S.I.

Just got off the phone with Sports Illustrated. Someone there saw my blog, discovered that I’m approaching my 400th consecutive game with at least one ball caught, and decided to track me down.

I love how this stuff happens.

Even after all the interviews and articles about my collection, I’m still a bit stunned whenever someone actually wants me to talk about it. It all started innocently on June 20, 1990 when two Mets pitchers tossed me balls during batting practice at Shea Stadium. I had no idea what I was getting into. I was 12. I was psyched. That was about it. A couple months later, I convinced my parents to take me to BP again, and I caught two more balls. The following season, I raised my lifetime ball total to 18 and in 1992, I got permission to ride the subway to games by myself. That’s when my collection took off (and when I started getting ridiculed by just about everyone at school). I wasn’t trying to get famous. I didn’t have a book in mind. I just loved baseball. So yeah, it’s pretty cool when anyone–media or otherwise–wants to talk about it.

As for S.I., I’m not sure what they’re planning, but I’ve been told that it’s not going to be the cover story. Still, they asked for some photos…and various streak-related stats.

“Is there any chance that the streak could end before you reach 400?” asked the writer.

“Doubtful,” I told him, explaining that I’m working on a current 24-game streak with four or more balls, and that I’m almost twice as likely to get ten balls at a game than only one.

He wanted to know how many balls I’ve caught since the streak began.
(It began on September 10, 1993 and now stands at 396 games.)
I had to do a little math for that one.

The answer: 2,210

That means I’ve averaged 5.58 balls per game.

I sent him all kinds of crazy stats and asked him to include a link to the blog. Let’s see if it happens. I tend not to believe these things until I can talk about them in the past tense. Hopefully, I’ll get to do it soon; the next issue comes out on Wednesday.

By the way, yesterday’s radio interview was all right. Not outstanding. Certainly not a disaster. I posted a few comments about it under the previous entry.

5 Comments

Congrats on the SI stuff, but aren’t you glad you won’t be on the cover? I mean the SI jinx is pretty strong and I’m a big believer in it. My Timberwolves last year saw a big decline after their cover story. I’m not sure if the curse works for ball snaggers, but ya never know right?

Anyways, whens your next ballgame?

Nick

Thanks, Nick. Sorry about your T’wolves, but I don’t believe in all that hocus-pocus stuff. I’d gladly be on the cover and take my chances. (There’s no jinx for merely talking about it, is there?) Next game, or should I say “next batting practice,” will be on Tuesday at Shea.

I wonder what he’s gonna write:

“Zack Hample is getting near a milestone of 400 games where he has gotten at least one baseball. Does Zack have the balls to continue this Ripkenesque streak?”

Hey Man, I like your history of snagging there, how you were 12 and you got your first one. I lived far from the Metrodome when I grew up in MN. We NEVER went to batting practice, but I did bring my glove to the few games we attended.

So as a fun stat for you and your bloggers, I got my 1st ball at 27 years old, since I ALWAYS wanted to get one. Now, I (luckily) have a wife who is a good sport, and she lets me go early to games at 31. I owe a lot to you big Z for the tips and such, it’s not too hard to get baseballs at games with your ideas. They’re pretty much common sense.

So, when someone asks to interview you, I think it’s very legit. But now, all these people around the country will invade the ballparks early!

dantv-
In my opinion, I do have…um…what it takes to keep the streak alive.

drosenda-

First ball at twenty-seven?! Man, you’re gonna have to pick up the pace if you plan to catch me. Glad to hear that your wife accepts you in all your ball-collecting glory; my hobby has usually been somewhat of an issue in every relationship. When I wrote my book, I was afraid that EVERYone would start showing up early for BP and making tricks with their gloves…but I really didn’t notice a difference in the level of competition. Even if I had, I felt that it would’ve been worth it because I’d recently gotten my 1,000th ball, and that had always been my goal.

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