“In Defense of a Ballhawk”

There is a lot of controversy surrounding ones that claim to be a “ballhawk.” If you are unfamiliar of what a Ballhawk actually is, you may need to attend a few more Major league baseball games in your life. I don’t mean that in a negative fashion, either. I’m just saying. If you’ve ever encountered a Ballhawk roaming the confines of any Major league stadium, you may have received a baseball from one, hopefully. I, myself, have snagged nearly 270 baseballs since 2005 when I received my first official baseball from an usher at Kauffman stadium during my mid-tour leave from combat. I also make sure to be very careful how I go about snagging baseballs and not to get too greedy. Although, I’ll jump on just about any opportunity to snag one, I give a fair share of baseballs away to fellow baseball fans both young and old.

A few years ago, a young man named Nick Yohanek attended a baseball game and caught Chris Coglan’s first career home run. Yohanek, at the time, seemed to be an icon in Milwaukee’s old stadium before Miller Park was created. He’d attend many baseball games and put up strong numbers by snagging game home run baseballs. It’s quite impressive, actually. But to some, Yohanek and others that share similar interest in snagging gamers, are annoying and just get in the way of the game. Well, I’ve never hindered anyone from catching a baseball. Or have gotten in the way of someone trying to enjoy the game. For Yohanek, it’s been a different story. And not to dig up old stories, but rumor has it, or had it, that Yohanek asked for a laundry list of items from Coglan after snagging his first career dinger. From there, it spiraled out of control.

Zack Hample is another that snags quite a few game home runs and has snagged many first career home runs as well. After catching the ball, security instantly comes down and tries to pry the baseball from your hands and if you don’t have a good grip or are an easy push over, you’ll lose your change to get something in return for that prized possession. For me? Just meeting the player is enough. For others, they’ll ask for money, bats, balls, batting gloves, you name it. If it isn’t nailed down, fans want it.

Anyway. Enough of all that. Here’s a great write-up from a person that wanted to shed some positive light on the ballhawking world. It’s a little long, but worth the read.






  1. Mike

    Wayne-I have to say, it’s nice to read this post. To me, you come off as one of the most genuine hawks. Ballhawking has been portrayed in a negative light in the media, and it’s somewhat unfair. On an unrelated note, Zack should be in the MLB Fan Cave, as he is the definition of a true baseball fan. No real team allegiance. Just a fan of the game.

    You have to give Zack a lot of credit. It’s a hobby, he really loves it, and he’s learned to master it. I supposed you can say he’s inspired people like you to get involved with local charities and give back. He gets shit from people because, either they don’t understand it, or it’s that “too cool for the room” attitude that “real men” don’t wear gloves, or he’s stealing balls from kids. I guess it’s not any different than someone who collects antiques, or hoards artwork. Different genres, but same premise. I think some people find him as greedy, and although I don’t, I believe that some ballhawks (not yourself) are, and this doesn’t help the image of other hawks. It’s that attitude that they have to go after every single ball during bp, or compete for every 3’rd out ball. Yes, I know, competition. I think that might miff some people. I suppose as a parent, I’d be pissed if my son/daughter were up at the dugout and some 5-6′ adult reached in front of them for a ball, but that’s life, and you have to learn to accept disappointments. True, they do have as much right as everyone else to go for a ball, but when you have 15 or so balls already, what is 1 more? As a fan of their respective blogs, it’s sort of silly to see someone who already has a dozen or so baseballs miss out on one opportunity, and spend the next paragraph bitching about a missed opportunity, or saying they want to go home because of a botched play.

    The Ballhawk League should be like any other league. Friendly competition, and good sportsmanship, which includes how you conduct yourself after you miss out on a homerun, or a toss up. Another issue I have with ballhawks, is you see them complain that ushers won’t give them a ball because they aren’t a kid, yet, they won’t give a ball to an adult because *they aren’t kids. Hey, you catch it, you have every right to give that ball or keep it. But, don’t bitch that the usher didn’t think you were “cute” enough, because that’s hypocritical. Again, I’ve seen you give balls to adult, and kudos for that. It’s fun to get a ball at a game. To connect with the players, and have something that means a lot to you. I just think some people tend to go overboard.

  2. Wayne


    Thank you so much for your comment. I truly appreciate it. And you’ve brought up some really good points about Ballhawking. Yes, I try to keep my numbers down because I want everyone to get a baseball. And I do my best to find people that didn’t get one to give them a baseball. I also feel that getting a baseball from a another fan is sort of defeating the purpose of trying to get a baseball, though. Wouldn’t it be more special and meaningful if someone that went to a baseball game got a ball from a player instead? But you’d be surprised how excited people get when I take a baseball from my jacket pocket or my backpack and hand it over. Who knows where that baseball came from, and they take my word that it came from the field. To me, that’s weird.

    Anyway. About the security guards. Yes, I think its natural for them to want to give baseballs to kids and not adults. Why? Because kids are cuter and they give off the impression that they have less of a chance in getting a baseball when in fact it’s the exact opposite. I’ve been snagging baseballs for 6-7 years now and I’ve heard every excuse in the book as to why a security guard can’t give me a baseball when I asked. I used to get upset when they denied me. But then I learned their game. You see, security guards, ushers, seating hosts, etc all are “probably” told not to touch baseballs, interfere with fans snagging them, etc. And they always say “I never know who’s watching.” or “I can get fired for touching a ball.” Reality? No one is really watching THAT close. And no, they won’t get fired if they touch a baseball. If that were true, Safeco Field would be hiring new faces each game. I rarely ask security guards for baseballs anymore unless I’m in a pitch. And even then I think twice about it. I think its great that security guards give baseballs to kids but they’re niave about these kids.

    So in essence, Ballhawking has really changed my life for the better. I’ve learned so much about baseball, the game, met wonderful people, started a charity, and have been in contact with many media outlets. It’s been a fantastic ride so far, and I hope it never ends.

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