Results tagged ‘ Zack Hample ’
(Dickey on left and Racaniello squatting fifty feet in front)
To the game. I sat out in left field as Jonathan Niese was pitching and left field is the best (maybe only feasible) place to catch a Home Run at Citi Field:
He actually might have touched the wall on his deceleration. This meant a good chance for a toss up for my, decked out in royal blue or what ever you call this color. Not! He caught it and ran all the way back to the dugout to toss the ball into the stands.Well good I had Matt Kemp and Juan Uribe in the line-up to give me a chance at a Home Run snag. Well…no, they went a combined 1 for 9 on the day. In the second inning, just as I was getting my glove on once more after James Loney struck out, Rod Barajas launched a fly ball in my direction. Initially, I thought it was going to die at the wall but I saw it carrying. I ran up towards the front of the section and because it was in a row and I wasn’t about to reach in front of people, I moved behind the person that was about to catch it and hoped he would move his hands away from his body as I would be all over any rebound that went straight back. But don’t take my word for it. The video is called “Barajas’ solo shot” and it is 42 seconds long and is from 5/6/11.I am the figure running in the white hooded sweater. Now for those of you who actually saw the video, you will know that the ball just barely cleared the wall and the guy had it in his hands but bobbled it on to the field. So no one in the section ended up getting it:
Though I do feel sorry for him because as you can partially see in the picture he generated the most animated response to anything I have seen so far at Citi Field his season. (The man is the second one in on the first row and to the right.
That was it as far as action is concerned. The Mets ended up actually winning on Home Runs that went to right and right center, both uncatchable. No, this was not a coincidence, both were caused by the design of Citi Field.
no pictures yet but let me at least get the numbers up
- 2 Balls at this game
- 21 balls in 9 games=2.3333 balls per game
- 31 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 2 balls*35,948 fans= 71,896 competition factor
- Time at game 4:41- 10:03= 5 hours 24 minutes
Looking to redeem myself for yesterday’s weather anomaly. The spirit of redemption was in the air. I could just feel it (well actually not in the air because it was absolutely fafafafreezing). I thought this would be a great day for snagging:
- 14 balls in 6 games this season= 2.33 balls per game
- 31 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 18 straight games at Citi Field with at least 1 ball
- 26,546 fans * 1 ball= 26,546 competition factor
- Time at Game 4:55- 10:23= 5 Hours 28 Minutes
- 6 straight games with Zack Hample/other ballhawks ruling my decisions sub/abconcious.
Finally a normal day for snagging (last year the majority of my games were Citi Field Weekday games). I was excited enough to notice the outer beauty of Citi Field (well I guess it’s not technically outside but can be seen from outside) :
Although, I don’t have a picture of the line as of yet (because I was too busy getting my copy of The Baseball signed by the author). Though I think it was due to the fact that there were fans who still thought the gates opened at 4:40.
As my running lanes got clogged up and the hitting group of Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee came up, I decided I wanted to get at least one ball on the day. So I moved up to the second deck in left field and hoped the winds would swirl just as someone hit a high Home Run. Unfortunately I can’t get my exact section because of the sun but this picture should give you an idea of how empty it was:
Surprisingly, Carlos Lee absolutely launched a ball, through the wind, and I easily caught it on the fly (but it only got to the third row of the section). I then quickly ran down, decided that the left field section wouldn’t yield much, and decided to go to the right field bleachers. On the way, I stopped at the top of the center field section pondering whether or not to go down. While I talked to the Security Guard at the top, a ball got hit behind Bud Norris who was patrolling that section. Mid-sentence, I broke off going down to convince him t give it to the only Astros fan in the section. Guess what, it worked.
I came back up to the congratulatory guard (even though I was wearing Astros gear) and continued out to right field. This was a mistake. Although I was the only one wearing Astros gear, there was only one lefty in the final group, Michael Bourn, and he was working on hitting the ball the other way. Even if there was a Home Run in that section, I feel I wouldn’t have caught it because of the sun:
Feeling accomplished and not feeling like being locked out, I moved into right field foul territory to try and catch a foul ball considering there were tow lefties, Chris Capuano and J.A. Happ, starting:
There I came to recognize Nelson Figueroa as one of the more fan friendly players. He was patrolling left field during bp. Immediately after that ended, he gave some one his glove and signed autographs all the way from the corner in right field to the Mets’ dugout. That is about 200 ft of autographs. He signed my ball:
The game itself was surprising as the Mets actually routed someone else. In the process, Mike Nickeas collected his first career Home Run . Now, I don’t know what there is in the video as I can’t watch them myself for whatever reason but it was Zack Hample that caught the ball. As far as what he told me it is a great story to what happened afterward. Here is the link.
- 2 Balls at this game
- 13 balls in 5 games this season= 2.60 balls per game
- 30 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 17 straight games at Citi Field with at least 1 ball
- 32,819 fans* 2 balls=65,638 Competition Factor
- Time at Game 4:45-10:00= 5 hours 15 minutes
- 5 straight games with Zack Hample ruling my subconscious decisions
Ah Sunday Night Baseball. The lights, the people, and the only game going on at that time. The ballhawk’s nightmare. First, there is the normal weekend crowd. Then, there is the Sunday Night Baseball crowd. Then, there’s the fact it is a Yankee game.
So a ballhawk like myself would have to get there extra early right? Well, I didn’t. I set myself up to get to the ballpark at 5:30 but because of the MTA’s modified 1 train schedule on weekends which has it not working from my station to the stop before Yankee Stadium. In a nutshell, I got to the ballpark at 6:24, my ticket blew away into the street as I was told to take out my phone. Not a good day to that point.
From this, it is no surprise that my first ball was thrown. Seeing little hope for Home Run snags, I headed over to foul ground to get a ball from the pitchers warming up. I initially lined up behind Neftali Feliz because of the Spanish factor but moved onto new pairs as the former pairs didn’t throw me a ball.
Finally, Mark Lowe saw my Ranger’s gear and tossed me his warm-up ball for Ball #1 on the day. I was relieved. It seemd like the perfect set of circumstances to get shutout.
I then moved back into fair territory and as this happened a ball came to Neftali Feliz. He threw it back but I managed to get in the words, “la proxima, por favor?” which translates to, “the next one please”. Within five minutes another ball came to him and he lofted it to me for Ball #2 on the day. I was ecstatic. I had just matched my season average in Yankee Stadium on the weekend.
Under the red arrow would be ESPN’s John Kruk picking his favorite seat of Yankee Stadium as he will every Sunday Night Baseball.
Here he is doing the actual segment:
The listed attendance was 40, 811 and for once it felt like that. This picture is from before the game and it is still pretty full:
The snagging room was as good as it ever will be because of the brief spurts of rain/lightning.
The view to my left:
The view to my right:
Sadly, the only ball that came within 100 ft of me went into the second level just as I thought I had it caught.
The game as all I have gone to at Yankee Stadium was indeed exciting. The Yankees won again by scoring a run in the eighth off of Arthur Rhodes.
Rangers 5 Yankees 6
As I left, I saw the set atop a parking garage of Baseball Tonight:
- 5 Balls at this game
- 11 Balls in 4 games so far this season= an average of 2.75 Balls Per Game
- 29 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 6 straight at Yankee Stadium (just to clarify I only got one ball at the old Yankee Stadium waaay before this blog so Yankee Stadium refers to the new one)
- Competition Factor 40811 fans* 5 balls= 204,055
- Time at game 6:24-11:14= 4 hours and 50 minutes
As soon as I took that picture a security guard said something that I thought was “Hi”. After a round of unsuccessful bp I headed over to left field for the second Yankee group. As I was headed out, the security guard:
I then went through a patch where neither Yankee nor Orioles were hitting balls to my part of left field. It was a group made out of all lefties except for one weak hitting righty. Since I wasn’t getting any toss-ups from the Orioles it was a tough bp. I think I probably should have been louder because it seemed like they always just missed my Orioles cap when scanning the crowd. Me not having my Orioles t-shirt didn’t exactly help either.
Then the power group came up. The group consisted of: Mark Reynolds, Derrek Lee, Caesar Izturis, and either Robert Andino or Adam Jones. This led to plenty of Home Runs to make up for the previous group. Most were out of my reach but several came into my axises of power. A few went over my head yadah, yadah.
Though, two came into my row. The first was hit by Derrek Lee two sections to my right (left if looking from home plate). I ran over and scooped it up as it trickled down back to my row for ball #2 on the day. The second, was hit by Mark Reynolds and actually landed in my row. So, I slid to get it before it rolled into the row in front of me. In the process of sliding I actually ripped the knee of my pants:
Although the pants were double layered, I can still say I would have been much happier on this specific ball if I had gotten it because I pretty scraped up, not on the slide but on banging my knee on the seat getting up.
I was in no mood to keep running around in the outfield. So seeing as it was the last group of bp, I got a head start on the end portion of bp. Nothing came of that. There I met up with Zack Hample and another ballhawk I had never met before named, Ben Weil (boys and girls, this is why you wear long pants even when it is warm outside:
(Can’t you tell a high quality camera picture when you see it. That would be both high quality photography and high quality camera.)
I stayed behind the Yankee dugout before the knee started hurting again and I knew I had to start moving to have it ready for the game (it was about 6:40 at the time). I abruptly left for right field because I knew there were two righties on the mound that day and the Yankees have many switch hitters.
From my spot in right I took time to laugh at those trapped in the bleachers I had been on my last trip to Yankee Stadium:
As far as the rest of the game goes, it was pretty good but for some reason the more I go to Yankee Stadium the less I am a fan of the Yankees themselves. Through this game, I was actually more disappointed that the Twins lost in a devastating fashion than the win the Yankees had. I was looking up here all game:
After the end Rafael Soriano threw a ball into my part of right field as he left the bullpen:
I didn’t want to get in front of the person who it was intended for so I let him try and catch it but he missed it completely and so neither of us got it.
Yankees 6 Orioles 5
- 2 Balls at this game
- 2.0 Balls Per game
- 28 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 5 straight games at Yankee Stadium with at least 1 ball
- Competition Factor: 81,034
- Time at Game: 4:30-10:30 Six hours
Apparently the ever endearing Mets thought it best to open the gates a mere 2 hours before game time. This put me both at the back of a line of people and will take half an hour away from me every time I go to Citi Field. Why are both New York teams horrible at dealing with fans?
Anyway, the gates opened at 5:10 but I didn’t get until probably 5:20 because of the line delay.
As the gates opened I quickly identified the fans racing up the escalator as ballhawks Zack Hample and Joe Faraguna. Since they were probably going to go right to left field, I figured I should pray that the pitchers were still throwing in right.
They weren’t so I went to center field in hopes of getting a ball from the posse that shags balls there. At first, it seemed like that would never happen. Pedro Beato was cutting everything way in front of the wall (wasn’t that hard considering I was about a thousand feet from home plate). One then finally made its way to the wall. A group of kids was yelling at him and he didn’t turn around. Finally, I accused him of being racist towards Colombians. He laughed and threw me the ball.
On to left field. I got there and literally every feasible landing sector had a ballhawk patrolling it. There must have been half a dozen ballhawks. Let’s see how many I remember. 1+2 the ones listed two paragraphs above. 3. Tony Bracco. 4. Oliver Rowles. 5. Gary Kowal. 6. Ross Finkelstein. It must have been the fact that it was the first 7:10 game of the season but take my word for it there are almost never ballhawks at weekend games (which is why I like them). Just check the day of the week I made this major snag on. I think that was everyone but I can’t be that sure seeing as I didn’t talk to many on account of me moving around so much.
Nevertheless, none of the ballhawks dared to be in the corner of left field amongst a sea of weekend fans. So when Michael Morse hit a homerun behind that sea, I ran through my aisle to the ball. I was late because of a few fan but the ball hit off a seat and stayed in the air for what seemed like minutes before I caught it on that fly (technically it is not on the fly but it didn’t hit the ground so that’s good enough for me. If you haven’t picked up, I stink at tracking fly balls). I then got a toss up from a player I later identified as Chad Gaudin. I gave that one away to a kid who had missed the previous toss-up.
Imagine the two or three fans standing up are the fans that got in my way. The ball went where the two or three fans are and I ran down the stairs with plenty of fans but couldn’t reach out the extra three feet because of the fans and couldn’t run around them because of the railing. This left the ball going into the row of fans where it was dropped and recovered. It was actually a great night for foul balls on this side because of the two lefty pitchers but not that many balls went into my section.
I then missed out on an opportunity for an umpire ball because I was again, seated on the wrong side of the stadium (but it may be good security doesn’t know me, though. I saw the adverse affects this can have with Greg Barasch being essentially banned for the last few games of the season a year ago.)
My post-school day began in the Fordham Prep Gym as the rain forced practice into the batting cage:
This was the longest 1-hour practice I have ever been a part of. First, I could not wait to go to my first game of the season. Second, the game happened to be between my two favorite teams. Third, watching hitters in the cage if you are not involved gets monotonous after fifteen minutes much less an hour.
I was so excited you cannot believe. I have been waiting for baseball season since December and had a temporary case of ADHD where I literally could not sit still. I was so happy I was even described as glowing by one person. When I left the Prep at 3:45, I must have ran a seven minute mile to the train. I went through the whole shebang I did last time with the train.
After that picture was taken (I assume), I turned to the photographer and saw it was none other than, Zack Hample. If you do not know the story, I was a Watch With Zack client of his last year (which led to one thing which led to another which led to this blog). He quickly raced over to the left field side of the stadium. Seeing as the right field bleachers were much less crowded than they had been in my playoff game and I have enough trouble catching a ball on my own not competing with Zack, I stayed in right field. Bad move.
There would not be one Home run hit there and a wall of beggars would glue to the wall in the front row of the section. This would have gone pretty well had a ball gone into the seats but as I said, it didn’t happen. I then jogged to left field as the Twins did the same.
As the Pitchers warmed up I managed to wrongly judge that a ball was going to: go over my head, fall short, be right at me, not hit the top of the wall, not bounce back all the way to the field, was going to deflect off of a fan trying to catch the ball. Some of those more than one time. Had I played all correctly (or had ridiculous luck like last season) I would have had my all time record.
Then there were the pitchers. I camped behind the long toss partnership of Capps and Nathan. I was 99.9% sure that if Nathan ended up with the ball I would be able to coax it out of him because, as I put it to Nathan, ” Joe, could you give me the ball, please?Who else in the Stadium is wearing you jersey?”
Unfortunately, even the depleted sea of “Here”s drowned out my request and the ball went to not even a Twins’ fan on the outfield side of him.
I then went down the line. 1 pairs. 2 pairs. Nothing. The Twins seemed like they didn’t even care about road fans. There must have been a dozen Twins fans but less than half of the balls went to Twins fans.
Now onto my fourth pair, I was wondering if Carl Pavano would even throw his ball into the stands considering how his experience in New York went. I was as usual trying to get in his line of view so he would see the Twins hat and shirt.
This was not going well for me: I misplayed however many balls, couldn’t stay in left field, my camera screen broke so I couldn’t see what I was taking a picture of, and now the ___hole chant.
I didn’t want to stay there any longer because of the aformentioned chant and the fffffreeezing temperatures. So, wandered around the Stadium to get warmer, hope a security guard was taking a break, and get a better view:
In the third inning, I gave up trying to find an open spot in security decided it was boring and went up to the second level. Not three sections from the stairs I saw an open, unguarded aisle. I went down to take a seat and this was my view:
Prime Foul ball snagging territory.
As I was walking down the stairs and taking that picture. A foul ball zoomed back just a stair case to my left:
If it helps, the ball landed where the soda vendor is standing in the picture. I quickly got my glove on but was blocked by fans in their seat.
Throughout the game, I moved further to the right as I thought it was an akward angle where I was currently sitting but three foul balls went to the Foot Locker sign in the previous picture and none were sliced within three sections of me.
The game went well as I root for the Twins in Yankees-Twins games (the Yankees beat them too much) and the Twins loaded the bases and Delmon Young hit a double to empty the bases and send the game into extra innings where the Twins won it on a single with runners on first and third.
- 1 Ball at this game(no picture because I gave it away)
- 1.0 Balls per game
- 26 Straight games with at least 1 ball
- 4 games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1 ball
Oh, and sorry this entry took too long but MlBlogs was having weirdness and I couldn’t upload pictures.
When I first heard of the fact that Zack was doing a book on the baseball itself I thought to myself, ” now why is he doing a book about the creation of the baseball. He should sell a second book solely on the topic of snagging baseballs. The other stuff will just come across as fluff to his fan base.” Boy was I wrong. I was hooked in the first few chapters of the predicted “fluff”.
If you notice, my book might be the most worn 1 day old book I at least have ever seen.
Let me show you the anatomy of the book.
Part 1: Baseballs in the news
Ch 1: The Souvenir Craze
Ch 2: Foul Ball Lore
Ch 3: Death By Baseball
Ch 4: Stunts
Ch 5: Foul Balls in Pop Culture
Part Two: Historical and Factual Stuff
Ch 6: The Evolution Of The Baseball
Ch 7: The Rawlings Method
Ch 8: Storage Preparation and Usage
Part Three: How To Snag Major League Baseballs
Ch 9: Before You Enter The Stadium
Ch 10: Batting Practice
Ch 11: How To Get A Player To Throw A Ball To You
Ch 12: The Game Itself
Ch 13: Top 10 Lists and Other Things Of Interest
I must say that every part seems like its own separate book. Each begin at the beginning of time for that respective subject. So will I in encompassing this book.
In the beginning, the world was a dark void where fans could not keep the baseballs they caught. That’s basically how the book starts, by introducing the fact that baseballs were too expensive for teams to replace. Then goes on to explain the fan revolt caused by this fact. Personally I would have had this section elsewhere in the book, but more on the structure later.
We then start to read the effect the value had/has produced many controversies amongst fans because of the greed of fans. Examples range from, Steve Bartman having to be transferred by his company to The Up For Grabs controversy. From there, he shows how the price of baseballs has evolved, showing the 10 most expensive baseballs.
Move on to chapter 2. He again builds the chapter from beginning to end. Starting with the effect of the institution of the “foul balls are strikes” rule and what had happened prior to that. Leading all the way up to Denard Span hitting his own mother with a foul ball in 2009 spring training. This is a chapter of crazy stories that was extremely well researched and was not the summaries of the incidents but the whole story.
Then a more in a ( somewhat) more somber version of the previous chapter ( Hample was not himself somber as he took the role of reporter but the stories were obviously sad) retelling the tales of deaths by the baseball ranging from Ray Chapman to the seagull that almost had Dave Winfield incarcerated for six months in Canada ( Why would he kill a seagull *on purpose*? He’s from Minnesota). This was essentially the same as the last chapter but I get the separation to create the effect of an in memoriam.
The next is the scientific experimentation section of the book with stunts ranging from Myth Busters in baseball to Pakistanis trying to smuggle heroin inside of baseballs ( dang dogs!).This provides practical knowledge and some great fun facts about how things in baseball were proved and some of the crazy things the lull of baseball has made its players attempt. This was again really fun to read and great for retrospective reference ( I love when I can actually use big words and they make some sense together).
Then come the more relevant facts of the book to today. Of the past chapters you might say ” but Mateo, how do they affect the price of tea in China”. They don’t. This chapter might not have an affect on anything in China but it sure does have more to do with the modern world. First Hample undergoes the endlessly critiqueable ( that is a word… right?) job of choosing the most relevant foul balls in movies and TV shows. He analyzes the logistical flaws with each of twelve scenes such as, did the extras reacts in Movies from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to shows like CSI: NY. Although, the critiques were even more uniform than my team recaps and previews (ok, so maybe they weren’t that uniform). The next section in this chapter was a personal highlight, celebrity ballhawks. I don’t really care about the significance of the ball as much as the human element that it added to the celebrities. The Celebrities ranged from Charlie Sheen to Justin Bieber totaling 9 . The section was done like the others with fun in the section and loads of background information.
Now to the negative. Chapter six starts off Part Two of the book, Historical and Factual Stuff. This is a great reference book on its own but feels like your are reading every single plaque in Cooperstown on a section dedicated to the history of the baseball from 1847 to 2009:
The content which obviously cannot be avoided was about exciting as Irish history. That being: the English kicked them around, things got a little better, then they got kicked around some more, then they lived a little more happily in poverty, then there was black 47. Except in this section, after the initial architecture of the ball it was: hitters were complaining that the ball was dead, then they made livelier balls, then the pitchers complained about that, then they conducted some tests, then not much evidence showed up on the tests, and the last three steps repeated for about 100 years. Did I mention this section lasts for 62 pages? Had I been the author I think I would have merged this with various other sections but that’s just me. My advice to any reader is to read around it in some way shape or form. Either read it before or after the rest of the book and segment it so you don’t have to read it all at once. It definitely accomplishes the goal of being a history of the baseball’s evolution but might be best served as a reference when information is needed, as it might be tough for the more ADD readers ( I normally pay very good attention for long periods of time and still struggled sticking with this section).
The next section was based on the actual construction of the ball and is taken mostly from Hample’s trip to the Rawlings Baseball Factory in Costa Rica. The chapter goes from how to deconstruct a baseball( which is awesome if you ever get the chance to do it. Though I would not use nail clippers but an object similar to an awl to get the stitches off as they were too deep for me to get with the clippers) to the process to what commemorative baseballs are and how they are made. This is a great section, very informative with pictures to explain most things that a person would have questions about.
We are now on chapter 8 of 12 and the last of chapters on the baseball itself. This chapter is about how the balls are kept so that they are in prime playing condition at game time. This starts with the story behind the creation of now commonly used Lena Blackburne mud that helps pitchers grip the baseball.It then goes on to explain how teams started keeping balls in temperature and humidity controlled rooms starting when the Rockies used a humidor to counteract the arid nature of Coors Field.
Now ow ow the moment you have all been waiting for or or (well most of you anyway), How To Snag Major League Baseballs alls alls. Even though the rest of the book was great, this seemed to flow with a little more life than the previous two. First, this part has its own introduction.
The section starts off with chapter nine, the pre-game preparation. This was a great tutorial in what to do before you get in covering all the basics it ranged from how to choose a game to what to do when you arrived at the stadium.
He then goes on to explain the intricacies of the most important snagging time, batting practice. This was a bit more descriptive than the original namesake of part three. For example, when I started going early to batting practice I was hung up on the idea of hitters from both sides of the plate being able to hit the ball to me and so I stood in foul ground. A strategy I learned was almost completely wrong and should only be used on occasion when the situation demands it. You will have no problem if you have gone to batting practice but for the more inexperienced ballhawks there are technical problems such as the failure to mention that most rails block you from moving to a specific side if you are not standing in a place where there is a gap like here:
The next chapter is the toughest to put into practice, getting a player to toss you a ball. This is because the form in which you get different players to toss you a ball can vary so much from player to player. What I do like is that he does not write an aggressive strategy but one more along the lines of “it caint huit” or ” it can’t hurt” for those who don’t speak Brooklyn. He wrote the strategies that will always put you in more favor with the players and don’t have the possiblity of a backfire (although if you change hats right in front of players from either team “it caint heylp”). I guarantee that if you follow these instructions you will get at least one baseball for every two games you go to ( and I say this reluctantly because that is an average of .5 balls per game, meaning that my skill only accounted for 2 balls a game which is pretty sad).
Finally, most casual fans don’t care about bp balls. They don’t mean anything. A game homer(or foul)’s where it’s at. In this chapter Hample goes from what the real odds are for catching a foul ball to how long NYC security guards will kick you out after the game. This section goes into great depth because great depth is required. It is well written but I am surprised he didn’t have any fun with his home runs celebrations given the informal atmosphere of the book:
The last chapter was, at least for me, the best chapter of the whole book. It was a chapter going from the top 10 ballhawks of all time to how to document your collection. I found this chapter to be more informative of the whole book. The interviews with the ballhawks were fantastic because I knew of them but did not know them as a person. For example, I found out that I share a birthday with Minnesota’s best ballhawk, Greg Dryden. I know that the 10 best ballparks section will help me get a few extra baseballs at the respective stadiums.
All in all, like I told the author yesterday, this is one of my favorite books top 5 if not higher. The book was great and I would recommend the book to any mildly interested in baseball.
If you want to buy it, the paperback is $14.95 discounted on Amazon and Ebay though ( I don’t think I have a Canadian following) and is available in most bookstores. Hope you enjoyed and find the review useful.