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Down the Right Field Line

Winter Ballhawking Blues

Today the weather forecast in my hometown of Sioux City, IA calls for a balmy high of 49 degrees and a low of 25 degrees.

So, if you are occasionally caught daydreaming of batting practice on a scorching hot day, just know that summer is not right around the corner. But if you are like me, and already have the winter ballhawking blues, you can do a few things to get ready for the 2011 ballhawking season.

First of all, start planning your summer road trips. Though you still have plenty of time to think of where you'd like to go, you should start to plan out your summer now. Think of how much money you plan on spending on ballhawking and make a separate budget just for ballhawking. Save money during the winter. Part-time jobs are a great way to make extra money and fuel your summer addiction.

If you already know where you'd like to go, start planning how you will get there. Then study the stadiums. Read blogs entries about the stadium you will visit, note the general ballhawking strategy at a stadium you are unfamiliar with, e-mail ballhawks who have been to a stadium you are unfamiliar with, study photos of the stadium, and plan your strategy. Remember that doing your homework will pay off!

Second, make your ballhawking Christmas list. Thanksgiving is right around the corner and of course that means that Christmas is almost here as well. Christmas can be a great time to get plenty of ballhawking related merchandise.

First of all, ask for money. Tell your relatives that you need money for ballhawking in the summer. Just tell them that you don't know what you will spend it on, but that it is just for your hobby. Second, MLB Umpire hats always make a very versatile gift for the ballhawk that doesn't have a lot of money. Gift cards to sporting goods stores will also make great gifts. And, if you feel like reading about ballhawking, you can always ask for a ballhawking related book.

Third, hit the weight room. Remember that while ballhawking may just be a hobby in the stands, it is a very physical activity! You can try to improve your performance, just like any other athlete, by hitting the weight room. Work on variations of squats and hip sled exercises to improve your lower body and back. The dead lift is also a great lift your back. Remember to work on your abdominals because you need to have a solid core to be a good athlete.

You might also want to try to improve your agility and jumping for when you need dodge kids, fans, and security or jump fences, seats, railings, and stairs.

Fourth, make goals for 2011. Sit down and focus on what you really want to accomplish in 2011. If you know where you want to go, then set a goal for that stadium and or trip. Think about how many balls you currently have and then think of some milestones that you can achieve.

(For example in 2011 I want to snag ball 1000, and then hopefully make it to ball 1100. I also want to snag a ball in at least 4 different stadiums and at three different levels of play.)

Fifth and finally, log onto (Ok, I couldn't resist the plug.) Seriously log onto where as I like to say "baseball nerds assemble!" unites ballhawks, and gives us a small place on the web to remind us of ballhawking all year long. Try using the forums and keep in contact with other ballhawks throughout the winter.

And if you like minor league baseball, look forward to the minor league edition of in the spring of 2011.

Phil Joens is a contributing columnist to and also maintains a Blog.

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