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Orioles fan Professional ball hawk catches three foul balls in one game

May 13, 2011, 2:23 PM EDT

Foul ball screencap.bmp

UPDATE: I’m alerted to the fact that, no, this guy is not an Orioles’ fan. It’s professional ball snagger Zack Hemple. Which is still kind of pathetic, but for different reasons than I assumed earlier. OK, pathetic is kind of a strong word, as he does do some charity stuff as a part of his obsession. But really, I don’t know what possesses someone to do this.

2:23 PM: I’ve never caught a foul ball at a baseball game.  Last night a guy at Camden Yards caught three.  Video proof.

Look, good for him, but that’s no child. I’m not sure how old he is, but he’s past the age where he should be bringing his glove to the park, isn’t he?  Have some dignity, man.

In other news, Flip Flop Flying’s Craig Robinson caught a foul ball down in Mexico recently.  His words on the experience match my general thoughts on the matter.  Great to get one if you can, but really, don’t try too hard.

But then again, Craigs are a sensible lot.  Even if, sometimes, they’re a total wreck.

  1. dodger88 - May 13, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    Agreed – I used to try hard as a kid, once chasing after a ball that made its way to the consession stands at Olympic Stadium without luck. It was only four years ago that I caught my one and only foul ball at Skydome with as little effort as you can imagine as the ball managed to hit a couple of seats and then all I had to do was put up my hands and voila, foul ball caught. The best part was that the pitch was thrown by a Dodger (Hong Chih Quo).

  2. turnips - May 13, 2011 at 2:33 PM

    you have to keep in mind not all of us have had the chance to go to a game and bring our gloves. So when we do finally get the go to the game, we kind of want to have that experience. I went to my first game two years ago. That being said, I ditched the glove quickly because, well, who really wants to keep it on the whole game? So, I’m over it now and see no need to bring gloves to games anymore… but not having had it with me that first time would have just felt kinda wrong.

    and for the record, I’m 27 and have been a die-hard baseball fan in general since I was 7, and specifically a Red Sox fan since I was about 17 or so. I just haven’t had chances to go to many games because I live in Southwest VA and have to drive at least 6 hours to see a major league game.

  3. Charlie Hunter - May 13, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    Way too old for a glove. I caught a foul ball once, and gave it to a kid. No need for a grown man to hold onto baseballs.

    • dodger88 - May 13, 2011 at 3:33 PM

      I have kept the one foul ball I caught but would likely turn over any others to a child in attendance.

  4. kander013 - May 13, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    Is it just me, or is it this dude?

    I like how the MLB video calls him a man, not a boy.

    • Ralph - May 13, 2011 at 2:48 PM

      Wow, good call…that’s definitely him.

    • djsym8 - May 13, 2011 at 2:54 PM

      This guy has caught almost 5,000 baseballs in his life… 3 in one night isn’t really that impressive.

      • zmanccc - May 14, 2011 at 12:41 PM

        Actually 3 in a game is huge for him. He’s gotten like 97% of his balls during batting practice by begging and pleading with players and being super annoying. Only 150 or so of his balls are from an actual game. I just wish he gave more balls away to little kids. Based on reading a lot of his blogs he only gives away 1-2 balls to kids per game even though he gets like 10-15 balls. Who in their right mind needs 4500 or so balls in their parents house like he stores his?

    • spudchukar - May 13, 2011 at 2:59 PM

      Definitely the same dude.

    • bloodysock - May 13, 2011 at 2:59 PM

      Sorry, but that is a desperate existence. How about trying to shag a girlfriend instead of a ball.

  5. chrisdtx - May 13, 2011 at 2:47 PM

    Big deal. I thought every Orioles fan got at least 2 foul balls per game.

    /attendance joke

    • Alex K - May 13, 2011 at 3:13 PM

      No it’s Dodgers fans that get two per game. Only problem is McCourt takes them back. Baseballs are expensive.

    • Panda Claus - May 13, 2011 at 4:16 PM

      Funny, but not true. I’ve been to Orioles Park twice this year and came home empty-handed, despite only being out-numbered 10000-to-1. In fact I’ve never caught one, though I think there’s been a couple that have landed nearby before.

      The coolest thing was at the game Tuesday night, I’m dragging my sons out (empty-handed of course), then a guy stops us and gives my 8-year old a bag he says he shagged at batting practice. Great moment for us, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t this guy.

  6. umrguy42 - May 13, 2011 at 3:12 PM

    Depends where I was. Last time I went to a game, I was 10 rows up from the field, just past 3rd base. I took my glove. (Nothing really came close, though.) Didn’t leave it on the whole time, though (got in the way of the beer and nachos!)

    If I was going to be in the upper deck, no, I probably wouldn’t bring it.

    If I did catch one, I’d probably hang onto it (barring adorable, disappointed children in the immediate area) – but I wouldn’t try to catch others (unless they were coming directly at me – self defense and all).

  7. kmgannon - May 13, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    In fairness to Hemple (and I find his ball-hawking ways a bit creepy and obsessive), he did write _Watching Baseball Smarter_, a primer for the non-fan to understand the game. It’s pretty decent, and fairly witty at parts.

    Hey, the guy has made a career out of being, essentially, an obsessive baseball geek. More power to him.

  8. goldensombrero3000 - May 13, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    I had a dream that my friend and I were at Wrigley and he caught a Reds home run ball. I knew it was a dream because Wrigley Field had a roof.

  9. Detroit Michael - May 13, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    22 years of “ballhawking” or ballhogging really? That’s quite an obsession.

  10. rebarratige - May 13, 2011 at 3:31 PM

    I was a little weirded out by it until it got to the part when he actually switched his gear from the Orioles to the Mariners in the middle of batting practice. Then I was a lot weirded out.

  11. kopy - May 13, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    Back in the Metrodome days, I would go to games after school with friends and get to stadium before the gates opened. The lower outfield seats were general admission, so we’d just show up before everyone else and get first row in the outfield. We’d always get balls from batting practice and the assortment of visiting pitchers who would make small talk with us kids. Really though, it was just us having fun and experiencing the thrill of catching BP and meeting players, not propping your glove open with a sharpie and a rubber band and “fishing” with a string to steal unattended balls on the field like this guy does.

  12. IdahoMariner - May 13, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    “(I’m raising money again this season for Pitch In For Baseball, a non-profit charity that provides baseball equipment to underprivileged kids all over the world. Click here to learn more.)

    • 43 donors

    • $6.62 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

    • $86.06 raised at this game

    • $1,661.62 raised this season”

    I don’t know. At first, I was kind of with Craig and the commenters who think this guy is pathetic…but as long as he’s not knocking over kids to do it, he’s raising money for a decent charity and he gives away some of what he gets to kids…what’s the harm? better than people who spend as much time sitting in their living rooms watching tv all night, or playing video games, or drinking himself into a stupor every night. That would be pathetic.
    He’s at a game, he’s running around catching baseballs, he has friends who do the same, he seems to have the decency to care about what happens to the poor usher who got caught in the middle of a bunch of them, and he writes about it. He could have way worse ways to spend his time.

  13. Andrew - May 13, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    Speaking of ball hawks, a prominent one in Minnesota was recently banned from Target Field after he knocked over a kid chasing after Thome’s 590th home run ball. (It’s Waldo for those of you that may know him from the Metrodome days). Fortunately, I heard the kid was compensated awfully well after getting decked by Waldo.

    At 0:08 of the video, look at the left side of the concourse, and you’ll see someone booking it to the home run ball. That’s Waldo.

    • lifeofasnagger - Dec 28, 2014 at 5:42 PM

      He gave the Twins a different ball though (not the home run ball they wanted back), so I think he was really the winner on that one. I am guessing you will never see/respond to this, but how do you know they banned him?

  14. nittanylion0 - May 13, 2011 at 4:27 PM

    I love baseball, and I’m sure this guy does a lot of nice things after he catches a ball… But Zack Hemple is the biggest loser that I’ve ever heard of

  15. mentalotherhalf - May 13, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    I went to college with Zack. I’ll pay him the credit of saying that assessing him is…tricky. At the time, he was actively pursuing, or had just earned (I forget: college; booze) the Guinness (woohoo! booze!) World Record for fly ball snagging. Now that I live in West Hollywood, I snigger at the sound of that, and kind of doubt he’s the only one to claim the title. There will always be a small part of me, though, that longs for a Guinness record of my own. I would prefer it were a cooler one, involving, for example, the actual drinking of Guinness, but whatever. To each his weird little own, especially in the days of new media.
    Further, he then mustered his dad’s contacts in the publishing world to get him a book deal about the whole thing. Not too hard, since his dad was a successful New York publisher. Good for him for turning his passion profitable, right?
    Friends, family, and blogs have over the years sent along links to Zack-things. The postures he takes about it: a little too self-promoting, if you ask me, for the accomplishment of feats that seem like they could be better-accomplished by anyone who bothered to try them.
    Whether Zack has ever understood that no one else (except the kooky, the homeless, and the kooky homeless) cares to try these things, and that he’s a winner only by the lowest common denominator of Darwinian default, I’ll never be sure.
    That’s the mystery of Zack. He’s kind of like Steven Seagal: we’ll never be sure whether he’s actually laughing with us.
    Also: he was very excited about Scrabble in college. He liked to boast to me (a misguided English major) that he had a bigger vocabulary and would thereby own me in Scrabble… He owned me in Scrabble, but only because he knew the Greek names for letters of the alphabet, giving him triple points on two-letter “words” with combinations of high-valued consonants no one should self-respectingly consider part of a “vocabulary”. Thing is: Zack actually had a pretty decent vocabulary. The other thing is: I’m pretty sure I was pretty drunk when we played.
    Moral: ten years ago, I considered Zack a decent guy and a friend, but I had my concerns: specifically that he was a dynamic, talented, gifted dude, who I could easily imagine on the team that brings the world its next Google, if only he’d stop spending his nights memorizing the Scrabble dictionary. My guess is I’d think pretty much the same thing if we ran into each other now and went for beers.
    As for the politics of the fly balls, specifically: it’s great that he hands a bunch of them over to kids; but it would probably be better if he just let the kids catch them in the first place. And no: charging those kids’ parents four-figures per game to supposedly teach them how to catch those balls is not an equitable alternative.

  16. mlblogsphillieswschamps - Aug 8, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    Guys….. If you took the time to go out to the park 3 hours early and truly made an effort to catch a ball in BP then I Guarentee you could…. Parks arent that crowded that early before games and so balls will land in the seats and nobody BUT you will be able to go retrieve it

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