Jul 25, 2011
Zack Hample's Blog
Imagine if one of MLB's top sluggers, say Albert Pujols, were to hit 74 home runs to break the single-season record -- before the end of July? That scenario is all but impossible in professional baseball, but the ballhawking equivalent occurred two weeks ago on July 12, and the record-setter was the legendary ballhawk from New York Zack Hample.
Hample chose one of the game's marquee events, the mid-summer All-Star game, to snag his 545th ball of the season to break Erik Jabs record of 544 set last year. Adding to the significance of the record-breaking ball was the fact that it was tossed by the All-Star game MVP Prince Fielder.
Ironically, though, Hample held the record-breaking ball for only a matter of seconds. Fielder tossed a third-out ball to Hample, but immediately asked for it back. Hample obliged, but shockingly Fielder then gave it to another fan.
The series of events was so bizarre that Hample wasn't sure if he should count it as a snag. "The 'Fielder ball' (as it will forever be known) was my 545th ball of the season," Hample wrote on his blog. "-- or perhaps I should say *would've* been No. 545. Should I count it? Should I not count it? My internal debate raged on."
Public opinion heavily favored counting it, so that's what he ended up doing. In counting the ball, Hample also broke another single-season record -- it was his 25th double-digit game of the year, breaking the old record of 24.
Hample's blog contains a detailed account of his entire All-Star game experience, including an encounter with MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. He was able to meet Selig briefly, snap a photo with him, and present him with a copy of his latest book.