First Look: Baseball’s Infamous Ball Hawk – Zack Hample

HBO’s BERNIE GOLDBERG: “Would you call this an obsession?”
ZACK HAMPLE: “Yeah. I don’t hide from that word. It’s absolutely an obsession. It drives me crazy. I can’t even watch baseball highlights on TV anymore because it’s just– it’s like one home run after another landing in this section where I just was last week. And when I went to that ballpark last year, they didn’t hit balls there. But look where that home run just — I drive myself crazy. So, yeah, obsession is probably on the mild end of how this could be described. Sickness might be a better word.”

The Ball Hawk. When Zack Hample was 12 years old, a pitcher from his beloved New York Mets lobbed him a ball in the stands before a game at Shea Stadium, inspiring a passion that three decades later has made him one of the most polarizing fans in sports. Now 39, Hample has made ball-hawking his life’s work, hauling in nearly 10,000 baseballs over the years. He has written three books on this obsession turned profession, runs a YouTube page about his hobby and even started a business in which he will, for a fee, accompany you to a game and guarantee you walk away with at least one ball.

His career is not without controversy. Hample’s dedication to catching a foul ball or home run – which can lead to a tantrum if he doesn’t succeed – seems too obsessive to many. REAL SPORTS correspondent Bernard Goldberg meets the man the New York Post called the most hated fan in baseball and learns more about the hobby that earned him the title.