Hample with his baseball collection in 2008
|Born||Zachary Ben Hample
September 14, 1977
New York, NY
Zachary Ben Hample (born September 14, 1977, son of Stoo Hample and Naomi Cohen) is an American sports writer and Major League baseball collector. He is best known for having caught more than 7,000 baseballs in the stands at Major League stadiums.
Hample has written three books. The first, How to Snag Major League Baseballs, was published by Simon & Schuster in 1999 when he was a junior at Guilford College. The second, Watching Baseball Smarter, was published by Random House in 2007 and was the 8th best selling American sports book that year. His third book, The Baseball, also published by Random House, was released on March 8, 2011. Hample, a writer for minorleaguebaseball.com from 2005 to 2007, contributed the foreword to Major League Baseball: An Interactive Guide to the World of Sports in 2008 and wrote the introduction for Baseball Scorekeeper in 2011.
As of October 19, 2014, Hample has collected 7,806 baseballs from 51 different Major League stadiums. He acquired his first ball from a Mets reliever at Shea Stadium on June 20, 1990 and set a personal, one-game record with 36 baseballs at Great American Ball Park on September 14, 2011. Some of Hample's notable catches include Barry Bonds' 724th career home run at PETCO Park on August 16, 2006, Mike Trout’s first major league home run on July 24, 2011 at Camden Yards, and the first home run of the 2007 Home Run Derby, hit by Justin Morneau at AT&T Park. On May 12, 2011, he caught three foul balls during a single game at Camden Yards, and on May 28, 2011, he caught his 5,000th career baseball—an Alex Rios batting practice homer at Rogers Centre. In March 2012, Hample attended MLB's Opening Series at the Tokyo Dome in Japan, snagging a total of 23 balls in two games. On April 18, 2013, he snagged two home run balls in a single game at Yankee Stadium, including the first career homer of Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius.
During the final week ever at the old Yankee Stadium, Hample gained worldwide recognition by catching home run balls on consecutive nights. On September 16, 2008, he made a leaping catch on a Jason Giambi home run and immediately celebrated with a goofy dance that was captured on TV. The following night, in nearly exactly the same spot in the right field bleachers, Hample reached far over a railing to make a backhanded catch on a Johnny Damon home run and celebrated with the same dance. The Yankees' announcers recognized him from the previous game, and within the next 24 hours the story was covered by ESPN, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN International, Japanese TV, and many other media outlets. Yahoo! Sports initially acknowledged Hample's baseball-snagging skills, but did not know that it was he who had made the catches. Less than two weeks later, on September 28, 2008, Hample caught the last home run ever hit by a Mets player at Shea Stadium, this one off the bat of Carlos Beltran. On October 8, 2008, Hample appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and followed that nearly one year later with an appearance on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien during which O'Brien told Hample "I think you're the worst man in America." Prior to Hample's three notable home run catches of 2008, he had been featured on The Rosie O'Donnell Show, the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, and on an episode of the John O'Hurley version of the game show To Tell The Truth, during which he managed to trick the audience and two of the four celebrity panelists.
Since 2009, Hample has been raising money for Pitch in for Baseball, a non-profit charity that provides baseball and softball equipment to underprivileged children all over the world. With help from his fans, who pledge money for every baseball that he snags at Major League stadiums, and from BIGS Sunflower Seeds, who sponsored him during the 2013 season, Hample has raised more than $38,000.
On July 2, 2012, Hample attempted to break a world record by catching a baseball dropped from a helicopter 1,000 feet above LeLacheur Park in Lowell, Massachusetts. Wearing catcher's gear that was donated by Rawlings, Hample established a record by catching a softball dropped from a height of 312 feet. He then caught baseballs dropped from heights of 312 feet, 562 feet, and 822 feet before the Federal Aviation Administration called off the stunt due to strong winds. The 822-foot catch was initially thought to be 762 feet, but a discrepancy in the altimeter settings, which was captured on video and discovered months later, added 60 feet to the altitude. On July 13, 2013, Hample made another attempt at LeLacheur Park and succeeded in catching a baseball dropped from an altitude of 1,050 feet.
Hample, a competitive video game player, appeared briefly in the 2007 documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. According to Twin Galaxies, he holds official world records on half a dozen classic video games including Breakout (896 points) and Arkanoid (1,658,110 points).
Rubber Band Ball
Hample owns a large rubber band ball, which, contrary to the Daily Mail's article, he started building at the age of four. As stated on Reddit in 2013, the ball had reached a weight of 250 pounds and was still growing. In 2014 Hample appeared with the ball on the Daily Planet show on Discovery Channel Canada. Despite its weight of 259 pounds, the ball bounced more than halfway up when rolled off a forklift from a height of eight feet.
- MLBlogger snags another ball: No. 724 (MLB.com)
- Angels: Meet the Guy who caught Trout's homer (Orange County Register)
- Mike Trout's first home run ball too precious to keep, fan says (Orange County Register)
- Fan's glovework nets three fouls in O's game (MLB.com)
- New Yorker Hample is ultimate ball hawk (www.yankees.com)
- An American Ballhawk Goes to Tokyo (www.nypress.com)
- Zack Hample Catches 2 Home Runs During Yankees-Diamondbacks Game (AP/Huffington Post)
- Good Day for Gregorius, Better Day for Fan (FOX Sports Arizona)
- Famous baseball collector Zack Hample catches home runs by Didi Gregorius and Francisco Cervelli at Thursday night's Yankees game (New York Daily News)
- This Guy's Got Gift of Grab (www.newsday.com)
- Fan In Right Place at Right Time on Two Straight Nights (Yahoo! Sports)
- Another Unlikely (But Not That Unlikely) Home-Run Catch (Wall Street Journal)
- Appearance on "To Tell The Truth" (YouTube)
- Charity press release (www.pitchinforbaseball.org)
- Renowned baseball collector gets in the charitable spirit (www.phillyBurbs.com)
- Ballhawks give back by collecting baseballs (MLB.com)
- BIGS® Sunflower Seeds and the Greatest Ballhawk of All-time Go For an Amazing Baseball Record to Benefit Charity (Yahoo! Finance)
- This baseball stunt goes way back (www.lowellsun.com)
- Hample tries to catch history in Lowell (www.minorleaguebaseball.com)
- Catching baseballs is in Zack Hample’s blood (www.boston.com)
- Zack Hample catches baseball dropped from 1,000 feet (metro.co.uk)
- Zack Hample’s helicopter drop catch (Yahoo! Sports)
- Guilford College graduate Zack Hample catches baseball dropped from 1,050 feet (Charlotte News & Observer)
- The Rubberband Man! New Yorker, 35, has been adding to ball he started when he was just three-years-old... and now it weighs over 250 POUNDS. (www.dailymail.co.uk)
- My rubber band ball just reached 250 pounds. (www.reddit.com)
- Giant Rubber Ball By Reddit User, Zack Hample, Took 32 YEARS and £920 To Make (www.huffingtonpost.uk.co)
- Zack Hample on the Discovery Channel (www.discovery.ca)
- Official web site
- Official blog
- NPR Interview
- ESPN.com article
- Sports On Earth article
- USA Today article
- Sports Illustrated article (April 9, 2001)
- Sports Illustrated article (August 16, 2010)
- New York Times article
- Associated Press article
- People Magazine article
- foxsports.com article
- Orange County Register article
- Baltimore Sun article
- Philadelphia Inquirer article
- Deadspin article
- Ripley's Believe It or Not article
- San Francisco Examiner article
- Dallas Morning News article
- Pioneer Press article
- Sydney Morning Herald article
- MLB Network interview