May 27, 2010
Max Van Hollebeke
When Max Van Hollebeke showed up to Safeco Field on Tuesday, he knew it would be a significant night. In his third season of ballhawking, he had collected 99 baseballs, and only once in his 29 career games had he failed to snag at least one. So unless he hit a horrible dry spell, this would be the night to reach triple digits.
When the gates opened, Van Hollebeke was eager to get on the board and celebrate the first big milestone of his career. "I ran into the stadium knowing that the first ball I snagged would be my 100th career ball," he said.
As he went through his usual routine of checking for easter eggs, he noticed an usher pick up a baseball and place it in a cupholder. "The ushers at Safeco Field do this to keep fans from tripping on baseballs that usually go unnoticed by non-ballhawks," he said.
As he eyed the ball from across the seats, he knew that it wasn't just any ball he was looking at - this was potentially his 100th career ball and one that he wouldn't soon forget. Fortunately, nobody else had seen the usher put it there and Van Hollebeke snagged it with ease.
Still only a teenager, he is hoping that number 100 is just the first of many career milestones. "It's great to get 100 career balls, but I hope that this will seem like an extremely small number to me in a few years," he said. "My goal for this season is to snag 100 balls and average 5 per game."
He's well on his way to reaching that goal. After a disappointing first game of the year when he got shut out, he has snagged 2, 9, and 4 balls in his past three games, an average of five per game.