On June 19, two days before the end of the summer, Alex Rodriguez got his 3,000th hit, a home run at that. I wouldn't really care about this enough to be writing about now, if it weren't caught in the stands by Zack Hample, the A-Rod of snagging baseballs in the stands.
The night it happened I became fascinated by both the instant and intense hatred of many Yankee faithful for Hample (Bald Vinny of the Bleacher Creatures famously said that night, "nobody worse could've gotten that home run ball than that fucking guy") and the fact that he'd already caught over 8,000 baseballs at major league games before catching the A-Rod ball, so I decided to try to get ahold of him via email. Thus began a series of dates with Zack Hample - brunch, hanging out in his apartment, going to a game with him, meditating on the baseball as metaphor, and generally keeping up with him as he negotiated a deal with the Yankees to give them the A-Rod ball in exchange for a $150,000 donation to his favorite charity, Pitch in for Baseball.
Hample is an interesting, likable guy who also has written three books, holds the all-time scoring record for Arkanoid, and is a competitive Scrabbler. I began writing about him, which developed into the first essay I wrote for my collection on misfits and outsiders. It'll be published on The Weeklings, where I published my Royals essay earlier this year, hopefully within the next month.