October 20, 2011
Now that the baseball ball hawking season is pretty much over, I had to evaluate my season as a whole. I looked at how many total balls I had obtained the strategies that I had employed, and the gear I used to snag them. I looked at the different ball parks I had attended, and took a look back at the other ball hawks that I observed while shagging. I noticed some cool things, and some NOT SO cool things throughout the season that I'd like to pass along. I would also like to ask a question.
Most of the basic-to-advanced ball hawking techniques have been written about by Zack Hample, if you care to buy his books which are very good and informative by the way. However, I noticed a few things myself that might help the young and inexperienced ball hawk. I'm not claiming to be the expert, but I did snag a few balls this season.
First, I noticed that a lot of early teen ball hawks (10 to 19 yr olds) were wearing those "basketball type" of shorts to the game with no pockets! Is this the smart choice of pants to wear to the game after you snagged 5 or so balls, and didn't bring a backpack? Can anyone say CARGO SHORTS? Next, I noticed a lot of younger kids to early teen ball hawks, boys and girls alike that asked the players for a baseball, and had NO manners! I witnessed players that flat out told these kids to say PLEASE for a ball, or take a hike. Some of the players actually scolded some of the parents of these kids for not teaching them any manners. Say please and thank you in the future when you get a ball. This will help your fellow ball hawks get a ball too, and the players won't think we're all a bunch of jerks in the stands.
Lastly, I saw a bunch of adult ball hawks "JUMP" other fellow ball hawks, and worst, they jumped a kid!!! People...if a player points to a certain fan to throw a ball to him or her, ESPECIALLY A KID, DON'T jump in front of that fan or kid, and snatch the ball away from them! That is despicable! It's bad enough that the perception around the ball park is that we are a bunch of "Ball Hogs" and not ball hawks; we don't need this in our sport. I get jumped all the time being 5'6" tall, it's always some 6'4" dude that is approximately 21 to 34 years old that has never gotten a ball before, and in his excitement, wants to jump in front of me to get that ball! I lose 10 balls a year to this easily!
I would also like to pass along two things I found that really worked for me this year. As most of you know, I'm an older ball hawk, and I am always striving for an edge. I noticed most of the players that toss up balls to fans are usually PITCHERS that stand near the outfield wall as they shag balls. I usually use a 1st Base Mans glove. It's a great all around glove for most ball hawk situations. However, I started thinking about the psychology of ball hawking, and getting inside the heads of the players. What I came up with was to buy a catchers mitt. That's right, a CATCHERS MITT! I felt once a pitcher saw the mitt, they would have a natural response to throw a ball to it, and you know what...I was right! Pitchers and most players that see you with a catcher's mitt know that you play the game, or had played the game, and can TRUST throwing a ball to you. You will also most likely stand out in the crowd, in a sea of infielder & outfielder gloves.
I also witnessed a cool thing at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay. I saw a young ball hawk in his early 20's wearing his set of MILITARY DOG TAGS hanging out & dangling from his neck over his jersey. I witnessed a bunch of players wanting to throw him a baseball, as they probably thought that he was a veteran. I don't know if he was a vet, but he was sure playing the "sympathy card"...and it worked!!! I saw a bunch of players toss him a ball over little kids. I'm a 20 year retired Army Sgt., and I started wearing my dog tags to the ball park, and I feel I have gotten a few more balls thrown to me with them on. So, if you're a vet, wear your tags! If you're not, find your Grandpa's tags from the war!
The question I have for my fellow ball hawks is this: what is the best GLOVE to ball hawk with?
Rocco Sinisi is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com.