Oct 2, 2009
Zack Hample's Blog
On June 27, 1994, Zack Hample snagged his 500th career baseball at Shea Stadium. 15 years later, his career total is in the thousands and now, after snagging his 500th ball of 2009 Tuesday night in Washington, he has snagged 500 in a single season for two consecutive years.
Interestingly, on Tuesday night he crossed paths with an up-and-coming ballhawk who just a day earlier reached the same career milestone that Hample himself reached 15 years ago. Aaron King, AKA District Boy, snagged his 500th career ball on Monday night and at just 14 years old appears to be following in the footsteps of the legendary Zack Hample.
The two ballhawks met up in the right field bleachers during Tuesday's batting practice, giving King the chance to witness Hample's 500th of the season. Hample quickly racked up 12 balls, running his season total up to 499, and then he saw a good opportunity for number 500. Bobby Parnell allowed a ball to get by him in the outfield and the ball trickled through an opening in the center field wall. Hample raced over and got a toss-up from a stadium employee, giving him 500 baseballs for the 2nd consecutive season.
King still can't dream of getting that many balls in a single season, but hitting the 500 mark for his career is a huge accomplishment, especially for such a young ballhawk. His 500th was extra special because of the player who provided it. "As fate would have it," he said, "I ended up acquiring #500 from one of my favorite players, David Wright, after he finished his game of catch in front of the dugout right before the game. It was the first ball he's ever thrown me, so naturally I was psyched."
2 elite ballhawks, 2 major milestones, 1 ballpark. It was an exciting week for both King and Hample, and both put up solid numbers in addition to their milestone balls. King finished the Nationals/Mets series with 17 balls over 3 games, while Hample put up an 18-spot in his one game in DC (which could have been more had he not left the stadium at the end of BP).