May 21, 2010
Zack Hample's Blog
Zack Hample has been to six stadiums this year, and at four of them he has successfully set the all-time myGameBalls.com single-game record. Not a bad start to the year, especially for someone whose primary focus at the moment is writing a book, not snagging balls.
To recap, Hample broke the Citi Field record on April 7, his first game of the year, with a 15-ball performance. A month later, on May 3, he destroyed the Progressive Field record by snagging 24 balls. A day later, he became the first myGameBalls Member to attend a game at Target Field and established the initial record with a 4-ball performance. The next day he broke that record by snagging 7 balls, and then the following day he established the current record with a 9-ball performance.
With batting practice rained out at Camden Yards the following week, he didn't come close to his 25-ball record that he set last year, but when he arrived in Atlanta on May 17 he was ready to go after the Turner Field record of 12 balls that he set way back in 1999. And after going on a 19-ball snagging frenzy on his first day in Atlanta, that record was history and Hample had officially broken four stadium records in the first two months of the season.
"I wasn't merely hoping to have a big day. I was expecting it," he wrote on his blog. The crowd was small, and Turner Field has a great layout for ballhawking. The outfield bleachers extend all the way from left field to right field, allowing for maximum mobility, and a gap between the fence and the first row of seats creates lots of glove-trick opportunities.
Batting practice home runs weren't as abundant as he would have liked, but he managed to snag seven of them, several on the fly. A lot of them didn't make it to the seats and ended up in the gap behind the fence, allowing Hample to pounce on them with his glove trick. In all, he reeled in six baseballs from the outfield gap.
Hample snagged 6 toss-ups on the day, including a third out ball from Ike Davis, to bring his record-breaking total up to 19. His 13th ball, which broke the old 12-ball record, was as toss-up during BP from Pedro Feliciano.
Hample hasn't announced what stadium he'll be at next, but wherever it is, he'll be gunning for another record. He wasn't expecting the first half of the year to be very productive due to a looming deadline for his latest book, but he has definitely made the most of his 13 games, averaging over 10 balls per game.
"I don't know what's happening, but my instincts are suddenly improving," Hample remarked, describing his ability this year to anticipate the trajectory of fly balls. "I can feel it. It's awesome."