One of the highlights of being a ballhawk is keeping track of your stats and seeing how you stack up against other ballhawks. At PNC Park after every batting practice, I usually make my rounds and see many of my adversaries. The question that is always asked, “How many did you get today?…Really?….How many is that for you this season?”
With many people joining fantasy baseball leagues, I got an idea to start a Ballhawk League. Basically, its a competition between us home run chasers from all parts of the country. You would be able to track your progress throughout the season and chase other actual ballhawks in the standings.
To join this competition, simply leave a comment or email me. You should:
1) Regularly attend batting practices, as I’d like this to be a competitive league
2) Maintain a blog or a website to document each ball you snag. (Don’t have one? Now is the perfect time to begin). Documentation of each ball is a must! Pictures would be nice, but are not necessary.
3) Email me an update of your stats each Sunday night or update your blog daily so I can post updated standings each Monday. I will send you a template for you to fill out. All you have to do is plug in your numbers for the week and send it to me. I will then plug the numbers into a spreadsheet and update the standings.
I’m hoping that this will make ballhawking more fun this season.
Example of what the standings may look like, using current Pirates players:
Key to the standings:
1) Ballhawk: A list of all ballhawks entered into the competition. Ballhawks will be sorted by
2) Total Balls, which is the most important stat. However, even if you can’t attend many games, you could still win in another category, which are:
3) Average balls per game: Total balls/games attended.
4) Games: A total of ALL games attended. Not just batting practices. (Includes games without batting practices)
5) Hit: Total of batted balls snagged. Includes home runs caught on the fly, ground rule doubles, foul balls, etc. These balls were hit, and required you to do all the work to get them.
6) Thrown: Total of balls thrown by players/coaches.
7) Device: Total number of balls retrieved using a ball contraption device, such as Zack Hample’s glove trick a cup trick, a fish net, etc.
8) Competition Factor (CF): A statistic invented by Zack Hample. This stat will be calculated by multiplying…so the higher the number,
the better. It is attendance times balls caught. If you catch five balls at a game with 10,000 fans, the
Competition Factor is 50,000. Two balls at Fenway? The Competition
Factor will be about 73,000. To keep it as simple as possible, we will track a ballhawk’s average Competition factor.
9) Average Attendance: I will calculate this stat by dividing Total Attendance by Games.
10) Total Attendance: Ballhawks will need to also email the total number of fans in attendance at their games each week.
As you can see, even though Nate McLouth has a nice lead in balls snagged in this example, he’s not exactly dominating the league. Some would argue based on the statistics, that even though Nate has a 38 ball lead, Matt Capps is the higher skilled ballhawk. I will also post a Leader Board in each Monday’s Update. From our example standings:
LEADERS – May 18, 2009
Total Balls: 88, Nate McLouth
Average: 4.55, Matt Capps
Games: 25, Freddy Sanchez
Hit: 32, Adam LaRoche/Nate McLouth
Thrown: 56, Nate McLouth
Device: 17, Matt Capps
Competition Factor: 142,737, Matt Capps
Average Attendance: 42,423, Paul Maholm
If we have a lot of interested people, we can divide the league into divisions so you’re up against ballhawks in a similar region. (Example: Mets/Yankees/Red Sox/Orioles/Phillies ballhawks could be in one division)
Again, if you’d like to sign up, just leave a comment.
So far, here are the contestants (click the contestants’ names to view their blogs):
1) The Happy Youngster
His name is Nick but people around the ballpark call him “Happy.” He is 29 years old and is a fanatic about Milwaukee Brewers baseball. Current Brewers TV announcer Bill Schroeder tabbed him as “The Happy Youngster” back in the summer of 1999. He has been tabbed by multiple media personalities as the Milwaukee Brewers #1 fan. He has attended hundreds of games over the years and enjoys catching baseballs at the ballpark. He has caught over 700 baseballs over the last 10 years before, during and after actual Brewers games. His focus remains catching game home runs-career total currently standing at 47…and counting. He has been featured on CNN, Baseball Tonight, SportsCenter and This Week in Baseball to name a few.
2) Erik Jabs
Erik has caught 166 balls through 2008. A relative new comer to ballhawking, he managed to snag 128 balls in 2008. Erik would like to snag 300 balls in 2009, adding a few road trips to his schedule in order to give him an outside chance. He lives near PNC Park and is a three year full season ticket holder. In addition to attending Pirate games, he enjoys playing baseball, coaching volleyball, and attending Dave Matthews Band concerts.
3) Andrew McDonald
Andrew, age 18, began attending Pirate games and became a regular ballhawk in late May of 2008. He managed to snag 98 balls in 60 games, but averaged over 4 a game from late August-September. McDonald would like to snag over 200 this year if his schedule works out. He is most famous for interfering on a Mark Reynolds HR ball on June 9, 2008. The ball was originally ruled a Home Run, but the umpires reversed the call and gave Reynolds a double, citing that McDonald had reached over the railing to make the catch. Soon after, MLB adopted instant reply for disputed home run calls. Besides entering his first full season of ballhawking, Andrew patrols center field for his high school baseball team, and also is the web master/team captain of the Franklin Hockey League. Andrew has caught one home run ball, Juan Pierre’s first homer of 2008. In a bid to raise more money so that he can afford a season ticket plan, Andrew has decided to sell the ball. It can be bought HERE.
Ranter aka “D” is a 42 year old Army Veteran, father of three, grandfather of 1 who been snagging baseballs at
since April 2008 and attending games since the Rockies inception. The
Rockpile Ranter was born out of the lack of support for the during the . The
Ranter attended 30 Rockies batting practices last season (38 games) and
managed to snag 44 baseballs. He is fond of getting the baseballs he
catches signed by the players. So far this season he has snagged 13
baseballs at 5 games and caught one live home run ball hit by Rockies
David Ortmeier. The Rockpile Ranter and his kids are a regular site at
a Rockies home game. WWW.ROCKPILERANT.COM
5) Zack Hample
has snagged 3,820 baseballs at 44 different major league stadiums since 1990. In 2006, he caught Barry Bonds‘ 724th career home run in San Diego. In 2007, he caught the first homer of the Home Run Derby in San Francisco. In 2008, during the final week at Yankee Stadium,
Hample caught game home runs on back-to-back nights and followed it up
11 days later by catching the last Mets home run ever hit at Shea Stadium.
In 2009, he’ll be snagging baseballs to raise money for Pitch In For
Baseball, a charity that provides baseball equipment to needy kids
around the world. Hample, a New York City native, has written two books
– How to Snag Major League Baseballs
(1999) and Watching Baseball Smarter (2007) — and has been interviewed
dozens of times by the national media. When not snagging baseballs,
Hample spends his time playing competitive Scrabble, obsessing over his
music collection, hosting parties that rarely end on the day they
begin, bragging about his Arkanoid world record, overeating in
Chinatown, running a laid-back writing group, taking photos of everyone
and everything, and tricking his elders into thinking he’s a nice young
6) Mike In Detroit
7) John Witt
Ballhawk, John Witt, joins the Ballhawk League with over 33 years under
his belt. Since grabbing his first baseball in 1977 he has grabbed over
2,850 balls at Major League Regular Season games which includes 99 game home run balls. John has grabbed 4,869 baseballs at (MLB & MiLB) over the past 33 seasons. In 1998 John caught ‘s 61st Home Run on Waveland avenue outside of . Now John is looking for his 100th game home run this season and expects it to be a at .
John has been featured in numerous articles, newspapers and he was even
in a 1990 Levi’s 501 Button Fly Jeans commercial titled “501 Home Run Kings“. At the end of 2008 John wrote his first book titled “Taking Home A Piece Of ” which is currently available through his website www.mlballhawk.com (use the link and coupon code that is one of his past MLBLog entries and get it for $3.95)
8) Puck Collector
Brian is not allowed to disclose his age, but enjoys going to baseball
and hockey games. along with the 123 baseballs he has collected at
Major League games, he has 136 pucks from NHL games, including 29 game
9) Bob Fox
My name is from Minnesota. I am
currently on tap to go to 37 games at the dome this year. I have only
ballhawked for one season once I got up and running I averaged about a
ball a game. This year I am looking to improve greatly on my numbers
and keeping track of my stats will motivate me to get more baseballs.
Aaron is a baseball-obsessed kid in the nation’s capital. He goes to around 40
games a season, and tries to collect as many autographs and baseballs at
those games as possible. He follows every team in the majors and uses his blog to talk about everything baseball. Aaron is quite talented, snagging 179 balls last season at the age of 13. He has been snagging since June 2007.
11) Joe Faraguna
My name is Joe Faraguna, i’m 14 years old and live in New York. I
started snagging baseballs in June of 2008, and have 28 lifetime. I
went to 11 games last year, and snagged about 20, i had 8 previously.
My most in a game is four, which i’ve done twice, once down in
Washington when i went to a game in July, and once at Shea in early
August. I am an avid Yankees fan, but I live two 1/2 hours away so its
hard to get to games. Im going to 17 game this year, 6 yankees, 5 mets,
3 diamondbacks, 2 nationals, and a baltimore game. If not for stumbling
upon Zack’s site when I was bored one morning, I would have never
On June 15th, 2002, tossed Ballhawk Shawn (as he
is affectionately known) his first major league baseball. Shawn did not
have a glove that day, nor did he plan on getting a baseball. The rush
he got made him return only a month or so later, this time with a
glove. Shawn snagged but 5 baseballs that season, however the summers
to come held bigger, better things. He holds the current Milwaukee
record with 14 baseballs snagged in one game, and can also add 2
homeruns in one game to his resumé. Just because he snags in
consistently sold-out (and consistently fan unfriendly) Miller Park
doesn’t mean you should sleep on him. You can expect big things from
this up-and-coming ballhawk star.
My name is Alex, and I have been a season ticket holder for the Yankees
for 12 years. I have more than 1800 only MLB autographs, and counting.
I have traveled to many different stadiums, 15, and have seen every
major league team play a game at least once. Some of my favorite items
are: David Ortiz game used bat from 9/1/07, Final Ball used in Game 4
of the 2008 World Series, a Derek Jeter game used wristband and a 2008
Cubs team signed ball. I hope to get many more momentos to come!
14) Donny Haltom
Now that law school is done and I can actually go to games in the
evenings instead of sitting in class, I’m ready for some serious
action. I’ve been going to batting practice and actively hawking for
about 4 years but have never kept track of my efforts. I’ve gotten as
many as 18 balls in a single game and have never been shut out when
making a conscious effort to hawk. I usually give the balls away to
kids in the stands near me who have gloves, but this year I’m going to
take more home and start a collection with my kids. I usually attend
around 25-30 games per season and avoid days with no BP.
is my home field with maybe one or two road trips tossed in as my
schedule allows. The tools of my trade are my Rawlings Vise, a Nokona
1st baseman’s mitt from high school, and a “Big Glove”. I’m ready to
get the season started and look forward to whatever this year brings to
my team. The only down side is that my hook up in the Astros’ front
office is no longer with the team and to make matters worse, my company
no longer has season tickets due to budget cutbacks so I’m going to
have to be creative this year.
15) Jeremy Evans
Hi my name is Jeremy I am a HUGE baseball fan. I am 13 years old and
live near philadelphia. But my first beloved team was the Orioles since
I began loving baseball when I lived in Baltimore. But since then I
have moved to Philly and have become a die hard fan of the Phillies. I
usually go to about 5 to 10 games a year, but I finally convinced my
parents to get more tickets so this year we are going to share partial
season tickets with 3 other families. Which means I will be going to
about 15 to 20 games. Maybe more because there has been talk of going
on a West Coast road trip to stadiums. I collect lots of autographs and
batting practice and game used balls.
My names Matt and I’m definitely in. I have a collection of about 10
balls from s but havent really dedicated myself like you
guys. But I’m definitely in for this new adventure. See you at PNC Park
all summer long.
17) Gary Kowal
Hey everyone, I’m Gary. Live in New Jersey, senior in high school and ready to have fun at Monmouth U. next year. I got my first ball July 8, 2006, foul ball by
on a fly (he had 7 rbis that day.) Anyway, the next season, I found
Zack’s blog. I finished 2007 with 15 balls, totaling 16. Last season, I
grabbed 91 balls at Shea, Yankee, Citizens Bank, Camden, and DC,
including multiple Shea, Yankee, and Nationals park commemoratives and
a few .
This year I can finally drive myself to games so I’ll go a lot more,
and that has already paid off as I snagged 54 balls in 7 games this
past March in Florida. I have 2 brothers, 14 and 10, and a sister. My
10 year old brother has 29 lifetime balls, also. When I’m not at games,
I snowboard, watch hockey and football, and relax. Go Mets, Giants, and
18) Donnie Ankudovich
My name is Donnie, I am 20 years old, and a friendly resident of the greatest state in the country, New Jersey! I am a diehard New York Mets fan and was introduced to MLBlogs via The Baseball Collector himself, . Most of the games I attend are in New York,
being without transportation, and having my team located an hour away
from me by train. I snagged my first major league baseball from Oliver
Perez after a half an hour bullpen session during a rain delay
in May 2008, and this season will be the one I consider my Rookie Year
of Ballhawking. Good luck to all, as I shall be wishing myself the best
of luck, competing with some of the greatest ballhawks in the league,
I’m gonna need it! Let’s do this dance baby!