9/2/16 at Kauffman Stadium

As I mentioned in my last entry, I’ve been focusing more on YouTube lately. This season I got a ton of comments on my videos about how I should go back to Kauffman Stadium, and guess what?! I wasn’t filmed at this game. Sorry, everyone.

The reason I went to Kansas City is that I was hired to do a Watch With Zack game, and my client — a guy in his 40s named James — didn’t want to be filmed. What *did* he want? He told me just wanted to hang out and snag some baseballs with me and watch the game.

Here’s what it looked like on the drive to the stadium:

1_kauffman_stadium_from_the_highway

We’d picked this date weeks in advance, so it was lucky that the weather turned out to be perfect.

This was our view as we sat around and waited for the stadium to open:

2_waiting_to_enter_the_stadium

In the photo above, do you see the fan with his glove on the ground? He was in the process of “stealthily” photographing me. People never think I’ll notice, but it’s actually quite obvious.

James had taken care of our tickets, including a bonus pair for the “Early Bird BP Tour.” That got us an extra hour inside the stadium, but we were confined to the seats behind the dugout. Here’s what it looked like:

4_netting_blocking_the_dugout

Words can not describe how much I hate that netting. (Actually, wait, I’m a writer. I can describe anything, but you get the point.)

Here’s what it looked like on our left:

5_seats_blocked_by_stupid_flags

What a waste of space! Stadium security could easily move those cruddy little flags one section over or, ya know, have their ushers spread out a bit and just let fans have the entire foul line.

At one point, a left-handed batter on the Royals sliced a foul ball into those seats. I vividly remembered, on previous visits, being allowed to chase after baseballs once they landed, so I hopped the flags and went over to retrieve it:

3_zack_with_ball9261

Then I was informed by an usher that I’m not supposed to do that.

With James hanging out nearby, I was able to snag two more baseballs, both of which were tossed to other people. The first one from Cheslor Cuthbert sailed just above a girl’s head and rattled around in the seats, so I picked it up and handed it to her. The second ball was thrown by Jarrod Dyson to a grown man who dropped it. Given the fact that he dropped it because (a) he didn’t have a glove and (b) was already holding a ball in his hands that Dyson had *just* thrown to him, I kept it. Well, I offered it to James, and when he declined, then I kept it. And by the way, Dyson had chucked several balls into the seats in a matter of seconds. They weren’t intended for anyone in particular, so that’s why two of them sailed right to the same guy. He didn’t care. Everyone was cool with it.

When the entire stadium finally opened, James and I headed out to left field. Tigers BP was already underway, and it didn’t take us long to get more baseballs. James got a toss-up from John Hicks, and I snagged a pair of home run balls. I’m not sure who hit them, so all I can tell you is that I grabbed the first one off the ground and caught the second one on the fly. James didn’t mind that I was snagging most of the baseballs, but I wanted to see him get a few more on his own.

For the next group, we headed out to right-center field. Here he is in the orange shirt:

6_james_in_right_center_field

For a few more minutes, there was lots of room behind us on the Pepsi Porch:

7_pepsi_porch_09_02_16

I helped James snag a toss-up from Tyler Collins, and then we split up for a bit. He stayed in right-center . . .

8_james_in_right_field_from_afar

. . . and got Justin Verlander to throw him a ball, which he gave to a girl. I camped out in left field and didn’t get anything, which was no surprise. As you can see in the photo above, it was crowded.

Do you remember this photo from my previous trip to The K in 2015? I caught up with one of those kids . . . named J.T. And check it out — he’d brought his copies of all three of my books for me to sign:

9_zack_and_jt_with_three_books

It was nice seeing him again, and I’m glad to report that he snagged a bunch of baseballs.

After batting practice, James and I wandered around in search of something to eat. We decided to try some specialty hot dogs (his treat — very generous), so here’s what I got:

10_fancy_schmancy_hot_dogs

I can’t even remember everything that was piled on top — blue cheese, bacon, clogged arteries, onions, pulled pork, a heart attack, more bacon, etc. (In case you’re wondering, I gained five pounds in the second half of the season. I truly ate like a maniac, and now I’m undoing the damage. #NoRegrets)

This was our view for the game:

12_view_during_game_09_02_16

It was a great spot except for that STUPID NETTING. I actually suggested that we sit there, knowing that we’d have to deal with it.

Look who found me and hung out for an inning:

13_garrett_meyer_sitting_with_me

That’s my good friend Garrett Meyer.

Oh, and I wasn’t done eating. Look what else I got:

14_chocolate_strawberries_and_brownies

See what I mean? Maniac. And by the way, those are brownies in between the strawberries.

James came through in a big way after the 3rd inning, and I was really happy for him. He got a game-used ball (the ball that ended the inning) tossed by Jose Iglesias, so the numbers had evened out after all. He had snagged four baseballs at that point, and I had gotten five. Meanwhile, look how crowded it was as the 4th inning got underway:

15_very_crowded_in_foul_territory

That’s what two consecutive World Series appearances will do.

In the photo above, did you notice what it says on the jumbotron? Now look at it down below:

16_too_many_noisemaking_prompts

I was appalled by the all the “GET LOUD” instructions that kept playing/blasting. There were no fewer than *ten* in that half-inning! It was so gimmicky and intrusive, often happening between every pitch. The only other stadium where my eardrums get assaulted that frequently is Citi Field.

In the 5th inning, James and I headed out to left field. I’m always happy to be in the outfield, and he was glad to walk around and check out the view from a different angle:

17_view_from_left_field_09_02_16

While we were out there, an autograph collector named Jason found me and had me inscribe a photo of us that had been taken last year:

18_jason_with_signed_photo_of_me

He requested that I write “I caught Mike Trout’s 1st career home run.” Just wanna be clear about that. I don’t make a habit of signing things in a braggy way.

James and I stayed in the outfield for the rest of the game and talked baseball and hung out with various people who came over to say hello to me. I was concerned that he’d get annoyed by all the distractions (I wanted to focus on him), but he was delighted to see me do my thing. He had such a pleasant, laid-back demeanor. You know how some people make you feel that no matter what you do, it’s not good enough? James was the opposite, and I really enjoyed being in *his* world for a day.

Check out this panorama I took late in the game from deeeeeeeep right field:

19_panorama_behind_fountain

Did you know that the upper fountains at Kauffman Stadium are THAT wide? Now you do.

Here’s the scoreboard with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning:

20_scoreboard_in_9th_inning_09_02_16

Crazy game. Lots of scoring. Two lead changes right at the end. Good stuff.

Earlier in the evening, James and I noticed that the players all had yellow/ribbons on their uniforms. That was done for childhood cancer awareness. The umpires were also wearing stuff to support the cause, and Garrett, that lucky son of a bee, got a wristband from one of them:

21_garrett_with_yellow_wristband_from_the_umpire

After the game, James spotted a ball here in the bullpen:

22_ball9266_location

(I took that photo a few minutes after the fact, so the ball was no longer there.)

He didn’t feel the need to snag it, so he let me call out to the groundskeepers and make the play.

Final score: Tigers 7, Zack 6, Royals 6, James 4. Hooray for crooked numbers!

Here’s one more photo of the fountains before we headed out:

23_fountains_after_game

Here’s something that caught my eye as we approached the exit:

24_spilled_water_in_the_shape_of_a_weird_animal_footprint

That looks like some freaky animal footprint, no?

Here’s the stadium as seen from the parking lot:

25_kauffman_stadium_from_parking_lot_after_game

I gave away two of my baseballs over the course of the day. (I would’ve given them all to James, but he was content with the ones he’d snagged, and by the way, he gave away two of his own.)

Here are the four balls I kept (logos on the left; sweet spots on the right):

27_the_four_balls_i_kept_09_02_16

The Tigers have marked their baseballs for years. They used to draw a streak over the logo, but now they mark the sweet spot instead. (If you want to see my entire collection of marked balls, click here.)

Early the next morning, I was awakened by some serious . . . shaking. The entire building felt like it was rocking back and forth. My first thought was that the upstairs neighbors were being rude and should control their kids, but then it occurred to me that I was on the top floor. Was their some major construction outside? It was very strange and ended within a minute, so I went back to sleep. Turns out it was an earthquake that could be felt all the way from Oklahoma!! That’s the first one I’ve ever experienced.

Several hours later, I saw this in an airport vending machine:

26_deez_nuts

Way to keep it classy, Kay-Cee! (I kid, I kid. Classiness is overrated.)

Overall I had a great time. MANY thanks to James for bringing me out and also for sending this incredibly kind email three days later:

28_email_from_james

James and I are still in touch, and he’s considering being in a video next year. Who else wants that to happen? Leave a comment and let him know.

Oh, and finally, click here to see my Watch With Zack stats — kinda cool to see how the numbers have stacked up over the years.

58 comments

  1. Liz Merry

    I agree with James. You have made a truly unique career of ball hawking. Who’da thunk? It really is remarkable. Your enthusiasm and love for the game is contagious and I am glad your talents are being “discovered” by so many on YouTube. Hope I get to see you in person at a game someday!

  2. Garrett Meyer

    I’d like to see you come to KC for a whole series. I think if you spent a few games in a row out on the cross aisles in the outfield you’ll have a pretty good shot at a game HR ball. You still have not caught a game HR at Kauffman, right?
    -Son of a bee

  3. Zack Hample

    LIZ MERRY-
    Thanks co much! I can’t believe we still haven’t met after all these comments back and forth. Maybe 2017 is the year??

    GARRETT MEYER-
    Ha, I’d like to see it too. I would’ve caught Justin Upton’s homer at this game had we been out there — and James was willing, but silly me . . . I chose the infield instead. I might’ve gotten Miggy’s homer too. Look for these highlights. Drives me crazy. Oh, and that’s correct — still no game home run for me yet at Kauffman.

  4. raytheaustralian

    Your bobblehead looks like you have a gun stuck in your back or you have just crashed into a seat. Is that a comment on NY city life ?. I bet ZH bobbleheads would make great Xmas gifts for that someone special. Those nets look pretty annoying but I guess they are better than a 98mph fastball being sliced into your face or an Encarnacion flying bat.

  5. Zack Hample

    Gun stuck in my back? Nah, there are very strict gun laws in NYC, so things are very safe. I’ve actually never seen a gun in NYC except being carried by people who need them for their jobs. As for the nets, let’s just say I’d prefer to take my chances.

  6. William Godfrey

    Do you think you will be coming to Cleveland next year? It turns out I passed u at a game I went to, but I didn’t realize it was you! It was in September against the Royals. I am a fan of your and thought it would be cool if I got to meet you!! Or at least see you😂

  7. Will Godfrey

    Ok! Congratulations on your life time total of baseballs, I fell like it is absolutely amazing what u do! You are an amazingly talented person!

  8. Steph stoessel

    How long are you going to do a video at Fenway ft Bragg or the ballpark in Arlington in the postseason

  9. Steph stoessel

    Yo Zack I am a ballhawker too my lifetime tally is 12 and I got 1 commemorative baseball in a minor league stadium

  10. Steph stoessel

    Zack I want to know if you like hockey
    Do you like the New York islanders or New York rangers

  11. Steph stoessel

    Please come to marlins park for the 2017 MLB all star game in Miami I can tell that it is not the best stadium to catch baseballs but not very often but depends if they are playing against the New York Yankees because they travel well and they can rob Miami but that will be lame

  12. Steph stoessel

    Please come to the 2018 MLB all star game in nationals park because it is the best stadium to catch baseballs like the ballpark in Arlington , citi field , and Fenway park

  13. Steph stoessel

    Who is a guy in Minute Maid park who is friends with alex Katz he is on the Oakland athletics

  14. Steph stoessel

    When you get your 10,000 baseball
    What stadium would you think
    A. Oriole park at Camden yards
    B. 2017 MLB all star game at marlins park
    C. Sun trust park
    Or D. Yankee stadium

  15. Zack Hample

    Wow, Steph, so many comments/questions. Let’s see . . .
    1) I don’t follow hockey.
    2) Hopefully I’ll make it to the next few All-Star Games. No plans yet.
    3) Friends with Alex? From my Houston vid? Sam the ballboy.
    4) I’d love to get number 10,000 at Camden.

  16. Will Godfrey

    Hey Zach, I’ve already commented before…😂😂 But I just wanted to ask, since its getting to be baseball season… not really lol. But I was going to ask if sonce I live only an hour away from Cleveland, if I could go with you to a game. I would pay for myself of course… but just let me know when u believe u are coming to the Great state of OHIO next baseball season😂😂 It would be nice to meet you.

  17. Zack Hample

    WILL-
    Hey, thanks for asking. I run a business of taking people to games, so is that what you’re asking about? Otherwise we could try to catch up briefly at the stadium but I’d be focusing on doing my own thing with my videographer.

    ALEXANDER-
    1) No.
    2) No.
    3) Because I think it looks cooler that way.

  18. ALEXofive gaming aka Alex stoessel

    I want to see you coning mcdonalds and then I will subscribe and laugh harder and harder and harderrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

  19. alexofive gaming

    q and a part four would you rather to go to a new York rangers game but I know that you don’t follow hockey but do you wish to go to if they are going to the playoffs check out at the new York rangers website or the new York islanders website

  20. Windswayswings

    Hi my name is windswayswings my friend named Alex who told me that he watched your channel and he wants to be your fan and my fan

  21. William

    Hey Zach, I totally forgot to answer a long time ago lol. So wait a min, you take people to games? If so, how far can that game be from where they live. Because I’m only 13 and I want to go to a Kansas City game. Are you aloud to take people places that far away? If not, how much would it cost to take me to a Cleveland game? Or a Kansas City Game? (In KC)

  22. Zack Hample

    WINDSWAYSWINS-
    Tell your friend Alex what’s up! My lifetime ball total is now 9,475.

    WILLIAM-
    I’ll join people for games anywhere, but they have to cover my travel expenses from NYC, so that can be expensive.

  23. Windswayswings

    Q and a question
    What is your favorite baseball memory
    Or what is your favorite YouTuber
    Do you know daddyofive angry grandpa or kidbehindacamera

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s