I tuned into the Yankee game on Friday just as Alex Rodriguez was coming to bat, looking for his 3,000th hit. Timing is everything: ARod launched a home run for the milestone. It was the third time a player hit a home run for the magic number, including former teammate Derek Jeter.
The difference is that the fellow who caught Jeter’s home run gave it back with no reservations. He was rewarded with some Yankee merch and tickets for the rest of the season. Sounds nice, but he had to bear the burden of the taxes on the “gift.”
As the cameras focused on the fan who caught Rodriguez’s shot, I thought. “Gee that guy looks familiar.” The next day I learned I was right: it was professional ball-hawk Zack Hample, whom I interviewed for NJ Jewish News in 2007.
So Hample is in the spotlight right now, making the rounds on sports and news shows, discussing his decision to keep the ball. Some people are okay with that, while others have been critical about his “aggressive” methods in securing the memento. (I guess Eddie Fastook was unable to convince Hample to give it up.)
Hample has made a semi-career out of being in the right place at the right time. He’s written several baseball books, including How to Snag Major League Baseballs: More Than 100 Tested Tips That Really Work; The Baseball: Stunts, Scandals, and Secrets Beneath the Stitches; and Watching Baseball Smarter: A Professional Fan’s Guide for Beginners, Semi-experts, and Deeply Serious Geeks.
I normally put up a post every Friday about the top-10 baseball best-sellers. Had a hunch, and sure enough, his Watching title is in the top 20 for baseball books.
Enjoy it while it lasts, Zack.
The face looks familiar (Alex Rodriguez's home run)