Sporting News Radio: the interview

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).”


(I’m paraphrasing.)

“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.



    Wow, what a day already. Have fun with Dad, sounds like a great time for you.

    Mr. Kalb managed to spell both your names wrong in the course of the piece. That’s talent. It was entertaining, if condescending.

    Have a good ‘un… and I’ll stand where ya told me, but I ain’t beggin’. Might yell if I see Wang in the vicinity, though. ;)


    Oh no Zack, you’re going to the same game I’ll be at. Guess that means no balls for me…oh well, should be a good time anyway. Any advice on where to stand at Citizen’s Bank Park(other than where you will be standing snagging all the balls)?


    Zack… I told ya you shoulda gone with me. I told you it would be a ‘classic’ game.

    But I know you had a great time anywho.


    Hey Zack, I had a milestone game yesterday-10 balls. I attended the Texas League All-Star game near my home. I got there early, gates opened at 5, we were waiting at 4:30. Nobody else was, I guess people didn’t check on the gate time for the All Star game. Well, the guys were taking BP before the gates opened, and since it was an All Star game, they were trying to impress everyone. I got 3 balls that flew out of the stadium before the gates even opened. Then, a player on the field saw us waiting outside the gates, and chucked one at us without me even asking! Once we got in, there were very few people, I got 5 total during BP, including one on the fly. Then they did a homerun derby, where I got smart and waited outside the stadium (too many people then), and got one. Then at the end of it all, I got the home plate ump to give me number 10 for the night. They were using clean and new baseballs for the game, so 2 of my snags are balls worthy of getting signed. Sweet, huh?

    I got 2 at Citizens Bank the other day, I got 2 Rangers to throw me balls. It’s a short porch out there, I suppose a lot were flying out.

  5. Zack

    Ohhhhhh, Jeets. I wish I’d been at Yankee Stadium with you. You were absolutely right. I can’t believe I missed a 13-run inning. That must have been UNbelievable. No baseballs for you?

    Mkochka, sorry I wasn’t able to write back in time with some tips, but it looks like it didn’t matter. How’d you get the ball? You must’ve either gotten lucky or done something really smart (or both) because it was SERIOUSLY crowded.

    Drosenda, that’s awesome. I wish all the fans in Philadelphia forgot to check what time the gates opened at Citizens Bank Park. Very smart of you to go back outside the ballpark for the Derby. I’ve never been to one, and I’ve often thought about what my strategy would be. I’ve only gotten one ball from an ump, so we’re tied in that category. :-)


    I was able to get the ball basically by asking politely and being in the right place at the right time. I went down to the area of the stands behind center field (where the Geno’s cheesesteaks stand is) and I noticed an opening along the railing by the bulpen. Braden Looper was standing around when I asked him for a ball. I was wearing all of my Mets gear and he easily spotted me. He tossed me the ball, but it handcuffed me (I was expecting a harder throw) and dropped down into a flower patch right on the other side of the railing. I was so dissapointed because I thought I might have lost the ball, but I was able to do a balancing act on the railing and reach over with my feet in the air and scoop up the ball out of the flowers. Score. This was only my second ball ever. Next time I won’t miss BP.

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