6/3/16 at Camden Yards

This was my first game in Baltimore since Game 1 of the 2014 ALDS, and for the first time ever at this stadium, I was with a personal videographer for my YouTube channel. Here’s the spot we chose for my intro:

1_zack_intro_for_video_06_03_16

Although I didn’t mention it on video, I was concerned about the weather, and sure enough, when I headed inside at 5pm, I was bummed to see the tarp on the field:

2_tarp_on_the_field_06_03_16

This was very very NOT good, mainly because the Yankees were in town. Not only was batting practice wiped out, but there was going to be lots of competition for toss-ups.

Thankfully, after switching into my Yankees gear, I was able to get CC Sabathia’s attention (from about 100 feet away). Here he is throwing me a ball:

3_zack_getting_a_toss_up_from_cc_sabathia

The ball sailed so far over my head and tailed so much to the right that I didn’t even bother moving at first. Here it is rattling around in the seats:

4_ball8943_rattling_around_the_seats

Luckily the ball bounced back toward me, landed in the folded up portion of a seat, and trickled down onto the wet concrete. Here I am picking it up:

5_zack_picking_up_ball8943

That ball turned out to have a commemorative logo for the Blue Jays’ 40th season:

6_ball8943_blue_jays_commemorative

The Yankees had recently played in Toronto and picked up a bunch of those balls. (Home teams always provide BP balls for the visitors.) Back in April, I’d gotten a few Blue Jays balls from the A’s in Detroit — random, but hey, I’ll take it.

There was no action after that, so I got some Boog’s BBQ — a pork sandwich and baked beans, to be specific:

7_zack_with_boogs_barbecue

Then I wandered a bit and pointed out a few things about the stadium for the video.

Did I say there was no action? Sorry, there totally was. Check it out — here’s the ground “removing” the tarp:

8_tarp_removal_06_03_16

There was nothing to do, so I wandered and took a few photos, like this one:

9_original_1954_foul_pole_from_memorial_stadium

Then I caught up with three of my favorite people at Camden Yards:

10a_tim_anderson

That’s Tim Anderson (with a very bruised inner knee) on the left, Alex Kopp (“Customs Broker by day, Ballhawk by night”) in the middle, and Grant Edrington (who appears to have gotten five years younger) on the right.

Take a look at Grant’s glove:

11_grant_edringtons_old_glove

That’s both the best and worst glove I’ve ever seen, but he seems to be doing well with it, so who am I to judge?

There still weren’t any players on the field, so we all hung out and chatted for a while:

12_zack_talking_to_alex_and_tim_and_grant

For the record, Tim is not nearly as thick as the photo above makes him look. That’s just a weird angle. You should all know that he’s a trim and athletic individual.

In the following photo of Nathan Eovaldi warming up, do you see the guy on the cobblestone walkway, wearing all black, and standing casually as if he doesn’t have a care in the world?

13_eddie_fastook_near_the_bullpen

That’s Eddie Fastook, the Executive Director of Team Security for the Yankees. Remember him from this photo last year? I’ve only seen him a few times since then, so it was nice to give him a shout and get a friendly wave in return.

While I hung out there, Brandon got close to Alex Rodriguez:

14_arod_signing_autographs_06_03_16

Too bad I wasn’t there with him. It would’ve been cool to interact with A-Rod on camera.

Here’s where I sat for his first at-bat of the game:

15_zack_in_left_field_06_03_16

There were many more empty seats than I expected, mostly at the back of the section, so I hoped to take advantage whenever A-Rod stepped to the plate. Unfortunately, when he connected in the 4th inning on his 694th career homer, that ball went to right field. GAH!! Tim and Alex told me later that it landed on the Flag Court near the foul pole, bounced/rolled all way out toward the warehouse, and was picked up by some random guy who happened to be walking along Eutaw Street.

I headed out to the Flag Court at various points in the game:

16_zack_flag_court_06_03_16

I also spent a little time behind the plate, hoping for a foul ball:

17_zack_going_for_foul_balls_06_03_16

There was no action anywhere near me.

It’s a good thing I got that toss-up from Sabathia early in the day because (a) I would’ve been freaking out otherwise and (b) I would not have accepted an offer to go up into the warehouse — and look what I would’ve missed out on:

18_view_from_bridge_to_warehouse_over_eutaw_street

How did I get to be there? Pretty simple, really. While standing around in right field, I was spotted/recognized by a guy who works at Camden Yards. He said he had warehouse access and offered to bring me (and my videographer) along. I just had to promise not to show his face or mention his name to anyone. So yeah, check out this hallway on the fourth floor:

19_long_hallway_in_the_warehouse

At 1,016 feet, this warehouse is the longest building on the east coast, so of course the hallways are long too.

And now . . . check out the view of the field:

20_view_from_warehouse

We hung out in the hallway for about 10 minutes, and when we exited at the center-field end of it, I saw this:

21_catering_area

I know you’re wondering, and the answer is no. There was no food.

We passed by a receptionist’s area . . .

22_receptionist_area

. . . and then a break room . . .

23_break_room

. . . and past a bunch of cubicles:

24_cubicles

That concluded my tour of the warehouse. I’m sure there was much more to see, but the game was almost done, and I wanted to make one final attempt at getting another ball. Can you spot me behind the Orioles’ dugout in the following photo?

25_one_of_many_toss_ups_after_the_game

Did you notice the ball flying past me in the upper right corner? That was one of half a dozen that got tossed into the crowd. Here I am getting one of them from coach Einar Diaz:

26_zack_getting_ball8944_from_einar_diaz

That was it. The Orioles had defeated the Yankees, 6-5, and I only got two baseballs — quite a dip below my average of more than eight per game, but sometimes the circumstances are tough. It was still a fun day.

I decided to do the closing scene for the video on Eutaw Street. We had to do several takes in part because of this guy:

27_overzealous_orioles_fan

He was rather exuberant, screaming “GO ORIOLES!!” but wearing a Yankees shirt. Enjoy looking at his face here because he didn’t make the final cut in the video. I’m going to post the video soon and add a link to the end of this entry, but you should still subscribe to my YouTube channel. That way you definitely won’t miss it.

BALLHAWKING STATS:

 2 baseballs at this game

 311 balls in 36 games this season = 8.64 balls per game.

 546 balls in 60 lifetime games at Camden Yards = 9.1 balls per game.

1,202 consecutive games with at least one ball

8,944 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.

• 11 donors for my fundraiser

• $102.77 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $411.08 raised this season

• $190,914.74 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

14 comments

  1. Garrett Meyer

    Super random question: do you know the date you last snagged a selig ball? That would be interesting to keep track of.

  2. tyler

    tough day. Anyway great post and cool photos inside warehouse. Are you going to go back soon and do a full tour of the warehouse for your blog?Also do you know if they took down the netting of the bullpens at Rogers Center?

  3. Zack Hample

    TYLER-
    I do not plan to make an effort to return to the warehouse. If it happens, it happens. As for the netting in Toronto, I have no idea. Sorry.

    GARRETT MEYER-
    I like random, but I’m sorry to say that I forget when I got the last one.

  4. Jack

    Hey Zack, when will you be around at Rogers Centre? I would come to see you in America but the canadian dollar is 😵

  5. Big Glove Bob

    Zack- you are a good guy at the end of the day. However, good people sometimes have horrible lapses in judgment. Going to that Fort Bragg game was a real lapse in judgment. Giving 100 bucks a ball or a million bucks a ball doesn’t change that. You had absolutely no business being in that park. People are legitimately upset by this and rightfully so. My advice to you is realize you did something incredibly stupid and own it. No excuses…no “I went in place of someone’s girlfriend”. Give that one commemorative ball away to a service member too. You should reap absolutely nothing from this. I still like you and hope to see you soon. Take care.

    Big Glove Bob

  6. Panda Claus

    I’ve been to maybe 50 games or more at Camden Yards and I have never snagged a ball. The closest I came was last year when the foul pop came right to me and I alligator armed it, totally whiffed, and it rolled to a Blue Jays fan in the next row.

    About 3-4 years ago some guy came up to me and my boys after the game and asked if we had any luck getting any foul balls. Well my answer was the typical ‘no’, and the guy pulled a ball out of his bag and gave to my youngest son (probably 9 or 10 at the time). I’m pretty sure the guy giving the ball to my kid was you, although I can’t confirm it. I can’t even remember the exact game and date. But if that was you, “thanks again”.

    I see one secret to your success is to move around a lot. I rarely leave my seat because I don’t want to miss anything.

  7. Big Glove Bob

    Bravo Z-Man. You owned your lapse in judgment. Hopefully this dies down soon. Take it easy.

    BGB

  8. RSoxfan33

    Zack, I’ve been reading your blogs for the last 6-7 years and have always enjoyed seeing your enthusiasm and passion. I have never left a comment, but with all that has been going on lately I wanted to reach out and give my support. I think that so many people, who know nothing about you other than “he’s an adult who likes to snag as many baseballs as possible at MLB games,” are quick to jump down your throat. It sucks to see this because all who have followed you over the years know how good of a person you are. Hopefully you can look past the criticism, and remember that there are a lot of us out there that support what you do.

    P.S. You definitely gotta hook up with Big Cat and do another podcast soon!

  9. Jimmy G

    So you wore Yankees stuff when you wanted a ball from CC, but then Orioles stuff when you wanted a ball from the Orioles dugout? Desperation at its finest.

  10. Tyler

    Sorry to bug you but what is the white stuff in the cup for the cup trick?and where can you get the cup?

  11. Zack Hample

    JACK & OLIVER-
    Thanks for asking, but right now I’m not sure when I’ll be back in Toronto.

    BIG GLOVE BOB-
    Thanks. I appreciate your thoughts on the matter, even if we don’t fully agree.

    PANDA CLAUS-
    That sounds like something I often do, so in case it was me, you’re welcome! Thanks for the comment, and I hope you catch a ball sometime soon.

    RSOXFAN33-
    Many thanks! I appreciate the comment and your support — and I agree about Big Cat. I heard he’s moving to NYC soon, so I hope to connect with him and do a bunch of fun stuff.

    JIMMY G-
    You call it desperation. I call it ingenuity. Been switching gear since 1992.

    TYLER-
    That’s just a whole lot of glue-type stuff to weigh it down. I don’t know where it came from. It was sent to me as a gift by the guy who made it.

    RANTER-
    Thank you so much. Yes, I definitely got carried away, but I only had the best intentions. And I do still feel awful about the whole thing. I hope you and kids are doing well and that I’ll get to see you guys again sometime soon.

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