Apr 9, 2010
Zack Hample's Blog
Even when Zack Hample holds a record, he still wants to break it. Heading into Wednesday's game at Citi Field, Hample held the Citi Field single-game record of 14 balls, set on August 4 of last year. Attending his very first game of 2010, he hadn't snagged in 5 months and didn't really expect to contend with the 14-ball mark, but nevertheless he had a career day and established a new Citi Field record, snagging 15 balls.
The record-breaking performance was improbable from the start. Not only was there a crowd of 38,863, but present among that crowd was none other than snagging phenom Greg Barasch. Gobbling up 9 balls himself, Barasch provided some strong competition, but Hample was at his best, using quick feet, skilled glove work, and well-timed player interaction to reel in his 15 balls.
Beginning the day in the left field bleachers, it didn't take him long to pick up right where he left off from his Ballhawk of the Year 2009 season. He got a quick toss-up and a home run during the first portion of Mets' batting practice, and then really began to find his groove when he snagged a David Wright homer. "For some reason, I was standing in the middle of the third row when I determined that the ball was going to fall a bit short," Hample recounted on his blog. "so I quickly climbed over the seats into the second row, then climbed over THAT row of seats so that I was standing in the front row. I got there just as the ball was about to land, and I reached over the railing and made the catch."
He finished Mets' BP with 8 balls, including 3 more home run snags. And when the Marlins came to bat, he recorded a toss-up and yet another 3 homers, running his total up to 12. It stayed at 12 all the way until the 5th inning of the game when Gaby Sanchez hooked him up with a third out ball.
In the 8th, Hample went all-out to get his record-tying snag. When Marlins' pitcher Tim Wood began throwing warm-up tosses to an outfielder from the bullpen, Hample threw on some Marlins' gear and ran to the railing to try to get a toss-up from Wood. Sure enough, Wood responded and Hample had tied his own record. "He threw me the ball, and when I turned around, all the fans were smiling," he wrote. "They knew what was up, so once I was out of Wood's view, I made a big production of taking off the Marlins gear and revealing my Mets shirt underneath. It was classic. The whole section burst into laughter, and then, for added comedic effect, I pretended to wipe myself with the teal-colored clothing."
When the game ended, umpire Laz Diaz was Hample's last shot at a record-breaking 15th ball. As he walked off the field, he generously tossed one up and a new Citi Field record was set. But who knows how long that record will last? It won't be too long before Hample makes his way out to Citi Field again.