Injury/travel/charity update

My ankle is in BAD shape, and for that matter, so are my legs. Check it out:

(Pretty, huh?)

Every one of those scrapes and bruises came from major league stadiums. See the small dark scab six inches above my right ankle? That’s a result of slamming into a seat on 5/26/11 at Rogers Centre. See the near-matching scrapes on both of my shins? I got those by diving over the tarp for a foul ball on 6/2/11 at Citi Field. And so on.

Attempting to snag 1,000 baseballs in one season requires an all-out effort. That’s all I can say. And now, unfortunately, that effort is going to take a serious hit because of my ankle (and my general stupidity).

Four days from now, I’m flying to Denver for a four-game series (June  9-12) against the Dodgers. After that, I’ll be in Seattle for three games (June 13-15) against the Angels. Then I’ll be spending a long weekend in Portland, Oregon with an old friend, and from there I’ll be flying to Boston for two games (June 20-21) against the Padres.

How is that going to work with a severely sprained ankle? I have no idea. I might still be on crutches, and even if I’m not, I probably won’t be able to run. Conveniently, at Coors Field, I’m going to have tickets in a “handicapped” section, so look for me on TV. I’ll be sitting in the very front row/aisle behind the outfield wall in left-center field. I’m excited. Both lefties and righties can hit balls there, and it’s one of the best spots in baseball to snag a ground-rule double. In Seattle, my goal will simply be to snag a commemorative ball from the Angels (and, ankle permitting, to explore the stadium). And in Boston? Heath Bell, baby. I haven’t seen him since last year, so I’m hoping to flag him down for a bit and catch up.

Finally, I want to give an update about Pitch In For Baseball and my charity fundraiser. You all know about the horrific tornado that ripped through Joplin, Missouri two weeks ago, right? Well, Pitch In For Baseball is already helping kids in that community, and there’s a huge article about it on Here’s a screen shot of the first part of the article…

…and here’s the link in case you want to read the whole thing.

This is just one example of the many wonderful things that Pitch In For Baseball is doing, and it’s why I’ve been raising money for them since 2009. For those who may not know, I’ve been getting people to pledge money for every baseball that I snag at major league games — anywhere from a penny per ball up to 50 cents or a dollar, or whatever. That money really adds up over the course of the season, and it all goes directly to Pitch In For Baseball. None of it ever enters my possession. I’m just the middle man, so at the end of each season, I send donors to the PIFB website, where they can make a secure/tax-dedictible payment with their credit cards. So far this season, there are 48 people who have made pledges to this charity through my site. If you add up all these pledges, it equals $6.94 cents per ball. That means that if I snag 10 balls at my next game (including batting practice), I will have raised an additional $69.40 for Pitch In For Baseball. See how it works? So far this season, I’ve snagged 386 balls and raised more than $2,600. Making a pledge is really easy. Click here to go directly to the “pledge submission form.” You can fill it out in 30 seconds or less, guaranteed. Or, if you have a bit more time, click here for more info about how the whole thing works. Big thanks to all of you who’ve donated — and to the rest of you who’ve given moral support. It all helps.

I’m happy to say that my fundraiser has inspired several other ballhawks to start their own. Two years ago, for example, John Witt snagged baseballs for MADD, and this season, Zac Weiss is raising money for The Children’s Institute. Follow him on Twitter (@wewill1992) and consider supporting his cause as well. Great stuff all around.


I just unwrapped my ankle. Ready for it?

Yes, that purple thing is a bruise. Hoo-boy…



    The scrapes and bruises on your legs are just like the marks on the baseballs you snag. Each individual mark tells a story. Ex: “This black mark on the ball is from (insert players name here) bat.” “This scrape on the ball is where the (insert players name here) home run hit the concrete before I snagged it.” Etc……. SO COOL!!!!
    I hope your ankle gets better soon, so you don’t have to do your snagging in Denver in one of those power chairs like you see on T.V.

  2. Brad

    Ugh i wish i would be in town for the seattle game. I would’ve liked to meet you. Oh well have fun. Safeco is an awesome stadium.

    Are you going to the all star game on July 12. I might be going.

  3. Brad

    Well, at least scars usually have better stories than tattoos. Anyway, what are you eventually going to do with all the balls you collect?

  4. David

    As someone who has dealt with my fair share of ankle issues, I can relate. It’s really painful and inconvenient. Truthfully, considering how much gusto you go after balls with, I’m surprised at how relatively few major injuries you’ve had. Of course, I’m saying this with my belief that if I went all out like you, I’d be a mummy.

    Any plans on playing the sympathy/disabled card at your next few games? I’m actually a little surprised you didn’t try that at the last game, considering you even had a wheelchair;)

  5. Big Glove Bob

    Get well soon Zack. I just got back from KC. I love that place. I really didn’t ballhawk at all because of the heat. I even left the big glove back at my room. KC and Minnesota are a couple of bad baseball teams, but watching them play at the great K is always fun. I heard you may try to get there in September? If so, I may have to look into getting down there.

    Big Glove Bob

  6. Zack Hample

    Ha, good point about each one telling a story.

    Woulda been cool to meet you too, but I’m sure we’ll make it happen someday. Not sure yet about the All-Star Game. I’d love to, but it’s really expensive.

    Yeah. Thanks.

    Not sure. I really like owning them, so there’s nothing more that I feel I need to do than that. Maybe…play in them with my kids someday? That’d be pretty damn fun.

    Nah, c’mon. But I’m not gonna have a car.

    Sympathy card? Yes, absolutely. I’m hoping that the crutches will get me a couple toss-ups during BP on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.

    Kauffman Stadium is truly an incredible place, and yeah, I’m planning to be there this season, though I’m not yet sure when, and it’ll probably only be for one or two games.

  7. Shane T.

    Tough break, Zack — or should I say “Tough sprain?” I had a similar injury a few years ago, though much worse judging by the bruising. (I was told at the time that it would have been less painful for me to break my ankle rather than sprain it that badly. I can believe them.) This means I can impart a bit of hard-earned wisdom.
    1. Rehab. Find a webpage online that gives you exercises to do to rehabilitate your ankle. You don’t want to be permanently 80-90 percent on that thing, especially considering your chosen avocation. It hurts, but it’s worth it.
    2. If you have any kind of lingering pain problems, I can strongly recommend glucosamine sulfate tablets. It’s OTC (the only possible problem is if you have shellfish allergies) and not that pricey, $15 a bottle at worst. I had it suggested to me three months after I wrecked my ankle, when I was still in pain and was using a cane to get around at a convention. Within one month (I was told to give it two or three), I was effectively pain-free. It’s not cortisone, but if you’ve got to play hurt on a bum joint, this could really be the ticket.
    Good luck getting off the DL, and I’ll be looking for you on MLB Network tomorrow night.

  8. Zack Hample

    Thanks for all the advice. Really appreciate it.

    Truly awesome. But I think I’ll stick with a glove.

    Nah, I figured I’d get at least one ball, and as it turned out, I snagged a bunch.

  9. kyle skoog

    I am planning to go to a Twins game on friday. i have a few questions. How can i figure out when the ballpark opens? Another question is; if you have seats in the upper deck, can i go to the lower level for BP?
    -Kyle S.

  10. mlblogstwibnotes

    Caught you at the Sox/Yanks game last night on the MLB Network. Good to see you still out there.
    Gates at Target Field open 2 hours before gametime Fri-Sun(About 5pm for Friday). Yes, you can go to the lower level for BP. Enjoy the game and best of luck snagging.

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