Introducing Football’s First Ball Hawk: Doug Hakey
Doug Hakey, a Grafton, Massachusetts native, is retired from his plumbing and land development career on Martha’s Vineyard. These days, the 59-year-old Patriots fan resides on a 360-acre farm in Amherst, Virginia, 200 miles from the closest ballpark, Nationals Park. But Hakey is not out to pasture. Hakey, who bears a resemblance to former Raiders quarterback Kenny Stabler, devotes much of his free time to travelling and collecting stuff, everything from millstones to shark teeth to baseballs. Regarding the latter, Hakey has snagged 1,753 baseballs at Major League ball parks, good enough for 12th best on mygameballs.com, the unofficial arbiter of ball hawking.
Quire memorably in 2016, Hakey took ball hawking to a new frontier, snagging three balls from three different ball parks in one day (Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Washington D.C.). Perhaps even more remarkably, Hakey managed to not get pulled over. You can read about that here: https://ussporthistory.com/
For 2017, Hakey set two “bucket list” goals: To snag a home run on a fly – and to snag a football at a Patriots game. Before a divisional playoff game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium, Hakey was planted in the end zone during warm-ups, focusing on kicker Stephen Gostkowski’s reliable toe. Fortunately, Gostkowski went wide left from about 40 miles ways, with the pigskin missing the protective netting and landing in the stands. Hakey was there to scoop it up and get a selfie.
For a sliver of a moment, Hakey felt like, well, Julian Edelman. For whatever it’s worth, both men have impressive facial hair.
Moments later, Hakey got to touch a piece of the NFL once again. For a promotional event, a fan went wide left from about 20 yards out. Once again, the ball sailed into the stands, where Hakey was on the spot. Unfortunately, security forced Hakey to return both balls. “The NFL is pretty tight with their footballs,” explains Hakey. Regardless, Hakey was snake bitten. In October of the next season, the Colts were at Gillette, and Hakey was glued to Adam Vinatieri’s toe during warm-ups. When Vinatieri went wide left and deep into the stands, Hakey was there to pounce.
Just last week, when the Patriots hosted the Chargers, Hakey was back at it. As far as missed field goals, Hakey came up empty. However, Hakey chatted up injured Chargers offensive lineman Cole Toner. Hakey convinced Toner to have a brief, pre-game toss, which was filmed by a television crew. “He’s just a nice personable guy,” says Hakey. “It was pretty cool.”
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