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Hakey Fights Back Against #HakeyWatch

Typically when a ballhawk on this site has been accused of fudging stats, he offers no defense. The reason for his lack of a defense is obvious of course. He lied. He got caught. He's embarrassed.

This hasn't been the case with Baltimore ballhawk Doug Hakey, who was the subject of widespread rumors of stat-fudging last season, even to the point of the hash tag #HakeyWatch being invented to tweet about his stats. When Hakey learned of the rumors against him, he waged an aggressive campaign to defend himself, contacting anyone and everyone who would testify on his behalf.

What follows is a compilation of the emails I received defending Doug Hakey's stats. For now I have withheld the last names of the people involved. At this time I won't add any of my personal commentary on the situation and simply let the emails speak for themselves.

As a side note, Doug has informed me that one of his secret ballhawking strategies may have been a major cause of people doubting his stats. Specifically, he was able to snag a significant number of balls before the gates opened by hanging out just outside the back door of Dempsey's, a restaurant in the Eutaw Street warehouse. Dempsey's is now preventing people from doing this, which is why Doug is ok with me revealing the secret.

Here's the emails:

Dear Alan,

It was brought to my attention that there was some question about the legitimacy of Doug Hakey's Ballhawk numbers which very much upset me to learn of this. I have a 13 game plan in section 26 row 3 and have been fortunate to get to know my friend Doug. I have witnessed him catch at least 10 or so balls over the 6 games that I saw him there this year and he takes a great deal of pride in his ability to catch them and absolutely respects the ballhawk competition and would do nothing outside the rules. He works extremely hard at his techniques and just as importantly, he has fun doing it.

Not only that, he shares the balls that he catches with children that normally would not have had the chance to attain one. He even taught my daughters where and when to go so they could catch balls which cuts into the number of balls that he would catch. At game 2 of the ALDS he gave my wife his detroit uniform in section 48 and glove and guided her to a spot where she was tossed a Ryan Flaherty strikeout ball. What an awesome experience that my wife will never forget. He truly enjoys making other people happy with his ballhawking skills and takes the competition very seriously and certainly would not accept being declared the winner without legitimately reports the number and type of caught balls be cause he respects the integrity of the competition and would only want to earn it.

I pride myself in being a good judge of character and without question find Doug to be an honest person with high moral standards and thus consider him a friend of me and my family. The Ballhawking competition means a great deal to Doug and nothing should tarnish his achievements as he earns every bit of it and he enriches the baseball game experience for many others as well.

Sincerely, Gene

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Alan-

Good morning-

I am writing this email in an effort to voice my support for Doug Hakey. Doug is an acquaintance who I met this summer at the ballpark. I personally witnessed him catch a game used ball this summer against the Cincinnati Reds.

I want to personally vouch for Doug. He loves his hobby and is passionate in his efforts to collect major league baseballs. Please feel free to email me shall you want to discuss further.

-Kevin

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Alan,

It's come to my attention that my friend Doug Hakey has been receiving abuse on your site of late, being accused of padding stats. For this he's justifiably become quite upset. Let me chime in and try to set the record straight.

For the better part of the past four seasons I've possessed tickets to all Baltimore Orioles home games in section 36, directly behind Home Plate, 29 rows back and 7 rows in front of the press box. This perch affords me an incredible view of the field and stands, especially the areas between the Dougouts. I attend all but a hand-full of games. Several years ago I noticed Doug Hakey and a friend to be seemingly fixated on retrieving foul balls. They were quite methodical in there approach to this craft and very successful, usually getting several balls per game. Doug would keep a backpack nearby and generally have a supply of balls retrieved from batting practice and after each successful find ( I won't say catch) he'd retreat to his stash, pull out a few balls and hand them to children who would hover around him hoping to be the lucky recipient of that last foul ball. For each one ball Doug retrieved two or three kids would think they got it from him. None the wiser several children would leave each game with a treasure. I assumed this to be the fuel that would drive a grown man to drive hours to attend a baseball game whereby he's not a fan of either team involved but to instead just enjoy contributing to the experience of the fans in attendance and enjoy their company.

Over the past seasons Doug and I, as well as my family have become close friends and have spent much time together. This past season Doug spent most homestands at my home which we've enjoyed immensely. Doug leaves for the stadium each game-day several hours prior to game-time to catch every possible minute of batting practice, always looking for a creative way to get in early or get an edge on any competition he may encounter in his quest for that ball. Often my 17 year old son Ben goes along. Ben's been with him on a few of his better days. This season Doug has attended games at other stadiums as well. My son Ben and I attended PNC Park with Doug and had quite the memorable experience. We also took in a few games at National's Park.

Doug took this ball gathering thing to a new level this season. He put in a lot of time, energy and money to compete in your contest. He had some incredible days at the ball-yard gathering balls, sometimes more than a dozen. Many nights my kitchen table was covered in baseballs while Doug recorded his yield, like a kid after trick-or-treat night. It's seemingly a bit crazy but who am I to judge. It appears harmless.

I've never looked in on your site. Nor do I follow your competition. That said, I can assure you that nobody at Camden Yards came close to gathering more balls than Doug Hakey. In addition, from what my son Ben personally witnessed and relayed to me I can assure you with certainty that Doug's numbers are accurate.

Please do your due diligence in investigating this matter and set the record straight. It's wrong for your site to be used to attack the integrity of my friend. He was truly having a fun time with this and these events have certainly soured things for him. It's just not right but it sounds as if you may be in a position to correct it. I respectfully ask that you do that.

Sincerely,Brian

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Hi my name is Ben, I am a 17 year old I play baseball for the [Team name redacted] travel baseball game I am a pitcher. I met Doug during the first game of the season when ironically he dropped what would have been his first of many game balls on the season; my dad picked up the ball and gave it to me, Doug and I have been friends since I still have that ball sitting in my house to remind him of it. Doug and I have traveled to different ball parks together over the last season them being PNC park, and Nationals park, I of course also go to almost all of the home orioles games at Camden yards and sit in section 38 behind home plate and have an extremely good view of everything that is going on, and off the field.

I have without a doubt seen Doug get at least 40 if not 50 of his game balls whether I was siting next to him near the dugout seeing it right In front of me or if I was observing him from my seat in section 38. I have also witnessed him in many "BP" sessions that I have attended with him some of the more memorable ones being in April when Baltimore was playing Toronto he got a total 17 it was like he had a magnet on or something I've never seen so many balls hit to one guy in my life, there was a point when 3 balls were hit to him in under a minute. When we traveled to PNC to see the Orioles play in Pittsburgh he got 15 BP balls, again it really amazed me that one guy could get that many that balls in one game.

I have attended plenty more batting practices with him and seen him work his magic over and over with the toss ups and just finding balls. I would say I have probably been in attendance this season for just about every game Doug was in town in Baltimore and 5 or 6 away games as well so almost all the games he was in Baltimore for I was observing him and I can say without a doubt that he is trying to lie or forge his stats I watched him almost every time he entered the balls onto your site one by one and he was not doing anything wrong just entering the truthful amount of balls that he got during the game. The only thing Doug is guilty of with game balls is not being able to catch the batting practice balls on the fly but at least he catches the toss ups. I have been working with him on he does much better in practice than in the stands.

Thanks,Ben

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i am a 63 year old baseball fan with season tickets to see the orioles and the nationals. i sit in some of the best seats in both parks and i see a lot of what goes on, both on the field and in the stands. i am a keen observer of things and i do so with peripheral vision.

because i sit, as one usher recently said, ". . . wherever he wants," i've had the occasion to witness ball hawking from several different vantage points. a few years ago, i became aware of the cult where folks with gloves and backpacks roam the stands in search of the best place to snag a ball. i have had many interactions with a lot of these guys and have watched with amazement the prowess, tactics, and the focus necessary to get game used balls.

doug hakey is a frequent attendee of games at camden yards. because i sit close to the field behind the visitors' on deck circle, i have seen doug probably 100 times, if not more, over the last few years. i know his routine. i tell fans around me what he is going to do before he does it. i am often amazed how he will be ready to pop down to the dugout immediately after a third out strikeout. he sits in an aisle seat and is usually the first fan to reach the bottom of the stairs and i have seen multiple games where the catcher throws him one or two balls. when a foul ball gets behind the catcher and the on deck batter grabs it, i've seen them toss the ball to doug often.

recently, i had occasion to sit in a different section than mine at nationals park. i chose to sit close to the visitors dugout and within moments i noticed a familiar sight from baltimore. it was doug hakey racing down to snag a ball from the catcher after danny espinosa had struck out to end the inning.

he sure gets around. i can honestly say that i seen his record breaking activities frequently.

thanks.

david

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Dear Allan

My names is Mary and I work for the Baltimore Orioles. I have been there for 20 years and 5 of them 20 years i spent behind home plate. I am writing you today about a very good friend of mine who i meet behind home plate. Doug Hakey. I am hearing that there is a question about his stats on his ball hawking. Doug and i go back 7 years as i stated before 5 of them years behind home plate. I can tell you this much i seen Doug get some game day foul balls just being behind home plate.No he did not catch them in his glove but all the same he ended up with them in his glove. He did not run over any little old lady's or little kids in the process. Doug is not that kind of ball hawk. I have seen Doug give away balls that he got not only to little kids but to ushers who really wanted one. If Doug got more then 2 game balls or practice balls in a game Doug would see to it that he would make some kids day by giving them a ball.

When i worked behind home plate i would run off the ball hawks because of the knocking people over just to get to a ball. There were only 2 people that i would let stay behind home plate and that was Doug Hakey and Zac Campell these two respected the rules and caused no problems. I do not see Doug as much anymore cause i am now a team leader. Once in a while i will see Doug when i am walking down Eutaw st to go to my post before gates open standing in front of Dempsey inside the park and i stop to say hi and he tells my what a bad or good day he had a ball hawking the day before. I just seen Doug the last post season game on Eutaw st and he got a practice ball while we were standing there talking.

I do not know why all the bashing is going on with Doug but he is a good guy. He is one of the few good ball hawkers. Doug was taught to ball hawk by a great guy Matt Hershel. To bad Matt did not teach Doug how to catch the ball. That would be a ball to mark in history if Doug ever catches a ball. Just saying....

Any way not sure if you know this but if you have any power over these ball hawks then you might want to inform the new ones from the last couple of years to watch out for others and most of all respect the ushers. The last few years have been a shipwreck with the new ball hawks in the stadium. Because of them there is no more ball hawking behind home plate and before long there will be no ball hawking in the stadium at all if they keep it up. Its a couple of young kids that are making it harder on the older ball hawks and giving them a bad name. You cant disrespect the ushers when they ask you to do something and you cant knock people over to get the ball but yet that is what they are doing. Seat jumping is another game they like to play. The fans do not like that and are real quick to tell on them and then when they are question the get nasty with the ushers. Not sure of there names but i do know it is two young boys. If anything they need to take some lessons from the older ball hawks and learn from them.

Now back to Doug. Bottom line Doug is not going to fudge numbers just to get a population vote. He is not going to fudge numbers just to get to the top. The Doug i knows will work hard to get what he wants he will chase a ball to the harbor just to get a game ball for the night even if that is the only one he gets for that game. Doug may walk out of there with one ball or he may have a great day and walk out with 13 balls in one game and if he dose you can beat that he chased everyone of them and did not run anyone over doing it. Thank you for taking the time out to read my vent.

Mary

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Alan of Mygameballs.com

Sir I am writing this for a gentleman who I have met one time at Camden Yards on Tuesday September 2, 2014. I was on vacation at Ocean City Maryland and when my babysitter, who went on vacation with us, at the last minute stated that she needed to fly back to Boston to register for her college classes (that was just an excuse). So my wife, my daughter currently 17 months old, jumped in the car and dropped off the babysitter at BWI. I have never spent any time in Baltimore so we decided to drive to Camden Yards just to check out the park, it was safer than Lexington Market which we accidentally drove past. We walked right up to the bullpen in center field, it was pretty early and my family was amazed at how open the park was, with the statues in center field that was open to the public. The park is beautiful.

Well as my family was watching the pitchers in the bullpen warm-up and my daughter was walking around the park (we were chasing the little thing), this is where we met Doug Hakey. I am a Boston Police Officer, I have a t-shirt company Gamechangerthreads.com. So naturally I was wearing a Boston Police T-shirt. Mr. Hakey asked if I was from Boston and that?s how the conversation started. He knew all the players on the field, knew the coaching staff and employees in the park. I was amazed at everyone he knew. Before we even started talking, I recall someone throwing him a ball up behind the bull pen. I am sure if he got more than one ball behind the bull pen but I was busy with my family.

Mr. Hakey offered my family his season tickets for the game, he said he had better tickets behind the dugout. After about 45 minutes maybe even longer of hanging out behind the bullpen I finally accepted the tickets, he said they were going to go to waste. Then he also advised us to go get some food in a restaurant in right field which we did (he joined us for 15-20 minutes I offered to buy him an appetizer or a drink, he does not drink). My wife and I couldn?t help but keep an eye on Mr Hakey before the game and during the game. Once we were able to get back to the field area, we noticed Mr Hakey in left field, then behind the third base dugout. We were amused when we saw Mr Hakey switching shirts going from orange to red (Cincinatti), then back from red to orange when switching from dugout to dugout. This date Tuesday Sept. 2nd was not busy at all, Fenway Park would be sold out (I am from Boston). Mr Hakey actually spoke to an usher and got my family behind home plate before the game started. This is when we witness Mr Hakey get about 3 balls behind the first base dugout. I clearly recall one ball which was overthrown to a teenager who was standing in the aisle. Mr Hakey jumped the ball sailed over his head too, but he got the ball in the scamble, then immediately gave the ball away. Unbelieveable, all that work to get his hands on the ball, then he immediately gives it away.

Of course, Mr Hakey, gave my daughter a ball that night. I have plenty of photos that night in question. I have photos of my daughter with the ball that Mr Hakey gave her. He also texted me multiple times that night and kept me updated with the ball count.

I can forward a copy of my police ID, photos from that night, and a certificate that my daughter received for her first ball game. I believe that the rain played in Mr Hakey's favor that night.

Behind the bullpen I witnessed 1 ball. Then behind first base I remember at least 3, 1 of which was overthrown to the teenager. Then behind third base I do recall him getting balls but I have no clue how many he got. So in the short time I witnessed him get 4 balls but in the outfield I would turn around and he would have another ball. My wife states that she saw about 8 recovered, at times I was a bit preoccupied with the Beer line or my beer in hand.

My family stayed at the game and left just after the first rain delay. I have a new phone I just have to transfer the pics to my new phone and I can forward a pic of my daughter with a ball that Mr Hakey gave her.

I met Mr Hakey once. He made my visit to Baltimore and Camden Yards a memorable one. I would have to say he is a gentleman and a kid at heart. My wife said he reminds me of you. I have also included a pic of my most value player certificate from the Orioles presented to my daughter, I had to get one too.

Please visit my Facebook page. You can see a picture of my daughter with her Minnnie Mouse and the ball she was given courtesy ofMr Hakey. It is listed under September 2, 2014.

I will be more than happy to make a detailed report and have it notarizedfor your website.

Respectfully Javier

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Alan,

Hello my name is Gary. I am emailing you on behalf of Doug Hakey.I had the pleasure of meeting Doug at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, PA. on Sept.17th. Actually sitting right next to him. We started talking and hit itoff. I was very intrigued with his passion for baseball and hisexplanation of "ball Hawking". In the the few hours that we shared thebaseball game together, He amazed me with his efforts in "ball halking."He had at least 4 balls thrown to him by coaches and players. Dougactually gave a few away to young baseball fans, that desperately wanting agame ball! With his face lighting up as much as the boys . We also had thepleasure of meeting Larry Lucchino (the owner and ceo of the Red Sox)how cool is that. (see attachment) Doug has a passion for baseball and askill at "Ball Hawking". I endorse his efforts and shame on anyone whofeels differently about this person and this persons love of the game!!!

Sincerely,Gary

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Alan Schuster is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com.

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