Charity, family, library, documentary

If you’ve read my blog at all since 2009, then you know that I’ve been raising money for a children’s baseball charity called Pitch In For Baseball — and if you’ve been reading it for the past few weeks, then you know that I’m being filmed for a Korean documentary.


Well, two days ago, I drove down to the Pitch In For Baseball warehouse (located in Harleysville, PA) to meet the filmmaker and show the place to my family. I’d been there once before, but they’d never seen it. Here I am with everyone just before the tour/filming got underway:

In the photo above, from right to left, you’re looking at…

1) me
2) Jona
3) my mother Naomi
4) my half-brother Henry
5) a Pitch In For Baseball employee named Tom
6) the filmmaker named James

From afar, the crates and boxes might not look like much…

…but they’re all filled with various pieces of baseball and softball equipment that are getting ready to be shipped out to communities all over the world.

Halfway through the brief tour, Tom and I worked together to pack up a box with gloves and uniform pants and a few other items:

Then I lugged it to the front entrance:

Tom didn’t exactly need help, but James wanted to get some footage of me doing something other than standing around. (Yes, even “reality” TV is often staged.)

Here’s a photo that actually shows some of the equipment:

That’s a lot of bats, and they’re all organized by size.

Here are some softballs:

One of the best things about being in a warehouse filled with baseball equipment is the opportunity to play with stuff. Here I am “jousting” with Jona…

…and here we are ready for game action:

I would’ve stayed at the warehouse for hours, but I had a busy schedule of events ahead of me.

First, there was a big family dinner in Philadelphia. Take a look at the following photo, and then I’ll identify everyone:

Here goes…

1) James, the Korean filmmaker, who got lots of footage during the meal
2) my mom
3) my 90-year-old aunt Barbara (my dad’s sister)
4) Henry
5) my first cousin Cathy
6) my “first cousin once removed” Corinne
7) me
8) my cousin Doug (father of Corinne)
9) Stephanie, the girlfriend of…
10) Scott, another “first cousin once removed”
11) Scott’s father Steve
12) Jona

I had to rush out of the restaurant at 6:45pm to make it to Free Library of Philadelphia. Here’s why:

I was scheduled to give a 20-minute talk about my new book, The Baseball, and then sign copies.

Here’s a table of books in the lobby:

The book on the left is called Campy. It’s a biography about Roy Campanella. The author, Neil Lanctot, was also going to be giving a talk and doing a signing. I’d never met him before, and he turned out to be a really great guy — and not surprisingly, he knows a LOT about baseball.

If you look closely at the photo above, you can see copies of The Baseball as well as my previous book, Watching Baseball Smarter. See the sign on the right side of the table? There were several others placed in key spots around the library, including on the outside of the door to the auditorium, where Neil and I would soon be speaking. Check it out:

Here’s a look at the auditorium:

The Phillies-Giants game was being projected onto a large screen at the front, and hey, don’t judge me on the size (or rather lack) of a crowd in the photo above. It was still early, so most of the seats weren’t yet filled. The room never did get packed, but I’d say there were about 75 people. There would’ve been a lot more if the host of the NPR affiliate that I was going to do an interview with earlier in the day hadn’t been called for federal jury duty.

While I settled in at the front of the room, James positioned his camera at the back:

Jona took all these photos, but she didn’t take any while I was actually speaking.

Why not?

“Because I didn’t want to distract you,” she told me later.

That was thoughtful of her, but I still wish she’d taken a few. (I’m always happy when photos are being taken.) She did, however, get a photo of the stage where it all went down:

I gave my speech at the podium on the left. Then, after Neil followed me with a speech of his own, we sat next to each other on the chairs and took questions from the audience.

The actual signing took place in the lobby. Here I am next to Neil. I’m wearing a light pink shirt, which I’d changed into after dinner:

Here’s another photo of the book signing. The woman leaning over the table next to me is my aunt Barbara:

Barbara lives in Pennsylvania, as do several of my relatives who came out for this event. I don’t see her nearly enough, so it was great to catch up for a bit. Here’s a closer look at us:

My dad used to make fun of her for looking like George Washington. (Some of us still do. Barbara just laughs it off.) He used to ask people if they wanted to see a picture of her, and when they said yes, he’d reach for his wallet and pull out a one-dollar bill. Truly hilarious. And unapologetically offensive. THAT was my dad, and I miss him like hell.

Here’s a close-up of me signing a book:

Several people who attended this event told me that they’d found out about it because my Mike Trout home run catch. Word spreads fast, evidently.

As the event was winding down, I posed for a photo with Neil:

In the photo above, the black thing poking out of my shirt is a microphone. This documentary seems to be the real deal, and as soon as James gets permission from MLB to film me inside major league stadiums, we’re going to hit up several games together.

Toward the end of the evening, I was asked to sign a poster-sized cover of The Baseball:

In the photo above, the gentleman standing across the table from me is Andy Kahan, the director of author events at the Library. He and I had worked together several years earlier when I was there for Watching Baseball Smarter.

Just before I headed out, one of the folks who’d attended the event showed me something cool about my first book, How to Snag Major League Baseballs. In the following photo, do you see the book called The Disciple Making Church?

Well, check out that book’s bibliography:

My first book is listed there!

Unfortunately my name is spelled wrong, and the year of publication is off, but that just adds to the random awesomeness of it. I asked the guy who showed it to me why my baseball book was referenced in a religious book. He said that the author made a point along the lines of, “If people were as passionate about God as Zack Hample is about catching baseballs, the world would be a better place.” Or something like that.

Good times in Pennsylvania. Thanks to everyone who attended.


  1. Leigh

    You are going to be HUGE in South Korea! If you’re lucky….even North Korea! You’ll be like Randy Bass was in Japan. Are you going to hook us up with DVD’s?

  2. Dylan

    I’ve been thinking about this. You said in The Baseball that there is no ballhawk scorecard and that Guiness doesn’t care about baseballs. Well, why don’t you contact Guiness and have them come to your apartment and tell them you hold the world record for “Most Baseballs Snagged At Major League Games”?

  3. Zack Hample

    Very cool blog post. Thanks for that. But as for “How to Snag Major League Baseballs,” don’t be jealous. That book is terrible. My new book (“The Baseball”) has all the how-to-snag info in it, and it’s 100 times better. As for Guinness World Records, just because they SEE all my baseballs doesn’t mean anything. They could (and would) claim that I simply went to a store and bought them all, so it would be my job to prove how and where I got them all. Obviously, there’s no way I could do that, unless they accept lie-detector results as proof.

    Haha, I hope so. That’d be hilarious. Maybe they’ll fly me over for the world premiere, and I’ll come back to the States with boxes full of DVDs.

    Wow and a half.


  4. Dylan

    I agree with what Leigh said. Even though you say How To Snag Major League Baseballs sucks it is all I need to complete your book series.

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