About a month ago, the Ballhawk of the Year award became a very controversial topic in the ballhawking community. Debates on new awards, pro vs amateur status, age, so on and so forth. So, in this entry, I decided to break down the votes I cast for MyGameBalls.com Ballhawk of the Year and Junior Ballhawk of the Year. After breaking down my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place votes, I gave a list of addition ballhawks that deserve votes and consideration. I came into my with a list of people that I knew I had to chose from, so it was VERY hard to narrow it down to just 3 votes. Voting is only open for registered members of MyGameBalls.com.
Before I list the various ballhawks, there is one definition I want to give you that should help you a with this entry.
Competition Factor: “Competition Factor” was invented by Zack Hample. It multiplies the number of balls obtained by the attendance. I will list the Average Competition Factor this season for each ballhawk featured in this article.
If you click on any ballhawk’s name, you will be taken to their MyGameBalls.com Profile, where you can check out their stats.
So, here is my 2013 MyGameBalls.com Ballhawk of the Year ballot.
Ballhawk of the Year:
- Greg Barasch (gbarasch): This vote probably surprises a lot of people, but for me, it was an easy decision. Greg finished 4th overall in the standings this year, snagging an incredible 385 balls in only 45 games. That is an average of 8.56 balls per game. That is incredible! Imagine the numbers he could have put up going to 1 1/2 or twice that many games, like the 3 people ahead of him in the standings. He snagged 325 balls less than Zack Hample and went to 48 less games. He snagged 338 less balls than Erik Jabs and went to 62 less games. If he had gone to twice as many games, he would have been putting up even crazier numbers than the # 1 and 2 ballhawks this season! Greg is proof that you don’t have to go to an insane amount of games to snag a lot of balls. 45 Games. 385 Balls. Competition Factor: 246,445. Average: 8.56 B/G.
- Erik Jabs (ErikJ): Erik went to an amazing 107 games this year. That is about twice as many MLB games as I have been to in my life! Not only that, but he snagged 723 balls, which is his personal best. Not only is this his personal best year in terms of quantity of balls snagged, but it is his personal best season is terms of games attended, balls per game average, average competition factor, AND games with 10 or more balls. Keep in mind, Erik was the 2010 MyGameBalls.com Ballhawk of the Year. To add to all of his impressive stats, he is ballhawking arguably, the most competitive stadium to ballhawk at in the country! Why did he not get my first place vote? No game balls snagged. Then again, he left nearly every day after BP to spend time with his family. Numbers like the ones he put up, plus the fact that he left after batting practice often, gives him my 2nd place vote. 107 Games. 723 Balls. Competition Factor: 197,917. Average: 6.76 B/G.
- Zack Hample (zackhample): Zack once again, put up another outstanding season. Not only did he manage to maintain his streak, with 966 games in a row with at least one ball, but he snagged a game-used ball at every MLB stadium, courtesy off Bigs Sunflower Seeds, all for Pitch in for Baseball. In the 93 games he went to this year, Zack snagged 710 balls, which puts for an average of 7.63 balls per game. Not to mention, he snagged 4 home runs and reached double digits in 27 of his 93 games, which is an average of 29%. Essentially, for every 10 games Zack went to, he snagged at least 10 balls in 3 of them! This is the 2nd-most number of balls he has ever snagged in a single season and 2nd most games he has ever been to in a single season. Given that he was in the top 3 in just about every major MyGameBalls category, he gets my 3rd place vote! 93 Games. 710 Balls. Competition Factor: 227,882. 4 Home Runs. Average: 7.63 B/G.
There are a lot of members who are very talented ballhawks, but rarely get any recognition or consideration. Here is a list of 13 other members that you should consider casting a vote for, along with the 3 I voted for. They are in order of number of balls snagged.
- Nicholas Pelescak (NicholasPNC): Nick finished 3rd on the site, ballhawking at probably the toughest stadium to ballhawk at, in PNC Park. It speaks volumes about his season given that he had to compete on a daily basis with Erik Jabs and other Pittsburgh ballhawks. He snagged 404 balls, in 74 games, which averages for 5.46 balls per game. He also snagged a home run back in September, which is impressive. 74 Games. 404 Balls. Competition Factor: 121,293. Average: 5.46 B/G.
- Mateo Fischer (fischerm): At 19 years old, Mateo finished 5th at MyGameBalls in terms of balls snagged. For his age, that is incredible! 317 balls in 64 games in quite impressive for a Freshman in college. He averaged 4.95 balls per game, most of them at Target Field, which is an incredibly tough stadium to snag balls at! 64 Games. 317 Balls. Competition Factor: 141,518. Average: 4.95 B/G.
- Rocco Sinisi (roccosinisi): Rocco was another Top-10 ballhawk. Considering that he only went to 48 games, coming away with 313 balls is amazing! That is an average of over 6 balls per game (6.52 to be specific), which at age 53 is phenomenal! Not to mention, he had 7 games with 10 or more balls AND snagged 16 balls in one game! 48 Games. 313 Balls. 7 Game Balls. Competition Factor: 181,391. Average: 6.52 B/G.
- Alex Kopp (akopp1): Alex finished 2nd on the site, with 8 game home runs, which is incredible at Camden Yards, considering how many talented ballhawks are regulars there. Not only did he snag 8 home runs during games, but at 23 years old, he 283 balls, in 66 games, most at Orioles Park, for an average of 4.29 balls per game. Alex also snagged Chris Davis’ 40th home run of the season and 100th career home run, this year, which is incredible! 66 Games. 283 Balls. 8 Home Runs. 13 Game Balls Competition Factor: 124,017. Average: 4.29 B/G.
- Garrett Meyer (garrett37): Not only did Garret finish in the top 10, in terms of balls snagged, but he snagged 39 game balls, which led MyGameBalls. 5 of these were foul balls. Overall, Garret snagged 270 balls in 64 games, which averages out to 4.22 balls per game. 64 Games. 270 Balls. 39 Game Balls. Competition Factor: 100,444. Average: 4.22 B/G.
- Rick Gold (JQFC): Rick’s 265 balls in 82 games (3.23 average) may not seem like a lot, but keep in mind that of his 265 balls, ONE (1) of them was tossed by a player. That means he snagged 264 hit balls. Of those 82 games, he was shut out in 18 of them, 12 of them were without BP. Rick plans his games months in advance, so he can’t predict which would be bad for ballhawking. He also snagged 3 home runs during games this season. 82 Games. 265 Balls. 3 Home Runs. Competition Factor: 85,926. Average: 3.23 B/G.
- Devin Trone (DevoT): Along with Rocco, at 53 years old, Devin is one of the oldest ballhawks in the top-10. He snagged 248 balls, going to an incredible 94 games. Like Rick, Devin doesn’t go for toss-ups, as only 5 of his balls were a toss-up. He also snagged a Yoenis Cespedes home run at the Home Run Derby, which is awesome! 94 Games. 248 Balls. Competition Factor: 109,193. Average: 2.64 B/G.
- Ballhawk Shawn (Shawn77): Shawn led MyGameBalls in game home runs snagged, with 9, which is OUTSTANDING! Not only did he snag a crazy number of game home runs, but he snagged 237 balls overall, in 64 games, which is an average of 3.70. To add to all of this, he snagged over 100 balls during Spring Training! 64 Games. 237 Balls. 9 Home Runs. Competition Factor: 104,536. Average: 370 B/G.
- Leiming Tang (leimingtang): Leiming snagged 226 balls in 62 games, which is an average of 3.65 balls per game. This is all very impressive, considering that he is only 20 years old, having visited 12 stadiums this year! 62 Games. 226 Balls. Competition Factor: 94,703. Average: 3.65 B/G.
- Tim Anderson (Gu3): Tim was the 2011 MyGameBalls.com Junior Ballhawk of the Year and he has kept up a blazing pace! In 2013, he snagged 197 balls in 49 games, which is an average of 4.02 balls per game. What is impressive is that in the 49 games he went to, Tim snagged 7 home runs during the game, all at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. 49 Games. 197 Balls. 7 Home Runs. Competition Factor: 104,739. Average: 4.02 B/G.
- Todd, Tim & Kellan Cook (cooknsonbats): Notice how this account is multiple people. Todd Cook and his sons Tim and Kellan combined to snag 186 balls this season, only going to 31 games. This is an average of 6 balls per game, which is 5th at MyGameBalls! They also had the 3rd-highest competition factor, of 207,818. They snagged 14 balls in one game and had 6 games with 10 or more balls! 31 Games. 186 Balls. Competition Factor: 207,818. Average: 6.00 B/G.
- Doug Hakey (doughakey): Doug is one of the older members at MyGameBalls.com, at 54. His 129 balls are impressive, in just 31 games (All of which were at Camden Yards), which averages out to just over 4 balls a game. Not to mention, he snagged 23 game balls this season, 10 of them foul balls! 23 game balls was 2nd most on the site this season! 32 Games. 129 Balls. 23 Game Balls. Competition Factor: 122,122. Average: 4.03 B/G.
- Greg Jeranek (brooklyn): This dude is 64 years old- one of (if not the) oldest ballhawks on the site! 117 balls snagged at his age is insane! Not only that, but in the 26 games he went to this past season (All at Great American Ballpark) , he snagged 14 game balls, all of them 3rd out toss-ups. Racking in numbers like this is very impressive, especially at his age. Major props to you, Greg! 26 Games. 117 Balls. 14 Game Balls. Competition Factor: 131,062. Average: 4.50 B/G.
I have given you a list of 16 of the ballhawks that I think you should consider voting for in the MyGameBalls.com Ballhawk of the Year Award voting. I’m in no way telling you who to vote for. I gave the stats of 16 ballhawks, as well why I think they should garner a vote. Happy voting!
Now it is time for me to introduce my Junior Ballhawk of the Year ballot as well as candidates. I will give my 3 votes and _ other young ballhawks that I belief also deserve a vote. I gave a lot of thought to this and have decided not to consider parent and child, or family accounts. As the child is not snagging every ball, and the parent is snagging some of the balls registered, I have chosen not to count them in the JBOTY category.
Junior Ballhawk of the Year:
- Grant Edrington (fireant02): Of the Ballhawks that I deemed eligible for this award, Grant snagged the most balls, went to the most games, and was the only one to snag a game home run! In 40 games, Grant snagged 102 balls, which is an average of 2.55 balls per game. Also keep in mind that last year, he only snagged 10 baseballs, and that was his first year ever ballhawking. Great improvement! 40 Games. 102 Balls. Competition Factor: 71,584. Average: 2.55 B/G.
- Paul Kom (Paaoool123): Paul was 2nd in terms of balls snagged among Junior ballhawks, going to almost all of his games at Target Field in Minnesota, which is a tough stadium to snag balls at. He snagged 73 balls in the 19 games he went to, which is an average of 3.84 balls per game. 19 Games. 73 Balls. Competition Factor: 111,199. Average: 3.84 B/G.
- Jacob Webb (JacobWebb44): Jacob snagged 48 balls in 2013, which is tied for 4th among Junior ballhawks. His average is only 2.40 balls per game, but there is something that makes up for it. Game balls. He has snagged 13 game-used balls, which is more than any other Junior member that I could find. 3 of those game-used balls are foul balls! Plus, he is one of the few St. Louis ballhawks, so you have to give him props there. 20 Games. 48 Balls. 13 game balls. Competition Factor: 96,694. Average: 2.40 B/G.
There are a lot of other young ballhawks that are not very well know, but had good seasons. Here is a list of 5 other members that you should consider casting a vote for, along with the 3 will vote for. They are in no particular order.
- Maddie Landis (angrybird447): Maddie is the only female ballhawk on either of my ballots, which is special on its own! She snagged the 3rd-most balls of all Juniors, all 54 in just 14 games, which is an average of 3.86 balls per game. She also had one of the highest competition factors of all Junior ballhawks, at 147,898. 14 Games. 54 Balls. Competition Factor: 147,898. Average: 3.86 B/G.
- Adam Karolewicz (knicksfan96): I only found out about Adam recently, but in the 12 games he attended this year, Adam snagged 48 balls, which is an average of 4 balls per game! 8 Games. 48 Balls. Competition Factor: 83,011. Average: 4.00 B/G.
- Josh Herbert (PGHawkJosh): Josh is another young and up-and-coming ballhawk, who in just 8 games this year, snagged 48 balls, which is an average of 6 balls per game! Incredible for someone his age! 8 Games. 48 Balls. Competition Factor: 186,507. Average: 6.00 B/G.
- Vin Delia (vdbaseball96): In the 15 games he attended, Vin snagged 47 balls, which is an average of 3.13 balls per game. Great for someone that is 17 years old! 15 Games. 47 Balls. Competition Factor: 75,051. Average: 3.13 B/G.
- Harrison Tishler (htishler): At 13 years old, Harrison only went to 9 games this year, but was able to walk away with 43 balls, which is an average of 4.78 balls per game! He also had a competition factor of 184,994, which is among the highest for junior ballhawks. 9 Games. 43 Balls. Competition Factor: 184,994. Average: 4.78 B/G.
There you have it! I’ve given you my 3 Junior Ballhawk Of The Year votes, along with 5 other very deserving people. I also have presented you with my 3 Ballhawk of the Year votes, along with 13 ballhawks that deserve a vote.
Mateo Fischer, who writes the MLBlog Observing baseball, also wrote a blog entry similar to this, which you can go check out here. If you never have before, check out MyGameBalls.com. If you want to, you can also check out the Ballhawk of the Year Award page at MGB.
I hope you enjoy this entry! Thanks for reading!
Nick Badders is a blogger for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter @nickbatters. You can also LIKE his blog on Facebook. This blog entry was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.