6/17/16 at Dodger Stadium

I had two big goals for this day at Dodger Stadium. Most importantly, I wanted to make a better YouTube video than the one I did here in 2012, and second, I wanted to snag at least 10 baseballs. I always hope to hit double digits, but on this particular occasion, I started the day with 90 lifetime balls at this stadium, so I was hoping to reach 100. I suppose that’s one of my longterm goals — to reach triple digits at every current stadium.

I got inside early with some friends who are season ticket holders and headed down near the left field foul pole:


Did you notice all the players standing around in left field? Batting practice hadn’t started yet. That’s how early it was. Every day at Dodger Stadium, season ticket holders get inside THREE HOURS before game time. That’s just not fair. I mean, good for them (and for the Dodgers for being so fan-friendly), but it just makes me hate New York.

There wasn’t much action at first. I tried unsuccessfully to get a toss-up, and then Joc Pederson ignored my request to sign my 9,000th ball (which he had hit during BP four days earlier at Chase Field). Oh well. I’ll get him someday. Maybe. Possibly. Or not? No? Well, who needs him anyway!

After BP finally got underway, I snagged my first ball by running quite a distance through an empty row. Here I am taking off for it:


Look closely at the following screen shot, and you’ll see the ball rattling around in my row:


And then?
More dead time.

For the first hour, fans were confined to the left field side, which wouldn’t have been so bad except for the fact that the entire first group of Dodgers BP consisted of left-handed batters. Chase Utley? Adrian Gonzalez? I think they were hitting, along with Pederson and Corey Seager.

My videographer, Brandon Sloter, got a shot of Clayton Kershaw in the bullpen:


I moved back to the left field corner and waited. This was my view:


Brandon rejoined me for the next group and got a decent shot of my second ball — a home run by Justin Turner. Here’s a four-part photo that shows how I got it:


Let me provide some commentary:

1) As soon as the ball was hit, I climbed back over a row and started moving into fair territory.

2) I took a quick peek at the ball, but didn’t need to keep looking at it. I knew where it was going to land, so I focused on getting to that spot as quickly as possible.

3) It looks like I was about to glove it, but in fact the ball was just beyond my reach, so I accidentally swatted it deeper into the section.

4) I climbed back over a couple of rows and grabbed it. Phew! Note the clock. It was still more than two and a half hours until game time.

A few minutes later, I had what should’ve been an easy, uncontested chance to snag another ball. Look where it landed:


As you can see, there was no one else near it. All I was gonna have to do was scoot through that glorious cross-aisle and pick it up. Maybe walk up a couple of steps? Gosh, what a challenge, right? Well, actually . . . yeah. The ball took a RIDICULOUS deflection and landed one full section behind me. Here I am watching it and realizing that I needed to change directions:


Look where it landed:


It plunked down right in the row where that kid happened to be chillin’. Bad luck for me meant good luck for him, so it really wasn’t that bad after all. I just think it’s interesting to have footage of an extremely unlucky bounce; ballhawks complain about stuff like that all time, so even though I didn’t end up getting the ball, it’s fun to actually have video evidence.

Here I am (one sneaker in the air) reaching for a ground ball:


I barely missed it. So many close calls.

For the Dodgers’ final group of BP, I moved to the left field pavilion. Here’s what it looked like from where Brandon was standing in the front row:


I wasn’t up there with him. Instead I was camped out on a staircase down below:


There are far more opportunities *in* the bleachers than down below (or down the foul lines), but I picked that spot because it’s different. It’s fun to scamper around in a mostly dead area directly behind an outfield wall. How many other stadiums are set up like that? The outfield configuration at the Oakland Coliseum used to resemble that, but now there’s nothing else like it in the majors.

My staircase strategy paid off when a right-handed batter (not sure who) barely cleared the wall with a ground-rule double. Here I am chasing it down:


Back on the staircase, I handed the ball to the nearest/smallest kid:


That was one of five balls I gave away over the course of the day.

When the entire stadium opened at 5:10pm, I headed over to the right field pavilion:


FYI, that’s the “all-you-can-eat pavilion,” and you need a right field ticket to be there, even during batting practice.

Brewers outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis was throwing a ball against the wall, so I walked over and asked him if he wanted to play catch. Even though I was the only fan out there, I didn’t expect him to do it. He used to play for the Mets, so I’d seen him a lot at Citi Field, and he never seemed to engage with fans during BP. I’m not sure if he was stand-offish or just super-focused on preparing for the games, but in any case, he was like a completely different person here in L.A. Without hesitating, he threw me the ball:


Then I threw it back:


Usually, when I play catch with guys on the field, they’ll let me make one or two throws and then end it. That wasn’t the case here. Nieuwenhuis and I played catch for three solid minutes, and you’ll see a good chunk of it in the video. He threw curveballs. I threw knuckleballs. And of course there were plenty of four-seamers. It was incredible to have an extended one-on-one interaction with a major league player inside a stadium. That doesn’t happen often.

Nieuwenhuis ultimately let me keep the ball — my fourth of the day — and I got another soon after from Jeremy Jeffress.

Once again, I had several close calls during the Brewers’ portion of BP. Here I am almost catching a deep fly ball behind the wall in right field:


This was my reaction after it hit the top of the wall:


If that ball had sailed two feet farther, it would’ve been an easy catch. And look! The same thing happened to me in left field during the final group of BP:


I wasn’t feeling good about either pavilion, so I headed briefly to the right field corner:


That spot turned out to be dead, so I hurried to the 1st base dugout just before BP ended. I hoped to get a ball from the Brewers when they cleared the field, but they sure didn’t make it easy for me. Look at this:


When teams finish hitting, they always dump the baseballs from the BP basket into an equipment bag — and they always do it on the warning track. Not today! The Brewers made the basket-to-bag transfer all the way out on the foul line, which meant I didn’t even have a chance to ask for a ball. Life is hard.

Just as I was getting ready to give up on that spot, Darnell Coles, the team’s hitting coach, walked over with two baseballs in his back pocket. He tossed one to a girl on my left and flipped the second one to me:


By the way, in case you’re wondering, he was heading through the seats to talk to someone he knew, who obviously didn’t have a ticket for the ultra-fancy section down in front.

Take another look at the photo of me in the right field corner. See the dude in the red t-shirt? His name is Jason, and we had a nice long chat near the dugout after BP. He lives in southern California and attends lots of games.

Shortly before game time, I got my seventh ball tossed up from the Brewers’ bullpen:


It came from pitching coach Derek Johnson.

I wandered a bit at the start of the game and eventually made my way to the outfield. Look how crowded it was:


Security at Dodger Stadium has changed quite a bit since my previous visit in 2013. It used to be impossible to move around. To get into the left field pavilion, you specifically needed a ticket for that area, and if you had a ticket there, you couldn’t go anywhere else. I used to buy two tickets for every game just so I’d be able to move around. To get into the lower level of the main part of the stadium, you needed a ticket there; you couldn’t even go downstairs from the 2nd deck. The rules were so restrictive that it was nearly suffocating. (Don’t get me started on the parking situation. That still needs an overhaul.)

What’s different now? The Dodgers have expanded the perimeter of the stadium so that there’s a concourse behind the pavilions:


Anyone with any ticket can walk all the way around the stadium . . . on the inside! If you want to go into the left field pavilion for BP or during the game, no one’s going to stop you, so I headed over there to say hey to my friend Devin Trone:


Remember him from Angel Stadium? I’d seen him there just two days earlier. I hoped to say hello to Bobby Crosby (aka “Dodgerfilms“), but he wasn’t there. I did, however, get a chance to catch up with my buddy Benny Amesquita.

One place where you have to show a ticket is the right field pavilion. As I mentioned earlier, that’s the all-you-can-eat area, so obviously it wouldn’t work if anyone could wander in there. Here’s what the main concession stand looks like:


Here’s the soft-drink area right around the corner:


As someone who pretty much *only* drinks water, I was happy to see these . . .


. . . but by the middle innings, most of them were empty. <WARNING — RANT COMING.> I tell ya, water drinkers get shafted. Why is it that the cheapest and most common liquid on the planet is often unavailable? I can’t count the number of times that I’ve been at picnics or luncheons, and EVERY other drink is available except for water. In one cooler, there’ll be six different kinds of beer. In another cooler, there’ll be Coke, Pepsi, Gatorade, and juice — maybe even chocolate milk for the kids — but no effin’ water! Why is it perceived as being weird to want to drink water? Open bar? Great! Give me a glass of ice water, please, and for the love of Abzu, don’t put any lemon in it! If I wanted lemonade, I’d order it. Just give me some plain-ass water, okay? I don’t need the sugar or the calories. My taste buds are mature enough not to need additional stimulation between bites. JUST. GIVE. ME. WATER. All you people out there who offer to buy me beers at games, thanks, you’re awesome and generous, but I’d rather drink water. Always. Do you hear that, Dodgers? I want to drink water. H2O. And yes, I’m aware that the soft drink machines provide water, but when I use those, the water comes out of the same spout that gets used for other stuff. I don’t want random soda molecules tainting my water. Does that make sense? This is a very serious and troubling issue. Replacing those water jugs should be your top priority — right up there with making sure that the bathrooms have toilet paper and that the home plate umpire has baseballs to put in play. Thanks for your cooperation. <END RANT.>

Here’s what I ate and drank:


In addition to the two hot dogs, I got nachos and cheese, peanuts, popcorn, and of course a cup of water . . . with Coca Cola logos on the side.

The all-you-can-eat pavilion should be called the “all-you-can-bear-to-eat-before-you-hate-yourself pavilion.” It’s not exactly high-quality fare, but I suppose it’s a worthwhile one-time experience.

Around the 7th inning, I exited the pavilion in search of ice cream. Heh. If I’m gonna have sugar, I’d rather make it count.

Check out this new/huge/snazzy concession area:


There was no ice cream there, so I had to walk all the way into foul territory to get some, but you know what? I was happy just to be allowed to walk into foul territory without showing my ticket. Accessibility, baby! That’s what up.

Look at this beautiful dessert:


Mm-hmm, yessir!

Here’s another nice thing about Dodger Stadium that I don’t recall seeing in the past:


Those seats behind the bullpen are open to everyone. You don’t need to show a ticket to be there. Just show up and grab an open spot. Outstanding.

You know what really sucked? Leaving the stadium in the 9th inning with the score tied, 2-2, because I had a flight to catch back home to New York City. Here’s what the stadium looked like as I headed toward the edge of the parking lot with Brandon:


We listened to the game on the way to the airport. Justin Turner won it with an RBI single in the bottom of the 10th.

As for my two goals that I mentioned at the top, I fell short of double digits, but I can live with that. It just means I’ll have to come back soon and snag my 100th lifetime Dodger Stadium ball. The video, however, is another story. Brandon is still working on it, so who knows how it’ll turn out? (My prediction: great!) Subscribe to my YouTube channel, and you’ll get an alert when I post it. I’ll also add a link here, so stay tuned.


36_the_two_baseballs_i_kept_06_17_16 7 baseballs at this game (two pictured here because I gave five away)

 394 balls in 48 games this season = 8.21 balls per game.

• 97 balls in 12 lifetime games at Dodger Stadium = 8.08 balls per game.

1,214 consecutive games with at least one ball

 9,027 total balls


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.

• 14 donors for my fundraiser

• $123.77 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $618.85 raised this season

• $191,122.51 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

6/16/16 at PETCO Park

My day started with good food and great company:


That’s Heath Bell and his son Reece.

(For those who are new to this blog, I became friendly with Heath in 2005. Now he lives in San Diego, and sometimes we hang out.)

After the meal, we drove to their new house, and they showed me all the massive renovations that are being done. One thing that didn’t need any work was the trampoline in the backyard, so of course I jumped around for a bit:


After spending half an hour there, we headed to their current/soon-to-be-former house. Here’s Heath with his other son Rhet:


The highlight of my day was playing catch out in the street:


I’m always happy to play baseball, but in this case, I was downright excited to throw with a former All-Star closer (who, by the way, still HAS IT). Here he is throwing a wicked knuckleball to me:


We were just getting loose at that point . . .


. . . but it wasn’t long before he dialed it up.

Despite being two years removed from his MLB career, he was recently clocked at 94 miles per hour! (He coaches youth baseball and throws/pitches BP all the time, and of course the weather is always good in San Diego, so his arm has stayed strong.) Why doesn’t he attempt a comeback? Because he’d rather be with his family. It’s that simple.

Here I am catching one of Heath’s faster throws, which he estimated at 85 to 90mph:


This was my reaction:


You might think you throw hard, so let me just say that if you can’t actually HEAR the ball cutting through the air, your arm is crap. (To be fair, my arm is crap.)

I don’t usually worry about my safety when playing catch, but this was indeed one of those rare times. The only other example that comes to mind is when I threw with a 6-foot-6 monster / former minor league pitcher named Leon Feingold in a small gymnasium with baseball-colored walls. There’s almost something non-human about how the ball explodes out of a professional pitcher’s hand.

I was hoping that Heath and Reece would join me at PETCO, but the young man had an All-Star Game to play in, so Heath had the audacity to choose that instead. Here were are together in the street:


He told me we could catch up again at the MLB All-Star Game if I made it back out to San Diego, but at that point, I wasn’t sure about my plans.

As for PETCO Park, look at this nonsense:


What’s wrong with that, you ask? Here’s what it used to look like. There used to be a ton of open space. Now it’s a huge two-tiered party deck, the lower portion of which is completely inaccessible to fans with normal tickets. As a result, this was as close as I could get to the field for the first half-hour:


Oh look! Someone took my picture from afar:


Did you notice the barricades in the previous two photos? All they seemed to do was get in people’s way and piss off the usher who had to keep fixing them. Here’s what I’m talking about:


Just so you know, I was NOT the person who kept knocking them down. The culprit was a drunk, aggressive man who charged forward whenever a player tossed a ball into the crowd, but still, what a dopey setup.

I always used to snag a few baseballs during that half-hour chunk of time in the area formerly known as “The Beach,” but not surprisingly, I got a grand total of ZERO on the party deck. Even though I live on the other side of the country, I’m extremely bummed about this change to the stadium.

Here’s how I got my first ball of the day:


That’s Nationals bullpen coach Dan Firova throwing it to me, and check it out — I threw it right back:


We played catch for a solid minute or two, and then he let me keep the ball.

After that, I got miked up for a TV interview on ABC News:


The guy doing the miking/filming is named Steve Smith. Is it even worth mentioning that he’s extremely friendly and laid-back, or is everyone in San Diego born that way? Steve and I have a mutual friend, and we’ve done several segments together in the past. Here he is getting another shot of me:


A little while later, when the Nationals were playing catch along the left field foul line, one of their throws sailed high and landed in the seats. I retrieved that ball and handed it to a little kid.

Over the years, I had averaged more than 10 balls per game at PETCO, but I didn’t come close to that number on this particular day. The seats were crowded, and there just wasn’t much action. Here’s what it looked like from left field:


This was the view to my right:


The last time I visited PETCO, those first two rows weren’t there. See that red thing draped over the dark blue concrete ledge? THAT is where the outfield wall used to be. The extra seats, however, didn’t help me one bit, though I’m sure I’d get some extra baseballs if I spent several days here.

During the middle group of Nationals BP, I headed out to right field and didn’t get anything there. Once again, it was crowded, and there wasn’t much action, so I gave up on that area and hurried to the 2nd deck in left field. I managed to get one ball there during the final group, thrown by coach Nilson Robledo.

Let’s talk about the 2nd deck for a moment, shall we? Click here to see what it USED TO look like. (Did you click that link? I’m not messing around here. You need to do that.) See all that lovely space? Yeah. Here’s what it looks like now:


Here’s another photo, taken down in front:



There are so many seats crammed into that spot that it’s impossible to move, not just for baseballs, but like . . . at all. Is it against the rules now to get up and use the bathroom?

After wandering all around the 2nd deck and imagining where balls would land during the Home Run Derby, I said goodbye to Steve and caught up with these guys:


That’s Leigh Barratt (aka “Padre Leigh”) on the left and Rick Gold on the right — two good friends and talented ballhawks.

Ready to see my dinner?


YEEEEOW!!! I was good for the rest of the night after eating that.

This was my view from right field during the game:


There’s standing room built right into the cross-aisle. I love that spot.

Do you remember this guy from my previous visits to San Diego?


His name is Ismael, and he’s *always* there. He has only missed a handful of games since the stadium opened in 2004.

Here’s an equally diehard fan, who really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really REALLY likes Wil Myers:


She shrieks (like, for real) whenever Myers steps to the plate, and yes, you can pretty much hear it no matter where you are in the stadium.

As the innings rolled by, I didn’t expect to snag any more baseballs, and you know what? That was fine. I was enjoying hanging out in right field with the PETCO Park regulars — almost taking a “night off” from the normal grind, if you will.

My attitude changed with two outs in the top of the 6th. That’s when Anthony Rendon hit a home run to left-center field, which appeared to ricochet out of the seats and drop down into the gap beside the bullpen. I waited for a moment to figure out what had happened. Several fans were peering down over the wall, so the ball had to be there.

And . . . ?

No one had a ball retriever, and I didn’t see the ball get tossed up. That’s when I decided to run over.

If an usher had asked to see my ticket in left-center field, that would’ve been the end of it for me. There wouldn’t have been any way around that, but this wasn’t New York. The Padres were in last place, and the stadium was half-empty, and no one noticed or cared when I headed down into that section. Here’s what I saw:



I asked a father and son sitting near me if that was the Rendon home run ball, and they said yeah. (For my own peace of mind, I just had to make sure.)

My goal was simple: use the glove trick to reel it in.

Some ballhawks count home run balls that are tossed to them, but I don’t. I only count mine if I get them unassisted. That means I either have to catch them on the fly or grab them in the seats or . . . that’s right, use the glove trick. In all my years of doing this, I had successfully used the trick twice for game balls — once for a David Justice ground-rule double at SkyDome in 2000 and another time for a Justin Upton homer at Citi Field in 2014. I also used the trick unsuccessfully on 9/10/11 at Comerica Park. That’s when I accidentally knocked a Joe Mauer homer off a platform into the bullpen; I ended up getting the ball tossed to me by a security guard, which effectively nullified it. Yes, I’m still pissed about it. Yes, this self-imposed rule is completely arbitrary. Yes, I’m going to get on with the story of the Rendon homer.

I set up my device and waited until the moment felt right. That turned out to be when someone started heading over from the Padres’ bullpen. I think it was Griffin Benedict, the bullpen catcher, but anyway, I basically had to get my glove down over the ball before he got there and picked it up, but unfortunately the ball was a bit too far out. Still, he was intrigued enough by the device that he stood there and watched me swing it out in an attempt to move the ball closer. It seemed like he was going to let me get it . . . until he started kicking dirt on it in order to bury it! Thankfully he was only joking, and he did ultimately let me get it. Here I am with the ball in my glove:


Here’s the ball itself — my 43rd lifetime game home run:


Stadium security had a brief word with me after that, but it was nothing serious. They didn’t confiscate the ball. They didn’t eject me. They just asked me not to do it again, which was surprising given how many times I had used the trick at this stadium in the past, including this ball in the very same spot while a security guard spectated.

Here’s the father and son who had confirmed that the ball was THE ball:


Their names are Tom (on the left) and Braden (on the right). Nice guys. And hello, photo-bombers in the back. I see you. You want to be in the photo? How about some closeups so everyone can see just how beautiful you are:


I should mention that by snagging the Rendon home run ball, I helped raise an additional $123.77 for the charity Pitch In For Baseball. This season, all of my game home run balls are supporting the cause and helping kids play ball. Here’s more info about my fundraiser in case you’d like to get involved.

Back in right field, I caught up with my buddy Franklin:


He’s one of the friendliest stadium employees I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting (and he knows a TON about baseball).

Did you notice the All-Star logo on his shirt? Hmm . . .

With one out remaining in the game, I photographed the new party deck in right-center:


It looks snazzy, but I can’t help feeling sad about what used to be there.

Here’s what the right field cross-aisle looks like:


Let’s hope that never gets filled in with additional seating.

Final score: Nationals 8, Padres 5.


34_the_three_baseballs_i_kept_06_16_16 4 baseballs at this game (three pictured here because I gave one away)

 387 balls in 47 games this season = 8.23 balls per game.

• 146 balls in 14 lifetime games at PETCO Park = 10.43 balls per game.

1,213 consecutive games with at least one ball

 43 lifetime game home run balls (not counting balls that were thrown to me); click here for the complete list

 9,020 total balls


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.

• 14 donors for my fundraiser

• $123.77 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $618.85 raised this season

• $191,122.51 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

6/15/16 at Angel Stadium

It had been three years since BIGS Sunflower Seeds sent me to Angel Stadium. Now I was back with my videographer, Brandon Sloter, to do a ballhawking video for my YouTube Channel. Here I am doing the opening shot in the parking lot:


(Guilford College in the houuuse!)

By the time the stadium opened, there was quite a crowd outside the gates:


Do you recognize that guy in the photo above? (No, I’m not talking about Mike Trout high up on the wall in the background.) That’s my friend and fellow ballhawk Devin Trone. Whenever I attend games in Anaheim or Los Angeles, he’s there — same deal with Home Run Derbies and All-Star Games — so it was nice to catch up with him.

After making a quick stop near the left field foul pole . . .


. . . I headed out to left-center field.

My indecision cost me a baseball.
This stadium drives me crazy.
Look at this challenging setup:


Whether trying to catch a baseball or just watch the game, it’s awfully frustrating when the front row is 50 feet away from the field. Dead space in the outfield is the worst, and this stadium has a lot of it.

Thankfully it didn’t take long for me to snag my first baseball of the day. Here’s a four-part photo that shows how it played out:


Here are some details:

1) I was about eight rows back when I saw the ball get hit in my direction.

2) Judging that it was going to fall short, I ran down to the third row and started moving to my left. Note how the employee in the red shirt is standing there casually and ignoring the ball as it plunked down beside him.

3) The ball took a massive bounce over my head (see it against the sky?) and landed in the row where I’d initially been standing. Duh.

4) No one else was going for it, but I still rushed to get there and pick it up. Then I confirmed with one of the regulars that it had been hit by C.J. Cron.

Here’s the ball — No. 9,012 lifetime:


I only had one more quasi-chance during the brief remaining portion of Angels BP. Take a look at the following screen shot and see if you can figure out what happened:


Basically a home run bounced past and barely missed that big blue thing. I was hoping it’d hit the rounded edge and deflect toward me, but no.

When the Twins took the field, I headed over to the 1st base side and got a ball thrown to me:


I’m not sure who hooked me up, and in fact I struggled throughout BP to identify the players.

Brandon followed me out to the corner spot in right field. He doesn’t like being photographed, so I cropped him out of this shot which was sent to me by Matt Jackson — another friend and fellow ballhawk:


Here I am lunging for a ground-rule double:


Cool action shot, right? Well, the ball bounced a foot beyond my reach.

Here I am getting a ball tossed by Ervin Santana:


I handed that one to this little fella, who had told me earlier that it was his very first Angels game:


I headed back to left-center field and continued to struggle with bounces. Here I am barely missing one after having drifted down the steps:


I’m an idiot. All I had to do was NOT MOVE, and it would’ve been an easy chest-high catch.

Here I am getting my 4th ball of the day from the employee in left-center:


He’d already given baseballs to all the kids down in front, so by the end of BP, he must’ve figured it was time to chuck one to me. I gave that ball to a kid late in the game.

After BP, I met a father/son ballhawking duo named Boog and Jacob:


They are GREAT guys, and I’m not just saying that because they’d brought two of my books for me to sign. I really had a nice time hanging out with them. And by the way, I need to point out the fact that Boog is close to my age and has a son who’s . . . like, an actual grown-up! That’s just weird. I can’t imagine having a kid right now (hopefully someday) let alone one who’s old enough to grow facial hair. WTF. My dad was 51 when I was born. I wonder what it’s like to have a father who’s so young.

Anyway, look what I saw during the lull after BP:


Obviously I had to walk over and check it out up close:


That’s* an* impressive* bunch* of* names.*

After a quick peek at the Big A . . .


. . . it was game time. My seat was behind the Twins’ dugout . . .


. . . but I didn’t really want to stay there all night. I think it’s dumb to sit in foul territory when Mike Trout and Albert Pujols are in the starting lineup, so I decided to stay there until I got a 3rd-out ball, and then I’d think about heading elsewhere.

Thankfully it didn’t take long. When Trout grounded out to end the 1st inning, I headed down to the front row and got Twins 1st baseman Byung Ho Park to toss me the ball. Here I am (now fully decked out in Twins gear) reaching out for the catch:


I often have a kid in mind before I catch a ball — someone that I already know I’m gonna give it to. That was the case with the Ervin Santana toss-up in right field, and I did the same thing here at the dugout, so when I walked back up the steps, I handed it to this guy:


Someone told me later that a game-used ball hit by Mike Trout — even a ball that resulted in an out — is worth hundreds of dollars. I suppose that’s true, but it didn’t occur to me at the time, and I don’t care. Quite simply, it was fun to snag that ball after the 1st inning, and it also felt good to give it away to a young fan.

I headed out to left-center field after that. I was prepared to talk to the usher and show him my dugout ticket and ask nicely if I could sit in his section for a few innings — maybe even offer him a ball to give to the kid of his choice — but guess what? No one ever asked to see my ticket, so I picked this empty spot down in front:


It didn’t stay empty for long:


Those guys in the front row ended up recognizing me and admitting that they, too, didn’t have tickets for that section.

People often ask me how I’m able to move around during games, so that’s how. In certain sections in certain stadiums, it’s simply not an issue. The ushers WERE closely guarding the dugout seats (one guy rudely denied me on the 3rd base side when I was hoping to say hello to Mike Trout before the game), but 430 feet from home plate in a section with a lousy view? No one cared, and that’s how it should be.

Late in the game, I headed out to right field and met the famous “TROUTNET” guy:


His name is Jonathan, and you can check him out on Instagram. He was incredibly friendly, not just to me, but to everyone. He brings three TROUTNETs to every game and lends them to random people every inning so they can try to catch the outfielders’ warm-up balls. Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout take turns throwing balls into the crowd throughout the game, and they always aim for the TROUTNETs. How cool is that? (I also think it’s cool that Angel Stadium security allows Jonathan to bring these inside. I can assure you they would not be allowed in either stadium in New York.)

I gave it a shot for several innings and came really close at one point:


If you look closely at the screen shot above, you can see Jonathan filming himself making the catch. I said that Calhoun and Trout throw the balls to people with those nets, but sometimes their aim is a bit off.

This was my late-inning view from right-center field:


After the final out of the Angels’ 10-2 win (in which Trout scored three runs — aww yeah!), there was a whole lot of fire:


Good times!

Here I am watching the flames:


Just before heading out, a fan named Ivan asked me to sign his baseball with a gold marker:


I think that looks snazzy.

Here’s the last photo I took inside the stadium:


From a numbers standpoint, it was kind of a blah day. I’ve been averaging more than eight balls per game this season, so to “only” get five was a bummer, especially when I was being filmed and hoping to put on a good show. Angel Stadium is a difficult place to catch baseballs, but I still could’ve hit my average with a bit more luck and a less stupidity. If I had headed directly to straight-away left field upon entering, I would’ve gotten a home run that landed in the back bullpen and bounced into the seats. If the home run just beyond the outer edge of the seats had clipped the blue/rounded Sherwin Williams ad, it would have deflected to me. Then there was the ground-rule double in right field that eluded my glove by about a foot. There was also the ball that I misplayed back in left-center by drifting down the steps. And finally there were a few close calls with the TROUTNET late in the game. I don’t think I could’ve reached double digits (well, maybe I could’ve if I went for pre-game balls near the bullpens and/or along the right field foul line and then tried to get a ball after the game near the dugouts or bullpens), but I clearly underperformed. By saying all of this, I don’t mean to complain but rather demonstrate how there were a bunch of woulda/coulda/shoulda moments. That’s often the case, but there seemed to be more of them at this particular game. Oh well. It was still a fun day.

The video is still being edited. Subscribe to my YouTube channel and/or check back here for an update. I’ll add a link when it’s ready.


31_the_two_baseballs_i_kept_06_15_16 5 baseballs at this game (two pictured here because I gave three away)

 383 balls in 46 games this season = 8.33 balls per game.

• 44 balls in 7 lifetime games at Angel Stadium = 6.29 balls per game.

1,212 consecutive games with at least one ball

 9,016 total balls


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.

• 13 donors for my fundraiser

• $113.77 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $455.08 raised this season

• $190,958.74 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

6/14/16 at AT&T Park

It had been three years since my last visit to AT&T Park. That’s when BIGS Sunflower Seeds sponsored me and sent me to all 30 major league stadiums. Now I was back for another big reason: to film a ballhawking video for my YouTube channel. Here’s how it all went down . . .

I started by doing the opening shot from a promenade on the other side of McCovey Cove:


It was cold and windy, and I was severely underdressed, but what the hell was I supposed to wear? I’d been in Phoenix the day before, where it was about 243 degrees, and after this game in San Francisco, I was planning to be in Anaheim, San Diego, and Los Angeles. Should I have lugged my heaviest winter jacket around for five days only to wear it once for a few hours? Nah. I chose to suffer instead.

It was roughly three hours before game time when I headed over to the portwalk:


Do you remember this guy from my last visit to AT&T Park?


Here’s a photo to refresh your memory. His name is Joe Dirt, and he has fished a *lot* of home run balls out of the water, both during BP and games. After I caught up with him for a bit, the Giants finally started hitting. Here I am looking at the field through the gates:


My goal was simple. I wanted to snag a baseball on the portwalk before the stadium officially opened, and look! It happened:


If you don’t have a water retrieval device, the best way to snag a ball on the portwalk is to get a player or coach to chuck one up/over/out of the stadium. That’s what happened in the four-part photo above. Unfortunately I’m not sure who hooked me up. I didn’t get a good look at his face, and no one else recognized him.

Before heading over to the Marina gate, I met a guy named Rodrigo who had brought his copy of my book The Baseball:


I signed it for him, and we talked for a few minutes. He’s a huge baseball fan and passionate about ballhawking, so it was nice to see him get a baseball later on.

Over at the gate, I caught up with my friend Bill — a regular ballhawk at AT&T Park:


Bill has been great to me over the years, giving me advice about the stadium and just making me feel welcomed in general.

Then I caught up with these trouble-makers:


Those are my cousins Sam and Juliana, who might look familiar if you’re a diehard fan of this blog. Remember them from this photo on 8/14/13 at the Oakland Coliseum? Or this photo on 7/17/12 at Dodger Stadium?

Anyway, when I ran inside here in San Francisco, this was my view from left field:


Now check out what it looked like on my right:


Is that glorious or what?

Unfortunately that aisle always gets packed within a few minutes of the stadium opening, so as great as it looks in the photo above, it’s actually a waste of time to stay there. That’s part of the reason I headed to right field for the final group of Giants BP:


In the photo above, did you notice the deep fly ball descending on my right?

It was tough to snag baseballs out there. Here I am explaining why:


As you can see, there were dozens of fans on the warning track. They all had special tickets. That’s how they got to be there — good for them, but bad for me because it made it nearly impossible to get toss-ups in the seats.

Before the Brewers started hitting, I got a ball thrown to me by Jonathan Villar on the 1st base side:


Yes, that’s me after changing into Brewers gear. I came prepared with a good outfit because of how tough this stadium is. (Big thanks to my friend Ben Weil for lending me that jersey.)

Look how crowded it got in left field:


I was all the way out in left-center because that was the only spot where I had a bit of room to work with . . . and it paid off. Here I am reaching up for a home run — my third ball of the day:


I have no idea who hit it.

Back in straight-away left field, I caught up briefly with a guy named Alex Patino:


If that name is familiar, it’s because I featured him in The Baseball as one of the top ten ballhawks of all time. Turn to pages 283-284 to see the interview I did with him. It’s truly hilarious. Here’s my favorite quote — his answer to my question about the worst ballhawking injury he ever suffered:

“I got taken out by a big fat usher lady. We call her Helga. She checked me, like, I ran into her stomach. She’s about six-three, but to me she’s like six-a-hundred, and I ran into her panza. I went down, bro. I didn’t even move. My knee twisted, and I didn’t want to show it, but I was [in serious pain]. And she knew she did it too. You’ve seen those boxing videos where they get knocked out and the guy’s just looking down at you ’cause you got knocked out? That’s what it looked like.”

I regret not getting him in the video, but things were hectic, and we didn’t have much time together — but hey, that just means I’ll have to go back.

After BP, I got my fourth ball from a ballboy at the 3rd base dugout. Here he is flinging it to me:


FYI, you can’t get down to the dugouts at AT&T without dugout tickets, even during BP. I knew this ahead of time and splurged on a pair of nice seats.

A few minutes later, a kid asked me to sign his hat:


Normally I sigh hats underneath the bill, but this one was black, so obviously I had to sign it elsewhere. Since the gray portion was flimsier than the bill, I signed it while he was wearing it. That was fun.

Then I wandered to a few different spots and took some photos along the way, starting with this:


That’s a lot of money for a baseball, but they ARE “authentic.”

One place I checked out was the garden in center field, which actually provides fresh fruit and vegetables for the two bistros there:


That opened a few years ago, but it was new to me.

Did you notice the batting cage sitting there? I went over and touched it, just because. Whenever I’m in a beautiful, unique spot, I always wonder why the stadiums in New York City don’t look like that, and then a harsh reality sets in: people would destroy it.

After a little trolly action . . .


. . . I passed by the Marina gate . . .


. . . and headed to the outer edge of the right field upper deck. Ready for some more beauty?



Just as the Giants were taking the field, I did a quick shot for the video:


(Hey, because of where the right fielder was standing, it looks like I have an earring.)

As for the game, check out my awesome view:


My seat was in the second row next to the stairs. I basically knew I was going to get a 3rd-out ball, so it was just a matter of when.

My cousin Sam was sitting several seats to my right with his father (my first cousin), Howie:


Juliana was sitting there too, but I guess she’d wandered just out of the frame when I took that photo.

The 2nd inning ended with a Denard Span groundout. First baseman Chris Carter fielded it and tossed to pitcher Matt Garza, who caught it on the run and stepped on the bag. Garza then tossed it to 2nd baseman Scooter Gennett, who’s basically the designated 3rd-out ball tosser. Here’s what happened next:


As you can see, I was already down in the corner spot beside the dugout, and Gennett tossed me the ball. Here’s a closer look at it:


I then gave one of my BP balls to a girl:


After that I signed another BP ball for Silly Sam:


Then I signed the gamer for Juliana:


I’ll have you know that the “Peace out, bro!” line was her idea.

There were lots of baseballs to go around. Here’s a double photo that shows the kid in front of me catching a ball and then hiding it behind his back while asking for another:


Don’t be like that kid. Put your first ball away so both of your hands are free. Come on! And of course I encourage everyone to be generous with baseballs. No one ever has the right to peer-pressure you into giving balls away. If you snag 20 in one game and want to keep them all, that’s your choice, but if you have extras, it’s nice to share the love.

While my stupid videographer was taking stupid photos in the upper deck for his stupid Instagram, THIS happened:



I was sitting in my seat and looking at my phone between batters when I heard something hit the short metal fence in front of me. I assumed that a player had tossed up a ball which fell short, so when I looked up, I was shocked to see a baseball bat rolling away from me toward the far edge of the dugout roof. I jumped up and darted down the steps to the corner spot in the front row, just to the right of the dugout. The bat had completely rolled off by that point, and two Brewers players were starting to poke their heads out to decide who to give it to. I waved to get their attention, and they handed it to me. That’s it — simple, random, and awesome.

The trademark portion of the bat was coated with pine tar and *very* sticky, and as you’ll see in just a bit, the handle had a large, splinter-y crack. That didn’t matter to me. I was just excited to be able to add another bat to my collection because they’re pretty hard to come by. I’ve attended more than 1,400 major league games, and this was only my 10th bat. You can see all them here, along with some other “bonus items” I’ve gotten through the years.

Wanna know what else my videographer missed? Another 3rd-out ball, once again tossed by Gennett, but this time I was half a dozen rows back. In case you’re wondering, it was the ball that ended the 4th inning — a Brandon Belt pop-out to Villar.

After that, the Giants’ social media team paid me a visit and photographed me for their Snapchat:


(I had to borrow a ball from my cousins for that photo. Oh! And I should mention that their father, Howie, snagged a toss-up during BP.)

Late in the game, I wandered a bit and ended up here:


As A Courtesy To Both My Eyeballs And Grammatical Sensibilities, Please Don’t Begin Every Word With A Capital Letter.

The Giants won the game, 3-2, behind a strong eight-inning performance from Madison Bumgarner. There was only one home run all night — a 5th-inning blast by Jonathan Lucroy that I wouldn’t have caught even if I’d been sitting in the outfield, so whatever. But really, it was a good game.

I didn’t expect much from the Brewers after the final out. Losing teams generally aren’t in much of a ball-tossing mood, but nevertheless I gave it a shot near the home-plate end of the dugout:


Bullpen catcher Marcus Hanel was the last guy in the dugout, and just before he disappeared, he threw me my seventh and final ball of the day.

Here I am doing the closing shot for the video:


Did you notice all the seagulls in the background? You can see them all over the bleachers and outfield in this photo:


Two final thoughts:

1) AT&T Park is both beautiful and difficult. It’s super-crowded and competitive during BP, but I still love it there.

2) The video is almost ready. I’ll add a link here when it’s done, but in the meantime, you might as well subscribe to my YouTube channel. There’s lots more good content on the way, and you’ll hate yourself if you miss it.

Here’s the video.


39_the_four_balls_i_kept_06_14_16 7 baseballs at this game (four pictured here because I gave three away)

 378 balls in 45 games this season = 8.4 balls per game.

• 49 balls in 9 lifetime games at AT&T Park = 5.44 balls per game.

1,211 consecutive games with at least one ball

 9,011 total balls


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

6/13/16 at Chase Field

This was my first game of a five-day/five-stadium trip, which required even more planning than usual. It wasn’t just dealing with flights and hotels or having to coordinate with my videographer Brandon. The biggest challenge was making sure *not* to snag my 9,000th baseball before I made it out to Arizona. Seriously. I had to skip a couple of games that I normally would’ve attended, and I stayed in the outfield at other games when I would’ve preferred to work the dugouts. See how psycho I am about all of this? (But c’mon, admit it — you love it.)

I began this day with a lifetime total of of 8,994 baseballs. Here I am outside the stadium talking about it in the opening scene for the video:


FYI, Brandon is still editing the video, but he gave me all the raw footage so I could grab a bunch of screen shots for the blog. Here’s another that shows me entering the terrace of the Friday’s restaurant in deep left field:


That terrace is open to the public before the rest of the stadium opens. You don’t need a ticket for the game, and you don’t even need to buy any food, but you should show up hungry and spend money anyway to support the Diamondbacks because, in my opinion, they’re the most fan-friendly team in Major League Baseball.

In the following image, do you see the employee in the light blue shirt in left-center field?


He was looking for home run balls that had landed in the bleachers, so naturally I called out to him and tried to get him to toss one up.

It worked!
Sort of.

Here he is tossing a ball . . .


. . . but unfortunately it fell short:


He retrieved the ball and tossed it up again . . . with the same result. And it wasn’t even close. It fell short by at least five feet. Had it been 15 years since he’d thrown a baseball. Or was he afraid to throw it too hard and hurt me?

“I’m coming up there,” he said.

“I wanna see a throw!” I shouted.

I didn’t mean to be picky or demanding. I just thought it’d be more fun (and look better on video) to have him chuck it rather than hand it to me.

He made one more attempt and managed to reach me! After catching the ball and showing it to the camera, I handed it to a man for his daughter:


After that, all I got was the attention of several players and coaches. Here’s Patrick Corbin looking up at me . . .


. . . and here’s Garvin Alston making a windmill gesture with his arm to indicate that he couldn’t throw it that far:



In the past, I’ve gotten lots of balls on the terrace, but now that I finally had a videographer here and just wanted ONE cool shot of a ball being thrown my way, no one was willing to hook me up.

Fifteen minutes before the gates opened, I exited Friday’s and got in line outside the gates with two of my local friends:


In the photo above, that’s Kenny on the left and Tony on the right. Great guys. It was nice to catch up with them for a bit.

Once I made it back inside the stadium for real, I used my glove trick to snag my second ball of the day from the left field bullpen:


Then I headed to right field and talked about the stadium along the way:


The D’backs finished hitting by the time I made it over there, so I threw on my Dodgers cap and promptly got a toss-up from Scott Kazmir. Here I am reaching up for the grab:


A few minutes later, I got Joe Blanton to throw me a ball:


That was my fourth of the day and No. 8,998 lifetime.

I picked a spot in straight-away right field and said to the camera, “Corey Seager is up right now. It would be really cool get number nine thousand hit from him, but I’m still two away right now, so it’s kind of unlikely.”

And hey, whaddaya know? Seager ended up hitting a home run right to me. Here I am reaching up for the catch. Look closely and you can see the ball streaking toward my glove:


That was No. 8,999. The next ball was going to be THE ball, and I wanted to make sure to identify the player who hit or threw it. Of course I was so hyped up about everything else that when the moment arrived, all I could think about was the ball itself. Here’s where I was standing when . . . someone connected and sent a home run flying in my direction:


I could tell right away that it was going to fall short, so I scooted down the steps and turned left:


Then I drifted through an empty row and reached out for the catch. Once again, you can see the ball streaking down toward me:


I didn’t realize it at the time, but the kid in front of me made a valiant effort and barely came up short. In fact the ball might have tipped the end of his glove. Normally, whenever I catch a ball near a kid, I’ll hand it right over, even in situations like this when I’m behind the kid and he wouldn’t have caught it anyway, but sorry, I wasn’t about to give away my 9,000th ball. That said, if you know the kid pictured above (you can see more of him in the video), tell him I’m looking for him, or if you ARE that kid, get in touch with me. Send me a photo of yourself from the game wearing that light green shirt — I need proof that it’s really you — and I’ll send you two baseballs.

Anyway, here I am holding up the ball right after catching it:


A different kid on the staircase gave me a fist-bump:


Then I took a moment to admire the ball:


Here’s a closeup:


I wasn’t sure who had hit it, but I’d gotten a good look at his batting stance. He was holding the bat vertically and had a pronounced leg-kick, and when he came up again (right after Seager), I took a couple of crappy photos:


I asked some Dodgers fans nearby, and they said it was Joc Pederson.

Yes!! Of course!! Duh. That should’ve been obvious, but whatever, I was just glad to have gotten the ball and that Brandon had gotten it on video and that I now knew who had hit it. Mission accomplished.

I headed back to left field for the next group of hitters, but wasn’t satisfied with my location. Here I am looking back at the elevated concourse in left-center:


That suddenly felt like the place to be, so I headed up there:


It was dead.

I walked down a few steps onto the balcony and peered over the edge:


I wanted to make something happen, but there just weren’t any opportunities. And then, suddenly, as if sent by the planets above, a Diamondbacks employee appeared out of nowhere and handed me a baseball:


Here’s exactly what’s happening in the four-part photo above:

1) The hand-off, along with a “welcome to Chase Field” greeting. I wasn’t kidding when I said this is the most fan-friendly team.

2) Pointing out the Diamondbacks logo on his shirt to confirm that he really did work there. I don’t accept/count balls that are offered to me by other fans, but I’ve always counted balls that come from stadium employees.

3) Thanks and a hearty handshake.

4) “Hey, I’ll take it.” There’ve been so many employees (mostly at Shea Stadium in the 1990s) who’ve tried to prevent me from getting baseballs that when I’m shown a little love, I gladly accept it. I consider it payback.

Here’s a zoomed-in/blurry screen shot that shows me using the glove trick for my eighth ball:


That happened along the left field foul line, and I handed it to the closest fan.

Then I headed back to straight-away left field. Look how crowded it was:


Yes, hello, I see you standing there on the benches.


Congrats for making it onto my blog.

It was nearly impossible to catch home runs out there. Here I am getting robbed by one of the regulars:


Here I am flinching on another home run:


I was fearful of a deflection, and sure enough that’s exactly what happened, but thankfully it went away from me. See the guy wearing the backwards gray and black cap? The ball whizzed right past his face. He’s lucky he didn’t end up with a black eye or a few loose teeth.

Toward the end of BP, I headed back to the left-center field concourse:


I had a hunch that someone might launch a ball up there, and anyway, it was too damn crowded down below.

Several minutes later, it happened. I think it was Kiké Hernandez who connected. Check it out:


That was my ninth ball of the day, and I handed it to a kid who had just walked past me:


People often ask if I get recognized a lot at games. The answer is yes, and for some reason, it happened more than usual here in Arizona. At one point, a group of half a dozen kids approached me while I was rushing from the left field bleachers up to the concourse. I explained that I was busy and asked if they could find me after BP. They said yeah, and I don’t know what happened next — whether they told all their friends or if word somehow spread or if people just spotted me, but when the players finally jogged off the field, I ended up doing an impromptu meet-and-greet with dozens of fans. It sounds ridiculous, but I’m telling you that’s what happened. See for yourself:


Somehow every kid already had a baseball, and they all wanted me to sign them. I also signed tickets, hats, a book, and other random objects. And everyone wanted a selfie. And then there were group photo requests. And lots of questions about my baseball collection, my schedule, my next YouTube video, my favorite stadiums, etc. Aside from the fact that I was starving and needed to pee, I was glad to hang out with everyone. I can see how it would be a burden for *actual* celebrities to receive that kind of attention ALL the time, but for me, it only happens at baseball stadiums. Seventeen years ago, it definitely went to my head when people recognized me. Now I’m just glad I can make kids happy by giving them a few moments of my time. It’s a weird but lovely feeling.

Here’s what I had for dinner:


Can someone estimate the calories for me? I hope it was at least 2,000, but that’s probably pushing it.

I was hoping that Joc Pederson would sign autographs before the game, but no, only Corey Seager did:


As I explained in the video later on, “I don’t really go for autographs much anymore, but I have gotten every thousandth ball signed by the player who hit or threw it.” That said, I need Joc, so if anyone has advice or any connection to him, please let me know.

Also, I should mention that I’ve gotten every thousandth ball at a different stadium. Ready for the complete list? Here goes:

Ball No. 1,000 — thrown by Pedro Borbon Jr. on 6/11/96 at Shea Stadium
Ball No. 2,000 — thrown by Joe Roa on 5/24/03 at Olympic Stadium
Ball No. 3,000 — snagged with the glove trick on 5/7/07 at old Yankee Stadium
Ball No. 4,000 — thrown by Livan Hernandez on 5/18/09 at Dodger Stadium
Ball No. 5,000 — BP homer by Alex Rios on 5/28/11 at Rogers Centre
Ball No. 6,000 — tossed by Brad Lidge on 6/8/12 at Fenway Park
Ball No. 7,000 — BP homer by Anthony Rendon on 8/27/13 at Nationals Park
Ball No. 8,000 — Gerardo Parra game foul ball on 5/15/15 at Citi Field
Ball No. 9,000 — Joc Pederson BP homer on 6/13/16 at Chase Field

If there’s one thing I learned from that list, it’s that I need to scrounge up some photos and screen shots (from a video I filmed on an old palmcorder) and blog about Olympic Stadium.

Before the game started here in Phoenix, the roof opened:


Ahh, how pleasant.

I was excited because we had tickets in a GREAT spot:


Did you notice the guy in the “Marino” jersey on the right? That’s who I gave the ball to on the Friday’s terrace — quite a coincidence.

During the game, I spent a lot of time chatting with this guy:


His name is Keith, and he has a season ticket there — and he’s very friendly. Two months earlier, he made the news by catching two Paul Goldschmidt homers in one game. Here’s an article about it.

That row/aisle is meant for disabled fans and their guests, but if there are unsold tickets after a certain point, they get released for sale to the general public.

Check out my view of the field from that spot:


There was a boisterous group of fans at the swimming pool:


BROSEIDON was overseeing the merriment:


Lots of the people there were in costumes:


Here’s a group photo of them:


“Protect this pool.” Heh.

I would have loved to join them, but the pool area is reserved for private parties. Oh, and it costs about $3,500 per game, and it’s sold out for the rest of the season. Who wants to join me out there next year? C’mon! We can pick a date as soon as the 2017 schedule comes out and all chip in and thrash around for home run balls in the water.

Did you know that there’s a locker room with showers next to the pool?


Pretty cool spot.

Here I am late in the game, hoping for a home run ball:


All those red chairs are reserved for pool people. I guess the D’backs need to provide actual seats in case those people want to sit down? Of course none of those folks ever left the pool area (except to go to the locker room), so I had all that open space to my right for the entire game.

There were three home runs — two to right-center (by Goldschmidt and Seager) and one to left-center (by Jake Lamb, who is extremely underrated). That was it. No action for me.

Late in the game, a friend and his wife gave me their dugout tickets on their way out, and look where I was able to go:


That tunnel led right up to the Diamondbacks’ on-deck circle:


Here’s what it looked like on my left:


In the photo above, do you see the woman with blonde hair facing away from the camera? Her name is Jody Jackson. She’s a reporter/anchor for FOX Sports Arizona, and I’ve gotten to know her over the past few seasons. Do you remember this photo of her that I took behind the scenes on 8/13/13 at Chase Field? No? Well, clearly you should comb through my archives and read my old entries, but anyway, it was nice to get in a quick hello with her.

It was also nice to have a shot at getting a ball from home plate umpire Carlos Torres after the final out of the Diamondbacks’ 3-2 victory, but let me just mention something first. I don’t wear an umpire hat to get attention from the umpires. I wear it because I think it looks sharp, and since I don’t have a favorite team, it’s a good way to stay neutral while showing my love for the sport. That said, check out Torres’s reaction when he spotted me:



I don’t think my hat made a difference. He probably would’ve given me a ball regardless. Here I am catching his gentle toss before he disappeared down the steps:


That was my 10th ball of the day. I’d given away four of them, so here are the six I still had left:


Finally, here’s something I always do but rarely show — my ballhawking notes from the game:


I can write much neater when I try. These are just quick scribbles to help me remember all the balls that I snagged.

On a final note, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and stay tuned for the Chase Field video. It’s coming soon, and it’s gonna be amazing.

Here’s the video.


 10 baseballs at this game

 371 balls in 44 games this season = 8.43 balls per game.

• 94 balls in 10 lifetime games at Chase Field = 9.4 balls per game.

1,210 consecutive games with at least one ball

 9,004 total balls


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

6/7/16 at Yankee Stadium

Lots of people have asked me to do a ballhawking video at Yankee Stadium, and guess what? The wait is over! Unfortunately, though, as you’re about to see, the Yankees provided very little action. Here’s what it looked like from the left field seats at 5pm:


For some reason, the Yankees finished batting practice much earlier than usual. I forgot to look at the clock when they started jogging off the field, but it couldn’t have been much past 5:03pm. That was a huge bummer.

During the three (or so) minutes that they *were* on the field, I hurried up to the left field bleachers, searching for a home run ball that had landed there:


I’m either reeeeeally dumb and somehow missed it or a security guard picked it up while I was en route. Let’s assume it was the latter, but regardless, I had a big ol’ goose egg when the Angels took the field:


Whenever I see the Angels, I try to get in a quick “hello” with Mike Trout. Of course that’s damn-near impossible at Yankee Stadium, where you can’t get near the infield unless you have a super-expensive ticket. In fact, the photo above was taken from the closest spot I could get. The solution? Get his attention from afar. Here I am waving my hat . . .


. . . and here he is saluting me:


That was nice. And that was it . . . or so I thought.

Ten minutes later, I got Albert Pujols to throw me a ball:


I drifted down the steps to catch it, and then I hurried back up to show the ball to the camera. Just then I heard someone shouting at Mike Trout, so I turned around and saw Trout standing behind 3rd base with a ball in his hand. He didn’t throw it to the guy who had called out. Instead he waited for me to move back over to the staircase, and he chucked it to me instead.


THAT was nice. And okay, sorry for mentioning this yet again, but for all the people who’ve recently stumbled upon this blog and/or don’t know much about me, the quick backstory with Trout is that I caught his first career home run on 7/24/11 at Camden Yards and gave him the ball after the game, and he’s been really nice to me ever since.

Here are the two baseballs that I’d just gotten from a pair of future Hall of Famers:


Most of my baseballs at Yankee Stadium are home runs during BP. There are many days when I never even try for toss-ups, so just keep that in mind. It’s not normally like this. What’s the big deal about getting a couple of balls thrown to me? Ha. Check this out — here’s Jered Weaver hooking me up (from well over 100 feet away) with my third ball of the day:


I had to climb down over a row to catch that one:


Wait! There’s more! Here’s Jhoulys Chacin throwing me my fourth ball of the day:


Moment later, coach Dino Ebel threw me a ball without my even asking. WTF was going on? Here I am catching it:


Sometimes I do everything right and it’s a huge struggle; other times it seems that baseballs just find me. That’s the only way I can explain it.

When the Angels started hitting, I headed to right field, and everything went wrong. I had easy opportunities to catch two home runs, but I misjudged them both, just barely, right off the bat, but that’s all it took. Basically I drifted down a couple of steps on each one when all I needed to do was hold my ground.  Stupid, stupid, stupid. Here I am missing one of them:


Was the wind blowing out? Was it hotter than usual? I don’t know, man. All I can tell you is that I felt like an even bigger idiot than usual, given the fact that I was being filmed.

Thankfully things went better for me back in left field. Here I am jumping for and catching an Albert Pujols homer:


I handed that ball to the nearest kid . . .


. . . and caught another home run a little while later. I’m not sure who hit this one, but in the following screen shot, you can clearly see it streaking into my glove:


I gave that one to a kid too:


I didn’t catch any homers after that. It was just too crowded. Check out this screen shot of a cluster of fans going for a ball:


I can’t even count the number of guys — at least eight or nine. Maybe even ten? That’s just crazy. And this was a weeknight without a promotion.

When BP ended, I gave a quick recap for the video:


Then I wandered to several different spots to point some stuff out:


In the four-part image above, how many of the places/things can you name or identify? You probably won’t guess what I was talking about in No. 4, but rather than explaining it here, I’ll just let you see it in the video. I predict you will be amused.

Here’s another four-parter for you:


That happened right before the game. Angels bullpen catcher Tom Gregorio threw me a ball from the bullpen. After catching it, I handed it to a kid and got a handshake from his appreciative father.

My videographer is a friend (who constantly tries to troll me) from San Diego named Brandon. He does great work but sometimes drives me crazy. This was one of those times. As we settled into our seats for the game, I told him that right fielder Carlos Beltran throws his warm-up ball into the crowd before every inning and that he seems to hook me up every other day, usually in the middle innings. The point was: “I know you wanna to go take photos at some point from the upper deck for your precious Instagram, but I’m paying you lots of money to film me, so DON’T MISS IT, BRUH.”

He seemed to be on it. Here’s a shot he got of Beltran tossing a ball before the first pitch:


Here’s Beltran throwing one closer to me before the 2nd inning:


Brandon was still with me in the 3rd when I gave a couple of baseballs to some kids in the bleachers:


By the way, the woman up above in the green shirt is named Tina. She’s basically the queen of the bleachers — hardly ever misses a game — and is really cool with me. She knows that whenever she needs a ball for a little kid, she can ask. Normally I hate being asked for baseballs, but I make an exception for her because she’s golden.

Anyway, so far, so good, right? Brandon was with me and getting good shots of various stuff . . . right?!

Ha. Yeah. Not so much. He took off in the 4th inning and returned in the 6th, and guess what happened in between? Yup. Carlos Beltran threw me a warm-up ball, and it was beautiful. I jumped as high as I could and caught it in a thick crowd of grown-ups and promptly handed it to a very little kid and got cheered by the whole section. And Brandon missed it. Fabulous. But oh! Hey! He got a shot of Beltran’s late-inning replacement, Aaron Hicks, throwing HIS warm-up ball into the crowd:



It’s still a solid video, but I’m bummed not to have gotten the Beltran ball in there, mainly because that’s become such a big part of my Yankee Stadium experience. At very least, it would’ve been nice to have that footage for myself. This was the 35th ball I’ve ever gotten from Beltran — easily more than anyone else has ever thrown to me (although my friend Alex Katz, currently pitching in the White Sox’s minor league system, vows to break that record someday).

I should mention that the Yankees beat the Angels, 6-3, behind a surprisingly solid performance by starter Michael Pineda. There were three home runs in the game hit by Kole Calhoun, Carlos Beltran, and Starlin Castro. I caught none of them. Mike Trout (my favorite player now that Heath Bell has retired) went 0-for-3 with a walk. Bleh.

And now, as promised, here’s the video. Enjoy!


 9 baseballs at this game

 326 balls in 39 games this season = 8.36 balls per game.

• 1,369 balls in 194 lifetime games at Yankee Stadium = 7.06 balls per game.

1,205 consecutive games with at least one ball

8,959 total balls


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

You’re still here? Well then. Here’s a bonus photo for you of the grounds crew rolling out the tarp after the game:


On a final note, it was fun but stressful to do a video here. I go to Yankee Stadium so often that I felt comfortable, but I also put a lot of pressure on myself to get everything right. I’m a perfectionist. What can I say?

Thanks for reading (and watching).

6/4/16 at Camden Yards

This was a special day for two reasons. First, my videographer Brandon was with me, and second, I was with a bunch of friends from the website MyGameBalls.com for an annual event called BallhawkFest. Here we are at a baseball field not far from Camden Yards:


Let me identify everyone, and then I’ll explain what we were doing . . .

1) Ben Weil, aka the guy with more than 1,200 jerseys
2) Bob K, who ended up making the catch of the day
3) Isaac Liberman, showing off his Royals pride
4) Doug Hakey, who helped tremendously with all the logistics
5) me, doing an intro for the video; the image above is a screen shot
6) Tim Anderson, who was more interested in the grass than what I was saying
7) Alan Schuster, the founder of MyGameBalls.com
8) Chris Scheufele, whose long-lost twin is Madison Bumgarner
9) Alex Kopp, last year’s Home Run Derby winner
10) Grant Edrington, ready to rumble
11) Chris’s wife, the classiest of us all, who goes by the name “Jake”
12) Their son, Deven, who’s shaping up to be an excellent ballplayer

Speaking of the Home Run Derby, it’s a game we play every year at BallhawkFest. This time we came up with a new-and-improved scoring system:

* 1 point for a grounder through the infield
* 2 points for a ball that lands on the outfield grass
* 3 points for hitting the outfield fence
* 5 points for a home run

To clarify, an infielder could rob the batter of a point by catching or knocking down a grounder, and an outfielder could prevent two points by catching a fly ball. The game was more fun than ever because it rewarded good hitting *and* good fielding; it was a team effort no matter who was involved. And of course there was lots of trash-talking.

Here’s Ben camped out at shortstop while I pitched to Alan:


You probably noticed that yellow thing in front of the (non-existent) mound. That was our version of an L-screen — two garbage cans stacked up. Very safe. We all signed waivers. No big deal. Right? Well, here I am reacting to a line drive up the middle that nearly took my head off:


I forget how many points Alan tallied before he made ten “outs.” I think it was 40-something, and then it was my turn to do some damage. Here I am at the plate . . . or, umm, plastic bag:


Here I am taking one to the opposite field:


For a while, everyone was camped out in left field for me, so I trolled them by poking weak grounders through the right side. This led to even more trash-talking.

Here I am running for a deep fly ball:


If I’d made that play, it would’ve made SportsCenter’s Top Ten for sure, but alas, it tipped off the end of my glove. Instead, Bob surprised us all with the catch of the day. Check it out:


This was an especially difficult play because Chris, as you can see, was charging at him ferociously, and the rest of us were shouting at him to CAAAATCH IT!!!

During a break in the action, I pointed out an unusual injury on Grant’s left shin. I’m not sure if this’ll make the final cut in the video (it’s still being edited), so I’ll share it here:


He was bleeding after being struck by a ground ball. (Lots of bad hops at this field; good thing Alan had us sign those waivers.) That’s no knock on Grant. He literally took one for the team in order to prevent a one-point grounder from dribbling through the infield. (I kid, I kid. It was a rocket. Nice job, Grant.)

There were several rounds in our Home Run Derby. Alan and I were heading toward the final showdown when Brandon — yes, my effin’ videographer — asked if he could jump in. After struggling at first to make solid contact, he found his stroke, ended up hitting bombs, and won the whole damn thing.

A little while later, our group headed to Pickles Pub, located just across the street from Camden Yards:


Brandon filmed a quick shot of me inside:


Thanks a lot, Benny.

Then we took a more civilized group photo, and as you can see, I had changed into my official green BallhawkFest shirt:


We intentionally choose flashy colors (last year it was purple) so that we can spot each other more easily in the stands.

Here what I had for lunch — boneless chicken wings with creamy dipping sauce and cheese fries with different creamy dipping sauce:


If you saw what I eat on a daily basis when I’m home, you wouldn’t be entertained.

We still had some time to spare after lunch, so we headed next door to the Hilton and played cornhole. Here’s Chris in action:


The stadium opened at 5pm and was clearly going to fill up fast. Here I am in left field, just hoping to get one ball so I could relax:


Not only was it a Saturday with perfect weather, but the Yankees were in town. Yikes. Normally I avoid seeing the Yankees on the road because it’s always so crowded and crazy, but there was a reason for this odd scheduling decision. Alan had picked this game weeks in advance, thinking we all might have a shot at Alex Rodriguez’s 700th career home run, but as it turned out, the best we could hope for was No. 695.

After the first group of batting practice, I gave up on left field and headed to right-center. Several minutes later I got Ubaldo Jimenez to throw me a ball. Here I am reaching up for the catch:


Here’s the ball:



That was it for the Orioles. They finished so early that there was a 20-minute gap before the Yankees started hitting. Here I am with Grant explaining to the camera why that was bad:


Basically the stadium was going to be much more crowded by the time BP resumed, but hey, that’s just how it goes sometimes.

This next screen shot will give you an idea of how packed it was:


I had no chance on that home run. I got blocked by the guy in the red jersey and was surrounded by taller fans anyway.

I headed back to left field when A-Rod stepped into the cage, and as you can see below, there was lots of people there too:


I stayed deep in the section because A-Rod, even at the age of 40, has tremendous power. My positioning nearly paid off, but I was one row to shallow. Here I am jumping and reaching back helplessly as A-Rod launched one to Alan who was camped out just behind me:


That was the story of my day — lots of close calls. And guess what? That was the end of BP.

Here’s a group photo back in right field:


Some of us had already given baseballs to children, so these were the balls that we still had in our possession at that point. Doug had gotten six — easily more than anyone else — mostly by retrieving them from the right-center field gap with a homemade device. Oh, and by the way, there’s one new face in the photo above; Jamie, standing at the back in the Orioles jersey, hadn’t made it to the field earlier in the day.

Just before game time, I tried to get A-Rod’s attention along the left field foul line:


No luck.

He had signed autographs for a bunch of kids the day before, but this time, when he finished warming up, he headed straight to the dugout.

Take another look at the screen shot above. See the girl standing just behind me on the left? Well, after a moment of silence to honor Muhammad Ali . . .


. . . I gave her the ball that I’d gotten from Ubaldo. She and her family then asked me to sign it:


Unfortunately it got a bit smudged when I handed it back to her, but I don’t think she noticed or cared. Her name is Summer, and I was especially glad to have given her that ball because she was very appreciative.

As for the game, let me start by saying this . . .

Lots of people ask me how I’m able to move around stadiums all the time.

“Do all the ushers know you?”
“Don’t they check tickets?”
“How do you get away with that?”

The answer is that it all depends on the stadium. When I’m in New York, I pretty much stay in my seat for the entire game, sometimes not even leaving to take a bathroom break. That’s because there are no cross-aisles through the seats or standing-room areas where I have a chance to catch baseballs. Many other stadiums, however, were built to allow more movement, and Camden Yards is the prime example. It has a walkway that wraps around the entire lower seating bowl and opens up into a magnificent standing-room section (aka “The Flag Court”) down the right field line. Anyone with any ticket is allowed to walk around and hang out there, so that’s what I did at this game. (I had to burn off all those calories from lunch.) In the top of the 1st inning, I spent a couple of minutes in a tunnel behind home plate and told the camera why it’s a great spot for foul balls:


With A-Rod due to lead off the top of the 2nd, I headed out to left field and briefly stood in the walkway at the very back of the section. This was the view:


There was no 695th home run on this night; A-Rod finished 3-for-5 with three singles.

Then I headed to the Flag Court and stayed there for most of the game. This was my view early on:


Here I am an hour and a half later, standing at the back gates for Chris Davis:


I couldn’t see the field from there. I was just waiting/hoping for a little white speck to fly up in the air, but that never happened. Well, I mean . . . there *were* three home runs, but none of them came near me.

Here I am late in the game — just a cool screen shot with a blurry background:


Here I am waving at the camera with my friends:


We all hung out there between innings.

All three home runs, by the way, were hit by the Orioles, but the Yankees unleashed a 16-hit barrage and won the game, 8-6.

Here I am doing a closing shot for the video, talking about the one ball that I had managed to snag:


It had been nearly a full calendar year (more than 80 games for me) since I had “only” gotten one ball. I always want to put on a good show in my videos and snag as many balls as possible, but hopefully this one will be entertaining in a different way. Subscribe to my YouTube channel and stay tuned — it’s coming soon.

On a final note, I’d like to say thanks to Alan Schuster and everyone from MyGameBalls.com — not just those who attended this game, but the entire community. It’s been great getting to know so many people through that website who share my passion for baseball, and I’m looking forward to meeting many more of you.


 1 baseball at this game

 312 balls in 37 games this season = 8.43 balls per game.

 547 balls in 61 lifetime games at Camden Yards = 8.97 balls per game.

1,203 consecutive games with at least one ball

8,945 total balls


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