The latest diss

I’ve been heckled a lot. It’s nothing new. I’ve had whole sections of fans boo and threaten me (for catching too many balls). A few years ago, a guy showed up at one of my book signings and started shouting from the back of the room, accusing me of being a ball hog. And, of course, thousands of people (including radio hosts during live interviews) have told me that I have no life.

Whatever. I don’t expect everyone to love me.

The latest diss came from one of the Wrigley Field “ballhawks,” who left the following comment after my last entry:

“This is getting ridiculous. What is your actual total of Balls Caught? Not handed to you or begged for!! All those guys at Wrigley actual work for their baseballs and catch them. I am guessing that over 50% of the balls that you have are CHARITY BALLS. Why don’t you stop begging for the balls and start catching them like the rest of us do! You are like the Barry Bonds of Ballhawks. Real Ballhawks DONT BEG!!

Real Ballhawk then proceeded to:

a) insult my ball-snagging statistics
b) list his own accomplishments
c) compare asking for balls to taking steroids


Kids write to me all the time and ask stuff like, “Can I count a ball in my collection if it was given to me by a hot dog vendor?” I tell them that there isn’t ONE way to collect baseballs so they should do whatever feels right. For me, “begging” feels right. Would I rather catch more home runs? Yes, of course, and if I lived near a ballpark the size of a little league field, there’s no doubt that I would. Instead, I’m stuck with Shea and Yankee Stadium (since I don’t count minor league or spring training balls, unlike some of the ballhawks), so I’ve incorporated “begging” into my arsenal. Anyway, that works out well because for me, collecting baseballs is about making a connection to the players; when one of them tosses me a ball, I feel that connection more than ever. I think it’s pretty obnoxious for someone–especially a fellow collector–to insult that.


There are billionaires who beg to be able to fly on a space mission, because it’s something they’ve always wanted to do. Tell your critic to go take a nap and try to find his one true purpose in life.


I love it.
Thanks, Mark.

i think the chicago ballhawks need to get a life, not you

That’s hitting back, Zack. You knocked it right outa the park! Perhaps the disser’s peee-oh’d because he was shortchanged when the Great Creator handed out integral body parts.

Immutable fact: it’s fascist-time when one person attempts to dictate to another person how to find fun conducting a hobby.

What’s the guy’s authority? Has he written The Book on how to acquire baseballs that has, by generously sharing tips, made so many passionate fans happy?

What’s the guy’s problem? That he didn’t write the book himself?

Is he jealous that you’ve received such positive attention from not only other fans, but also the media? That you appeared on ROSIE? Twice?

One wonders why Rosie, and Sports Illustrated, and PEOPLE Mag, and CNN, etc. didn’t choose to feature him as they did you? Which they did precisely because of the joy you find in the game – and communicate to others.

Which, by the way, dissers like him, fuming with negativity, despoil. He, with his sullen, attacking words, is like Bonds and the steroid-takers. Not you.

Gosh, d’ya suppose maybe he’s envious because your home team, The Mets, produced a mini-documentary about you and how you’ve accumulated your cache of baseballs and featured it for a week on their TV network – but his team doesn’t even know he exists because he hangs out behind the ballpark and seldom pays for admission?

In addition, “begging” is itself pejorative. “Snagging” – from the title of your book, is more accurate. The guy’s trying to set you up. But he struck out swinging.

Finally, not to disparage the efforts of the ball snaggers who roam on Waveland Avenue; they have a right to snag balls any way they choose. But one could, if one were as destructive as this disser, claim that roaming for balls behind Wrigley’s outfield fence is like shooting lobsters in a toilet bowl. If the disser dude is such an expert ball snagger, let’s see how’d he do if he were locked in competition with hundreds and hundreds of fans with their gloves, avid to snag just one ball in a lifetime in a 40,000 to 50,000 seat stadium with its barriers and prowling security detail.

He’d be begging to be let outa there to return to the sanctuary of his toilet bowl.

Which is where he belongs.

Oh, sorry to be so negative. But guys like that bring out the worst in me, if not in everyone.

As for you, Zack – keep snagging! You give baseball a good name.

also, those guys are such losers

you got 3 HR balls in a game? really, i dont believe that since colorado only averages 2.81 HR/game and wrigly was i believe 2.26 HR/game

and you caught 3 in a game?

you should also keep track of how many other people you knock over in getting those baseballs

i bet that number would be staggering.

just get over it ballhawks. you live in 2 completly different cities 1500 miles away from eachother

use your own techniques and when you come to new york and realize that its now the size of a kiddy baseball park dont come crying to us when you dont get any and then get kicked out for running people over

he struck out swinging on one pitch!


very well said boodlehiemer1

my utmost respect to you

Jealousy.. You’re not claiming to be the home run ball collector.. They’ll get over it.

Thanks for your comments/support. I’m not going to accuse the other guy of not having a life because everyone has a right to spend their free time as they choose…but yes, he WAS overly negative and critical. Also, anything’s possible at Wrigley, so I won’t dispute his claim of catching three home runs during one game. When a 30mph wind is blowing out, there can easily be half a dozen homers. Several of those could reach the street, and if it’s not too crowded out there, I can see one guy getting all of them. But again, thanks for everything you said. I really appreciate it. I’m not trying to shoot it down.


Gee whiz. Wow. I should point out that the ballhawks HAVE received quite a bit of (well-deserved) publicity over the years, so I don’t know that it’s fair to assume that anyone’s jealous. But everything else you said is right on the money. Thanks for taking the time to write all of it.


Good point. As long as my baseballs come from a Major League stadium, I’m not as concerned about how I get ‘em.

It appears that your critic is THE DECIDER on how people should get their pleasure. If he listed all his habits and passions, I hope he wouldn’t receive such a thoughtless & foolish reply as he sent to you.

Well said, Naomi. Thanks for jumping in.

Preach Brotha!
This blog is for baseball COLLECTORS. <- key word right there. Doesnt matter how you get em, as long as you got em. Haters dont have a place here.

Also, this is for you Mr. Ballhawk, Apparently you have a problem with collectors “asking and begging” for balls. Im not sure how it is out there in chi town, where the attendance is like 10,000 a game and you just sit on the street and wait for a ball to fall into your beer cup, but in NYC its not a game. Its real, real action, real competition, real people. You should have respect for the greatest snagger in the game, an im out…

What Up Zack,

There will always be “detractors” in life – I usually tell them “God Bless” and “Let’s Play Ball!” with a wink.

For all of the “nit-wits” out there that may “dis-ya”, just remember that there are loads of fans out there that appreciate what you are doing.

Let’s Go Zack! – Let’s Go 3,000!!!!!



C’mon…even though the Cubs stink (and always will), the average attendance at Wrigley is more like 38,000. Of course, all those people aren’t waiting for gopher balls on Waveland Avenue. But you’re right: haters have no place here, and snagging in New York City *IS* about as tough as it gets.


God Bless, indeed. Thanks for the kind words.

Haha. Gripes of this nature are always funny to me. It’s really not this complicated. Noone is right or wrong. The Ballhawks don’t need to get a life, and Zack Hample isn’t a cheater. As Naomi eluded to, everybody gets pleasure out of what they do in their own way. It would show real ignorance on someones part to think or say otherwise. Djsox’s comments were silly, ill founded, and unnecesary, and at the end of the day will merely serve as a pawn for bringing a larger and more important concept and discussion to the surface.

Sheesh Groceryman, sounds like the beginning of a thesis paper. Eloquently put

I knew you’d chime in with another nugget. Great stuff, as always.

Looks like a little East Coast-Mid West rivarly brewing here… nahh im not serious.


Are you going to any of the Twin’s games while they are in town?

Rivalry? Nah. They’re there. I’m here. Our paths hardly ever cross (in person).

It’d be fun to have an ESPN/Olympic-style snagging competition with the ballhawks, or at least THIS one, in an obstacle course custom built for the occasion, with various athletic challenges: railing-hurdling, player-identifying, flyball-judging, security-eluding, etc.

Haha what a great idea. You gotta remember though: DJSox doesn’t need to hurdle railings, identify players, or elude security.


A few thoughts
First, there are two ways to get a ball, physical, and mental. Physical mean being in the right place, and being able to jump over people and/or seats to catch a 300 ft. shot. Mental means outsmarting an entire stadium by wearing the hat of the other team. This is a hobby. I go to games and collect balls and autographs to get away from my life. You claim to have caught 2,800 balls at major league games, not 2,800 home run balls. I’ve seen you at games doing your thing. Finally, tell those “ballhawks” to try and catch a home run ball at Shea Stadium. They can catch balls without buying tickets, which is a major expense, plus they can actually go to a place where home run balls land. Thanks for writing your book and getting me into this great hobby, even though almost everyone I know thinks I’m nuts.

Hey Zack I went to the Angels vs Jays game on sunday and it was a pretty good game Janssen was on fire and the Jays won. I also got 2 balls first from who I think is the nicest guy on the Jays Scott Downs and the other one from Steve Soliz the bullpen catcher from the Angels. I also would have gotten another one using the glove trick but my string got tangeled up. However Janssen saw me and started to laugh and said he would give me a ball after he was done strectching except he took too long to stretch and eventually security made me move to my seats leaving me at 2 for the day. Not bad for a game without Batting Practise.

Well said Chuckster… I second that.

I third that: very well said. It’s tough to catch home runs at Shea because you either have to sit in the bleachers (eww) or wait in the tiny patches of seats in fair territory down the lines in the second deck (Loge Level). Both options are lame, so that’s why I go for foul balls. Meanwhile, I like your distinction between the physical/mental challenges of collecting balls. I’m glad my book helped to get you into this hobby. People who think you’re nuts are nuts themselves. Anyone who can’t respect another person’s passion (as long as it’s not harming anyone) has real problems.


Two balls without BP is great. You should be proud. That’s too bad about security making you move. Then again, if not for security, I’d have about 5,000 balls by now. That’s just one of the challenges that comes with going for balls. You have to untangle the string before you leave your house so it’s ready to go…and make sure the string is not too thin. The thinner it is, the more knots you’ll get.

Chuckster –

Z doesn’t claim to have “caught” over 2800 balls – he has “snagged” over 2800 of the little spheroids, and “caught” an amount in the nineties, which is essentially 90 or so more than the mass of baseball fans since the game began back in the 19th century.

Yes, there is a difference between “catching” and “snagging,” but let’s not get too caught up in semantics. If a player throws me a ball…well, obviously it sails through the air, and I “catch” it. Is that less of a “catch” than a batted ball during a game that I “catch” after it has deflected off other people’s hands? I mean, what’re we striving for here? Great athletic plays? Or the mere origin of the ball? I do put certain weight on the way in which I get various balls—that’s why I keep a separate tally for gamers—but at the end of the day, a ball is a ball is a ball is a ball.

Call it “catching” if you want.

Or “snagging.”

Or “nabbing.”

Or “accumulating.”

Or “acquiring.”

Or “stealing.” HeII, I don’t care.

The point is that I go to games with zero balls and walk out with lots of balls, and it makes me happy.

if we had a spot in new york where we could get balls without paying for admission and getting them in the stadium…new york would be a giant baseball

Ha! Yes. I think it’s actually possible to get a ball outside of Shea Stadium…

It’s 428 feet to the back of the right field bullpen. If a lefty were to slug one about 450 (Bonds’ shot last night in the Sunday ESPN game, for example), and the ball DIDN’T hit one of the garbage dumpsters that’re kept back there, it COULD conceivably hit the pavement and then bounce over the second fence and into the open…you know, toward that subway entrance…the one with the MetroCard booth in the center and double-staircases on the sides.

But that doesn’t happen too often, I don’t think. Maybe if the HR Derby happens to come back to Shea (yeah right) before it closes for good in a few years…

I’m glad you give your critics the time of day, I think it makes the blog even more interesting. The comparison to Barry Bonds is unfair since he won’t even allow his critics a voice on his Reality Show, so I commend your editorial fairness. Jealousy is one of the highest forms of flattery. Besides it’s not like you’re mis-representing yourself, they call you the Baseball Collector, not the Baseball Catcher. How many stories could one write about just catching a foul ball anyway?

Keep collecting Collecta, it’s almost time to start laying odds on who you’ll get # 3000 from.

There’s something very Zen about all of these comments. Very Age of Reason. Clearly, Zack and the other collectors have their intentions well thought-out, and that’s really what’s commendable in all of this. So when ignoramuses go for the low blows, they can be walloped with rationality and logic. Here are all of you, clearly stating the purposes behind what you do, and nowhere did I get any sense of even ONE from Mr. Ballhawk.

Remember the Highlights for Children slogan? “Fun with a purpose”? Maybe this Cubs fan should have spent more time with that wholesome magazine. If he had, perhaps he wouldn’t be the lone Goofus in this vast sea of Gallants. Hats off to you all.

p.s. jimmyjoejoejrchabadu is the best email address ever!

yea, i think bobby bonilla did that once in a game where it ended up by the subway entrance, only i think he hit it out there on a fly

the only bad thing is, that most of the bombs would hit the scoreboard

speaking of which, i wonder where bonds’ shot last night would have hit the scoreboard

remember mo vaughn hit the budwieser thing halfway up it in 2002

Good points all around. I appreciate it.


“Goofus” might be my new favorite word. Thanks for bringing it into my life…and for your wise perspective on all of this.


Are you serious?! Mama mia! That would be around 500 feet. I’ve been thinking about Bonds’ shot from last night (which, for those who missed it, hit the facade of the THIRD deck in Philadelphia), and I think it went much farther than the estimated distance of 450 feet. I think it was closer to 500, if not more. That thing might’ve CLEARED the scoreboard at Shea. I really don’t care for Bonds (to put it lightly), but I’m still in awe of what the man can do.

“It’d be fun to have an ESPN/Olympic-style snagging competition with the ballhawks, or at least THIS one, in an obstacle course custom built for the occasion, with various athletic challenges: railing-hurdling, player-identifying, flyball-judging, security-eluding, etc.”

I personally have always envisioned a ball snagging video game. It would be great.

Whoa. THERE’S something I never thought of. You know, I do have quite a few contacts in the video game industry…

Yeh it could be like regular baseball games now…
1. you could play against a friend or computer

2. single game or season mode

3. you could pick different events to snag at such as World Series, Opening Day, Home Run Derby

4. different difficulty levels of course. instead of “All-Star Mode” it would be “All Randy St. Claire mode”

4a. the different difficulties would just make you cuter and or younger and or a girl

anyone else got more ideas?

Oh my GOD. “Randy St. Claire mode.” That is too funny!

There could be settings for other factors that affect snagging: weather, pitching matchups, day of the week, promotions, which security guards are on duty, etc.

I have two goals this year:
1. Get a ball from RSt.C

2. 20 balls this season

I used to have problems with Guillermo Mota. Then I bought a Marlins hat.

I’d say the odds of reaching goal #2 are much higher. Here’s my prediction: 29 balls this season, and none from Randy.


I have major issues with Guillotine Mota. Don’t get me started.

Nice prediction, I hope I reach it.
I think you should do an entry on which players either hate you/or won’t throw you a ball and why.

Just a suggestion.

In a video game you should be able to play as a kid or an adult, boy or girl. XBOX Live

Did you ever see this entry?


Good idea, but if you choose to play as different people, does your athletic ability change accordingly? Not trying to be sexist here, but obviously a seven-year-old girl can’t run as fast or reach as far or jump as high or shout as loud as a grown man.

Hey its me again, just wondering since you made a prediction about how many balls Nick was gonnna get, I was wondering how many balls do you think I’ll get by the end of the season. Here are the games I’m thinking of going to… All of them at the Rogers Centre.

Devil Rays X2

White Soxs X2





and maybe Red Soxs

I just wanna see how good you are at prediting things.

P.S. Nicest guy in the league is Scott Downs also thx to the guy who said my email was the best.

Hmm, I don’t have a crystal ball…just BASEballs…so I’m gonna say that you’ll end up with 31 balls. Just a wild guess.

Last thought, did you ever get an appoligy e-mail from my friend Adam who has his site

Hey … we could have a “SnagOff”! (TM pending)

And if Austin Powers joined it … it could be a “ShagOff”! :-)

But anyway Zack … as long as you don’t run roughshod over little kids in pursuit of a baseball, I say go for it!

No email, but no problem. We all say silly stuff sometimes, and I know I’m an easy target. :-)


I don’t knock over little kids. I only knock over fat men who stand and block my view while they’re talking on their cell phones. (Okay, not really. I’m very careful and hardly ever bump into anyone, and when I do, it’s always their fault. Seriously.)


Now I’m probably guessing that to you a baseball is a baseball just because you have so many, but I was wondering which of these do you like more.

1. Catching a ball or having a player toss you a ball.

2. Having a clean brand new out of the box ball or one with a few marks indicating that the ball has been used by players.

3. Getting a home team ball or one from the visting team.

Those are just some of thoughts.

hey zach,
i just wanted to let u know that i might be going to the friday game when the mariners visit anaheim. im not sure yet, cuz if im going its with friends. do u know what time the gates open for the park. ive never been to a batting practice but will go on friday to one. also if u have any more tips for the angels or mariners please let me know.


Cox-Gates open 90 minutes early. Wear a Mariners hat and go by the right field foul pole where the Seattle pitchers warm up. If you get a spot in the front row, you can reach over the short fence and snag the balls that roll down the line.


I went to a Jays – Angels game Sunday and I got a ball from Steve Soliz the Angels bullpen catcher. He might give you a ball aswell just get his attention and call to him. He’s a nice guy unlike Bud Black the pitching coach who is really a *****.

I can’t say that I’m moved to dance a jig and shriek with joy EVERY time I get a ball, but I still get excited whenever I get one. To answer your questions…

1. I prefer getting balls that’re hit, probably because it rarely happens at Shea (which is where I see most of my games).

2. I love the new ones. When I get one, I feel like I’ve gotten away with something…you know, stolen a ball from the team.

3. Visiting teams. Just about every player on the Mets has thrown me a ball by now. it’s nice to change things up a bit.

In Bud Black’s defense, I once asked him (during batting practice at Yankee Stadium) if he wanted to play catch, and we did…just a couple of throws back and forth, and then he let me keep the ball.


It looks like Chuckster already said it all. I would add that Casey Kotchman is not friendly, so don’t waste your time trying to get anything from him.


That’s good advice. The ballpark in Anaheim is not an easy place to snag.

Yeah their athletic abiltity would change and voice and stuff but players throw balls to kids more.

Okay, that sounds right…just making sure.

I’m going to the big ballpark in the Bronx friday, and I’m wondering who on Oakland in generous/a good signer.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen the A’s, but I can tell you that Mark Kotsay is one of the nicest guys on ANY team. Barry Zito was pretty cool about throwing me a ball a couple of years ago. Marco Scutaro was friendly when he came up with the Mets…3rd base coach Ron Washington and manager Ken Macha have been great as well.

Have fun battling it out with 50,000 maniacs. I’ll be at work.

they were interviewing some people on espnews at yankee stadium before…at about 5:35, and surprisingly there werent alot of people there.

i only saw left field, but there really werent too many people…is the yankees bad play a sign of possible better BP sessions in the bronx



Right field is always more crowded there. It’s the Yankees’ side, and the seats are closer to home plate. That’s the only way I can explain it. BP in the Bronx will forever stink.

Sorry that people feel that way. Its too bad. Anyway Zack I wanted to ask you a question. When at a stadium trying to get a ball; what is your biggest obstacle? Not including stadium security and ushers. For me would be kids and thier dads. Thanks

Yes, it’s a shame. But anyway, to answer your question, I have to agree with you and say “kids”…and just people in general who don’t know where they are or what they’re doing and stand around during BP and block the aisles.

I don’t mean to sound bitter. Kids deserve to get baseballs, and I often go out of my way to HELP them. I just kinda wish they’d get all their balls when I’m not around. :-)

Hey man just wanna post up my friends site here theres some pics of the baseball game we went to check it out here at

hey can anyone help me out im a autograph collecter for cards and baseballs primarily baseballs and some good guys from my collection are Andy Pettite, Paul moliter, ben sheets, sean casey, jason bay, jack wilson, livan hernandez, torri hunter, Mike lowell and some other mediocer guys..i Need some advice on what getting them signed with i used to use black sharpie but i hear blue ballpoint bic is the best..any truth to this. I am a kid too so that helps with autographs i get to about 15 games a year and i have gotten 3 balls 1 from aaron heilmen, one from the pirates pitching coach, and one that rolled over by me while gettin graphs..i dont really have the time to get balls because im pretty occupied with autograph..


yes. blue sharpies are better for cards. a pen is better for getting a ball signed.

a black sharpie will begin to fade and turn very dark shades of green or blue. a blue sharpie doesnt do that.

i dont know why. it just is. but, just go to staples and get a 5-pack of blue sharpies.

and another strategy for some cards…if some cards are glossy (topps 2006, topps 2005, etc.) use a pencil eraser and lightly go over the card with it. it gets all the gloss stuff off and the cards are good to use.

i hope these tips help you

if you need anymore tips/advice you can email me at:

please feel free to ask me…i dont mind, and i actually enjoy talking about it…i constantly check my e-mail, so anything at all please dont hesitate

good luck to you and your auto collecting

Good stuff. Thanks for sharing.


Joneli said everything I was gonna say…and then some. Thanks for coming HERE for advice.


When you’re the man, you’re the man.

hey zach, the 15 games i go to a year are all at miller park..your Foul ball heaven..what do you suggest me doing during games? im also going to 3 games at the is the metrodome?

This is similar to bergins comment/question. DO you have any advice for me since I go to all my games at the Rogers Centre. Just hoping you have any tips of the best spots to get balls. I’m probably guessing you don’t visit us up north much so if you don’t have a tip its alright.

getting autos on balls using sharpies ruins them?! dam i didn’t know dat. So my best bet is using a normal ball point pen for autos on my balls?

Zack Hample
Zack Hample

Zack Hample

Zack Hample

Zack Hample

Zack Hample

Zach Hample

Zack Hample

Zack Hample

Zack Hample

Zack Hample

Zack Hample

Zack Hample

One of these things…is not like the others…and one of these things…most certainly does not belong. Cmonnnn people.

do you always look for a fight groceryman?

If you’re at Miller Park and you’re NOT sitting right in front of that huge aisle below the press box, then you’re just wasting your time. That is THE place of all places. The Metrodome is actually pretty tough. Left field is the only spot worth a ****, but the rows are so long that if ONE person happens to sit down, it takes out a whole chunk of room for you to run for balls. (I’m talking about BP.) The first two rows behind the wall are roped off, so be ready for balls to land there, and then you can dash after them.


During games, if the crowd is small, I’d recommend hanging out near the RF foul pole on the field level. As for BP, stay in the home run zones in straight-away LF and RF…you’ll get balls hit and thrown to you, and you can also fish ‘em out of the bullpens with a glove-trick-type device.


I like yo’ style. You make me smile. Hope you stick around for a while. The Mets should make a starter of Heil(man). Does anyone else miss Darryl Kile?

yea my dad got nailed right next to the jewels walking down an aisle next to that pressbox off a foul ball from geoff jenkins..the ball rolled down cause my dad had brats in his hands and some guy grabbed the ball and gave it to my dad for taking one near the jewels..hah..he said he had a black and blue welt there for a couple weeks..haha

The funniest thing about that story is that it didn’t happen to me. (And hey, good thing you’ve already been born.)

No bergin. I took initiative in saying something I know alot of other people wanted to say. Do you jump on falsely perceived unjust pseudo bandwagons? (Yes) *shakes head*

Have you been eating too much sugar?

Seriously though, I VERY much appreciate the Zack/Zach catch, but c’mon, you could be a little gentler. No?

Haha I suppose. I didn’t mean to come off as abrasive, just wanted to present it in a creative way. The mixing up has gone on from pretty much day one, so it was a build up, not a direct call out on anyone in particular. Carry on.

“Creative.” Ahh.

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