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Hample Snags Rookie's First Career Homer

New York Ballhawk Meets Mets' Catcher Mike Nickeas After Incredible Snag

By Alan Schuster

Apr 27, 2011

Zack Hample's Blog

After the exchange, Nickeas poses with his first career home run ball, while Hample shows off his signed bat.

Last Thursday at Citi Field Zack Hample accomplished another "first" in what is shaping up to being a storybook season of ballhawking. For the first time in his life, Hample snagged a player's first career home run.

The player was Mets rookie catcher Mike Nickeas, and in the bottom of the third he launched a towering homer into the crowded seats in left field. Hample manuevered his way into position and tried to fend off the other fans who were competing for the ball. "A whole bunch of hands reached up for it directly in front of me, but those hands didn?t reach quite high enough," he wrote on his blog. "...and I jumped at the last second and felt something smack the pocket of my glove. I?d caught it!!"

It was his 15th game home run ball, but this one was unique because the player who hit it wanted it back. Hample was more than willing to give it up, but he requested a simple return gesture from the Mets.

"I really just wanted to meet Nickeas and make sure that he got his ball back," he wrote. "I suppose I could've demanded a signed David Wright jersey and/or a Jose Reyes jock strap, but what was the point? I was more interested in the experience than in the potential goodies that I could take home."

The Mets agreed, and after the game Hample got the chance to meet Nickeas. Unexpectedly, when Nickeas came out for the meeting, he was carrying an official bat that he signed and presented to Hample. The two talked for a while and posed for photos.

Read Zack Hample's full account of meeting Mike Nickeas on his blog.

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