Jul 25, 2009
Zack Hample is a huge fan of San Diego Padres pitcher Heath Bell, but Heath Bell also seems to be a huge fan of Zack Hample. According to Hample, "Heath knows about my baseball collection and seems to enjoy adding to it." On July 23rd at Citizens Bank Park, Bell added to the collection in a huge way.
Back in April, Bell told Hample that he had saved a ball for him from the World Baseball Classic. It took a little while for Hample to attend another one of Bell's games, but the July 23rd game was a prime opportunity. Shortly after entering the gates, he spotted Bell warming up. "I shouted his name and waved my cap (the one that he gave me on 8/31/08 at PETCO Park) and he looked up and spotted me in the crowd," Hample wrote on his blog. "As he started throwing, he told me to wait for him in foul territory."
After Hample made his way over to meet Bell, Bell whipped out what appeared to be a sock and threw it up to Hample. "My mind couldn't process it, but I snapped back to reality just in time to yell 'Thank you!!' as Heath jogged off toward right-center," he wrote. "Two balls?! Seriously? Had he given me two balls from the World Baseball Classic? Or was one of them from the All-Star Game? Or maybe from some other All-Star event?"
Just as he had suspected, inside the sock were two baseballs, one from the World Baseball Classic and one from the 2009 All-Star Game in St. Louis. The balls were in perfect condition and provided two great additions to Hample's growing collection of commemorative baseballs. On his blog, Hample addressed readers who might be wondering whether he would count the WBC ball in his statistics. "I decided back in 2006 not to count balls from the Classic--it's an exhibition that isn't exclusively played by major leaguers," he wrote. "But if I somehow were to snag a Classic ball at a regular season game, that would be the one exception."
In addition to the memorable experience with Heath Bell, Hample also snagged 8 more baseballs, giving him double-digits for the 48th time outside of New York. He now has snagged 320 balls in 2009 and 4140 overall.