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Baseball snagger Zack Hample: Cool or not?

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Zack Hample has snagged 3,979 major league baseballs. It’s been 589 games since he last went to a game and didn’t catch one.

He caught Barry Bonds’ 724th homerun in San Diego. He caught the last homerun ever hit by a Met’s player in Shea Stadium. Last year, he caught homeruns in back-to-back games at Yankee Stadium.

Don’t believe me? Or him? How about your own eyes?

Nerd or not?

Snagging baseballs is how Zack Hample makes a living. His successes have led to two books, How To Snag Major League Baseballs, and subsequently, Watching Baseball Smarter. People now pay to go to baseball games with him and learn his tricks.

For a 31-year-old man, the way Hample goes about collecting baseballs is outlandish to say the least. In a way, it’s embarrassing.

Hample keeps multiple uniform changes in a backpack he carries to every game. If a Pittsburgh Pirate’s player made the last putout and is heading towards Hample’s section, he’ll put on his Pittsburgh jersey in an effort to influence the player to give him the ball. If (at this point, it’s more like when) he gets the ball, he’ll change into the other team’s duds to get the same affection.

He can ask for a baseball in 32 languages. He won’t ask the Indian’s Shin Soo Choo for a ball in English, he’ll ask him in Korean. A Latin American pitcher? He knows Portuguese, Spanish, and any other number of dialects. I can’t even ask for a baseball 32 different ways in English…

Hample needs baseballs whether they’ve been touched by Joe Schmoe or Joe Carter. If a player refuses to throw the ball to Hample, it’s okay. He’s designed a glove that can pick baseballs off the field with nothing more than an elastic and a Sharpie. If it reminds you of autograph hunting kids dangling soda jugs with baseballs in them, it probably should.

Watching Hample’s frantic, obsessive, and desperate runs through the stands, it’s hard not to laugh. After all, this is a grown man challenging children for foul balls and memorabilia in a pretty juvenile manner.

If I think he’s a joke, then why am I envious of Hample?

Players know him. He’s been to more ballparks than I can imagine. He’s witnessed some milestones that I could only dream of. And his adventures are colossal in scale.

He shows a passion for baseball that I’ve never witnessed in anyone else. He’s probably put up with more shit for what he does than a lot of people do in their whole lifetime and he’s still pushed on.

Over the years, Hample’s obsession has become more regulated. He’s even given away some balls he caught, a preposterous idea during his heyday. And he’s now catching balls for charity, giving away cash from each Watch With Zack game he attends and catches balls at.

According to his blog, Hample is going to catch baseball #4000 on May 18, 2009. I couldn’t be happier for him.

Zack, if you read this, let’s go to a Charleston Riverdog’s game together and catch some balls from future Yankee’s stars.

On May 18th, I’ll reach blog post #100.

3 Responses

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  1. That guy is extremely talented with 32 languages…He definately has a creaft for retrieving foul balls. I hope to see him at a game and shake his hand. HAHA.


    May 12, 2009 at 5:51 pm

  2. this guy is a freaking L-O-S-E-R. he needs to get a wife at his age and stop worrying about pushing little kids out of the way to steal batting practice balls from them like he stole one from my son!

    Tony W.

    February 10, 2011 at 10:54 pm

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