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The Biggest Douche In The Universe

Blue Jeans

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Biggest Douche Ever. I wonder if he's ever gotten laid.


Zack Hample wrote the book on how to snag major league baseballs. In fact, it was published in 1999.


Hample, a 28-year-old from Manhattan, says he has collected 2,930 baseballs from 29 of the 30 current major league parks and a dozen former parks. He has yet to visit the new Busch Stadium in St. Louis.


“To call it a hobby is a nice way to put it,’’ he said. “Obsession would be more accurate.’’


Hample has been on a rawhide roll since corralling his first baseball as a 12-year-old at Shea Stadium on June 20, 1990, during a game between the Mets and the Cardinals.


“It may have been thrown to me by Alejandro Peña,’’ Hample said, referring to a Mets reliever at the time.


His father, Stuart, said: “When Zack got that first ball, it was like a baby shark tasting blood for the first time. It was like an epiphany.”


Since then, by Hample’s count, 790 major league players and coaches have tossed more than 1,000 baseballs to him. The list ranges from Jim Abbott to Barry Zito and includes seven Johnsons (Ben, Brian, Howard, Jason, Jonathan, Mark P. and Russ) and six Joneses (Andruw, Chipper, Bobby J., Bobby M., Chris and Todd).


About 2,000 other baseballs have come Hample’s way during batting practice or games. On a trip to Petco Park in San Diego last month, he caught Barry Bonds’s 724th career home run.


On April 19, 2004, during a game at Shea in which the Mets played the Montreal Expos, Hample said, he collected 19 baseballs, a personal record. In 2005, he snagged a season-high 321 baseballs.


Though he calls the Mets his favorite team, he is careful not to categorize himself as a Mets fan.


“Growing up, I actually found myself rooting against the Mets,’’ he said. “The more they lost, the emptier Shea became, and the less competition I had in terms of going after baseballs.’’


When “How to Snag Major League Baseballs” was published by Aladdin in 1999, Hample appeared on CNN, FOX Sports and “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” and he was featured in People and Sports Illustrated. He was a guest on the game show “To Tell the Truth.’’


Hample now chronicles his exploits on a Web site, snaggingbaseballs.mlblogs.com, where people from as far away as Australia and the Netherlands ask questions like, “Where is the best place to sit at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City if I want to catch a foul ball?’’


He has scuffled with fans during mad dashes for baseballs and he has been ejected four times from Shea for what ushers there call ball-hogging.


But others enjoy watching Hample execute his game plan.


Mike Marshall, a longtime vendor at Shea and Yankee Stadiums, said, “It’s a blast watching him run to the left-field seats to catch balls hit by right-handed batters, and then race back to the right-field seats for left-handed batters.’’


Hample is single and works as a freelance writer and at the Argosy Book Store on Manhattan’s East Side, owned by his mother’s family. His second book, “Watching Baseball Smarter,” is scheduled to be published by Vintage in February.


Hample has reeled in several hundred baseballs with a homemade device he calls the glove trick.


After placing a thick rubber band around his baseball glove, Hample opens the pocket and wedges a Sharpie pen between the webbing and the fingers, creating a makeshift trap. Using a long string, he lowers the glove onto any ball left unattended on the field that is within his reach.


Hample corrals the ball between the webbing and the rubber band, then lifts the glove carefully into his hands.


Hample, who says he can ask for a baseball in 27 languages, has other strategies.


“When asking a player for a ball, always use a first name,” he said. “Last names are phony and overly formal. You must also be loud, and always say please.”


Hample said it was usually best to hunt for baseballs alone.


“What drives me crazy is when I take someone to a game and they tell me that they are afraid of getting hit by a ball,’’ he said. “I tell them they should be so lucky.”

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