Of course Zack Hample caught A-Rod’s 3,000th hit. He wrote the book on snatching souvenirs from the stands.
The author of The Baseball: Stunts, Scandals, and Secrets Beneath the Stitches, Watching Baseball Smarter, and How To Snag Major League Baseballs has retrieved balls from 51 MLB parks over the past quarter century.
Last weekend, Hample caught A-Rod’s 3,000th hit, a home run to the short right-field porch in Yankee Stadium. The media attention Hample received nearly overshadowed the designated hitter’s feat. A-Rod owns merely 3,000 or so hits. Zack Hample boasts snagging more than 8,000 major-league balls. The New York DH enters a club with 28 other members. The New York collector remains in a club of one. No spectator has left major league parks with so many keepsakes.
Breitbart Sports caught up with the Willie Mays of ballhawks to find out why he won’t give back the A-Rod ball, how to increase our chances of snagging souvenirs, and which parks favor the ball-hunting fans.
Breitbart Sports: You gave back Mike Trout’s first home run ball but kept Alex Rodriguez’s most recent one? Why?
Zack Hample: Mike Trout was a 19-year-old who was batting .179, and yeah, he was the number-one prospect in all of baseball and had tremendous potential, but he was still just a kid. He hadn’t earned half-a-billion dollars in his career like A-Rod has. It was a simpler, more innocent situation, so I didn’t have to think too hard about it. Now that I’ve had time to reflect on the A-Rod ball, I might end up giving it back after all, if the Yankees come through with a huge donation to Pitch In For Baseball, which is my favorite charity.
Breitbart Sports: What has been the response like in terms of media exposure and in terms of fan reaction to catching, and keeping, the ball?
Zack Hample: It has been absolutely crazy. Times fifty. I’ve received hundreds of positive emails and thousands of negative tweets. Basically, Yankee fans think I’m a jerk for holding onto the ball, and everyone else in the world thinks it’s great that A-Rod hasn’t gotten it back. I did 16 interviews the day after snagging it and another 40 or so since then. I would’ve done more, but I was busy going to Yankee games, and then I lost my voice for a little while.
Breitbart Sports: What are the ballhawks doing differently from the average spectator. I worked at Fenway Park for seven seasons and never caught a ball. What did I do wrong?
Zack Hample: I’d have to witness your ineptitude in person in order to give specific pointers, but basically, experienced ballhawks understand the players’ tendencies, know how to judge and catch long fly balls, and hop over rows of seats with ease.
Breitbart Sports: You have written three baseball books and have come away from parks with more than 8,000 balls. What about baseball makes you so passionate about it?
Zack Hample: It’s just such a beautiful game that requires all sorts of athletic prowess and detailed strategies. What’s not to love? On a personal level, I enjoy going to games because it’s so interactive. When a ball comes flying my way, it practically feels like I’m part of the action.
Breitbart Sports: You’ve traveled to 51 current and former major league parks. Which are your favorites and least favorites and why? Are there some where it’s easier to come away with a souvenir than others?
Zack Hample: Certain stadiums are much harder than others. In fact, the two stadiums in New York are about as tough as it gets because they’re crowded, and the rules are strict, and there are no cross-aisles or standing-room areas in the general seating areas in the outfield. In order to move for a ball in New York, there has to be an empty row, and that doesn’t happen too often. Camden Yards is my favorite stadium because of the layout and how easy it is to roam, but I also love Kauffman Stadium, Turner Field, Miller Park, and Globe Life Park. Citi Field is probably my least favorite for too many reasons to list. But you know what? No matter where I am, I enjoy myself because it’s baseball.