Ballhawking has reached cult status.
Ballhawkers are those guys who go
to ball games with their gloves, sit in the outfield bleachers or the
grass behind the home run fence and try to catch or corral as many
baseballs as they can. It’s wacky. These guys may be frustrated
Little League outfielders who spent too many afternoons baking in the
sun hoping the next ball they caught came off the bat of Hank Aaron or
Lou Gehrig and instead of throwing it back into the infield they got to
They all want that, a home run ball hit by the next
Hank Aaron. These guys are some of the most consistent, obsessed fans
you’ll find… and many of them are celebrities.
I guess that’s what you get when you combine
baseball with the internet. If you don’t believe me look up these two
blogs on MLBlogs.com
– www.thehappyyoungster.mlblogs.com and
www.snaggingbaseballs.mlblogs.com . The Happy Youngster is a guy in
Milwaukee who blogs after every home game, fills it with tons of
pictures and occasionally gets on television after making a circus
catch while snagging a homerun. The Snagging Baseballs guy is Zack
Hample from New York who has collected over 4000 balls from 46 major
league stadiums. He has been on the Rosie show twice, CNN, Tonight with Jay Leno, To Tell the Truth, CBS Early and Evening Show. Zack’s face may have been on TV more than some of the baseball players.
When Barry Bonds was chasing Ruth and then Aaron and
the 73 home run season, ballhawkers were coming from everywhere. It was
like a convention of glove wearers. Michael Jackson could have been
sitting in the midst of them and nobody would have noticed. Jack “The
Snake” Frazier toppled a family of four while catching Bonds homer #
655. Tom Hoynes, a kayaker, who floats in the bay outside AT & T
Park pulled up nine homerun balls with his net and sold them all for
close to $ 15,000. Barry “Cheese” Nance claims to have caught 24
home runs on the fly, which included Bonds 60th of the 2001 season.
In case you’re wondering about the most ever paid
for a baseball, it’s was $ 3 million for Mark McGwire’s 70th in 1998.
The buyer was Todd McFarlane, “Spawn” comic book creator.
Here are some secrets given by Zack Hample,
the 4000 ball guy who wrote the book “How to Snag Major League
Baseballs” on catching special homeruns. 1) Attend batting practice to
get the hang of judging the ball. 2) Know where the batter usually hits
them and claim your spot early. 3) Sit on the end of a row so you can
move up and down steps. 4) Prepare for a mass of people going for the
ball to collectively bobble it. 5) Keep moving toward the ball because
even if it’s far from you it could bounce in your direction. 6) If
you’re part of a collection team, split up.
To this we’ve added our own tips. 1) Wear a giant
umpire’s vest of Velcro. 2) Carry a bullhorn and when someone else is
getting ready to catch the ball, sound it. 3) Hook your glove to an
extend-o-pole. 4) Carry a fake baby with you with a waa-waa recorder,
leave it in a part of the bleachers where others will want to make goo
goo eyes at the cutie and then when Mr. Longball hits the ball turn on
the waa-waa by remote control. 5) Carry a bunch of counterfeit $
100 bills with you. Be sure not to buy anything with them but when the
homer is heading your way toss the bills up in the air. To get
more tips check out Zack’s website.