Home / Sports / Famous ballhawk snags A-Rod's 3,000th hit, won't return it

Famous ballhawk snags A-Rod's 3,000th hit, won't return it

Alex Rodriguez’s 3,000th hit ended up in the hands of a ball hawk, and he’s not giving A-Rod his milestone ball back.

Zack Hample, famous for having caught more than what he says are 8,000 major-league baseballs, came away with Rodriguez’s first-inning home run to right field in section 103, just below where the Bleacher Creatures sit. The 37-year-old from New York City says he became a Yankees season-ticket holder last year and picked the right field area because it’s a “good spot.”

Security personnel, led by Eddie Fastook, tried to negotiate with Hample and offered him memorabilia, a chance to be on television, his own press conference and tickets, but Hample took the ball back to his seat after MLB authenticated it. He later negotiated with Yankees executives Randy Levine and Lonn Trost but still didn’t relinquish the baseball.


“A-Rod will not be in possession of this ball tonight, unless he personally mugs me outside on 161st St.,” Hample said after the first negotiating session.

Derek Jeter, who also homered for his 3,000th hit, got his ball back. “The thing I was thinking about is, where’s Jeets’ guy?” Rodriguez said. “The guy that caught (his) ball? That’s the guy that I needed here. Where is that guy? I wasn’t so lucky.”

Hample, who doesn’t root for a team and was wearing an umpire-style MLB-logo cap, says he’s never sold a baseball before.


“I’ve always said if I catch a ball that’s life-changing money, I would consider selling it,” said Hample, who isn’t a fan of Rodriguez because of his PED scandal but said that’s not why he’s keeping the ball. “So obviously that’s what this is. I don’t think this is a million-dollar baseball, and I really don’t know what I’m gonna do with it, but I do not plan to give it back to Alex Rodriguez.”

He did invite Rodriguez to his home to take a look at the ball if he doesn’t sell it. “If I decide to keep it, A-Rod is welcome to visit me in my apartment,” Hample said. “He can look at the ball. We can take some pictures together, go play catch in Central Park a little bit.”

Since 2009, for every ball Hample has snagged, people have donated to a non-profit charity called Pitch In For Baseball, which provides baseball equipment to underprivileged kids around the world. However, some of the Bleacher Creatures don’t see Hample as a kind, giving person.

“That guy’s a d-bag!” said Bald Vinny, leader of the Creatures. “That guy sucks. He pushes little kids out of the way. He is the worst ever. That guy is the worst ever. There is literally — nobody worse could’ve gotten that home run ball than that f—–’ guy. He’s a d-bag.

“Tell him I said ‘F— off,’” he added. “That guy sucks.”

Hample knows he has haters — “I can relate to A-Rod in that way,” he said. He knows he’s accused of knocking people down and stealing balls from kids. He claims all of that is false and said of the 11 batting-practice balls he grabbed on Friday, he gave three away to kids. “Not once in my life have I knocked down anybody, young or old,” he said. “Not one person.”

As for Bald Vinny, Hample didn’t know Vinny knew who he was, but would like to get to know him. “Let’s have a chat, grab a bite to eat after BP,” Hample said.

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Daily News – Sports


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