8/17/16 at Citizens Bank Park

Lots of people on YouTube have asked me for a “cameraman face reveal,” so here you go — sort of:

1_caitlin_and_jeff_walking_to_stadium

The guy in the photo above is not my main videographer. The main dude, Brandon, lives in San Diego and wasn’t available to join me here in Philadelphia, so I brought my friend Jeff instead. (He’s the one who filmed me last month at the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game in San Diego.)

The other person in that photo is my girlfriend, Caitlin. I was hoping to include her in the video, but she didn’t feel like being on camera, so unfortunately that’s all you’ll get to see of her. We didn’t even sit together during the game. As planned, she ended up meeting a couple of friends (shout-out to Danielle from L.A.) and hanging with them while I did my video stuff.

By the time the stadium opened at 5:05pm, there was a loooooong line of fans waiting to enter:

2_line_wrapping_around_the_stadium

Why such a long line? Because this was the only open gate until 5:35pm, and only two of the many metal detectors were being used. (Dear Phillies: what’s up with that?) It was also crowded because the Dodgers were in town. And because it was summer. And the weather was perfect. Oh, and because Chase Utley was back for a few days. And because baseball is awesome.

Within the first few minutes of BP, I chased down a home run ball that landed in left-center field. Jeff got a shot of me retrieving it in the seats, so you’ll see that in the video. A minute or two after that, I climbed up onto a seat to catch another home run. Here’s a screen shot:

3_zack_catching_ball9185

As it turned out, the climbing was unnecessary, but at the time, I anticipated one or more fans converging on that spot. Therefore, as soon as the ball was hit, I decided to elevate (if possible), so even though I had plenty of space as the ball descended, I just went with it.

Look how crowded it got in left field:

4_left_field_crowded_07_17_16

I only got to see one group of Phillies BP (because they started hitting half an hour before the stadium opened). Then the Dodgers only had two groups (most teams have three), and to make matters worse, while their mostly-left-handed first group hit bombs to right field, everyone was still trapped in left. That’s just how things work at Citizens Bank Park. On weekdays, the left field gate opens two hours early, and the rest of the stadium opens 30 minutes after that. As a result of all of this, I finished BP with just two baseballs — way below average. That was a huge bummer. I always want to put on a good show in my videos, and with this one in particular, I had extra motivation because SeatGeek was sponsoring this video. Basically they had hooked me up with a pair of Diamond Club tickets behind home plate in exchange for my doing a little promo for them.

After BP, I gave a tour of the Diamond Club for the video. Then, shortly before game time, I headed out to the concourse in deep right-center to try to get a ball from the Dodgers’ bullpen. That failed. Here’s a screen shot of starting pitcher Scott Kazmir dropping the ball back in the bag:

5_scott_kazmir_dissing_everyone

Even though 9 out of 10 pitchers toss their pre-game warm-up balls into the crowd (or hand them to coaches who tosses ’em up), I can’t be annoyed at Kazmir. He’s thrown me three baseballs over the years, most recently on 6/13/16 at Chase Field, so I guess he was just super-focused here in Philly.

I’ve shown the Diamond Club in previous blog entries, and you’ll get a good look at the layout in my video, so for now, I’ll just show you the view that I had for left-handed batters:

6_view_behind_home_plate_08_17_16

That’s not an ideal spot/angle for foul balls, but it’s pretty damn good, and wouldn’t you know it — Jeff was filming me when I got my first chance at one in the bottom of the 1st inning. Kazmir was pitching, and Tommy Joseph was at bat. The ball sailed 10 feet over my head, struck a railing, and deflected down toward me. Here I am awkwardly attempting to catch it:

7_ball9188_ricocheting_at_me

The good news is that it didn’t hit me in the face. The bad news is that I completely missed it, and as it bounced past me, I had to deal with several obstacles:

8_zack_chasing_ball9186

When you watch the video (which I will link to at the end of this entry), pay close to attention to how I expertly avoided bumping into the woman in the light blue shirt. (She worked there, so she was simply trying not to get hit by the ball.) This is a prime example of how I *don’t* knock people over, even when it’s crowded and they get right in my way and I really want the ball.

The ball bounced off the back of the seats. The guys sitting there attempted to snag it, but they missed it, and I was right there to scoop it up:

9_zack_about_to_scoop_up_ball9186

That felt great. Even though it was a low-numbers day, I got a gamer in the section where SeatGeek had hooked it up for me.

Take a look at the ball — there were some patchy pine tar stains on the logo:

10_ball9188_tommy_joseph_foul_ball_with_pine_tar_stains

Here’s a panorama photo that I took behind the plate:

11_panorama_behind_home_plate_07_17_16

Did you notice the girl standing on the left wearing the white jersey? Several innings later, she caught a foul ball that deflected down from high above, outreaching a grown man in the process:

12_fans_reaching_for_a_foul_ball_07_17_16

It was a sweet grab, and I congratulated her on it. She told me that she plays softball and that it was no big deal. Her name is Lexi, and she actually recognized me from YouTube.

Ready to see what I ate? The food in the Diamond Club is not free, but it’s good!

13_my_dinner_08_17_16

That’s a bacon cheeseburger with grilled onions, potato chips, potato salad, and pasta salad. For dessert, I had vanilla and chocolate ice cream with chocolate sprinkles and caramel sauce:

14_ice_cream_with_caramel_sauce_and_sprinkles

Fast-forward to the bottom of the 8th inning. The Dodgers were winning, 7-2, but more importantly for my game-within-the-game purposes, I got another chance to snag a foul ball. Jesse Chavez pitched it. Carlos Ruiz hit it. Here’s how it went down . . .

Once again, this ball sailed over my head and ricocheted down from above. Can you spot the ball in the following screen shot?

16_zack_snagging_ball9187

In case you missed it, look just below the top/flat portion of the railing. There’s a guy in a black t-shirt who barely reacted when the ball headed toward him. It bounced gently off his hand, plopped onto his back, and ended up behind him on his seat. Neither of us knew exactly where it was at that moment:

17_zack_snagging_ball9187

He might have felt it and assumed it was on his chair. I couldn’t see it anywhere else, so I figured it had to be there and ran over:

18_zack_snagging_ball9187

We both spotted it simultaneously and reached for it as it was rolling toward the edge:

19_zack_snagging_ball9187

The ball dropped to the ground, and we both bent down for it:

20_zack_snagging_ball9187

I was a teeny bit quicker, and as he reached for it, I was able to grab it:

21_zack_snagging_ball9187

Somehow this guy found me later on Twitter and accused me of “stealing” the ball from him. Maybe he got pissed when I celebrated?

22_zack_excited_to_get_the_ball

Seriously, though, he didn’t seem the least bit bothered at the time, and anyway, there’s no rule that grants ownership just because a ball happens to land on your seat. Fans regularly scramble for baseballs, sometimes to the point of engaging in aggressive Tug Of War matches. I never get involved with crap like that, and as you can see, there’s video evidence to prove that I didn’t “steal” this one. (I should travel with a videographer all the time, huh? It would certainly help disprove false accusations.)

Here are the two foul balls that I snagged — my 18th lifetime game at which I’d gotten two or more:

23_two_foul_balls_during_game_07_17_16

Soon after that, I spotted a pair of little kids with gloves sitting nearby, so I gave them my batting practice balls. Here I am handing one over:

24_zack_giving_balls_away_07_17_16

With two outs in the bottom of the 9th, I moved here:

25_view_from_3rd_base_dugout_07_17_16

When the game ended, I got my fifth ball of the day from home plate umpire Chris Conroy. Here he is flinging it to me:

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One minute later, Josh Fields, who had pitched the 9th inning, tossed me the game-ending ball — an Aaron Altherr strikeout. Fields is wearing No. 46 in the following screen shot:

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See the kid catching a baseball below?

28_kid_catching_toss_up_from_zack_hample

That ball was thrown by . . . me! It was the ball I’d just gotten from the umpire.

What started as a lame day with only two baseballs in the first few minutes of BP turned out to be a really fun night. Many thanks once again to SeatGeek. (If you use this link to sign up and use the promo code ZACK, you’ll get $20 back on your first order.) Now check out my video to see the full promo I did for them along with various shots inside the Diamond Club and footage of all six baseballs I snagged. Thanks for reading/watching!

BALLHAWKING STATS:

29_the_three_balls_i_kept_08_17_16 6 baseballs at this game (three pictured here because I gave three away)

 556 balls in 74 games this season = 7.51 balls per game.

 1,240 consecutive games with at least one ball

 171 lifetime foul balls during games (not counting toss-ups)

 18 lifetime games with two or more foul balls during the game (not counting toss-ups)

 9,189 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.

• 15 donors for my fundraiser

• $133.77 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $936.39 raised this season

• $191,440.05 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

7 comments

  1. Mark_0139

    Also I wantmto donate because I love baseball and I want a chance at a awesome prize how can I donate and how much do I need to donate to be eligible for the prize drawing

  2. baseball19

    The other day during BP, I got a Selig ball. When was the last time you have seen one of those?

  3. luke

    will you ever go to Tropicana field and make a video because that ballpark is really close to me and i would like to know some ball hawking tips about that park so when i go i know whats up.

  4. Nick G

    Awesome entry! 3 game used balls (not to mention 2 foul balls) in one game is impressive on any standard. I was actually really surprised that Josh actually tossed you the game ending ball. Usually players like to hold on to them?

  5. Nick Haddock

    Hey Zack, great video of Philly, great job with the 2 foul balls too. Btw, when I see tickets in the 1st row of the 2nd deck in fair territory on Seatgeek, for only $5 at the Nats Braves game coming up. These tickets are actually this cheap?

  6. Random guy

    Nick Haddock- there are probably a ton of hidden convenience and processing fees so the seat will actually be about $15 – $20 which is still cheap

  7. Zack Hample

    MARK_0139-
    Thanks for asking. Here’s a whole lot of info: http://zackhample.mlblogs.com/2016/04/02/charity-prizes-2016/

    BASEBALL19-
    I just saw your comment on another entry and answered you there.

    LUKE-
    I hope to make a video there someday. In the meantime, check out my Tropicana Field blog entries for tips: http://zackhample.com/baseball_collection/lists/blog_entries.htm

    NICK G-
    Thanks, and you’re right about game-ending balls. Those are usually kept by the players, but this wasn’t a save situation, and I guess the winning pitcher didn’t want it.

    NICK HADDOCK-
    Thanks, and yes, I believe those tickets really *are* that cheap.

    RANDOM GUY-
    SeatGeek shows the final price including fees, unlike other websites.

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