Oct 28, 2010
Zack Hample's Blog
Zack Hample's game attendance was cut in half this season, due in large part to the demanding and time-intensive job of writing a book. But when he was able to pull himself away from the computer to get out and catch a game, he definitely made the most of it. So much so that by the end of the year he had established a new myGameBalls.com single-season record for average balls snagged per game. The new record? An astounding 9.5 balls per game, beating the record of 8.97 that was set by Hample last season.
Hample snagged a total of 304 balls over 32 games, which included balls at eight different stadiums. He had 12 double-digit games including two games with over 20 balls. His best outing of the year was a 24-ball game in May at Progressive Field.
Despite these ridiculous numbers, Hample stresses that the numbers aren't really the most important thing. "As a general rule, I try not to live for my stats, but rather to simply let the stats be a reflection of what happens to take place," he remarked, also noting that he doesn't choose his game schedule with the sole intention of padding his numbers. Interestingly, included among his 32 games are several "Watch With Zack" games -- games in which his primary focus is on helping his client snag balls, not snagging his own.
Clearly, had Hample approached the 2010 season with the sole purpose of breaking the per-game average, he could have put up even higher numbers. "There was one point late in the season when I was hovering right around 10 balls per game," he said. "I think I needed one more game with at least 12 balls in order to finish with a double-digit average. But that would've meant skipping several other games that I really wanted to attend -- games that I knew were going to difficult in terms of putting up big numbers."
Hample also said his strategy of going for home run balls during games probably cost him the chance of snagging numerous third-out toss-ups behind the dugouts. Regardless of all the missed opportunities, finishing the season with an average of 9.5 is an accomplishment unparalleled in the ballhawking world.
His 32 games this season were a good mix of difficult venues like Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, ballhawk-friendly parks like Camden Yards and Turner Field, and new stadiums (for him) like Target Field and Hiram Bithorn Stadium.
While grateful to have set another record, Hample is quick to point out that in ballhawking, everything's relative. "If I had to attend all 81 home games at Fenway Park or Dodger Stadium, I'd probably average just four balls per game, and then what?" he remarked. "Some people would mistakenly think that I'd lost my skills. As a ballhawking community, we have to be really careful not to judge people solely on stats."
In Hample's case, he's a top-notch ballhawk no matter how you judge him. As always, he'll be back for more next year, his 22nd season of ballhawking.