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by Zack Hample

A season summary of baseballs lost by the majors and caught by one man.

Of all the crazy/dorky things I do, the one that gets the most attention is my large collection of baseballs I've caught as a fan at major league games. It started innocently in June of 1990 when I snagged my first two practice balls as a 12-year-old at Shea Stadium. Within a few years, I'd come up with all sorts of strategies and tricks to increase my chances (I can now ask for a ball in 28 languages), and in 1996, I hauled in my 1,000th souvenir. That was just the beginning. Three years later, Simon & Schuster published my first book, How to Snag Major League Baseballs, and I've written another book — NOT about collecting balls — that's coming out in March, 2007. I still add to my collection whenever possible, and MLB.com invited me to start blogging about it last season. As a result, I now have more groupies than ever; unfortunately, they're mostly 13-year-old boys. But we all have fun with it, and I just quenched everyone's thirst for stats with a blog entry that breaks down my 2006 ball-snagging into all sorts of ridiculous categories. Here it is:

2006 TOTALS: • 28 games attended (including two without batting practice) • 5 stadiums • 209 balls • 7.46 balls per game • Most balls at one game: 14 (twice) • Fewest balls at one game:  1 • 9 games with at least 10 balls • 9 game balls • 3.1 games per game ball

BALLS BY MONTH: • April — 33 • May — 40 • June — 26 • July — 16 • August — 43 • September — 51

BALLS BY SOURCE: • Thrown — 146 • Hit — 33 • Glove trick — 28 • Found — 2

BALLS BY PORTION OF THE DAY: • Batting practice — 146 • Pregame (not during BP) — 33 • During games (not to be confused with "game balls") — 13 • After games — 17

BALLS BY STADIUM: • Shea — 116 • Camden — 29 • Citizens Bank — 27 • PETCO — 19 • Yankee — 18

SHEA STADIUM: • 17 games attended • 116 balls • 6.8 balls per game

CAMDEN YARDS: • 4 games attended • 29 balls • 7.3 balls per game

CITIZENS BANK PARK: • 2 games attended • 27 balls • 13.5 balls per game

PETCO PARK: • 3 games attended • 19 balls • 6.3 balls per game

YANKEE STADIUM: • 2 games attended • 18 balls • 9 balls per game

NYC STADIUMS: • 19 games attended • 134 balls • 7.1 balls per game

STADIUMS OUTSIDE OF NYC: • 9 games attended • 75 balls • 8.3 balls per game

RECORDS: • 4 consecutive games with a game ball (tie) • 55 consecutive games with at least three balls (streak over ... thanks a lot, Shea) • Most balls in one game at Yankee Stadium:  14 • Most balls in one game at Citizens Bank Park:  14 • Highest one-day Competition Factor:  600,171 on 8/8/06 at Shea Stadium

MILESTONES: • 90th lifetime game ball — foul tip by Robinson Cano on 4/26/06 at Yankee Stadium • 2,800th ball — thrown by Mike Gonzalez on 5/3/06 at Shea Stadium • 100th ball of the season — thrown by Kurt Birkins on 7/17/06 at Camden Yards • 300th consecutive game at Shea Stadium with at least one ball — 7/24/06 • 2,900th ball — tossed by Joe Lefebvre on 8/16/06 at PETCO Park • 60th lifetime game with ten or more balls — 8/16/06 at PETCO Park • 450th consecutive game with at least one ball — 9/4/06 at Shea Stadium • 200th ball of the season — hit during BP by an Orioles lefty on 9/22/06 at Camden Yards

OTHER ITEMS COLLECTED:   • Cliff Floyd's bat on 4/6/06 at Shea Stadium • 32 ticket stubs the night Jose Reyes hit for the cycle • Giants/Padres lineup cards on 8/14/06 at PETCO Park • A cricket ball on 8/15/06 at PETCO Park • Chris Woodward's cap on 9/18/06 at Shea Stadium • Cubs/Phillies lineup cards on 9/20/06 at Citizens Bank Park • Ramon Hernandez's broken bat on 9/22/06 at Camden Yards • 39 autographs (not counting the managers' signatures on the lineup cards) for an average of 1.4 autographs per game):  Kurt Birkins, Chris Britton, Matt Cain, Jose Castillo, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Scott Eyre, Jeff Francoeur, Nomar Garciaparra, Joey Gathright, Jonny Gomes, Nick Green, Jose Guillen, Ramon Hernandez, Roberto Hernandez, Ryan Howard, Matt Kemp, Aquilino Lopez, Jeffrey Loria (Marlins owner), Rodrigo Lopez, Paul Maholm, Nick Markakis, Melvin Mora, Matt Morris, Jake Peavy, Brandon Phillips, Boog Powell, Todd Pratt, Jose Reyes (thrice, all on stubs from his cycle, baby!), Duaner Sanchez, Freddy Sanchez, Jason Schmidt, Frank Thomas (twice), Omar Vizquel, Ty Wigginton, David Wright

ULTIMATE HIGHLIGHT:  • Catching Barry Bonds's 724th career home run on 8/16/06 at PETCO Park

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Articles in this Issue

Manzanar, by Karen Piper
The Phoenix Agent, by Robley Wilson
The Life of One Man as Found in the Garbage, by Elizabeth Monoian
My Berlin, by Karin Finell
Coats of Arms, by Justin Bednarz
Criminology, by Ralph Gardner
Paranormal Technology, by Alex Boese
Athletics, by Zack Hample
October 2006


Zack Hample is officially obsessed with the National Pastime. A former college shortstop and four-time student at Bucky Dent's Baseball School, Hample has worked as both a baseball instructor and spokesman. He is best known for having collected an obscene number of baseballs — 2,961 and counting — at 41 major league stadiums, including Barry Bonds's 724th career home run. His first book, How to Snag Major League Baseballs, was published in 1999, landing him coverage in Sports Illustrated, People, Playboy, The New York Times, The Canadian National Post, FHM, Parade Magazine, TIME Magazine for Kids, and on National Public Radio, CNN, FOX Sports, SportsNet NY (the Mets' cable network), The Rosie O'Donnell Show, and the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. Hample, a New York City native, currently writes for minorleaguebaseball.com and has a popular blog, "The Baseball Collector," about his favorite hobby. He has other interests, of course; they just aren't evident during baseball season. For more about Zack's ever-growing collection, visit his blog at snaggingbaseballs.mlblogs.com.

Where loss is found.

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