Original “how to snag” photo

As I mentioned three days ago on Twitter, I recently found a TON of old photos that I’d never seen before (or that I simply didn’t remember). I’m still in the process of combing through them and scanning them, and there’s one that I have to share immediately:

That’s the original photo that was used for the cover of my first book, How to Snag Major League Baseballs. Check it out:

That photo wasn’t supposed to be THE photo. The story (which has never been told until now) goes as follows . . .

My publisher (Aladdin Paperbacks, an imprint of Simon & Schuster) initially came up with a design for the cover, which, to put it mildly, I didn’t particularly care for. Here’s what they showed me:

Note that the title of the book was different at that point (and while you’re at it, note the 318 different fonts — ouch).

Anyway, when I saw that cover and showed it to my dad, he was like, “Oy gevalt! It’s all wrong. YOU should be on the cover,” and I was like, “Meeee?!” and he was like, “Yeah, YOU. You’re so young that other kids will relate to you. It’d be great for the book.”

(I was 19 when I wrote the book, 20 when the cover photo was taken, and 21 when it was published.)

So yeah, he took a bunch of photos of me with my baseballs, including this one in the hallway just outside my bedroom:

Several days later, my dad and I picked the best photos and sent them to my editor, who passed them along to the art department. I simply wanted the publisher to see how cool it’d look to have hundreds of balls on the cover. I hoped they’d say, “Yeah, okay, you’re right, that’s very cool. When are you free to pose with the balls for a professional photographer?” but instead they were like, “These are great. We’re gonna use the photo of you with the barrel,” and I was like, “Umm, I look like an idiot in that photo, and I’m all hunched over, and could you at least photoshop out my chest hair . . . ?”

. . . and they were like, “Sure, we’ll look into that.”


(To hell with math and science and history and philosophy; “Manscaping 101” should be a requirement for all college freshmen, although I’m not sure how the final exam would go.)

By the way, did you notice the little photo of me (wearing the “Baseball is Life” shirt) on the test cover? Here’s the original photo . . .

. . . which was taken (by my dad) for this article in Inside Sports, which was written about me when I snagged my 1,000th ball. That article prompted Men’s Health to get in touch with me. They then paid me (two hundred and fifty bucks!) to contribute to this article, which simply referred to me as “Zack, a freshman at Guilford College in North Carolina.” My dad was so pissed off about my last name being omitted that he suggested that I write my own damn book about snagging baseballs. Funny how things work out.

Finally, if you don’t own a copy of How to Snag Major League Baseballs and you’re now suddenly thinking of buying it . . . DON’T!!! Not only is it a terrible book, but it’s out of print, so the few second-hand copies that are floating around out there tend to be insanely expensive. If you want to spend a few bucks on something that’ll teach you how to snag, check out my new book, which is called The Baseball. The final third is called “How to Snag Major League Baseballs,” and that part is longer than my entire first book.


  1. Skim

    I started a tradition last year of going to Barnes & Noble booksellers and getting books during Christmas vacation. I hope I can find “The Baseball” there.

  2. Warren Laufer

    The only book I brought with me to college. I was hoping to get you to sign it when you were in Oakland. Oh well. Besides Harry Potter, it is the book I have read the most times. Completely worn out (well-loved).

  3. matias

    i have a collection of tampa bay shirts from when they were champions in 1997. how much do you think i can sell them for? (if you know) please and thank you
    if you know please email me at.. nibaje3184@aol.com

  4. mlblogsbigglovebob

    Happy Thanksgiving Z-Man. I expect a photo of the plates full of chow I am sure you scarfed down. Hope you are getting some rest after your epic season. I am still so fricking glad I got to go to the World Series game 6. The only problem is, I could go to 1,000 more WS games (actually I couldn’t due to the fact people don’t live to be 175 years old) and never see a game that good.

    Big Glove Bob

  5. hooksfan

    We had a street yard sale this year and I actually decided to see how many of the baseballs that I have gotten over the past two seasons that I could sell minus my HR ball’s, balls from different minor leagues and two commerative balls. One of the commerative balls is from Target Field and I cannot make out what the other one is. I happened to sell all of those balls and pocketed nearly $100. A guy happened to drive by and little did I know it that he was a coach for our local high school baseball team. Considering what they buy a dozen new balls for, they got themselves a real bargain.

  6. Zack Hample


    I hope so too. If you can’t, tell someone who works there to order it for you.

    That’s awesome to hear. I’ve actually never read any of the Harry Potters. I hear they’re pretty good.


    You too.

    Sorry, but I have no idea about the shirt market.

    Eh, I just haven’t had much motivation to blog lately. I’ve been busy with other stuff. But you’re right about scarfing down food. I was borderline sick after that meal.

    Not so fast. I’m trying (as usual) to make the most of my “off” season.

    Damn, that’s a nice chunk o’ change.

  7. hooksfan

    Zack, the sale of those baseball’s accounted for 75% of what we made at our garage sale and I now have an empty grey plastic garbage can that is waiting for future deposits. Well it’s almost empty I did deposit two balls from the AFL. I ran into Danny and Nettie while I was out in Phoenix…a very nice couple.

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