Sep 18, 2009
"Camden Yards is great for snagging, but I didn't think it was gonna be THIS great," Zack Hample wrote on his blog. Indeed, everything was in place for him to have a huge week, and he managed to surpass even his own expectations.
A ballpark where he's had tons of success in the past (10.37 balls per game), dwindling crowds (attendance around 10,000 for each game), and mid-week games after the start of the school year -- Everything was perfect, and Hample came through in a huge way.
On his 2-game road trip to Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Hample snagged 47 - Yes, 47 - baseballs, including a game home run ball off the bat of Luke Scott. The home run snag, captured on video during the televised broadcast of the game, was the 9th of his career. He surpassed 20 balls in both games, and his total in the Tuesday game (25) established his new career high at Camden Yards.
Hample began the trip with a 22-ball performance on Monday, which happened to be his birthday. "The snagging gods were clearly helping me celebrate my birthday," he wrote on his blog. Included in the 22 balls was his 4,257th ball, which passed Pete Rose on the all-time hits list. "For those who don't know, I've been comparing my ball total to the all-time hits totals since 2005, so this was a big deal (on a random personal level)," he wrote.
But despite the birthday success, it couldn't compare with what happened the following night. In an almost non-stop fury of snagging, Hample finished batting practice with 22 balls, and picked up 2 more during pre-game warmups. "Everything was going my way," he wrote. "I happened to be in the right spot almost every time. Was it luck? Or skill? I suppose it was a combination of the two, but I really can't explain it beyond that. I'd never experienced a batting practice like this in my life. Even the previous game (at which I finished BP with 17 balls and ended up with 22 by the end of the night) wasn't this good."
Of course, even after racking up that many balls, the best was yet to come. In the bottom of the 7th, Hample was camped out in the right field standing room only section when Luke Scott hit a towering home run into the back of the right field seats. Hample ran out of the standing room section and towards the ball.
"Miraculously, the ball bounced all the way into the narrow walkway at the back of the section," he wrote. "As it began rattling around, there were two other guys closing in on it from the opposite direction."
The ball took a lucky bounce, headed straight to Hample, and he reached out for it. "And then, suddenly, I felt the ball in my right hand," he wrote. "Just like that! It bounced RIGHT into my hand. I kind of trapped it up against the wall and against my leg. I couldn't believe it, but I *did* in fact have sole possession of the ball."
The game camera zoomed in on Hample, showing him running around in celebration, triumphantly displaying the ball over his head. It was the final ball of his Baltimore road trip, and by far the most memorable.
Read the complete ball-by-ball details on Zack Hample's Blog: