4/14/16 at Globe Life Park

The good news is that my flight from Denver to Dallas only cost $44. The bad news is that I had to wake up at 4:15am and felt like garbage. Why didn’t I go to bed early since I was gonna have to wake up early? Because I’m not a robot and my brain doesn’t work like that. I was with my friend Brandon Sloter, a professional videographer, who’s been filming me in various stadiums for YouTube. He managed to fall asleep around 1am. I went to bed after 2am, which meant I got two hours of sleep.

We arrived at the stadium with plenty of time for him to film me doing an opening intro outside:

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There was also enough time for me to visit the team store . . .

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. . . and buy a new Rangers cap. My old one, which you can kinda see in the first photo, was weathered, and I wanted to upgrade.

After that, it was still so early that Brandon and I had to wait for the parking lot to open:

3_waiting_to_enter_parking_lot

Then I met up with a friendly season ticket holder . . .

4_fans_waiting_to_enter_globe_life_park

. . . who brought us inside early as her guests. I thanked her by giving her the newest baseball that I ended up snagging during batting practice.

When the gates opened, I raced out to the left field seats and got my first ball almost immediately:

5_ball8675_thrown_by_ian_desmond

It was thrown from about 100 feet away by Ian Desmond, who then recognized me and yelled, “I think you have enough!” I had never talked to him before, so that was totally unexpected. Then he got on my case about missing Bryce Harper’s 100th career home run, which, evidently, had just been hit. I yelled back that I couldn’t be in two places at once, and that was pretty much it. He mentioned that it was a grand slam, and I got the sense that we would’ve kept talking if it had been easier to hear.

I used my glove trick to snag my second ball of the day from the gap behind the left field wall:

6_glove_trick_for_ball8676

The image above is a screen shot from Brandon’s video. Here’s another which shows me catching my third ball — a toss-up from Rangers pitcher Jake Diekman:

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One of my goals for the day was to hit double digits, and I was off to a good start.

I headed over to the seats in left-center and used the glove trick to retrieve this ball from the visitors bullpen:

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Here’s an action shot (which you’ll see in its entirety in the video):

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Then I used the glove trick again for this ball in the center field gap:

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That brought my total for the day to five.

When the Orioles started throwing, I headed into foul territory:

11_orioles_playing_catch_04_14_16

That was a waste of time.

When they started hitting several minutes later, I hurried back to center field, and . . . how can I say this? It was the opposite of a waste of time. First, check out my view of the field:

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Nothing special, right? Well, look at all this open space I had on my left:

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Here in Arlington, when balls are flying toward that huge grassy hill, fans are actually allowed to jump over the side railings and chase ’em down.

Check out the following screen shot. It shows me holding a ball in my bare hand and reaching up with my glove to catch another:

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Those were both hit by Mark Trumbo. That guy is a monster. I love him. And look! Here I am just before he connected again:

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This next home run was hit to my right, but rather than drifting slowly while looking up at the ball, I put my head down and rushed to the spot where I thought it was going to land. Here I am running through the row and heading up the stairs:

16_zack_catching_ball8682

As it turned out, my prediction was good but not perfect. I ended up on the wrong side of a railing and had to do some fancy footwork at the last second to make the catch. Here’s the ball streaking down toward my glove:

17_zack_catching_ball8682

Sometimes, when I take my eye off the ball and run to the spot where I think it’ll land, I guess right and feel like a superstar — but occasionally I guess wrong and maneuver myself out of position and end up feeling like the world’s biggest jackass.

A few minutes later, Trumbo hit me a fourth home run! As you can see below, it was the easiest catch of them all:

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I handed that ball to a little kid:

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Then I got a ball thrown to me by Orioles bullpen catcher Jett Ruiz:

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Have you lost track? That was my 10th ball of the day, and I tossed it to a kid farther down on the staircase:

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My 11th ball was a home run by Chris Davis. I ran a long way for that one, caught it on the fly, and once again tossed it to a young fan:

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Over the course of the day, I gave away seven balls.

Can you spot my 12th ball in the following photo?

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How’s that for a random, unusual hiding place? I didn’t see it until an employee pointed it out to me after BP.

My 13th ball was sitting more than halfway out in the visitors’ bullpen, so I flung my glove out and then tugged it back to knock the ball closer:

24_glove_trick_for_ball_8687

A guard in the bullpen walked over and had a word with me after that one, but not for the reason that you’d assume. Stadium security has no problem with fans fishing baseballs out of the gaps and bullpens. (Thumbs-up to them. What an awesome, friendly policy!) What they DO have an issue with is the glove trick in particular when it’s used in the bullpens. Why? Get this: according to the guard, it might appear from afar that I’m stealing a player’s glove. (Ha!! OMG.) So now what? I guess I’ll have to make a cup trick and bring it next time I go to Arlington.

When there was finally a break in the action, I signed a ball for this young man named Zach:

25_zach_with_signed_baseball

(To clarify, when I sign balls for people, THEY provide the balls. When some folks ask me to sign, they don’t actually have one, and I’m like, “Uhh . . . that’s not how this works.”)

In the photo below, I’m with a fan named Max, who had me sign a ball along with his copy of my book, The Baseball. His friend Ben, standing on the right, is holding a ball that I had given him after BP:

26_zack_with_kids_books_autographs

Here I am with the employee who’d pointed out the ball hiding in the seats:

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His name is Mike, and he works in ticketing, and when he heard that I was going to be at this game, he made a point of finding me and saying hey. Very nice guy. (Mike, in case you’re reading this, I tried emailing you, and it bounced back, so leave a comment or tweet at me or send an email. Hopefully we can keep in touch.)

Just before game time, I headed down to the 3rd base dugout (a friendly usher allowed me to go there because I asked nicely — imagine THAT) so that I could take a close look at the new protective netting. Check it out:

28_new_netting_behind_the_dugout

How do I feel about the netting? Allow me to quote myself from the video:

“I just wanted to come down to the dugout for a few minutes to get a close-up look at, in my opinion, this awful protective netting. Look, I think fan safety is important, but this is where I’m gonna sound like an old fart. Way back when I was a kid, the world used to be fun, and there weren’t a million rules and regulations . . . you went to the playground, and there was fun stuff to climb on, and you could fall off and break your head if you weren’t careful, and I just feel like everything has become soft and, man, I would hate to have this seat and pay this much money and be looking through a net . . . even if I’m not trying to catch a baseball, I just don’t want this to be my view for a game . . . it’s important for Major League Baseball to do it. I happen to know from research and writing a book that only one fan in the history of Major League Baseball has been killed by a foul ball, but that’s still one too many, I guess, and, uhh, it’s good that they’re doing this, but personally I don’t like it.”

What do you think about this new protective netting that’s appearing in more and more stadiums? Do you like it? Hate it? Don’t care either way? Has it cost you any baseballs? Has it saved your best friend’s life (because he was texting rather than paying attention to the action on the field)? I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

Here’s another photo of the netting from the back of the section:

29_dugout_netting_from_afar

It doesn’t look as bad from there, but it’s still annoying to have a small portion of it messing up the view of 3rd base. See how the top of the netting creates a dark line on the infield dirt? That would drive me crazy, and no I wouldn’t GET USED TO IT. I’ve been dealing with mosquitos and second-hand cigarette smoke my whole life, and I’m still not used to that.

This was my view during the game:

30_view_during_game_from_center_field

Yes, that was my actual ticketed seat, so you see? I’m capable of following rules. Sometimes.

Here’s a panorama from that spot:

31_panorama_from_center_field

I would’ve given up 1,000 baseballs to have a game home run hit to dead center, but of course that didn’t happen. There was only one homer all night, and it was hit by — who else?! — Mark Trumbo. It landed in the bullpen in right-center. Bleh.

This was the view on my right:

32_view_on_my_right_04_14_16

The cheerleaders were busy in the 6th inning:

33_cheerleaders_running_on_the_berm

That’s when the Rangers put up a five-spot off Chris Tillman to take a 6-3 lead.

In the 9th inning, I noticed several balls on the ground in the Orioles’ bullpen:

34_balls_in_orioles_bullpen

I didn’t get any of them (poor me — yeah, I know), and I finished with a total of 13.

On the way out, I was amused to see two employees struggling with a jammed gate at one of the concession stands:

35_concession_gate_stuck_after_game

Here’s a photo of the empty right field seats . . .

36_empty_right_field_seats_after_game

. . . and here’s a look at the field from the concourse behind the foul pole:

37_right_field_foul_pole

What a glorious stadium! I wish I could attend games there regularly, but living in New York kinda makes that difficult.

Speaking of regulars, look who I caught up with later that night:

38_trent_and_zack_at_waffle_house

That’s my friend and fellow ballhawk, Trent Williams. He has a season ticket beside the grassy hill; you’ve probably seen highlights of him running out there and catching home runs (and emphatically throwing back all the ones hit by visiting teams). Trent had to coach hockey and wasn’t able to make it to the Rangers game, so it was great to catch up with him, and it was even greater that we could do it at Waffle House. No joke. I truly love it there.

Aside from the lack of sleep, it was a great day from start to finish, and the video is outstanding — my favorite one yet. It still needs a couple of tweaks, but it’s 99 percent done, and I’ll be posting it soon on my YouTube channel. In the meantime, here are other stadium videos that I’ve done (in chronological order):

Fenway Park — June 8, 2012 (the one video that Brandon didn’t film)
Dodger Stadium — July 17, 2012
Citizens Bank Park — August 18, 2014
Wrigley Field — September 2, 2014
PETCO PARK — September 24, 2014
U.S. Cellular Field –August 11, 2015 (133,520 views — hot damn!)
Busch Stadium — August 13, 2015
Kauffman Stadium — August 14, 2015
Miller Park — August 15, 2015
Oakland Coliseum — April 11, 2016
Safeco Field — April 12, 2016
Coors Field — April 13, 2016
Globe Life Park –April 14, 2016 (coming soon)

BALLHAWKING STATS:

39_the_six_balls_i_kept_04_14_16• 13 baseballs at this game (six pictured here because I gave seven away)

• 54 balls in 6 games this season = 9 balls per game.

 122 balls in 12 lifetime games at Globe Life Park = 10.17 balls per game.

• 1,172 consecutive games with at least one ball

8,687 total balls

On a final note, my fundraiser for Pitch In For Baseball is now in its eighth season. Once again, people are pledging money for every home run ball that I snag during games. Here’s some info about the fundraiser, and if you donate, you’ll be eligible to win one of these prizes.

20 comments

  1. raytheaustralian

    You know its cold when the the cheerleaders wear tracksuit pants. Our experience at Arlington was significantly warmer. I loved that stadium. The people are very friendly and its so easy to navigate. Waffle House is a good place for a feed is it ? We will be flying through Dallas next month on our way to Costa Rica A visit to the Hard Eight BBQ for a bin lid full of meat is on the cards. Enjoying the baseball this season except for David Price being a Red Sox. The Cubs look to be contenders this year and I think its going to be a Cubs vs Rays World Series .

  2. txrangersfan

    Hey Zack,

    Greg here. Met you at Game 4 of the 2011 World Series. Been a while since I’ve commented on your page but still been reading loyally. How early do gates open for season ticket holders at Globe Life? I live about five hours from Arlington so I only make it to about 5-10 games a season depending on my work schedule but I may consider purchasing a small season ticket plan in the future if it’s well worth the early entrance time. Great game for you and can’t wait for the video. Maybe I’ll run into you next time you are down in Arlington or even Houston.

  3. Maxwell Mckiernan

    Wow! Great blog and it was so cool meeting you at this game! Thanks for letting me know you were going to be there. Also I noticed that you didn’t get any game balls. When did that streak end?

  4. Zack Hample

    RAY THE AUSTRALIAN-
    Waffle House is delicious and a total guilty pleasure. Definitely go there at least once. It’s so American. Cubs versus Rays in the series? You’re dreaming big. Clearly it’s going to be an all-Chicago series. (That might be a joke.) I miss you guys like crazy.

    TX RANGERS FAN-
    What’s up! Season ticket holders get inside 2.5 hours early. Everyone else gets in 2 hours early. I’m not sure if security at the gate requires a certain level of season ticket plan, but you could find that out easily. They probably don’t, but at Citi Field, for example, early entry is limited to the weekends, and you have to have at least a half-season plan. And you can’t bring guests inside.

    MAXWELL MCKIERAN-
    You’re welcome! Very nice meeting you too. I’ve never had a sizable streak of in-game balls. The main streak has always included batting practice.

  5. Big Glove Bob

    I will be there next month for a game. A note to Ray from Australia…if you want to replicate the Waffle House experience without coming here, all you need to do is get the most unhealthy food you can think of and go eat it in a truck stop restroom.

    I like the netting myself. I have seen far too many balls scorched into the stands that luckily missed old people or children. It needed to be done.

    Big Glove Bob

  6. Shaan Ahuja

    Hi Mr. Hample,

    I’m a fan of yours and you’ve inspired me to start snagging baseballs. I’d like to know if and when you might be coming to Cincinnati and if you do, if I could meet you. If you aren’t, could you tell me where it’s best to catch a home run at Great American Ballpark?

  7. Shaan Ahuja

    Could you also give me some information on when the gates open at great American ballpark?

  8. Zack Hample

    RUXTONKELLY-
    I’m not sure — no plans at the moment.

    SHAAN AHUJA-
    I’m really happy to hear that. I’m actually planning to be there next week on May 18-19. Hope you can make it. Different gates open at different times at that stadium — pretty sure you can find that info on the Reds’ website.

    JACK-
    Sorry, I’ll be in Pittsburgh that day, so hopefully we can meet up some other time.

  9. Nick G

    To be honest I truly do hate the netting being put up in the stadiums. Busch Stadium added some that expand to the end of the fancy green seats and close to the beginning of the edge of the dugouts which I feel is perfectly ok, but covering the ENTIRE DUGOUT?? It makes it impossible to get any third out balls from the catcher or first baseman on the visiting team. And sometimes players randomly toss up balls to kids in the front row. Also by doing that, it obstructs a clear view for basically all of the seats remotely close to home plate. Oh, just a couple of really random questions i’ve been wondering. Do you separate the gamers (foul balls, home runs, third out balls) from all of the other balls? Personally I would do that since they have a greater value over bp balls IMO, and i’ve recently started just going for gamers due to lack of display space and they’re cooler) Also, do you have a display case for the valuable balls you’ve snagged (like the milestones, game home runs, last mets shea stadium hr, etc.)?

  10. Lucas Alc

    Hey. I’m going to a baseball game at Yankees stadium and Fenway Park. I was wondering if you could offer some tips. Thanks, and keep on making awesome videos.

  11. will benton

    Hello Zack- I am a big fan of your videos. I’m 14 and my record is 11. Like you, I, am a huge baseball fan and I’ve been to 19 different ballparks, and going to number 20 next month. I have a question- Do you prefer the historic ballparks like Fenway and Wrigley, or the modern ones like AT&T and Marlins Park? Thanks

  12. Zack Hample

    Hey, thanks for watching! Nineteen stadiums is a hell of a lot at your age — congrats! I prefer the old stadiums on an emotional level, but I like some of the modern ones more from a ballhawking perspective.

  13. Ben kroll

    Hi my name is ben! I’m going to the Mets game this coming Friday the 21! At citi field vs the nats was wondering if your going to be there

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