Results tagged ‘ Zack Hample ’
Nine views ago, my blog hit 30,000 views! Although, I’m not like, freaking out about it like, “HOLY COW MY BLOG HIT 30,000 VIEWS!” I am calmly nodding my head in approval. It’s pretty cool and a pretty good feeling that I’ve been able to attract that many views over such a short period of time.
I started my blog over two years ago and my first blog entry was when I visited Kauffman Stadium on April 8th, 2010. Since then, I’ve visited nearly 13 other stadiums all over the United States and even in Japan! That was probably one of my more memorable baseball trips. Hopefully, the baseball season in 2013 will be just as awesome. I hope to make it to Minute Maid Park for opening week and I’m going to try to make it to Wrigley Field and back to U.S Cellular. I’ve managed to make it to a few playoff games and you can read about them here, here, and here!
Baseball has been a blessing in disguise for me. I’ve met so many wonderful and creative geniuses during my trips to the many different baseball stadiums…and I cherish all new and future friendships. I met Nick Badders in Oakland, who is the creator of 7000 Coliseum Way blog, I’ve met Zack Hample in Japan and in Seattle, who is the creator of The Baseball Collector and a published author of Watching Baseball Smarter, I’ve met Todd Cook, who is an avid baseball junkie like the rest of us and even scored a game-worn jersey from Ryan Rowland-Smith!
If I didn’t mention you that I’ve met and you maintain a blog, I do apologize. You know how hard it is trying to keep up with this beast. And for those that are looking forward to a meeting in the future, keep in touch! Don’t forget about me, and I won’t forget about you!
One last thing, if you do in fact have a blog, drop me a comment and let me know how many views your blog has hit so far and how long you’ve had it for. I’m trying to create new and improved ways to keep my blog interesting and gain new viewers. Reading everyone elses blogs really helps with that. Thanks!
I’m sure by now-if you’ve been keeping up with me on my blogs-you’d know that I’m a professional Ballhawk. Nearly six years ago, I snagged my first baseball at Kauffman Stadium with the help of an usher during my mid-tour leave from combat in Iraq. Since then, I’ve progressively snagged more and more baseballs each year.
Last week I was contacted by Meggie Zahneis, a youth reporter for Major League Baseball, and was invited to participate in an interview about Ballhawking. It was a lot of fun to answer some of the questions and sort of explain the idea behind Ballhawking.
If you’re interested in reading the article, click this link and enjoy!
I woke up this morning at around 6am and got my day started right away. I’ve mastered my way around my hotel room (which is about the size of an airplane cockpit) and watched a little Japanese tv before I was ready to venture out for the day. Today was fish market day and I was pretty pumped about that. Oh, here’s a picture of my hotel room. See how small it is?
The door on the right is the bathroom and it’s literally so small that when I bend over to get dressed, I bump my backside on the door. I’m 6’0 225 (the blog minuses 5-10 pounds) and I need a lot of room. Farther into the room you can see the bed on the right. And that’s about all there is to my hotel room. I get my little window for fresh air and that’s about it. It’s no bigger than a prison cell. But it’s cozy so I dig it. And get this. It’s actually a double occupancy room! Two people can sleep here! So I guess that’s what the couch is for. Ha!
My plan for the day was simply this; I’d walk from my hotel, which is in Ueno, to the Tokyo Dome, which is in Tokyo, and then I’d head due south towards the fish market. When I got to the Tokyo Dome and started to head south, I sort of lost my bearings and ended up thinking I was walking in the wrong direction. From my hotel, the fish market it roughly 4-5 kilometers. Not a bad walk. That’s about 3 miles or so. But three miles is three miles and when you’re hoofing it through Japan, and everything looks relatively the same, it’s hard to stay on course and know exactly where you’re headed. I just knew I needed to head south. And after about an hour of walking “south” I gave up and hailed a cab. This cab ride ran me about 2,600 yen which is way more than I anticipated. But I got to the fish market. This was the view as I exited the cab:
I really didn’t do much research on the fish market prior to leaving my hotel room. All I knew were the basic rules, which boils down to not being a jerk in a foreign country. Rule number one stated that you aren’t allowed to touch anything or sample anything unless directed by the vendor. Common sense, I suppose. The second rule was no smoking. But I actually saw a lot of vendors smoking inside their shop. So maybe the rule didn’t apply to them. The third rule was, don’t bring oversized luggage that will block people or traffic. I just had my back pack on so I was good there. The first shop I stopped at offered me some scallops and some of these miniature lobster looking things. I tried both as I didn’t want to be rude and then I asked to take a picture of the shop. Check it out:
I also shelled out 300 Yen for some scallops because when I asked to take a picture, the young lady kind of wasn’t happy about it but let me anyway. On top of that, I tried a bunch of food she had out. I wanted to leave a good impression. I continued my journey through the fish market and I noticed a large crowd of people with cameras and video camcorders creating quite a ruckus half way down the street. My first thought was it may be a baseball player inside eating ramen or something. How cool would that be if I ran into Felix Hernandez or Jason Vargas at the fish market? I took off down the street passing this…
….and when I realized what was happening, I wasn’t very impressed anymore. It’s not that I’m some animal rights activist, it’s just that watching someone slaughter a fish really isn’t that cool for me. But apparently it’s a huge deal at the fish market. Everyone wants to see some yellow fin tuna guts, I guess. Here’s the crowd outside the shop video taping, and taking pictures:
I was able to get a quick picture of the tuna carcass after the crowd dispersed a little bit:
I continued to explore the fish market and I ended up in some huge warehouse I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be inside. I saw other people walking around that looked sort of like tourists. I figured if I wasn’t supposed to be inside I’d get yelled at by some angry warehouse worker. The warehouse looked like things were sort of winding down for the day. The fish market closed early in the afternoon so there wasn’t a whole lot going on when I walked inside it. I did see a squid/octopus looking thing in a bucket that was still alive and I saw a lot of clams, crabs, lobsters, and scallops all in containers full of water and ice. It really was a sight and I sort of regret not taking pictures. I just wasn’t sure if I was allowed to or not. This is what the entrance of the warehouse looked like, though:
I had to meet Zack Hample at the Tokyo Dome at 2pm for game two of the opening series at the Dome, so I decided I’d had enough fun at the fish market and it was time to head into Tokyo to take care of business. I’d eaten some scallops (even bought some) and almost got to see a guy gut a yellow fin tuna. Not too bad on the day.
As I headed out, I wasn’t quite sure which way to walk. I retraced the route that the cab driver took but eventually I was lost. Well, not really lost. Just…sorta lost. You understand. I found a street sign that directed me towards Ueno (which is where my hotel is at) so I just followed the street sign. Initially, it said 4km and after about an hour of walking, it said 3km. I was a little confused that I only traveled one kilometer on foot in an hour? I did manage to take a few photos while I was walking around. Since the fish market is located in Ginza, that’s mainly where I took my photos. There were lots of interesting things going on in Ginza. Since it’s like, a huge shopping area for women, there were some nicely dressed people in that area. I even saw the Ginza Bon Marche!
Here’s another picture of the downtown area:
When I finally gave up on walking, I hailed another cab and all I had to say was “Ichiro!” and the guy knew exactly where I wanted to go! Well, it wasn’t just like that, but I did mention Ichiro was at the Tokyo Dome. He got super excited and started laughing and saying “Go Mariners! Go Mariners!” I couldn’t help to laugh. It was truly a sight to remember. When I realized where I was at, finally, I asked the driver to stop and let me out. He thought I wanted to window down and when I flashed him a 1,000 Yen, he started to understand. I had about a quarter of a mile left to go until I reached the Tokyo Dome and I was super-exhausted (from lack of sleep) and I was so hungry! I wanted to try this burger joint at the Dome because Zack ate a hamburger there yesterday and it looked so delicious!
When I placed my order, I sort of confused the waitress. I ordered one cheeseburger and one hamburger with a glass of water and a glass of coke. She kept asking me if I was changing my order to a cheeseburger from a hamburger. It worked out in the end and this is what they brought out to me…
What? I’m an American! I eat and I eat a lot! I even got a couple of odd stares from people as I devoured both burgers. But let me tell you something. These two hamburgers were the best tasting, most flavourful, most juicy burgers I have ever eaten in my entire life. The meat was so, so fricken good! I can’t even put it into words how good they were. Of course, I had to pay an arm and a leg for them, but it was worth every Yen I shelled out for the meal. If you ever go to Japan, no matter where you go, get to the Tokyo Dome and visit this place! It’s so worth it.
I waited for Zack after my delicious meal for about ten minutes at the train station and then ventured off to find him. I found him at gate 11 and we were already facing a problem. You see, he had my ticket to get into the stadium. Well, actually it was his that he loaned out to me to get in. He wanted the ticket stub back which was fine with me. But his ticket was for gate 25 and my ticket was for gate 22. Gate 22 is behind home plate and gate 25 is near third base. We both wanted to get inside the stadium via left field entrance like yesterday and the security guard was already checking tickets. I think they had so many people trying to get into gates they weren’t supposed to get into that the guards were practicing a little pro-active-ness. Which is fine. It just sucks a little. Zack and I wandered to gate 25 and waited in line there. And when the gates opened up, Zack got in and my playing dumb role like yesterday didn’t fool anyone today. The guard actually escorted me out of line and pointed to gate 22. “Gate 22! You go now!” he exclaimed. Wow. Okay, gate 22 it is!
Gate 22 was on the other side of the freaking stadium. I laced up my PF Flyers and booked it, I mean, booked it towards gate 22. I was flying, man. I’m telling you. I don’t know what it was, maybe the burgers, but my legs were pumpin`. I arrived at gate 22 with no line at all, they checked my bags, got the body scanner thing done, scanned my ticket, busted through the doors and hauled ass towards left field. I hit the brakes and made a bee line for the first row and started calling out to Brandon McCarthy for a toss-up when I got to left field. I lost maybe five minutes of batting practice at best, but the seats were filling up fast and I wanted to get on the board with at least one baseball as fast as I could. It wasn’t until the last few minutes of the Athletics portion of batting practice did I score my first baseball. I was able to get it via a new technique I made up on my own. It’s called “crow-hawking.” Basically, I let others call out to the players for a baseball and I kind of judge where the baseball might be tossed to from the player, line up behind that group of people and wait for the bobble or the dropped baseball, then I snatch it up! And that’s sort of what happened but with a BP home run ball. The ball caromed off the bleachers and bounced down to the first row of people, it bounced around, and I eventually got my hands on it. Possession! It counts! unfortunately, security was hot on it and as soon as I turned to run away, he was standing there asking for it. I couldn’t even get a picture of the baseball. And that’s why yesterday I really didn’t try for any BP home runs. I want documentation!
I won’t go too much more into detail about batting practice because it was pretty uneventful until about the last 10 minutes. I took up a spot in right center field and yelled my tail off to Steve Delabar when he got a baseball. I yelled and yelled and flailed my arms just like I did when Jesus Montero had a baseball. Steve looked at the baseball and sort of stared at me while I waved my arms. I started to feel like an idiot. But then he launched it my way. And it was dead on! I leaned back, took a deep breath and then saw a mess of baseball gloves closing in on the ball. I did everything short of getting physical to get my glove out in front of the growing pile and made the smooth catch! I gave Steve Delabar a thumbs up and pointed at him after I made the catch and got a few pats on the back from the locals. That was number two. Number three came from George Sherrill in left field and I had to sort of use my crow-hawking technique. Sherrill launched one my way and I wasn’t quite sure it was intended for me or for someone else. But the baseball seemed to have bounced off someone elses glove and the ball actually landed on my wrist not in my glove. I quickly secured the ball with my free hand and placed it back in my mitt. Feeeww!
Here’s the Delabar baseball…
…you can also see Shawn Kelley standing next to him. And here’s my George Sherrill baseball:
Tom Wilhelmsen and Charlie Furbush are on the right side of Sherrill. Anyway. So I bagged three baseballs on the evening, which for me, that’s pretty good, and especially good in a foreign land in a stadium I’ve never been to. Five baseballs total in two games. I really wasn’t interested in any third out baseballs or foul balls or home run balls either. I will say this about the Tokyo Dome security. For the most part, it’s easy to sweet talk your way through them. It’s easy to catch them off guard and sneak past. So if you ever end up going to a Major League game in the Tokyo Dome, remember that. Security is there to ensure safety, enforce the rules, but they’re human beings after all and if you can stay one step ahead of them, you’ll do just fine.
And remember; watch out for batted baseballs:
Here’s Zack and I hanging out after batting practice:
The next morning when I woke up, I started to pack and get my things ready to leave. I thought check-out was at like, 3pm but it was at 11am. Oops! Sorry! Anyway. I walked down for breakfast and when I returned it was like, 10 minutes to eleven. I started to blog about the first game at the Tokyo Dome and then I got a phone call from the front desk instructing me that check out was like, now! Helloo!! Time to leave, right? Well, I had to do one last thing before I left.
When I walked down stairs, I told the young lady at the counter that I had a gift for her. I pulled out one of the baseballs that I caught at the game and left one of my business cards as well. I wrote a nice little note on the back of my business card stating that I had a great time at the hotel and it was a great place to stay. And I truly did enjoy my stay. It was the quietest hotel I’ve ever stayed at in my life. I also told them that Ichiro hit the baseball I had given them. The young lady’s hands were actually shaking when I told her that. Ichiro is huge in Japan, we all know this. Here’s a picture of them after I donated the baseball to the hotel:
And that pretty much concludes my trip! Unless you want to see pictures from the skyliner train from Ueno to Narita, that’s about all I got to show! I hope you all enjoyed reading about my trip as much as I enjoyed visiting Japan! I’m not too sure where I’ll end up next as far as baseball games, but I am planning on visiting Oakland in April possibly for the Royals series. I think that would be a good start to the 2012 season after this epic trip, you think? Anyway, if you’re in Oakland, drop me a line!
I’m snagging baseballs for puppies again this season for the Seattle Humane Society! If you want to check out my charity information, just click here!
Last season, with the help of all of you, we were able to raise over $250 dollars! This year I’d like to break $300!
Today’s game snagging Highlights: Oakland Athletics Vs. Seattle Mariners- attendance 43,391
Baseballs snagged: three (One BP HR, toss-up from Steve Delabar and George Sherrill)
Total baseballs snagged this season: 5
Total baseballs snagged last season: 135
Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $3.70
Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies last season: $257.00
Total number of donors this season: 4
Total number of donors last season: 7
Okay, folks! There has been some changes in my plans this season, like always. I always make plans even though I’m 100% sure they will change three weeks after I make them. Yes, I’m still going to Japan at the end of March. That is a for sure thing, unless something catastrophic happens like I break my back or my car explodes or a giant bird eats me. Unless any of that happens, I’ll be boarding that plane and heading over. And here’s further proof that I’m going…
…$120 dollars later, there you have it. I am truly excited to have this opportunity and I will make sure to blog in detail of my experience over there. Watching baseball in the Tokyo Dome will be something to remember, for sure! Okay, so enough of that.
This will be the second year I’m working with the Seattle Humane Society on my charity; Snagging Baseballs for Puppies. Last year, with the efforts of a lot of my friends and family members, we were able to raise just under $300 dollars. To all that donated or pledged, I just want you to know that I truly appreciate it and I will remember you forever. I know there isn’t much of a reward for donating your hard-earned cash, but I just want you to know that I appreciate it, the Seattle Humane Society appreciates it, and those dogs and cats down at the shelter really do appreciate it too. I can not thank you enough, and I hope you return to help us out some more! Even if it’s just attending games with me and just hanging out. I’d love the company. If you need the details on my charity, I’ve updated the page. Click here.
Okay, on to more awesomeness! I started a new blog called, A View From the Bullpen. There isn’t much to the blog. The reasoning behind the name is because that’s where you can generally find me at Safeco Field. By the Mariners bullpen. And some times by the visitors bullpen depending on who is in town. I have a lot of favorite players that I have connected with over the years, and I like to keep up on those relations by saying hello. If you’re ever at Safeco, come stop by and holler at me! I’ll even hook you up with a baseball that I’ve snagged. Added bonus!
I previously stated that I’d be circling the United States going to new stadiums this year. Those plans are still in effect. Do not worry. But I have some other options I’d like to exercise this year, as well. One being going to Canada in September. I’ve always wanted to watch baseball in the Rogers Centre Skydome. And this year I want to make that happen. I still want to get down to Minute Maid Park and also Chase Field (if it’s still called that). More importantly, I’d like to do a mid-west run which would include one game at Wrigley Field, one game at US Cellular, two games at Busch Stadium, one game at Kauffman Stadium and one game at Coors Field before I return to the Pacific Northwest. I’m not at all sure how this will work, if funds will be available, if time off from work will be there, OR if any of those teams schedules will mesh. It’s all up in the air as of right now. But having a plan is the start of making things happen, right? I thought you’d agree.
Okay, everyone. Now on to important websites you need to check out and bookmark. First and foremost, you should follow my blog. Here’s why; It’s awesome. Enough said. Secondly, if you have a Twitter account, sign on and follow me at @MLBwayneMLB. Third, if you have a Facebook, “like” my page! All these websites will help you in the future. Trust me.
Lastly, I have met a lot of people in the last few years of going to an enormous amount of baseball games. All these people I have met are amazing and awesome. And I want to give them some credit for being my friends. Below are their personal websites that YOU should check out.
That’s it, folks! Hope to see you all at the ballpark this year!
The World Series is happening right now. And yes I’m very excited for both teams. Since I won’t be attending any World Series games due to lack of free schedule this fall my baseball season as concluded. But on a rather high note, I must say. I started this baseball season with the intent to attend nearly one hundred baseball games. Well, that didn’t happen. I attended roughly 53 games. But I did travel to a few new baseball stadiums like, PETCO PARK, AT&T Park, The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Angels Stadium and Coors Field. I never did make it to Sun Life Stadium or Tropicana Field like I had hoped this year. Sadly, Sun Life Stadium won’t be used as a baseball stadium next year. But the Marlins are getting a new stadium called Miami Ballpark and it should be epic.
I did, however, turn my baseball hobby into a charitable lifestyle. Last year I attended 37 games and snagged 87 baseballs. Mainly at Busch Stadium. And I did travel to Kauffman Stadium a bunch of times, I visited U.S Cellular in Chicago a couple of times, I even traveled to Cincinnati to see Great American Ballpark. And let’s not forget my trip to Texas where I watched game six of the ALCS. That was so awesome that I’d like to return to the Texas Rangers Ballpark in Arlington at least one more time. This year was one of the best seasons I’ve ever had. Mainly because I met so many awesome people who I’ll probably be friends for life with now. And, like I mentioned before, I started a charity project.
If you’re new to my Facebook page or new to reading my Tweets on Twitter then this blog entry that you’re reading now will do you some good. It will explain in detail how my charity works, how you can help and what I’m exactly doing traveling to different stadiums in the U.S like a mad man. And I’ll even hit on some future projects I’d like to start.
First and foremost this season was awesome. I attended 53 games and snagged a “career high” of 135 baseballs. You can check out my baseball snagging statistics here if you want. (I haven’t entered in the last game I attended yet) Anyway. That website that you just looked at breaks down my individual stats along with many other Ballhawks that chase baseballs during the season. As you can see I have an important streak going for myself. I’ve attended 98 games consecutively where I’ve snagged at least one baseball. To me that’s pretty impressive. Well, sorta. It’s actually very easy to catch a baseball at a Major League baseball game. Just ask Zack Hample. This dude is amazing and a very nice guy. He came to Safeco Field on his quest to attend all 30 Major League stadiums and snag at least 1,000 baseballs during the season.
So with all that information you’ve just took in I sat down one morning and asked myself how I could make snagging baseballs at stadiums more exciting and at the same time how could it help the community of Seattle. Since my home stadium is now Safeco Field I thought to myself, what am I most passionate about. Dogs and baseball. (Sorry, ladies.) And since I am so addicted to baseball and have an undying love for dogs…Snagging Baseballs for Puppies was born! I contacted the Seattle Humane Society via email and presented my idea. immediately they loved the idea, I was emailed some paperwork, and then the season started! The problem was that in order for this all to work I had to rely on neighbors, friends and family to pledge an amount per baseball that I’d snag at games. Here’s how it works;
I go to games and snag as many baseballs as I can. (my game high is like, eight) I blog about every game so people can read how I snagged them and picture evidence is also provided in the blog entry, and you as the readers email me and tell me how much you want to pledge per baseball that I catch. Now some Ballhawks have certain rules that they follow on catching baseballs. Me personally? If I catch it and it’s an Official Major League baseball AT an Official Major League Stadium, it counts. Plain and simple. It doesn’t matter of it bounces off some kids face into my glove or if it bounces between two fans and lands in my cup of soda…it counts. I used to count only the baseballs that I went home with. But what about the ones I give away to kids? Or military veterans? Those count. I even caught a baseball OUTSIDE Safeco Field this season! Peter Bourjos hit a BP home run into the party deck and it bounced all the way to the gates where I was standing. That happened I think on 6-13-2011.
When you make a pledge it’s also very simple. Unless you’re rich you want to keep your pledges in the cent range. Like, .10 cents a ball or .25 cents a ball. Because at the end of the season when I rack up my total and I’ve snagged 135 baseballs and if you’ve pledged $3.00 a ball..well…that’s $405.00 big ones. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that. I’m just saying try to keep your pledges realistic. Because who knows. I could go to a game and snag twenty baseballs and if you’ve pledged a dollar amount that you won’t be able to cover at the end of the season that looks pretty bad on your part. And if you don’t want to make a pledge you can just make a flat rate donation of $10.00. That’s the minimum that Crowdrise.com will allow. I have nothing to do with that. And yes I think that’s rather high. But I also understand that you can pay with a debit/credit card and I think the banks charge them a certain amount per transaction. I don’t know how it all works.
I think I’ve pretty much covered everything. So in conclusion I’d like to thank all that have pledged. Dorothey, Jennifer, Zack, Bronson, Kathy and Robert, thank you all so much for your pledges. It means a lot to me and it means a lot to those animals that the money went to, to try to help enrich their lives that much more.
And for those that just dropped a donation that is very much appreciated too. I couldn’t thank you all enough. Carla, Charlie, Ryan, #GirlsCorner, and a couple anonymous donations. I hope I got everyone. Together we raised over $200 dollars! And that is just amazing! This is the email I received from the people at the Seattle Humane Society.
Great job on your fundraising efforts! Thank you for your support of the animals at Seattle Humane! We’d be honored to be part of your project again next year. I will let you know when we receive the donations.
So there you have it, people. I’ll be at it again next year and hopefully, as a group, we will be able to raise more than $200 dollars again! That’s the goal, anyway!
I was really looking forward to this game. For a couple of reasons; the Los Angeles Angels were in town for a three game series and I absolutely love to watch Bobby Abreu play baseball, and Zack Hample made the trip out from New York to come to Safeco Field. This is his tenth stadium he has visted this season. If you don’t know who Zack Hample or Bobby Abreu are then I will graciously enlighten you. Bobby Abreu is the Angels DH and left fielder. He is also a career .296 hitter with 277 home runs and a bunch of RBI’s. He’s also know for his plate discipline.
Zack Hample is the author of three books that I have read cover to cover. (One of them twice!) He wrote How to Snag Baseballs at Major League Stadiums, Watching Baseball Smarter, and The Baseball. You don’t really need to buy his first book because the other two books have brief chapters of how to snag your own baseball at a game but the second two are a must buy. Watching Baseball Smarter is my favorite because it’s like Zack pulled the curtain back on Major League baseball games. Have you ever wondered what is said on the mound between the catcher and the pitcher? Or why all the infielders come in sometimes to catch the conversation between the catcher and the pitcher? And why does the umpire join them as well? Why does the base coaches never stand in the designated box that they’re supposed to stand in? Zack goes in depth of the who, what, whys and hows of the game and answers just about every question you’ve ever dreamt up. Its amazing. And his third book, The Baseball is basically about the eveolution of the baseball. How it came to be what it is today. He even made it inside the Rawlings factory. The media isn’t allowed there but somehow Zack Hample made it in.
That’s Zack Hample posing next to his infamous pyramid of baseballs. Pretty amazing, huh.
Those are his books. So check them out. They’re totally worth it. Even if you’re not a geeky baseball nut like me you should at least check them out so you’ll have a better understanding about the game.
So that’s why today’s game was going to be so awesome. My two favorite people under one …er..open or closed dome. (Safeco Field joke)
I arrived at the stadium around 1pm and I wandered for quite a bit. But on the centerfield side of the stadium you can peer into the stadium and kind of watch batting practice. I found it odd that the Angels, well some of them, were out hitting baseballs at 1pm. So I stuck around and watched. I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be cool if a baseball was hit to me while I was standing here outside the stadium?” And sure enough. I don’t know who hit it but it was launched and I watched it in the entire way. It smacked off the pavement and bounced in my direction. Unfortunatly, it clanged off some stair railings and then bounced off the brick wall beside me. Some Roots Sports guy was walking around and he almost got hit by the ball. I quickly perked up thinking I have a chance to get the ball from him. All I had to do was ask. And he hooked me up with it. Time check; 2:45pm. The gates were set to open at 4:40pm. Wow. I managed to get a baseball OUTSIDE the stadium nearly two hours before the gates opened.
In the picture above you can see the Root Sports guy yapping on his cellphone after he hooked me up with a baseball.
And here you can see the baseball as it kind of got stuck underneath the gate. It felt really good to snag that baseball and I actually hung around trying to find more. Usually the cardinal rule when it comes to baseball players and hitting BP home runs is that they get into a groove and launch maybe one or two more. But maybe this one was just extra special.
When Zack finally arrived at the stadium it was about 4:30pm. Since his leg is all busted up from spraining his ankle a couple of weeks ago, him, myself, Josh and his girlfriend were all permitted to enter the stadium via the handicap gate. I felt bad for Zack because he couldn’t move like he wanted to, and I could tell it was very frustrating. Plus the pain he must be in. But I give him his props because he is one dedicated dude. He’s not just shagging baseballs for himself. He’s doing it for the charity foundation he is involved in. It’s called Pitch in for Baseball. Just go to www.ZackHample.com and you’ll find out all you need to know. Once inside it was kind of every man for himself at that point. We all hung around the centerfield area for a while, and Josh got Greg Halman to toss him one but at the same time someone launched a deep drive that nearly made it over the fence. Josh nearly got drilled so he didn’t end up getting the toss up from Halman. I didn’t see the baseball either but neither of us really expected it because the Mariners rarely go deep with any BP home runs into the center field area.
After the staircase was open we ran down into the third base area to find any loose baseballs. There were a couple but I got beat out by some kid. So I took my routine spot at the third base protective fence. It was easy pickins’ down there too once the Angels came out onto the field and started taking some cuts in the cage. I had to sprawl way out but I caught a slow roller that made it just passed the fence and into my glove. I didn’t hang around the area too much longer because BP was about to end plus there were a lot of kids that were starting to wander around me. I didn’t want someone to get hurt because I either missed a baseball or because I moved for one and someones’ kid was underneath my feet. It happens. So I moved up to the foul pole area.
I caught another one up there on the fly. It was hit directly at me so I had a pretty good bead on it. I didn’t really have to move to my right or my left but I bashed my knee pretty good on the fencing when I leaned over the railing to make the beautiful catch.
After that I quickly made my way down to the dugout to see if I could get any toss ups from the Angels pitching staff but it was slim pickins’ down there. Lots of kids, and a few Angels fans. Plus I really wasn’t in a good position to catch anything. After BP ended we all huddled up for some photo opportunities with Zack.
I know. I probably could have smiled more. But I wanted to look tough. From left to right; Ginny, Josh, Zack, Max and me. Between the five of us we snagged nearly 20 baseballs. And of course Zack outsnagged us all. But that goes without saying. He’s been at this for like, 20 years.
We stood out in the bullpen for the majority of the game and it nearly paid off. I almost caught a Vernon Wells home run. The ball carried deep into the bullpen, and I thought it was going to land on the grassy part. But it didn’t. It landed on the dirt mound and took a wicked hop towards the fans. Of course nobody had a glove on so it got passed everyone. I had a shot at it too but I misplayed that bounce so badly I ended up taking a bad route to the baseball. Once the baseball squirts loose it doesn’t last long before someone gets it.
The Mariners lost the series opener 6-3 thanks to Vernon Wells hitting TWO home runs.
Game; June 13th 2011 Los Angeles Angels vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $65.50 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $27.50 this
I wasnt planning on staying the entire game let alone batting practice today. So I wanted to get on the board as fast as possible. About fifteen minutes before the gates were about to open up a flood of about 15 people joined me at the gates. I pretty much stood there from the time I arrived at the stadium until the time the gates opened, alone. I seriously thought I would have the entire stadium to myself. I practically did. Once the horn blew the race was on.
I thought I was going to be beat out by a bunch of kids. But somehow their parents kept them at a speed walk. My long strides got me down the first base side and into foul territory much faster and it wasnt long before I snagged my first easter egg. Right as I picked up the baseball one of the security guards told me to take cover. I looked up for a split second to try and get a read on the ball but I couldnt see it. So I covered my head with my glove and braced for impact. As soon as the baseball smashed into the seats I was all over it.
I hung around in foul territory for a few more minutes and then I quickly made a giant loop around the stadium. Its pretty good cardio and I was hoping to pick up a stray easter egg. No such luck. I finally stopped out in the right field bleachers to snag a few home run balls. I guess I looked approachable or friendly or something. But for the next 15 minutes some random guy chewed my ear off about his kids being active in sports. It was driving me nuts because his breath smelled like rotten beer. I remained friendly in any case. When the guy finally left me alone I wandered down to the front row and I tried to get Juan Riveras attention but he thoroughly ignored me. There were a few baseballs on the warning track that I considered. He was closest to them.
That pretty much concluded batting practice for me. I apologize for no pictures in this entry. I took some but I left my memory card at home for my camera and I cant find the USB cord to upload them. So no pictures. The Mariners did record their second win at home though, and Michael Pineda got his first Major League win. So congratulations to him.
If youre interested in learning more about my charity project I started for the Seattle-King Co. Humanes Society you can go to this website to get the full run down. I also have two more charity projects. You can check them out here and here. I have yet to here any offical word on the Japan relief project or the Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation but I am confident that something good will come this week or the following. I also wanted to give a shout out to an aquaintance of mine concerning this charity project. The actual idea to snag baseballs at Major League stadiums wasnt a self-created idea. Zack Hample is the one that actually created the idea. I did contact him through email and he sort of got me started on the whole charity project thing. If you get a chance check out his charity organization here.
Game; April 12th 2011
Money raised for Seattle Humanes Society so far; $4.20
Money raised for Red Cross Japan Relief so far; $3.50
I’m probably the last guy on planet earth to have given my two-cents on this book. I mean I read it from front to back within seven hours after it was delivered to my house. Personally I wasn’t as interested in the history of the baseball as I thought I would be. I like Zack Hamples second book Watching Baseball Smarter better. That book is my favorite because it gave you an insight about the game. It gave you answers to all of those zany quirks and all of those ” Why does he do that?” questions.
The book goes well in-depth of how the baseball was created. Zack even draws out a timeline of the first baseball used in a game. It’s very interesting stuff. The last two-hundred pages or so pretty much tell you how to snag a baseball from a game. If you’ve ever read his first book How to Snag a Baseball at a Major League Stadium then you’ll probably end up skimming through this section like I did. Although there are key tips in this new book that weren’t in his first book. So if you’re a Ballhawk thats just starting out or all you want is just one baseball at a game then I would advise reading this section thoroughly. If you’ve already snagged over 100 baseballs or even 50 then I would say you’re on the right track and you can probably just pick through what you want and leave the rest.
I’m glad I bought the book. I love reading about baseball in general. Zack has an interesting way with words and his sense of humor isnt over the top. Its a great read and worth every penny.
Fans vs Fans
Well, another season is about to kick off. Im sure every baseball fan is getting ready for opening day. As I have stated many times I will be in Oakland at their Home Opener against my beloved Seattle Mariners. I really can’t wait and this week is killing me in anticipation. It’s hard to sleep at night knowing that in nearly 72 hours I’ll be at the Oakland-Coliseum trying to snag my 100th baseball. After I read The Baseball by Zack Hample I of course looked through his blog to try to find a blog entry of him at the Coliseum so I could get a leg up on the competition. You know, to find those tips and secrets that not everyone knows.
Well, to my surprise I found a lot of other blogs bashing Ballhawks. Do I consider myself a Ballhawk? Yes. I do. Its kind of bothersome to read these blogs that are floating out there though. I’ve never seen a physical altercation in the bleachers over a baseball and I’ve never witnessed any fights break out during games because a fan wasn’t sitting in their assigned seats. But one blog really stood out. http://mccarpie.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/10/ugh_ballhawks.html
Now I know she blogged this in 2009 and I even left a comment. But it’s just irritating that people draw these conclusions about Ballhawks. I have never seen anyone run over a kid. I have never seen anyone push the elderly out of the way. And I have been to plenty of baseball games. But thats not what bothers me the most. Its these self-righteous, holier-than-thou attitudes these people have and claim that every baseball hit into the stands should be given to the nearest five-year old. The Major Leagues has a huge job. They have to please everyone from the ages of 1-99. Thats a huge job. People that go to these game want to be apart of it. Hangout with the players. Walk around the field. Catch a baseball. Some people just want to sit in the cheap seats, eat a hotdog, and drink a beer. Tailgaters want to sit outside, drink beer, eat food until just before game time. Some people show up hours early to attend batting practice and shag home run baseballs. The bottom line is; ITS ALL APART OF THE GAME.
Another blog that was pretty explicit was this one http://www.millerparkdrunk.com/ Im not going to post any of the blogs about him bashing Ballhawks. If you want to read them you can pick through the blog and find them. But anyway. The point I am trying to make about this particular blog is this guy is a tailgater at Miller Park. His thing is to come to baseball games, drink beer, and eat food. Yet he complains and takes shots at guys like The Happy Youngster and Zack Hample for doing their thing at a game. Whats with all this hate? Cant a person just come to the baseball stadium and enjoy their time there?
Well, I’m not going to sit here and beat a dead horse. Its just nonsense and I guess that’s apart of life. I’ve had a few situations with fans resulting in name calling and crying kids. Like the time in Kauffman Stadium when I caught three baseballs in one game from Todd Helton. I was heckled by three college students that were obviously intoxicated. And the other time at Busch Stadium when Randy Wolf managed to drill some three year old in the face with a baseball when he air mailed it to me. Baseball will be around a long, long time. Any five year old kid today that doesn’t get a baseball will probably get one ten years from now when he goes to baseball games on his own. Like me.
Until next time…
My beloved Seattle Mariners finally made it into town for a three game series against the Saint Louis Cardinals for some interleague action. Ken Griffey Jr was offcially retired weeks ago so he wasnt the big draw. The Mariners have never played in the new Busch Stadium so it was a real treat to have them here.
I scurried into the stadium once the gates opened, and quickly ran down to the third base side. ( Yes I kept a watchful eye out for my favorite security guard ) The stadium didnt really fill up to capacity until late in the third inning so batting practice competition was rather light. To my suprise there were quite a bit of Seattle fans. Everyone kept commenting on me being from “Marysville” when I walked by Seattle fans. I knew where Marysville was but I had no affiliation to that city. I really didnt figure it out until someone walked up to me, and asked me if I was from Marysville, and then they caught themselves, and commented on my shirt. I forgot I had a MARYVILLE Fire and Rescue shirt on. MARYVILLE ILLINOIS. I laughed a little, and explained I was raised in a town nearby Marysville, Washington.
After standing around for five or ten minutes a foul ball came directly my way but out of reach. It bounced off the railing, and right into the flower garden by the foul pole. I went over to investigate but it was too far down to get it. Not even the famous glove trick was going to pull it out of there. It was wedged underneath part of the foul pole screen, and behind a plant. It took a security guard to get it, and he graciously gave it to a fan that wasnt an eight year old. I was surprised.
Before I knew it David Aardsma was tossing the same fan that got the last one out of the flower garden another ball! She caught it, and quickly handed it over to me! She was wearing a Mariners shirt, and she told me since she already got the last one she wanted to give this one to me because I too were a Mariners fan. I thought that was awesome.
Ryan Rowland-Smith came over to sign some autographs, and I commented on him giving his jersey to Todd Cook. Ryan was very chatty, and very nice to speak with.
After Ryan signed a bunch, and jogged to the dugout the real fun began. John Wetteland. We all know how talkative this man can be. If youve ever read some of Zack Hamples blogs or actually experienced this on your own at a baseball game youll know exactly what Im talking about. If you havent…Ill post the link to a short video I recorded of him talking to the fans. I recorded five minutes worth of video, but he talked to us for nearly 45 minutes. Its amazing how much information that man has to spread. Hes very intelligent, and its worth listening to him. The only reason I stuck around to listen to him was because I already had a baseball, and the Mariners didnt take BP. Thats probably why John talked to us as long as he did.
Here is John Wetteland, and David Aardsma helping Brandon League ( not in the picture ) with his pitching mechanics.
Here is another picture of Wetteland talking with Ryan Rowland-Smith.
John Wetteland approached the wall because a fan kept calling out to him about how great he was in the 1996 World Series.
John Wetteland going on about geography. Someone brought up the subject, and John jumped all over it.
More indepth lecture by Wetteland….
Fans would ask John for an autograph, and he would ask the hardest most off the wall questions to them. If they got it right, he would sign the ball, and give it back. ( He signed, and gave it back regardless ) He made it tough to get an autograph, and most people didnt have the patience, and simply walked off. I stuck it out because I thought it was an excellent one on one with one of baseballs greatest pitchers.
John explaining part of his question after signing a baseball. After signing a ball he normally held onto the baseball for an additional five or ten minutes. His questions were long, and drawn out. A lot of people had no idea what he was talking about. But if you really thought about it all its actually pretty easy stuff that a lot of people learned in highschool but never really paid any attention to it.
And now the link to the video of John Wetteland.
( How do you embed the actual video into the blog? Anyone have any idea? )
So after being entertained by John Wetteland for nearly an hour it was time to get back to work. I sought out my second ball over by the third base dugout. Josh Wilson, and Jose Lopez were playing a quick game of catch, and I capitalized on that opportunity. I was about 15 rows up from the dugout, and as I watched Josh look for someone to throw the ball to I frantically waved my gloved hand, and walked into his line of sight. The baseball arched skyward, and I was worried that someone was going to nab it before I could. But nobody had any idea a baseball was even being thrown my way. I didnt call to him or anything. I caught the ball over some older ladies in the row in front of me, and they all kind of jumped, and looked back at me with a smile.
“Glad you caught that because we werent going to.” One of them said to me.
” No problem, ladies. Enjoy the game.” I said, and walked up the stairs.
I stayed down in the section, and caught an aisle seat when the game kicked off. It was the first game of the series so I wasnt sure of the Mariners tendancies when it came to the third out baseballs. If the first basemen got it where does he normall walk, in front of the mound, behind the mound, where does he enter the dugout, the middle, the far right, the left…it was all a mystery. When the time came I would be ready though.
The third out came with a long fly ball to the left field. Milton Bradley would end up with it. Its always a gamble with the outfielders. Some of them like Marcus Thames would always throw the third out ball into the left field seats. Every player is different. Milton Bradley likes to give the ball to kids or someone down the third base line. So I pulled up some real estate right by the Mariners dugout, and waited for Bradley to make his way passed me. As he did he totally ignored me. I took a step back, lowered my glove in defeat, and about headed back to my seat when he pretended to throw the ball to a bunch of kids behind the dugout decked out in Cardinals gear, and then he looked to me as he took the first few steps into the dugout, and flipped the ball behind his back right to me. I caught the ball by surprise, and thanked him. I didnt try for anymore third out baseballs after that. I generally dont because the competition turns into about a hundred eight year olds fighting for a good spot by the dugout everytime the inning ends. Even though most of the time the players dont have a baseball kids still race down there to get one.
I thought this was going to be my night for another five baseball game. But sadly I couldnt even get a fourth one during the game. Colby Rasmus hit a deep drive in the third into the left field seats as I was heading over there. Ludwick hit one into the Cardinals bullpen. Even Ichiro got some good wood on the ball leading off the first! But I was not in any position to nab any of those. Towards the end of the game I made my way down to where the umpires leave the field.
As soon as the game ended I got down to my usual spot, and the umpire was quick to leave the field. He turned around and literally unloaded his pouch of baseballs into these kids baseball gloves that were standing there. I couldnt believe it. He didnt save any for anyone else. I was thoroughly bummed. The experience with John Wetteland made it all worth it though.
Game: Seattle Mariners VS St Louis Cardinals June 14th 2010 6:15pm.
Game Balls: Three
Unfortunatly this blog entry will be without pictures. When I synced them off of my iphone, somehow I must have clicked DELETE ALL OF THEM. Well, my last blog entry when I tried to upload pictures a different way they came out way distorted. So no pictures.
Typical evening game at Kauffman. Although it was a Saturday so the crowd was a little larger than normal. Maybe 18,000? Who knows. All I know was it was COOOLLDDD and MISSERABLEEE!! I hate games like these too. But running around got the blood pumping, and got my spirits up. I wasnt as aggressive going after baseballs as I was last night though. The game was delayed by an hour due to rain, and the crowd kind of set the town. It was military appreciation day. So a lot of the attention from the players went to those guys. Most of them wore their uniforms, and brought their children. So really my chances of getting a ball was dwindling by the moment when I saw all the guys in uniform with little kids.
I pulled my WhiteSox cap down tightly, and prepared to enter. BATTING PRACTICE WAS CANCELED!?!?!? Oh boy. This was bad. Luckily Garcia was out throwing the ball around. So I raced over to the third base side calling to him to throw me a ball. I was desperate at this point. I had to really fight now. He threw it to a kid. BLAST! I then spotted two baseballs sitting out in the rain on the edge of the grass in deep centerfield. I darted out there. Switching caps on the fly. I didnt know who was going to get these baseballs. But when they did I would be ready. I sat on them for 52 minutes, and finally a grounds crew member came over, and scooped them up. If you ask for one they say they cant throw them to anyone. But thats a lie. Ive seen them throw them to kids in every stadium Ive been to.
Now what? Well, the baseball players usually warm up right before the game. That was my only shot. I ran back to the third base side, and I switched caps. Id have to try to get a ball from a White Sox. It was my only chance. The game started at 7:05pm. When no player came out of the dugout to throw the ball around by 6:55pm, I knew the game was delayed. It was. One hour later Mark Teahen, Gordon Beckman, and Alexei Ramirez came out, and started running, throwing the ball around, and stretching. Two baseballs, a thousand kids, a thousand military men, and women, and ME. Mark Teahen, and Beckman were the first to get done. Beckham gave the ball to Teahen, and he wandered over to the stands. He signed it, and handed it to a soldier with his kid. Great. One ball left, and Ramirez had it. He was throwing with the strength, and conditioning trainer. So Ramirez would end up with the ball. And he did. I called to him.
” Alexei-SMACK!” The ball smacked right into the heal of my glove. Some lady next to me was caught off guard, and stared at me wide-eyed.
I smiled, and headed up into the concourse for some food, and shelter from the cold, and rain, and some guy stopped me.
” Hey, that guy..he threw a ball to you.” An older gentleman said to me in passing.
” Alexei Ramirez. Yeah, he did.” I nodded, and smiled.
” How did you get him to do that?” He asked.
” I asked him for the ball. Its pretty simple.” I said.
” He saw your Chicago hat. Thats why he threw it to you.” Said the man.
” Yeah, the probably has something to do with it.” I said in return.
” So you have more than just that ball in your backpack then. You probably got a bunch.” He continued.
” No, not today. I only have this one. Yesterday I was able to get four though.” I shrugged.
” FOUR?! You mean to tell me you got four baseballs yesterday, youre here again today, and you got ANOTHER one?” He looked at me shocked, and in disbelief.
” Yes sir. Thats what Im telling you.” I nodded, and shifted my weight onto my other leg as I stood on the stairs.
” What do you do with all these baseballs you get? How many baseballs do you have altogether?” He asked.
“Well, this one that I caught just now is my 40th. Its my 28th Ive gotten this season.” I answered back.
” Fourty!!?? How many games do you go to? You must go to a lot to get all these baseballs!” Wide-eyed now the man shifted in his seat seemingly astonished.
” This would be my eleventh or twelveth game this season. And no. Im not from Chicago.” I chuckled.
He smiled warmly at me, padded me on the arm, and dismissed me. After I jetted up the stairs I could barely hear the old man chuckle, and tell his wife how impressive those numbers were. If only this guy knew Zack Hample.
Game: Kansas City Royals Vs Chicago WhiteSox May 15th 2010 7:05pm.
Game Balls: One