Book update No. 4 — famous fans

In case you haven’t heard, I’m working on a new book about baseballs.

It’s scheduled to be published in March 2011.
The first draft is due in March 2010.
(I still don’t know what to call it.)
It’s supposed to be about 60,000 words.
My current word count is a little over 37,000.
(That’s 132 pages double-spaced.)
I’ve made progress since my last update, but I still have a long way to go.

Right now I’m trying to come up with a list of fans who’ve been featured in the news for making one great/memorable catch, or perhaps several catches (of foul balls or homers) in one game. I’m not quite sure how this will fit into the book. It’ll all depend on how many examples I can come up with, so I’m hoping you can help me think of some. Here’s are a few examples…

doug_rohrkaste.jpg1) C.J. Ramsey, the 12-year-old kid who caught two foul balls hit by Josh Hamilton during one at bat this year in Arlington.

2) Doug Rohrkaste, the Pirates fan who caught three foul balls in a 15-minute span in 2005.

3) Nick Yohanek, my friend and fellow ballhawk from Milwaukee, who made a diving catch on a home run ball during Spring Training and saved a sexy sunbather in the process.

4) Steve Monforto, the father from Philadelphia whose three-year-old daughter took his foul ball and chucked it over the railing.

5) Larry Quesenberry, the fan in Cleveland who caught two home runs in one inning.

6) Danny Vinik, the teenager at Fenway Park who became a hometown hero after robbing Angels catcher Jeff Mathis of a pop-foul during the playoffs in 2007.

Get the idea? If you can come up with more examples, please let me know. It would be a big help. (I just found this “article” about another guy who supposedly caught three foul balls in one game, although there’s hardly any info, so I’m wondering if the story is even legit.)

Yes, I’m updating my update. Thank you all for the suggestions, and please keep them coming. I’m going to include stuff in the book about milestone home run balls, but that’s not what I’m looking for here. Right now, I’m specifically looking for fans who received media attention when it wasn’t planned or expected. In other words, with Barry Bonds’ 756th home run, everyone knew beforehand that the fan who snagged it would become an instant celebrity (and potentially an instant millionaire, too). To some extent, the same was true for Bonds’ 660th and 661st home runs, but since they were retrieved by the same kayaker in McCovey Cove, it became a much bigger story, so I think that’ll qualify. See what I mean? I’m trying to come up with more examples of fans who created their own story by doing something unusual or spectacular. FYI, I didn’t include guys like Steve Bartman and Jeffrey Maier on this list because a) neither of them caught the ball and b) it was fan interference. Danny Vinik made the list because he didn’t “interfere.” Mathis had tried to reach into the stands to make the catch; Vinik simply reached above Mathis’s glove and caught the ball.


  1. dennisox

    Zack, the book is sounding better every update!

    During a 2006 White Sox game I saw a guy catch two foul balls and nearly a third that the guy next to him caught in the same inning. The balls came right to them behind home.

    Cheers, Dennis


    Jeffrey Maier: the kid that caught jeter’s controversial homer in the world series.

    Steve Bartman: the infamous cubby killer, haha

    just a few i thought of

  3. zackhample

    Thanks! But just so you know, the whole book isn’t going to focus on ballhawks. There’s a ton of info about the ball itself and the sport itself, so I think it’s gonna end up being a pretty well-rounded book. I hope so, at least. Cool foul ball story, BTW. If you can think of the guy’s name, let me know.

    Thanks for weighing in here, but neither of those guys actually caught the ball. Maier is often given credit for a “catch” when all he really did was reach over the wall and deflect the ball back into the stands. Maier and Bartman are both book-worthy (so you’re absolutely right to bring them up), but it’s not quite what I’m looking for here.

  4. cubbies1945

    The 12 Year old girl who randomly caught Ryan Howard’s 200th Career Home Run Ball. She gave the ball back at the time. (After being invited into the Phillies clubhouse, getting another ball signed by the whole team, and chatting with the players.) She, it sounds more like her parents, sued Ryan Howard for possession of the ball in early November. (They are clearly trying to get the ball to sell it off. Their lawyer argues that she didn’t know the value of the ball in $ or signifigance of his career totals.) Hopefully Ryan Howard will win and prevent these greedy pigs from getting a ball that means so much to Ryan Howard and simply selling it off.

  5. zackhample

    The Ryan Howard story will almost definitely make it into the book — and I thank you for bringing it up here — but it’s not the type of ball-snagging accomplishment that I’m specifically looking for here.

    I’m gonna have a whole section about Bartman in the book. Don’t worry. :-)


    Larry Ellison, the guy who caught Barry Bonds’ home run that tied him with Willy Mays on the all time home run list. He exchanged the ball with Bonds for a jersey or something, and then the next day, he caught Bonds’ next home run which put him past Willy Mays.

  7. bigappleblogger

    didnt your miluakee brewers friend have like, 42 home run balls? thats kind of impressive. Also, the guy who you met at the 2007 allstar game from colorado? How many home runs does he have?

  8. Howie

    I assume you will be including yourself in that section with the yankee stadium fiasco from last year. correct?


  9. zackhample

    Yes! Larry Ellison. He should be on the list. I didn’t think of him because his accomplishment was spread out over two days. Thanks. I remember that now.

    Good point.

    Yeah, Nick (aka “The Happy Youngster”) has lots of game homers. He’s up to 50, I think. The guy in Colorado (named Dan) has even more than that. He once caught two homers in one inning, and I have that covered elsewhere in the book. Thanks.

    Not sure. I’m trying to leave myself out of the book as much as possible.

  10. baller98

    “Jay Didion is an Oakland A’s baseball fan who achieved the rare feat of catching three home run baseballs in Game 3 of the 1988 American League Championship series. The home runs were hit by Mark McGwire, Carney Lansford and Dave Henderson of the Oakland A’s. ”

  11. bloggingboutbaseball

    Hi, Zack. That article stub you’re referencing happened at Angel Stadium and the middle photo (of the guy, John Paradise, with the three kids to whom he gave the baseballs) looks like it was taken on the patio outside the Diamond Club Lounge. A ton of foul balls go into that section right behind home plate because the two decks higher up (View and Club Levels) don’t jut out at all. A ton of baseballs end up in that area at each game so there’s a chance the story is legit and worth following up on. I believe it. Good luck–I’m looking forward to the new book.

  12. zackhample

    Thank you for the suggestion. I’ve already written a whole section (about 2 or 3 pages) on Bonds’ home run balls.

    Wow! At a playoff game?! Is there any other info on this guy? If that’s the ONLY record of it — just one teeny blurb — I don’t think I can use it.

    Awesome. I hadn’t heard about that one.

    Thanks. Yeah, I also noticed that the photo was taken behind the plate. I’m gonna try to follow up on it…

  13. paintingtheblack

    And if you go to right now, the guy who mentioned Didion is the featured columnist, and he says that he’s known Didion since the early 90’s.


    The guy in Houston who caught two hr balls in one ALCS game or something like that.
    I think it was in like 04 or 05

  15. zackhample

    Thanks. That was really helpful. I’m gonna try to track him down, or at least get more info on him from people who know him.

    Yes! Shaun Dean! How could I have forgotten? I wrote a whole blog entry about him in ’05 when it happened. Thank you very much for the reminder.

  16. figgi4

    Wasn’t there that one fan who caught a foul ball this year with one hand while he held his baby in another? And there’s no info about it online, but I’ve seen a ball caught in a bassinete…


    Maybe you could include something about how the tradition of keeping balls that go into the stands started. I forget the exact details, but could find them for you if you would like. I read about this in a book at my school’s library. It happened like this. During a game, a foul ball was hit into the stands and caught by a fan. The standard routine was to throw balls back, but the fan refused. The team sued the recipient of the ball, but the guy who caught it won the case. Every time after that, the fans kept the balls in the stands. If you would like, I could find the details about this, or even find the title and pages of the book in which it tells of this. Can’t wait to get your next book!

  18. mike58

    There was one story early in the season where a fan caught a home run in San Diego against the Reds, then he gave it to his young child who then threw it right back on the field. It was on the news in Cincinnati and there was a couple articles about it, if I find it I’ll comment again.

    Another thing you could write about is how it’s common to throw home run balls back when it’s hit by an opposing team, if you haven’t already that is.

  19. zackhample

    I don’t think I’m gonna have time to deal with my stats this year. I don’t know…maybe. On top of everything else, I have jury duty this week. My brain is fried.

    You mean Steve Bartman?

    Yep, I remember the baby catch, but did that get any major news coverage? I’ll have to investigate. Thanks.

    I’m going to have a lot of info about that. Thanks for the offer to help, but I’m actually all set with that part of the book for now. (FYI, it was the fan who sued the team. They ejected him when he refused to return the ball, so he sued for mental anguish — and won. But he wasn’t even the first fan to keep a ball. He was merely the first fan who made bigtime headlines by doing so. The Yankees are actually involved in another part of the story, and let’s just say, things were the same back then as they are now.)

    Thank you. I’m going to cover that topic as well. Haven’t gotten to it yet.

  20. padreleigh

    Didn’t Dan in Denver catch two homers in the same inning? I think he has proof from the Commissioner’s Office in the way of a letter.



    Z- how about the Braves employee who caught the milestone ball by Hank Aaron. They asked him to give it back and/or pay for it. He refused and then they fired him. Can;t recall a name or anything. Hope this helps. Dan-

  22. zackhample

    I already have the whole story on that guy in a separate section of snagging-related controversies. BUT…thanks for mentioning him. I’ve missed some other obvious stories, so I’m always glad to get suggestions/reminders.


    Zack – love the site and would love to find a copy of your first books (in particular, Watching Baseball Smarter – any hints where to find a copy?).

    I don’t know if this has been mentioned before but what about your friend Yohanek’s run-in with Chris Coghlan after catching the ROY’s first career homer? I remember the story recounting the whole event on his personal blog and I thought I remembered seeing something about it elsewhere.

    Also, not sure if you’re including celebrities at all but Doug Flutie has caught a foul ball each of the last three or four times he’s been at Fenway Park. They always seem to show it on the local news when he goes to the games because he always seems to be in the right spot at the right time to catch one.

    Keep up the great work on the site and good luck with the new book.

  24. zackhample

    If you do a search for the title on Amazon, it should pop right up. Thanks for the suggestions on Coghlan and Flutie. I have notes on those guys, but I actually can’t find the details on Flutie. I even tried contacting him directly…and couldn’t get past his assistant.

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