First of all, click here to see Elliott Kalb’s new article about ball-snagging.
Secondly, gosh darnit. My Sporting News Radio interview apparently wasn’t anywhere to be found or heard in NYC. Sorry about that. I could’ve sworn it was going to be on, but my dad just told me that 620AM was broadcasting in Bulgarian or something. (I do know how to ask for a ball in Bulgarian, by the way. It sounds like this: “BEE-lee-me po-dal TOPE ka-ta.”) My radio is old and crusty. I can’t always tell what station is what. Yesterday, I went online and found a list of NYC radio stations, which seemed accurate, so I figured it was right about Sporting News Radio.
Well, anyway, the weirdest thing happened this morning. I was scheduled to be interviewed at 8:45am, but my phone rang two and a half hours earlier (after I’d been asleep for 75 minutes). My caller ID said “Galaxy Communications.” It was a couple of radio guys. I was completely confused and disoriented, you know, in that special way when the phone rings and you think it’s your alarm. They asked me something about Sporting News Radio. I forget what. Something about hearing that I’d been on it.
“I thought THIS was Sporting News Radio,” I said.
“Nope,” said a peppy voice, “This is Bill and Keith (or whatever their names were) from the morning show on WXQR (or whatever the call letters were) in Ottawa (or whatever the city was).”
“Did we catch you at a good time? Were you already up and about?”
“No, but whatever.”
“Well we’d like to talk to you on the air for a few minutes if that’s okay with you.”
“Hold on. We’re going on in just a minute. (LONG PAUSE) We have a very special guest with us this morning, a fellow by the name of Zack Hample who’s collected over 2,500 baseballs…”
And so on. It was a great interview. Nice guys. Good questions. They made fun of the fact that I’m single. That’s original. (I tried to tell them that I actually do okay in that department, but they didn’t want to hear it.) We talked more baseball. I told them some stories and strategies. I taught them how to ask for a ball in Japanese. They thanked me (in English), then hung up.
My mouth was a bit dry. I had a gulp of water. Used the bathroom. Checked my e-mail. Nothing from Sporting News Radio. Checked my voice-mail. Nothing at all. Very strange. I called the 800 number that the producer e-mailed me the day before. I had to identify myself before they’d put me through.
“Hey, Zack, what’s up?”
“Hey, Dustin…was that the interview?”
“Was what the interview?” he replied.
I told him I’d just gotten a call from some radio station in Canada.
“Not us,” he said. “You’re just exploding all over the Internet.”
“Did you give anyone my phone number?”
“No, I’d never share your information with anybody.”
“So we’re still on for–“
“8:45am. We’ll give you a call a couple minutes beforehand.”
“Okay, sorry to bother you,” I said and went back to sleep for an hour and a half. Then the phone rang. Then I was on. I timed it. Seven and a half minutes. Didn’t bother asking for a tape. I have dozens of tapes. I never listen to them.
I’m not sure if this was a national interview, but I know that it aired in Chicago. That’s where Sporting News Radio is based, and I heard some Derrek Lee home run highlight before the interview began.
And that’s, like, it.
I’m still befuddled by the earlier call, one of my life’s many unsolved mysteries.
(How I ended up like this is another.)
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to sleep. In two hours, my dad and I are driving to Philadelphia to see the Mets at Citizens Bank Park. He and I haven’t been to a game together in almost two years. I’m excited.