Zack Hample

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Zack Hample
Zack Hample Posing With Baseballs In 2016.jpg
Hample in 2016
Born Zachary Ben Hample
(1977-09-14) September 14, 1977 (age 40)
New York City
Occupation Writer
Nationality American
Genre Sports
Notable works "Watching Baseball Smarter" and "The Baseball"

Zachary Ben Hample (born September 14, 1977) is an American ballhawk and author. He is known for his claim that he has collected more than 10,000 baseballs from major league stadiums in North America, including Alex Rodriguez's 3,000th career hit, Mike Trout's first career home run and Alex Blandino's first career home run. Hample has faced criticism from fans, players, and sportswriters, one of whom has accused him of attacking children in his efforts to grab baseballs. His father, Stoo Hample, was a writer.[1]

Baseball collection[edit]

Hample claims to have collected more than 10,000 baseballs from 53 different Major League stadiums as of April 16, 2018, including 54 game home runs.[2]

  • He acquired his first ball from a Mets pitcher at Shea Stadium on June 20, 1990
  • He caught Barry Bonds' 724th career home run at Petco Park on August 16, 2006;[3]
  • During the final week 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.[4] 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.[5]
  • 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 Beltrán.[6]
  • 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."[7] Prior to Hample's three 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.[8]
  • On May 12, 2011, he caught three foul balls during a single game at Camden Yards.[9]
  • He caught Mike Trout's first major league home run on July 24, 2011 at Camden Yards;[10][11]
  • In March 2012, Hample attended MLB's Opening Series at the Tokyo Dome in Japan, snagging a total of 23 balls in two games.[12]
  • On April 18, 2013, he caught two home run balls in a single game at Yankee Stadium, including the first career homer of Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius.[13][14][15]
  • He snagged Alex Rodriguez's 3,000th hit, a home run, on June 19, 2015;[16][17][18][19]
  • On September 14, 2015, he caught an Anthony Rendon home run on the first pitch of the game at Citizens Bank Park.[20]
  • On September 16, 2015, he caught two home runs during the 4th inning at Citizens Bank Park, first grabbing a Jayson Werth home run and later catching a homer by Darin Ruf.[21]
  • On April 27, 2017, Hample caught two home runs during the same game at Progressive Field. One was hit off the bat of Marwin González and another was hit by Abraham Almonte.[22]
  • On August 29, 2017, Hample caught his 10,000th lifetime ball at Camden Yards, his lofty ballhawk milestone. The ball, which was tossed up to him by Robinson Cano, ended the 2nd inning.*[23][24]
  • On May 1, 2018, Hample snagged Reds infielder Alex Blandino's first career home run. Hample returned the ball to Blandino, asking only to be the one to hand it over, as well as a signed bat from Blandino.


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. His third book, The Baseball, also published by Random House, was released on March 8, 2011. Hample, a writer for 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.[citation needed]

Fundraising activities[edit]

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.[25][26][27] 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,[28] In July 2015, Hample gave Alex Rodriguez the ball from his 3,000th hit in exchange for the Yankees donating $150,000 to Pitch In For Baseball.[29][30][31] According to Pitch in for Baseball, Hample has raised "tens of thousands" of dollars for the organization.[32]

Helicopter stunt[edit]

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.[33] 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.[34][35] 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.[36][37][38]


Hample has faced criticism from sportswriters, players, and fans, some of whom have pointed out that he has been seen bumping children out of his way in efforts to grab baseballs.[39][40]

Clayton Kershaw once refused to give Hample a ball; Hample tweeted that when he asked Kershaw for the ball, Kershaw told him no because Hample already had "7000 of 'em."[41]

Fort Bragg Game[edit]

Hample acquired a ticket to the Fort Bragg Game on July 3, 2016, at Fort Bragg Stadium that was meant for active duty military personnel and their friends and families.[42] Despite his pre-game announcement that he would donate money to a veterans charity,[43] this led to a public outcry as Hample is a civilian.[44][45][46] The following day, Hample donated $1,100 to AMVETS and posted an apology on Twitter, acknowledging his "lapse in judgment" and "idiotic behavior" and calling his decision to attend a "terrible mistake"; though denying he did anything illegal, he said that by attending, he "clearly violated the spirit of the game."[47][48]

Video games[edit]

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).[49][50][51]

Rubber band ball[edit]

Hample owns a large rubber band ball, which, according to the Daily Mail, he started building at the age of three.[52] As stated on Reddit in 2013, the ball had reached a weight of 250 pounds and was still growing.[53] In 2014 Hample appeared with the ball on the Daily Planet show on Discovery Channel Canada. The ball weighed 259 pounds and bounced more than halfway up when rolled off a forklift from a height of eight feet.[54] The ball weighs 305 pounds as of May 2018.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Stuart E. Hample, Humorist and Cartoonist, Dies at 84". The New York Times. 24 September 2010. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ MLBlogger snags another ball: No. 724 (
  4. ^ This Guy's Got Gift of Grab (
  5. ^ Fan In Right Place at Right Time on Two Straight Nights (Yahoo! Sports)
  6. ^ Another Unlikely (But Not That Unlikely) Home-Run Catch (Wall Street Journal)
  7. ^,195919
  8. ^ Appearance on "To Tell The Truth" (YouTube)
  9. ^ Fan's glovework nets three fouls in O's game (
  10. ^ Angels: Meet the Guy who caught Trout's homer (Orange County Register)
  11. ^ Mike Trout's first home run ball too precious to keep, fan says (Orange County Register)
  12. ^ An American Ballhawk Goes to Tokyo (
  13. ^ Zack Hample Catches 2 Home Runs During Yankees-Diamondbacks Game (AP/Huffington Post)
  14. ^ Good Day for Gregorius, Better Day for Fan (FOX Sports Arizona)
  15. ^ Famous baseball collector Zack Hample catches home runs by Didi Gregorius and Francisco Cervelli at Thursday night's Yankees game (New York Daily News)
  16. ^ Notorious ballhawk Zack Hample catches A-Rod's 3,000th hit (Yahoo! Sports)
  17. ^ Alex Rodriguez gets his 3,000th hit with home run... and who should catch the ball? Zack Hample – author of 'How To Snag Major League Baseballs'... and he won't give it back (
  18. ^ Zack Hample, who's retrieved 8,000 baseballs, won't give HR back to A-Rod (
  19. ^ Holding On to a Special Ball, With No Apology (New York Times)
  20. ^ [1] (
  21. ^ Bryce Harper is lucky he hit his 40th home run where he did (Washington Post)
  22. ^
  23. ^ Miller, Doug (September 6, 2017). "Film digs into ballhawk Hample's gift of grab". Retrieved 7 September 2017. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ Charity press release (
  26. ^ Renowned baseball collector gets in the charitable spirit (
  27. ^ Ballhawks give back by collecting baseballs (
  28. ^ BIGS® Sunflower Seeds and the Greatest Ballhawk of All-time Go For an Amazing Baseball Record to Benefit Charity (Yahoo! Finance)
  29. ^ A-Rod, Yanks settle dispute, he gets ball from 3,000th hit (USA Today)
  30. ^ Yankees get A-Rod's 3,000th hit ball for $150,000 donation (
  31. ^ Fan presents 3,000th hit ball to A-Rod (
  32. ^
  33. ^ This baseball stunt goes way back (
  34. ^ Hample tries to catch history in Lowell (
  35. ^ Catching baseballs is in Zack Hample's blood (
  36. ^ Zack Hample catches baseball dropped from 1,000 feet (
  37. ^ Zack Hample's helicopter drop catch (Yahoo! Sports)
  38. ^ Guilford College graduate Zack Hample catches baseball dropped from 1,050 feet (Charlotte News & Observer)
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^ Ball hawk's presence at Fort Bragg causes stir (ESPN)
  43. ^ Noted ballhawk donating $100 to charity for each ball caught at Fort Bragg game (CBS Sports)
  44. ^ Zack Hample apparently gets illegal ticket (Sports Illustrated)
  45. ^ Civilian got into Fort Bragg baseball game for military members, sparking outrage (The Kansas City Star)
  46. ^ Notorious ball hawk somehow crashes Fort Bragg game (Yahoo! Sports)
  47. ^ Donation to AMVETS (Twitter)
  48. ^ Public apology (Twitter)
  49. ^ Interview with Zack Hample at Funspot (Twin Galaxies)
  50. ^ True arcade gaming world records (Classic Arcade Gaming)
  51. ^ Gaming History: Arkanoid (
  52. ^ 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. Daily Mail
  53. ^ Giant Rubber Ball By Reddit User, Zack Hample, Took 32 YEARS and £920 To Make The Huffington Post, December 14, 2013.
  54. ^ "259-pound rubber band ball -- will it bounce?". March 12, 2014. Retrieved July 5, 2018 – via YouTube. 

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