Is Zack Hample Cool? Or is he a Weirdo?

Zack Hample caught Bryce Harper's second home run as a Phillie
via Twitter (Zack Hample)

Is Zack Hample a jabroni?

Or is he a cool dude?

I’m fascinated by this guy, a 41-year-old man who goes to baseball games with his glove, sits in the stands, and catches home runs and foul balls. He snagged Bryce Harper’s Sunday night dinger, which was the 67th career home run he’s been able to snare in the stands. That’s insane.

Here’s what Kyle wrote about Hample in today’s Morning Wood column:

Zack Hample is the moron who catches all those home run balls. You’ve probably heard of him. I interviewed him once because he got kicked out of Citizens Bank Park. He was back last night and, incredibly, got Harper’s home run.

Hample donates money to charity, but that’s a soft counter to a grown ass man who assails his way to wayward baseballs. This is his 67th home run ball, which is incredible. But when you dedicate your life to grabbing other men’s balls, you’re bound to get your hands on at least a few of them. Cool beans, bro.

As a general rule, I’m not sure how I feel about grown men bringing a glove to the ballpark. I think it’s a cool thing to do if you’re there with your son or daughter, assuming they also have their glove and you’re sitting in foul ball or home run territory. That’s a fun moment, and when you get home your kid can say, “hey mom, we caught a baseball!” But if you attend the game by yourself, is bringing the glove kind of a loser move? I’m leaning more towards “yes” than “no.”

That’s one layer.

The next layer is this:

“Should grown men, whether wearing a glove or not, keep home runs and foul balls for themselves?”

I’m in the camp of people who believe that all foul balls and home runs should be handed to your kid, and if you don’t have one, pick out the nearest kid and hand it to them instead. It’s a win-win, isn’t it? You can tell your buddies about how you caught a home run, then that kid gets to go home with Rhys Hoskins’ dinger ball and show their friends and bring it to show and tell (the school activity, not the strip club on Columbus Boulevard).

Gotta be honest, I’m not a big fan of adults who keep foul balls and home runs for themselves or sell them for profit.

Hample, as Kyle mentioned, does get involved with charity work. He’s partnered with “Pitch in for Baseball” over the years, a group that donates baseball and softball equipment to boys and girls.

On Hample’s website, his FAQ contains the following relevant passages about charity work:

Can I have a baseball?
I’ve been asked this question quite a bit so I answered it in one of my Q&A videos. If you have a few minutes to spare, check this out. The short answer is that I give away lots of baseballs but only to kids at stadiums and to a certain charity.

What did you do with all of these famous home run balls?
gave the 3,000th hit ball to A-Rod in exchange for the Yankees making a $150,000 donation to my favorite children’s baseball charity and hooking me up with a whole bunch of stuff. I gave Trout his home run ball — no questions asked except to actually be the person to hand it to him after the game. (Security didn’t want to let me. They said it was get-away day and that the Angels had to catch a bus to the airport. I was like, “Okay, fine, in that case, I’ll just keep the ball,” and whaddaya know, the bus was somehow able to leave two minutes later.) I still have all the others. Despite what the Washington Nationals falsely accused me of, I’ve never sold a ball.

What did the Yankees give you for the A-Rod ball?
When I first got it and met with the head of security, I was told that if I gave it back, I could meet A-Rod, have my own press conference, be interviewed on the YES Network during a game, receive all kinds of free tickets, and get lots of memorabilia including signed balls and bats and jerseys, but I wasn’t interested in any of that. After the game I met with Randy Levine (the president of the Yankees) and Lonn Trost (the team’s Chief Operating Officer) and they offered to make a “sizable donation” to the charity. As it turned out, in addition to the donation, they gave me all the things that had been offered to me in the first place, along with some other stuff I requested including tickets to the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game that season in Cincinnati and a behind-the-scenes tour of Yankee Stadium.

What’s the deal with the charity?
Since 2009 I’ve been getting people to pledge money for the baseballs that I catch at major league games. The money goes to Pitch In For Baseball and Softball, a non-profit charity that provides equipment to underserved children and communities all over the world. Including the money that the Yankees donated for the A-Rod ball, I’ve raised more than $200,000. Here’s my 2019 fundraiser. I’d be thrilled if you’d make a donation or at least help spread the word.

That’s the charity stuff.

On the other side of the spectrum, Hample has also been kicked out of a few ballparks.

Kyle mentioned that he was booted from Citizens Bank Park, which took place in 2013 when a beer vendor heard him utter a cuss word to describe overzealous security guards.

Said Hample then:

Regarding the incident that got him kicked out of Nationals Park, Deadspin wrote this back in 2012:

It started when Zack tried to arrange the day’s bounty—11 baseballs in all—in a club-level hallway of the stadium so that he could pose for a photograph with his trophies.  At that point, a stadium employee must have noticed him and reached the conclusion that Zack was illegally selling baseballs like some sort of dirty huckster. At least, that’s what Zack thinks.

Hample said that seven security guards showed up and “simply insisted that I’d sold a baseball, and they ejected me from the stadium.

In another incident, he somehow found his way into MLB’s Fort Bragg game back in 2016, which was organized specifically for American military members and their families. He created a Tinder profile as part of his attempt to gain admission, then issued a lengthy apology before making a charitable donation:

On Hample’s website, he talks about a service he runs called “Watch with Zack,” where you can pay $1,000 plus travel expenses to, well, watch a baseball game with him. He guarantees a full refund if you don’t snag a ball.

Here’s his explanation for the cost:

…consider this: the average Major League Baseball game lasts three hours, and if we go early for batting practice, we’ll meet outside the stadium and spend a minimum of six hours together. If the game is slow or goes into extra innings, it’ll be more like seven or eight hours, and there’s a lot of planning that goes into setting this up in the first place. That said, it’s not just about the time. I’m an expert. Remember? And I’m pretty much the most fun person ever. (If you still think I’m crazy, try hiring a plumber for six hours. Or a wedding photographer. Or a personal trainer or a tutor or a psychologist or a lawyer — see how much THAT costs. Go get a six-hour massage and email me a copy of the receipt.)

Hample is based out of New York, so he talks a little bit about the time and expense needed to reach other cities. I honestly don’t see the big deal here. This is a private, multi-hour, pseudo-celebrity thing you’re paying for, and anything in this department is gonna cost you a decent chunk of change. Tom Brady was charging $1,200 for autographs not long ago, and you didn’t see get to meet the QB in person. He’d sign it in some room and the company running the gig would mail the item back to you.

Beyond all of this ball-catching stuff, Hample has written three books and has 355,000 Youtube subscribers. I went down a rabbit hole and some of his clips are pretty fascinating. There’s one where he explains why the security guards in Japan make you return baseballs that enter the stands.

So I’m finding it hard to pass judgment on Hample one way or another.

On one hand, the guy does involve himself with charity while also pulling off some pretty impressive feats. He’s carved out an interesting and profitable niche, so I can’t rip the guy for that. I’m cool with capitalism up until the point where you become one of those bloated asshole Wall Street executives, taking taxpayer bailout money.

On the other hand, I still think all home runs and foul balls should go to kids. And I can’t decide if bringing a glove to the game as a grown adult is okay, or kind of dorky.

So you tell me –

Is Zack Hample cool, or is he a weirdo?

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26 Responses

  1. all comments containing racist language will immediately be deleted

    -kinkead

  2. He is probably good at getting kids interested in baseball, which is better than baseball itself. I think the shoving and some antics are uncalled for, btw check out his rubber band ball.

    1. I think he’s good at getting young boys interested in touching his pee-pee. Dude’s a freak.

  3. Some pretty simple rules to live by
    1. Zach Hample is a dork.
    2. Zach Hample is a loser.
    3. Fuck Zach Hample.
    4. If you grab your FIRST foul ball, you can keep it. Anything after that goes to your kid or the nearest kid.
    5. If you grab a home run ball, you can keep that. That’s a memory.
    6. Don’t bring your glove to the game if you are over 13.
    7. Don’t leave your general seat area for a ball. Let the kids run after them. They’re kids.
    8. Zach Hample sucks.

    1. you forgot some rules:

      9. asswipes that use pseudonyms related to some guys schpew needs to think about something else besides
      another guys money shot

  4. I attempt to do this at the Trenton Thunder once a year for a midweek summer day game when there is literally no-one there. I camp out in the shade on the third base side and get my hand stamped for in-out privileges on the way in. I only go after balls that leave the stadium, mostly on the route 29 side. 3 years ago I got 5 out of the 7 balls that left the stadium foul, 2 years ago zip, and last year one while I was walking out cause it was too hot. They are all laying under a pile of my sons clothes somewhere in his room, he could give two shits about them.

  5. Pitched against Zach Hample in high school. I had him at 0-2 and was coming at him with a curve when it happened……I felt my shoulder go and that was it. Torn labrum. Never been the same.

  6. Just watched one of his youtube videos. Definitely a WEIRDO!

  7. Anyone else find this story ironic? If there is some sort of coolness pecking order, are the guys who write about sports because they sucked at playing them trying to say they are cooler than a guy who can actually catch a ball?

  8. Well that’s just like, your opinion, man.

    My opinion is that he’s a fuckstick, charity or no. Seeing a grown man shove little kids out of the way for a ball makes my skin crawl. 8 year olds, dude.

  9. What are the odds that he was in the perfect position to catch Harper’s second home run at CBP. It comes down to how many fans you are willing to take out to get the ball. The charity aside I want to know what he did in the scrum to catch the ball. It didn’t just happen to fall into his glove.

  10. A man knocking over kids to grab baseballs on the surface sounds very weird. But in the context of Zach, the dude has 72 million views and 355k subscribers. His videos explore the stadiums, the atmosphere, the food. The ball catching is the hook but his videos are more than just a middle-aged man knocking down 8-year-olds for BP balls. I really think Xing Broad can take a page out of his book. Get ASF and Wanker climbing through the CBP left field bleachers chasing foul balls. Better than podcasts. And articles. Seriously, it’s 2019, son. Leave the antiquated media in the dustbin of history with 8 tracks and plasma TVs

  11. If you want to see a loser, I suggest looking in the mirror.

    Blogging about the accomplishments of other grown men for a living – how fulfilling and consequential.

  12. who’s the a$$hole? the guy who will do anything to catch that ball, or the guy who will PAY anything to buy the ball? I mean, I just heard yesterday that the sneaker that was ripped by Zion could be worth $250k to someone if you had it to sell? It’s definitely a weird hobby, but as long as no one gets hurt, good for him…..

  13. My philosophy with foul balls is this. You are not entitled to a ball I catch just because you are a child. If an adult catches a ball he or she can turn it over out of the kindness of their heart, but they should not be shamed into it by the mob or by some made up rule that catching a ball hit into the stands only has some sort of magic if you are under the age of 13. Some people go to games their whole lives and never get one. You wait 50 years and catch one and now you are expected to fork it over to some kid? Not a chance. Get your own foul ball.

  14. He took a pic w my kid last year at the Phils game, seemed like a nice guy. A bit weird but the you tube generation loves him

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