Hey baseball fans!
I have a very cool interview for you today with none other than the man who caught Alex Rodriguez's 3,000th hit ball (a home run) and who has also snagged another 8,211 balls at baseball stadiums all over the world, namely Zack Hample. Here's a list by year of how many balls he's caught broken down by date. Amazingly, he's gotten over 20 balls in one day a bunch of times. Zack has even written three books, including one on how to snag Major League baseballs.
So, without further delay, here's the interview:
Matt: Where do you store all of the 8,000 plus baseballs you've gotten at MLB stadiums? Are they insured?
Zack: I don't still have them all because I've given lots of them away to kids, and I've also donated some to the charity Pitch In For Baseball. The ones I have are mostly at my mom's place in huge barrels, and no, they're not insured. Thanks for reminding me. [Note from Matt: Zack convinced the Yankees to donate $150,000 to Pitch In For Baseball when he gave the ball back to A-Rod. Way to go, Zack!!]
Matt: Since fans can get a little crazy at stadiums, have you ever gotten into a fight at a stadium with another person over a ball?
Zack: There've been a few arguments over the years, and I once got shoved hard from behind while running for a ball in Cleveland, but thankfully it has never been worse than that. Obviously, when there's a finite number of objects that thousands of people all want for themselves, there's going to be some tension, but I follow ballpark etiquette and do a good job of keeping the peace.
Matt: What's the most prized ball in your collection (now that you've given back Alex Rodriguez's ball)? Have you ever sold any of the more valuable ones or have you donated any to the Hall of Fame?
Zack: I've never sold a baseball, nor has the Hall of Fame ever expressed interest in any of my baseballs. In addition to catching and returning A-Rod's 3,000th hit, I did the same thing with Mike Trout's first career home run (see pic below), so my favorite ball that I still own is the final home run that the Mets ever hit at Shea Stadium [which was hit by Carlos Beltran]. [Note from Matt: While Zack may have caught Trout's first HR, I have Trout on the cover of my book. See pic below.]
Matt: Have you tried to get a patent on your fishing rod sort of glove that I've seen you use in videos to retrieve balls?
Zack: Not only didn't I patent it, but I gave away the secret for free. If people search for "glove trick" on the internet, my detailed blog entry with instructions on how to set it up will appear at the top.
Matt: Are you going to the All Star Game?
Zack: Yes! And the Home Run Derby. As part of the deal for giving A-Rod the ball from his 3,000th hit, the Yankees gave me free tickets to the All-Star events.
Matt: Of the balls you've gotten, how many were snagged at batting practice versus during a live game?
Zack: I've gotten 32 home runs during games, 159 foul balls, and one ground-rule double -- all unassisted. I've also gotten lots of game-used balls tossed to me, including a bunch of home runs, which I don't even bother counting in those categories because it's too easy and predictable, but those balls do get counted in my grand total, which is currently at 8,212.
Matt: What are your ball catching goals in terms of stadiums, total snagged, anything else?
Zack: I want to snag at least one ball in as many different major league stadiums as possible, so whenever MLB plays regular-season games in a new venue, as was the case last year with the Opening Series in Australia, I'm there. My main goal is to reach 10,000 balls, and I'd also love to catch more important home run balls. Catching one in the World Series would be amazing. Same deal with an All-Star Game. I want to catch more grand slams, and someday I hope to catch a walk-off homer.
Anyway, I hope you liked this interview with Zack Hample. I wish him good luck at the All Star Game and with his other goals!!! And keep on reading for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."