7/20/15 at Citizens Bank Park

Do you remember when I was filmed on 7/3/15 at Yankee Stadium for a short documentary? Well, at this Phillies game, I was filmed by a different crew for the same project. Here they are in the parking lot:

1_triple_threat_tv_film_crew

In the photo above, from left to right, you’re looking at:

1) Ross Hockrow (director, director of photography, and editor)
2) Jack Harrison (production assistant)
3) Chris Spaide (camera operator)
4) Matt McDonald (producer)

They all work for a company called Triple Threat TV. I had met Matt years earlier for a different project, so it was great to reconnect with him and spend a few hours together.

We all headed inside the stadium’s Staff & Media Entrance at around 3:45pm:

2_staff_and_media_entrance

Here’s what it looked like inside:

3_woman_at_a_table

We met up with a PR guy who walked us out into the 100 Level concourse. Then we took a “media only” elevator . . .

4_waiting_for_the_elevator

. . . upstairs to the press level:

5_hallway_to_media_relations_workroom

We were led into the “media relations workroom,” where the crew took a few minutes to get settled:

6_inside_the_media_relations_workroom

I passed the time by looking around and taking a few more photos. Check this out:

7_pr_storage_07_20_15

Did you notice the home plate-shaped sign on the left side of the doorway? It says, “PR STORAGE.” I never knew that such a room even existed, and for the record, I did not go in there. I was just glad to be behind the scenes at a major league stadium and see whatever I could without snooping.

Here’s something else I noticed:

8_game_information_07_20_15

As someone who tries to catch home run balls, I was thrilled to be at a game in which both starting pitchers had ERAs over 7.00. How often does that happen?

At around 4pm, I headed back downstairs with the crew. Look what was taking place:

9_first_look_at_the_field_phillies_taking_early_bp

The Phillies were taking early/situational BP with fast, game-like pitching. At one point, Domonic Brown crushed a line-drive homer into the empty right field seats. Rather than wandering over there and looking for the ball, I headed to the left-field foul line with the crew:

10_triple_threat_tv_film_crew

I did a sit-down interview for about 15 minutes . . .

11_getting_filmed_closer_to_the_field

. . . and was then filmed standing in the front row, looking out at the field and posing.

Just as the Phillies were getting ready to start regular BP, we all headed out to left field. Here’s Ross filming me from a spot near the foul pole:

12_filmed_from_the_left_field_corner

He had me sit in an end-seat and look out at the field for about 10 seconds, then get up and walk quickly to the next staircase and move back a few rows and pick another seat and stay *there* for a short time. And so on. I probably sat in six different seats. I guess he needed some B-roll footage of me moving around in the stands. It wasn’t always clear why he needed certain shots and angles, but he seemed to have a specific vision of how it was all going to turn out.

At around 4:35pm, the Phillies started hitting:

13_batting_practice_underway_07_20_15

It was amazing to be the only fan in the stadium, but I still had some competition. In Philly, the ushers are allowed to keep balls that land in the seats before the gates open; that’s why you’ll never find an “Easter egg” when you run inside.

Here’s Chris filming me from the side, and if you look closely, you can see an usher standing two sections behind him in the front row:

14_filmed_from_the_side_07_20_15

Ross was right behind me, as was another usher/wannabe ballhawk:

15_filmed_from_behind_07_20_15

There was so little action during the first group of BP that when one of the ushers got a ball tossed to him, he offered to throw it to me so that there’d be footage of me catching a ball. I politely declined, but he insisted, so I let him do it, and Ross filmed it. And then I snagged seven balls within the next 15 minutes. (In case you’re wondering, I didn’t count the ball from the usher, and I promptly handed it back to him.) The first was a ground-rule double by Ryan Howard, the second was a deep fungo to an outfielder that carried all the way to the front row, and the next five were home runs by right-handed batters that landed in the seats. Just before the gates opened, I sprinted one and a half sections to my right and caught a homer on the fly. I gave most of those balls to the ushers and supervisors. Look closely at the previous photo and you’ll see two of them sitting in the last row.

Shortly after the gates opened, I snagged my ninth ball of the day — another homer by a Phillies righty that landed in the seats. I had to climb back over a few rows for that one.

That’s when I met up with a young fan named Ethan, who had brought his copy of my second book, Watching Baseball Smarter:

16_ethan_and_zack_with_watching_baseball_smarter

He and I ran into each other throughout the day, and I’m glad to report that he snagged several baseballs.

Late in BP, when the Rays were hitting, I moved to right field . . .

17_view_from_right_field_07_20_15

. . . and got two more home runs — my 10th and 11th balls of the day. The first one landed in the seats, and I handed it to the nearest/smallest kid. The second one pretty much came right to me, and I caught it on the fly.

My 12th ball was tossed by a Rays coach that I couldn’t identify. (Sorry for the lack of names — terrible, I know.)

After BP, I rushed to the Rays’ dugout on the 3rd base side . . .

18_behind_the_3rd_base_dugout_after_batting_practice_07_20_15

. . . and got my 13th ball from bullpen catcher Scott Cursi.

Then I headed back to left field and said goodbye to the guys from Triple Threat TV. One of them had to work early the next morning in New York City, and they weren’t allowed to film anyway during the game, so they took off.

I had no intention of leaving. I had a media credential that gave me access everywhere — even the clubhouse, although I resisted the urge to go there. Instead I headed up to the press level. Here’s what the field looked like from the press box . . .

19_view_from_the_press_box_07_20_15

. . . and here’s what the actual press box itself looked like:

20_inside_the_press_box_07_20_15

There was a bulletin board nearby with all sorts of official memos:

21_bulletin_board_with_various_memos

Here’s one that focused on pace of game procedures:

22_pace_of_game_procedures

The press dining room was just to the left:

23_outside_the_press_dining_area_07_20_15

Here’s what it looked like just inside those doors:

24_press_dining_area_entrance

Check out the menu:

25_press_dining_area_menu

I did not ask about the healthy options. Screw everything about that! Being in the press dining area of a major league stadium is NOT the time to be healthy — not for me at least, since I’ve only gotten to have a few press-level meals in my entire life. I handed the woman a $10 bill, signed my name on the list, and headed inside. Here’s the little food line/cafeteria area:

26_press_dining_area_food_line

Here’s the dining room:

27_press_dining_area

The game was about to begin, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to eat as much as possible and relax. Here’s what I got:

28_my_dinner_07_20_15

It was quite good — not the highest quality food, but it was solid and did the job. And that’s not all I ate. I also got four scoops of ice cream — two scoops in each of these cups:

29_four_scoops_of_ice_cream

Lots of people wonder how I’m not obese. Seriously. I actually get asked about this on a semi-regular basis, and I’ve finally realized why. It’s because I often post photos of huge/unhealthy meals, so let me just say that I don’t eat like this all the time. When I’m at a buffet, WATCH OUT, but the rest of the time, I try not to use food as a source of entertainment. Last night, for example, I was at Yankee Stadium — not in the Legends area but in my ordinary outfield seat. All I ate for dinner was a protein bar and a few handfuls of raw cashews. Would anyone want to see a photo of that? Uhh, no. And when I got home, I was very hungry, of course, but rather than calling my favorite diner and ordering a bacon cheeseburger with onion rings (as I would’ve done when I was 16, which is why I weighed 45 pounds more back then), I ate an orange and drank two cups of water. That made me feel full and bloated enough until I went to sleep two hours later. So you see? I’m not a disgusting pig all the time. I’m usually healthy and sensible, and therefore when I do find myself in an all-you-can-eat situation, I unapologetically stuff myself like a madman. Also, I only drink water. Like, always. Most people consume hundreds, if not thousands, of calories per day on juice, milk, soda, and alcohol. Those calories simply don’t exist for me. I’m not trying to preach — just explaining myself because like I said, lots of people have been wondering.

Anyway, both starting lineups (and the umpire “lineup”) were written on a marker board just outside the dining area:

30_lineups_written_on_marker_board

The game was already in the 2nd inning. I took a peek at all the writers hard at work in the press box . . .

31_writers_at_work

. . . and was *so* glad not to be one of them. I could’ve pursued that as my career, and perhaps I still could, but I just never wanted to. If you work in professional sports, you basically have no life outside of that because they’re mostly played on nights and weekends. Sometimes it seems like I have no life during the season beyond attending games, but (a) the season is 180 days, and I only attend games half the time, and (b) I really do enjoy it. I love being a fan and running around and catching baseballs. Any job that prevents me from doing that — even one in Major League Baseball — would make me feel bad.

I thought about using my credential to access and explore the club/suite level. I really could’ve gone ANYwhere, but the ballhawk in me just wanted to get back down to the outfield seats. On the way, I photographed the press level hallway . . .

32_media_level_hallway_07_20_15

. . . and took a quick peek inside the Phillies’ radio booth:

33_phillies_radio_booth_during_game

When I was on the press level on 7/3/15 at Yankee Stadium, I was told not to take any photos — not even in the hallway, but here in Philly, no one noticed or cared.

The left field seats were fairly crowded:

34_left_field_seats_kinda_crowded_07_20_15

I didn’t like my chances of catching a home run, but I sat there anyway:

35_view_from_left_field_07_20_15

In the 9th inning, I moved to the seats behind the 3rd base dugout:

36_closer_view_with_jonathan_papelbon_dominating_in_the_9th_inning

Jonathan Papelbon was pitching, and let me tell you — he was dominant. He threw 14 pitches, all for strikes, and retired the side in order to lower his ERA to 1.72. This might sound strange, but at this point in career — being a bit older, having a bad attitude, and playing for a lousy team — I think he’s underrated.

I didn’t snag any balls during the game, but I still had a great time. It’s the best feeling to be able to go or sit anywhere at a major league stadium.

Now, keep scrolling past the stats for two more photos . . .

BALLHAWKING STATS:

• 13 baseball at this game

• 439 balls in 59 games this season = 7.44 balls per game.

 364 lifetime balls in 38 games at Citizens Bank Park = 9.58 balls per game.

• 1,112 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 379 consecutive games outside of New York with at least one ball

• 277 lifetime games with 10 or more balls

8,245 total balls

CHARITY STATS:

pitch_in_for_baseball(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.)

• 22 donors for my fundraiser

• $156.54 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $150,469.62 raised this season (including a $150,000 donation from the Yankees in exchange for my giving Alex Rodriguez the ball from his 3,000th career hit)

• $190,425.12 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

The day after the Phillies game, the Triple Threat TV crew met me at my mom’s place to film my baseball collection. (That’s where I keep most of the balls.) Check it out:

37_triple_threat_tv_filming_baseballs

Those barrels hold about 3,200 baseballs. Each the drawers, which you can kind of see above and below, holds 144:

38_triple_threat_tv_filming_baseballs

Overall there were about 4,000 balls in the room, which is less than half of my collection — or should I say, less than half of what I’ve *snagged* because I’ve given lots away. The rest were downstairs in a storage locker, but whaddaya know? Ross was still impressed and got all the footage he needed.

The documentary should be airing soon . . .

14 comments

  1. Caleb Nice

    Zack,
    The day must’ve been amazing I would know myself. The next day my camp and I took a tour of the stadium as well and I saw many of the same things, yet at that time I hadn’t known that the day before you were standing where I was!
    -Caleb

  2. Garrett Williams

    Zack, i can’t help laughing at how none of the people in the dining room were watching the start of the game. I didn’t think that the Phillies were so bad that they were unwatchable.

  3. Zack Hample

    RICK SABO-
    You’re welcome! Glad you enjoyed it.

    CALEB-
    Very cool. And I had no idea that you were *going* to be there. :)

    GARRETT WILLIAMS-
    Ha! But seriously, having worked in professional baseball, I can tell you that everything is busiest pre-game.

  4. Rocco Sinisi

    …love my Phillies…we live 4.7 miles away from the Phillies Training Complex in Tampa now!!!

  5. Rocco Sinisi

    …we’re still here in Cincy, we bought a condo in Tampa…SPRING TRAINING FOR ME NEXT YEAR BABY…YEAH!!! By the way…I just wanted to tell you that I love you…Congrats on the A-Rod ball too…

  6. Zack Hample

    Sounds like a good setup — best of both worlds, as they say. But what’s this about loving me? Is there something weird in the water you’ve been drinking? I do appreciate the kind words, and I suppose I’ll forgive you. We all have weird stuff going on inside our heads sometimes, huh?

  7. Rebecca Garnett

    Do you plan on keeping the baseballs for life, or will you give them away at some point? I’m sure Pitch In For Baseball would do wonders with your contribution.

  8. Zack Hample

    I’m going to build a mausoleum out of them so I can make sure to keep them forever. (Translation: I don’t know. I do a lot for Pitch In For Baseball, and I’m not even thinking about that.)

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