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Experience the Park Wrigley Field Fan Guide
Hang with the Ballhawks
Wander out to Waveland Avenue a couple of hours before first pitch, just beyond the leftfield wall, and you’ll see grown men with gloves on waiting for baseballs to drop from the sky. They’re the Ballhawks who snag batting practice home runs as well as ones hit during the game. A handful of regulars have been at it for years. ‘Moe’ Mullins is probably the best known of the bunch; he’s snagged thousands of balls and was all over the news in the summer of 1998 – the year of the great home run race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire. He pounced on Sosa’s 62nd homer only to have it ripped from his hands in a mad scrum. He sued the guy who got the ball but dropped the suit when the man agreed to give the ball to Sosa.
If you’re looking for some pre-game excitement outside of the local bars, go hang out with the Ballhawks. A glove is advisable but not necessary as some balls go ricocheting off the street and nearby buildings and you can try to chase them down with your bare hands. Patience is required, but once you see that first ball come rocketing over the fence your heart will be pumping like you're the starting left-fielder in the ninth inning of a tied game.
You may hear the Ballhawks reminiscing about the good old days, as the 2006 bleacher expansion has cut down on the number of balls that leave the park. Ken Vangeloff has been a Ballhawk for more than 15 years and estimates he’s caught about 2,600 baseballs. And yes, he’s held down a job that whole time too (“flexible work schedule,” he says). “I was hoping in a couple more years I’d crack 3,000, but it’s going to take more than that now,” says Vangeloff. He says Ballhawking requires as much luck as skill now because you can’t pick balls up until they’re right on top of you. “I might start wearing a batting helmet out there instead of my baseball cap.” Vangeloff says the Ballhawks are saddened that a great Wrigley tradition has been forever altered. “They didn’t consult us about the expansion,” he says.