Several months ago, when word was first spreading about my new book, I heard from a guy named Jay Goldberg, who offered to host a book event for me at a place called the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse.
I’d never heard of it, so I checked out the website and ran it past my publicist. I had no idea what to think. Who the hell was this guy? Was he planning to charge me to use his space? What did he hope to get out of it?
Long story short: Jay is awesome. He’s a retired sports agent and a diehard baseball fan. He hosts regular book events at his baseball-themed store — the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse — and he hosted one for me last night.
Here’s a look at the Clubhouse from the street. It’s located at 67 East 11th Street in New York City:
Here’s a better look at the entrance:
In the photo above, do you see the little table in the window on the right? I’m going to show you a close-up of that in just a bit, but for now, check out the interior of the Clubhouse:
Normally there are baseball books on the bleacher benches, but Jay had moved them to make room for people to sit.
Here’s another photo of the interior:
In the photo above, do you see what’s perched between the two green chairs?
Here’s a closer look:
It’s a voice recorder/microphone (sitting on top of a game-used base from Shea Stadium). The plan for the evening was for Jay to ask me questions for half an hour, and then for me to continue the Q&A session with the audience — and best of all, the whole thing was going to be recorded as a podcast.
Okay, let’s go back to that table in the window. Look what was on it:
Do you see the baseball on the lower right?
Jay has dozens of “novelty” baseballs for sale at the Clubhouse. Here are a few:
By 7pm, the Clubhouse was starting to fill up…
…and by the end of the evening, there were people standing in the doorway and spilling out onto the sidewalk. I didn’t invite that many friends because I’d heard that space was limited, but according to Jay, we still managed to draw a record crowd.
Jay was an excellent host. He asked me interesting questions and then allowed me answer them in great detail. In fact, we got to cover so much stuff that we used up the full hour-long time slot for the podcast, and then I still took more questions from the audience. It was a beautiful evening.
Then I signed some books:
Sorry for the teeny photos, but they turned out really blurry, so this is all you get.
Jay and I got a photo together at the end of the event…
If you want to listen to the podcast from last night’s event, click here. And if you want to talk baseball with a truly great guy, visit the Clubhouse in person and look for Jay. Tell him Zack Hample sent you.
I don’t have any other book events planned for New York City, but I have a big one scheduled at the Free Library of Philadelphia in July. I’m not planning an official book tour, but get this: I’ve been studying the MLB schedule and planning some trips (nothing’s set yet) and trying to swing it so that I’ll visit all 30 stadiums this season.
It’s been a busy two weeks since The Baseball was published…
I despise bars. I really truly hate them and do my best to avoid them, but every now and then I’ll make an exception and head out to Barcade in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It’s basically a bar combined with a video game arcade, and best of all, the games are classics from the 1980s.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I want to share a recent (and VERY random) email exchange that’s connected to Ireland.
I’m Alex Andreoni from an independent rock band from Brazil called SANTAREM (www.santarem.art.br)
We would like to use one of your Dublin photos as the cover of our next CD (called “No Place To Hide”), that will be released by brazilian record label Die Hard Records.
We’d like to have your permission… of couse we will mention your name as the photographer in the CD sleeve.
Do you give us your permission?
See the attatched unfinished cover art
Thank you very much
Sao Paulo/ Brazil
I combed through my Ireland entries and found the photo that Alex wanted to use. It was in my Day 2 entry. Here it is:
I wrote back to Alex and told him that “it would be an honor” to have my photo appear on the cover of his CD. I also requested that my name be spelled correctly (why do people spell it “zach” when it says “zack” twice in my email address?) and asked if I could share his version of the photo on my blog. This was his reply:
Thank you very much Zack !!!
Sorry for writing your name wrong… I’m sure it will be ok on the cover credits…
We’re doing some little adjustments on the CD cover art and then we send you the final result. Of course you can publish on your blog (Final CD art, my e-mail, whatever you want etc.)
We’ll keep in touch.
After reading Alex’s warm note, I forgave him for the misspelling and waited eagerly to see the finished product.
He emailed me again the following day with another request:
Our designer (who’s working on the CD Cover art) asked me that you could have that Dublin photo with a higher resolution (the original one) than the photo that is in your blog.
Do you have a bigger file (more pixels file) for that photo?
Sao Paulo / Brazil
Sure enough, I did have a larger version of the photo, and when I sent it to Alex, I got another friendly reply:
Thank you very much again…
this 1600 px photo is better than that 1000 px photo, I’m sure we’ll have a great final result. As soon as our desiner finish the art (maybe 3 or 4 days) we send it to you.
That last email was sent on February 11, 2011. Fast-forward 33 days. (That brings us to yesterday.) I finally received the much-awaited follow-up email from Alex, and it contained the final artwork for his band’s CD. Check it out:
How cool is that?!
Here’s a side-by-side comparison with my original photo:
I know this was totally random, but I still wanted to share it. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
I’m going to start by showing you something really cool, and then I’m going to explain it…
Check out this photo that I took of some baseballs under a black light:
Do you see the “1297” on the left side of the photo? Do you see the other faint numbers that appear to be illuminated? That’s invisible ink. It only appears under ultraviolet light.
Let me show you a couple more pics…
Remember when I caught Barry Bonds’ 724th career home run on 8/16/06 at PETCO Park?
Here’s a side-by-side photo of that ball. The image on the left shows it in normal light; the image on the right shows it under a black light:
I learned about the invisible ink while doing research for my new book — and then I got to see the ink being stamped on the balls when I visited the Rawlings baseball factory in Costa Rica.
There are 350 employees at the factory who do nothing but stitch baseballs all day — by hand. Every employee has a stamp with a unique serial number. When the balls are done being stitched, they get stamped with invisible ink. That way, if an inspector finds a “correctable flaw” on a ball (for example, a stitch that’s not quite tight enough), he can examine it under a black light, mark down the serial number, and send it back to the person who stitched it. It’s basically an extra method of quality control.
Even though every ball gets stamped with the ink, you won’t always see it on the balls you get a hold of — that is, if you bother to go out and get yourself a black light. That’s because every ball gets wiped with a cleaning solvent at the factory. The purpose of the solvent isn’t to remove the invisible ink. Rawlings doesn’t care about that. The solvent is used to remove excess wax or oil that might’ve found its way onto the cowhide cover, and in the process, the invisible ink is often rubbed off.
…and here they are under a black light:
For an extra cool effect, download the previous two photos so you can open them both at once and flip back and forth.
I was absolutely stunned when I shined a black light on my baseballs for the first time and saw all these little serial numbers appear out of nowhere. I had snagged thousands of balls over the course of two decades, and I thought I knew everything about them, and then I discovered this whole secret element to my collection. It was like…I don’t know…not to get overly dramatic or anything, but it’s like I’d stumbled into an alternate reality. Of all the things I learned while doing research, this was definitely my favorite.
Let’s take a look at the two commemorative balls that Heath Bell gave me on 7/23/09 at Citizens Bank Park. Here they are in regular light…
…and here they are under a black light:
As you can see, there’s a very faint invisible ink stamp on the World Baseball Classic ball — just to the left of where it says “official ball.”
Here’s a closer look at the brighter stamp on the right:
I’m not sure what it says or how to decipher it.
Is that a period after the 8?
You know what? It doesn’t even matter. It’s just awesome. Let’s leave it at that.
Here’s one more photo for you:
I like the stamp on the lower left that simply says “6-11.”
See the one just to the upper right of it that says “036I”? That’s a 2008 All-Star Game ball, in case you were wondering.
That’s pretty much it, but let me just say quickly (for those who don’t know) that my new book is called The Baseball, and if you’re interested in checking it out, here it is on Amazon. Chapter 7 is called “The Rawlings Method,” and there’s a TON of info about the entire manufacturing process — stuff that some people might find hard to believe.
As you may already know, I’ve been raising money since 2009 for Pitch In For Baseball, a non-profit charity that provides baseball equipment to underprivileged kids all over the world. Each season, I’ve been asking folks to pledge a little bit of money for every baseball that I snag at Major League stadiums — and the money has really added up. With everyone’s help, we’ve raised more than $12,000 for this great cause.
Let’s keep it going. Let’s make 2011 the biggest year yet. Opening Day is just a few weeks away. It’s officially that time, and I need your help once again. Check out this charity page on my website. There’s lots of info there about what I’m doing and how it’ll work and why Pitch In For Baseball is so awesome. Even MLB recognizes the awesomeness.
Finally, if you need extra motivation to get involved, I’m going to give away a few baseball prizes at the end of the season — but only the people who make pledges will be in the running. Details coming soon.
Again, CLICK HERE to learn more about my charity drive. Even if you don’t actually donate anything, I still want to thank you for being a part of it from the sidelines. It’s nice just to get to share this on my blog and let everyone know what I’m doing.