Our most recent post highlighted ball-hawking gone wrong, as one “pro” took a ball off the dome and got bodied by another fan while trying to catch two 9th inning Yankees home-runs. As the internet rained crying Jordan memes on @zack_hample’s face, and ESPN set the events to dramatic music, Hample reacted like a toddler with a skinned knee and waged an all-out internet campaign to “set the record straight”. Just read the above email he sent to Deadspin writer Barry Petchesky explaining himself. It’s longer than most term papers I wrote in college. All because a ballhawker wasn’t happy with what was being said about him on the internet. You know how he could have avoided dropping those two balls and all the negative attention that came with it? By sitting in his seat and watching the game like a normal person.
This link used to lead to a video labeled “Fan drops a pair of home runs minutes apart”, featuring Hample’s failed escapades set to hilarious theme music. It’s gone. I wonder why? Did someone complain and get it removed? I wish it was permanently featured on the homepage of ESPN to point out how ridiculous ballhawking is, and how potentially dangerous it can be. Ballhawking should be banned at all baseball stadiums, everywhere.
Zack Hample got off light with a baseball to the chin and a hip-check by a fan who was in better position to catch the ball. Fans have been seriously injured going for home run or foul balls. Remember the fan who died trying to catch a ball thrown to them by Josh Hamilton back in 2011? While it may have been a freak accident, this is a common practice among ballhawks. Zack Hample outlines this exact practice in his email:
Many of the balls I’ve gotten would not have ended up in anyone’s hands if not for me. Many were tossed up by players who would have thrown those balls back to the BP bucket in center field had I not been there with a polite and/or clever line to get their attention…
It’s one thing if a home run or foul ball lands in the vicinity of your seat, but it’s pretty clear hawking for balls can be dangerous. While Hample claims he is a “careful” ballhawk (some claims on the internet beg to differ), not all ballhawks are as polite. Check out this video from 2013 when a ballhawk assaulted a 16-year-old kid just to get their hands on a home run ball:
It’s time to stop the madness. Ballhawks are not only a danger to fans around them, they’re dangers to themselves. Zack Hample was still reeling from his ballhawking-related injuries several days after the fact. What if the fan who “body-slammed” him had done permanent damage?
I think it’s in the best interest of the fans and ballhawks themselves that the practice be outlawed at all stadiums. Patrons should be required to sit in their seats while the game is in play. This way, more fans get the “souvenirs” that balls hit out of play provide, and fewer people get body-slammed.