You know the spot. Although I’ve gotten 3 foul balls in the past I’d never gotten one in my adopted baseball home (I grew up in Queens, 4 miles from Shea). You get my thanks for emphasizing the 2nd deck at Miller Park, and also for other ideas over the years….Easter eggs, toss ups, the glove trick…all of it. And, well, I agree with Ian in his above comment. I miss your blog entries, but I also realize it must involve lots of time and effort. Keep ’em coming as often as your spirit allows. Finally…Re: “the stadiums in NY suck so much” I can’t get there so your blogs are my conduit. I know you didn’t sign up for that, but there it is. Take it easy, and thanks again.

  12. Zack Hample

    DAVID-
    I just saw your comment on my newer entry, so I’ll answer you there.

    REBECCA GARNETT-
    I’m really not sure. No plans to be there this season, but I’d love to head back for a visit and check out the new bullpen setup. Thanks for the nice comment (and for reading the blog). Hope our paths will cross at some point.

  13. Ian

    Wow. That’s horrible. I am a HUGE fan of you and your blogs and I love ballhawking and I am age 14 and have been to 12 stadiums and have caught roughly 100 baseballs but I was wondering if you would by any chance be in D.C. on 4th of July because I am most likely going to be there. Or Camden Yards the day before. It would be great seeing you!

  14. Zack Hample

    Thanks so much. I really appreciate that you’re a fan of what I do — and congrats on all the balls. That’s about how many I had when I was 14, so you’re keeping pace! Unfortunately I have no plans to be in Baltimore or D.C. around July 4th, but hopefully we can meet some other time.

  15. Nick Majors

    Hi zack im a huge fan love the blog youtube videos and everything else it really makes my day when you post. I wanted to know if you are going to yankee stadium tommorow (may 27) because im going and it would be awesome to meet you. Also its been a dream to get a baseball at a major league game and thanks to you i think my first ball EVER will be tommorow all thanks to you. By the way i love your books i hope you are planning on a fourth because your books are some of my favorites thanks for everthing ill let you know if i get my first ball ever tommorow
    Sincerly , your biggest 13 year old fan.

  16. Zack Hample

    Hey, Nick-
    Thanks so much for the kind words. I’m glad to hear that you enjoy my blog entries. You’ll be happy to know that I’ll be posting another one within the next day or two, if I can scrounge up enough free time. As for Yankee Stadium, I didn’t make a decision until about an hour ago, but it turns out that I *will* be at the game later today — May 27th. I’m not sure where I’ll enter, but if you’re there when the stadium opens at 11am, I’m sure we’ll run into each other. Please say hi if you see me. I hope there’s BP. Day games are risky, but thankfully last night’s game was quick, so I’d say there’s at least a chance. If not, well, I’ll just have to try extra hard for a pre-game toss-up. Hope you get one and see you soon . . .

  17. Nick Majors

    Hey again zach i just read your post but i did see you at the game in that awesome homer simpson shirt and i was going to say hi because we walked right by eachother i got the chills and my mind was trying to talk but the words wouldent come out i was so flabergasted and spechless i couldent belive i actually saw one of the coolest people in the world. Now im really regreting not saying hi anyways ill be attending another game july i forgot the date when i remember ill let you know hopefully we can meet eachother then. One more thing i was wondering did you get a ball? I got really close but wow KC can not hit the ball into the bleachers haha (well while i was there they werent hitting in the bleachers) okay have a good one hopefully see you soon
    Nick Majors

  18. Zack Hample

    Ohhhh, man! So close yet so far! I’m glad you saw me, but sorry we didn’t get to talk. Batting practice was kinda slow, and I also made a couple of mistakes. I only got one ball during BP, but I got three other toss-ups to finish the day with four.

  19. Nick Majors

    Wow cool 4 balls is better than no balls as always. Well ill let you know when ill be going to another yankee game over the summer mabye we can meet then. Have a good one hopefully see you soon.
    Nick Majors

  20. Nick Majors

    Hi its nick again just wondering if you are attending the yankee game saturday the 18th

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