My “bucket list” (things to do before I die) is pretty short now that I’ve crossed the impossible “see Cleveland Indians win a world championship” from positions 1 through 9, leaving only “catch a ball at a baseball game” on the list.
I came close once at Yankee Stadium in the ’80s. A foul ball was hit in the row behind me and after a scramble, another guy came up with it. Typical of Yankee Stadium, however, a kid sitting nearby bent over and held his stomach, then collapsed into his seat. The section began chanting “give the kid the ball” and the guy had no choice but to hand it over to the kid, who then made a miraculous recovery. As he sat back down in his seat with the ball, I heard the kid say to his friend, “that’s the second ball I’ve gotten this week that way.
But I’ve never been able to come up with one by any means.
So there’s no joy in my neck of the stadium for this guy, who is getting some nationwide love this week for catching home-run balls on consecutive nights at Yankee Stadium.
What is it with Yankee Stadium? Last year, a fan caught two balls in one game.
What are the odds of that? 1/196,000,000 it says here.
But this guy is Zack Hample, who has beat the odds over the years by grabbing more than
30,000 3,000 balls at Yankee Stadium, some on the fly and some not.
It was happening. The ball kept coming. I could tell I had a chance to catch it, but that it wasn’t going to reach the seats, so I jumped up on the chest-high railing (just as I’d done the day before to catch that BP ball tossed by Phil Hughes) and balanced on my stomach (cracked rib and all) and reached waaaaaaay out over the wall as the ball came shooting toward me, and BAM, just like that, I made the back-handed catch right in the pocket of my Mizuno glove. There was a guy on my left who made more of an effort to grab my legs to prevent me from flipping over the wall than he’d made to grab the ball himself.
Hample is making the rounds of the talk shows today wearing his “Baseball is Life” shirt. It is. And it’s not fair.