5/17/16 at Comerica Park

If I could sum up this game in two words, it would go as follows: POOR PLANNING. There was an Ian Kinsler bobblehead giveaway, and for some stupid reason, of all the possible days for me to be here, I picked this one. Look how crowded it was during batting practice:

1_left_field_seats_crowded_05_17_16

One of the regulars told me it was the most crowded he’d seen it all year.

Fabulous.

My friend Brandon Sloter was with me once again. He’s the guy who’s been filming me in various stadiums for my YouTube channel, and look, he got an amazing action shot of me catching a toss-up in the front row:

2_zack_catching_ball8846

Okay, fine, I’ll stop being sarcastic, but seriously, this entire day was a pain in the ass.

My second ball was a toss-up that ended up rattling around in the seats. I handed that one to the nearest kid:

3_zack_giving_ball_away_to_kids

After the rest of the stadium opened at 5:30pm, I got my third ball tossed up by a Twins player in right field:

4_zack_snagging_ball8848

I couldn’t identify any of the guys who had hooked me up — lame, I know, but sometimes that’s just how it goes.

Back in left field, I used my glove trick to snag my fourth ball from the bullpen:

5_glove_trick_for_ball8849

I gave that one to a little kid on my right.

That was it for BP. Four balls. Nothing hit. Not much room to move. Lots of frustration. I wanted to put on a good show for the YouTube video — run and jump and catch a few home runs — but it just wasn’t happening, and yes, I realize that most people would do anything to get one ball, and here I am complaining about “only” getting four, but you have to understand that for my standards, this was not a great day.

Here’s the bobblehead:

6_ian_kinsler_bobblehead

Meh.

Before the game started, I hung out near the Twins’ bullpen:

7_phil_hughes_warming_up

When Phil Hughes finished warming up, I got pitching coach Neil Allen (standing on the right in the following screen shot) to toss me the ball:

8_neil_allen_tossing_ball8850

This was my reaction after catching it:

9_zack_with_ball8850

Yay.

During the game, I spent most of my time in the cross-aisle behind home plate, hoping/trying to catch a foul ball. In my nine previous games at Comerica, I’d gotten seven foul balls, so the odds were clearly in my favor. (Seven foul balls in nine games?! Yes. Some stadiums are much easier than others because of the design/layout.)

At one point in the early innings, I noticed Butch Davis, the Twins’ 1st base coach, retrieve a foul ball and stick it in his back pocket. That’s unusual. Foul dribblers almost always get tossed into the crowd right away, so I tried to take advantage. I headed over to the Twins’ dugout with the intention of getting his attention after the 3rd out. This was my view — see the ball in his back/right pocket?

11_ball_in_back_pocket

Davis ended up tossing it to someone else, but let this serve as an important lesson in sniffing out opportunities. Pay close attention. Anything is possible.

I caught up with several friends over the course of the night. Do you remember any of these guys from the two games I attended in Detroit last month on April 25 and April 26?

12_zack_with_bill_and_david_and_dave

In the two-part photo above, the guy on left is named Bill Dugan. He’s the fan who famously snagged five foul balls during one game last month. I should also mention that he’s been tinkering with the design of a slick new cup trip, and he gave one to me. He’s a good dude.

In the photo above on the right, I’m standing next to a young man named David and his father Dave. (For the record, I’m not THAT short; Bill is 6-foot-4, and Dave is 6-foot-7, okay? Thanks.) I’ve known them for years and I always enjoy seeing them at Comerica, and by the way, when I caught my first ball of the day, David was standing right next to me. Had it been thrown one foot to my left, I would’ve backed off and let him catch it, but it WAS, in fact, thrown right to me. Another man told me later that I “should’ve given it to that kid.”

“I’ve known that kid for years,” I replied. “I’m friends with him and his father, and he’s gotten about three hundred balls, so don’t worry about it.”

The man was like, “Oh, well, I guess you have it all under control.”

Yes, sir, I do. And by the way, I randomly gave David a ball the very first time I ever saw him during BP at Camden Yards. That’s actually how I met him and his father and how we became friends.

This was my view for most of the game:

13_view_for_right_handed_batters_05_17_16

There were lots of right-handed batters and very few foul balls. It was disappointing, to say the least. I came close on one that I definitely would’ve caught had the aisle been empty, but there were like ten people standing around waiting for it. It bounced off one guy’s glove, and there was a mini-stampede once it hit the ground. I was on the outskirts of it and didn’t feel like jumping into the middle, and you know what? A 12-year-old kid ended up grabbing that ball, so that was cool.

Final score: Tigers 7, Twins 2.

Brandon is still working on the video, so when it’s done, I’ll post it on YouTube and add a link to it here.

***UPDATE***
Here’s the video.

BALLHAWKING STATS:

14_the_three_balls_i_kept_05_17_16 5 baseballs at this game (three pictured here because I gave two away)

217 balls in 26 games this season = 8.35 balls per game.

 65 balls in 10 lifetime games at Comerica Park = 6.5 balls per game.

1,192 consecutive games with at least one ball

8,850 total balls

CHARITY STATS:

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.

• 9 donors for my fundraiser

• $77.77 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $233.31 raised this season

• $190,736.97 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

6 comments

  1. Vincent Nottoli

    What’s up zack. I have been watching your videos and reading all your blogs for over 4 years. And at the start of last season, I have been following in your footsteps. I have been using all your techniques and tips at games too. I live in Tampa, Florida so I go to Tropicana field. Which is a hard place to get balls. I have 146 baseball’s in two seasons of me going for them at games. ( I go to about ten games per season). And I just wanted to say that I personally like Tropicana field. I love the Air Conditioning in it and the amount of people that go there each game especially and the simple layout of it. I just wanna hear your opinion on it too and that would be awesome if I did. Anyways, good luck on your games and have fun.

  2. RyanC

    Hey Zack!
    Missed you again by a matter of a few days (was there the 17th). One of these times we’ll meet and I’ll owe you a drink of choice for all the baseballs you’ve helped me acquire.
    How did you beat security to stand in the cross-aisle? I tried that as well and the usher actually kicked me out to go back to my seat (even though my ticket was a higher level than standing-room only). How do you do it, man?

  3. raytheaustralian

    Just been catching up on your progress. Awesome job on the 2 HRs last game. You`re on fire at the moment. Bit of an intense run of games but definitely worth it. It could be another big year for PIFB. Great stuff and a good read too. More like #you`re the man..

  4. Zack Hample

    VINCENT NOTTOLI-
    What’s up! Thanks for watching/reading my stuff. I appreciate that. Congrats on all the balls. It seems like you’re on the way to ballhawking greatness. I agree that it’s a tough place to catch baseballs, mainly because of all those stupid tunnels in the outfield that get right in the way.

    RYAN C-
    Ha, I’m glad to hear that I’ve helped. My drink of choice will probably be a bottled water — I’m easy like that. I’m friendly with most of the ushers behind the plate, and I also made sure to have a ticket in the section right near where I was standing. They can sometimes be fussy about that, even with me.

    RAY THE AUSTRALIAN-
    Thanks for following the action from afar. Yeah, it’s been pretty busy/intense/fun thee last six weeks, and I have two more trips coming up in the next month. Phew! Hope all’s well in your world. I miss you guys!

  5. Michael

    Hey Zack I met you here I got a picture with you and you signed a ball that I got tossed up from the Twins. I’m glad I got to meet you!

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