I’m being sponsored!

Several weeks ago, I received one of the best/random-est emails of all time. Check it out:

bigs_logoFROM: Neal Stewart
SUBJECT: BIGS Sunflower Seeds – Potential Sponsorship
DATE: March 12, 2013 9:50:10 AM EDT
TO: Zack Hample

Hi Zack-

My name is Neal Stewart and I am the Director of Marketing for BIGS Sunflower Seeds. I wanted to see if I could set up a phone call with you to discuss our brand potentially sponsoring you during the upcoming baseball season. You’ve obviously done a great job of getting a ton of publicity for your books already, but we have some ideas and think that we could help you get even more.

If you’re up for a conversation, let me know what works for you.

Thanks, Neal

Long story short: they’re sponsoring me. It’s hard to believe, but it’s really happening. More specifically, they’re planning to send me to all 30 major league stadiums! (They’re also going to help with Part 2 of the helicopter stunt, and we have some other stuff in the works as well.) But I’m not simply going to visit; the folks at BIGS are challenging me to snag a game-used baseball at every single venue, and for every place where I succeed, they’re going to donate $500 to my favorite charity, Pitch In For Baseball.

It’s insane. And awesome. And it’s being called the BIGS Baseball Adventure. The folks at BIGS have even created a special website for this madness, which you can see here. If you click on the site’s link called “The Adventure” and scroll down, you’ll see a calendar with games that I’m planning to attend, including:

bigs_baseball_adventure_logo* April 21st at Angel Stadium
* April 22nd at PETCO Park
* April 23rd at AT&T Park
* April 24th at AT&T Park
* April 25th at Safeco Field
* April 26th at Safeco Field

Yes, I know, it’s gonna be tough to snag game-used balls at every stadium if I’m only at certain stadiums for one day, but keep in mind that (a) I might be able to revisit places later in the season and (b) 3rd-out balls *will* count. Basically, any ball that’s actually used during “live play” counts as long as I’m the first fan to obtain it. In other words, toss-ups during the game are fine, but only from players and coaches (and ballboys, ballgirls, announcers, mascots, groundskeepers, vendors, etc.). I can’t accept balls from other fans — not that I would even want to. I’ve never done that, and I have no intention of starting.

Now, as for Neal . . . he and I have been talking every day, and as it turns out, he’s going to be a key figure in all of this. He’s going to be traveling with me to lots of games, and among other things, he’ll be documenting the action. Check him out on Twitter (@NealStewart) and while you’re at it, follow BIGS Sunflower Seeds (@BIGS_Seeds). They’ll be tweeting lots of updates. And yeah, I’m gonna be receiving *lots* of free seeds any day now. I’ll eat a whole bunch for sure, but I also plan to give some away at games and offer a huge batch as a charity prize at the end of the season.

Stay tuned. It’s going to be a VERY interesting summer . . .


  1. Leigh Barratt

    They should have sponsored one person at each park. Have everyone try to snag as many gamers as they can on the same day. Would get more people involved and all proceeds could go to the same charity. They could have saved a lot of travel money too. #Moneytoburn

  2. John (@MLBallhawk)

    Definitely a very cool thing that they are doing for you and cool that they are going to be putting up a good amount for your charity. I must admit though I find it amusing that now the 3rd out ball will count as a gamer when not to long ago there was an argument as to it not really being a gamer ….. lol …. someone has to give you a hard time!

    One other thing that some of us other Ballhawks might have to have a little conversation with Neal. I’m talking about the part of the press release where he said ” Hample has collected more big league baseballs than anyone and is quite possibly the only person in the world that could be up to the challenge.” …… I will give ya most balls collected ….. but only person up to the challenge?? Not a chance!

    Good luck Zack! It is definitely a cool thing to raise money for Pitch In For Baseball this way!!

  3. Nick Badders

    WOAH! This sounds like A LOT of fun! Considering that Oakland isn’t on the calendar yet, I’m guessing you don’t have a plan yet for when you’ll be at the Coliseum? Make sure to let me know when you do get out here! Anyway, this looks like it will be an absolute blast! I wonder if MLB.com’s Cut4 would be interested. I’m good friends with one of the guys that writes for them, so I will be talking with him about this whole endeavor!


  4. Tony

    Target Field: June 11, eh? Alright! Maybe you’ll have to bring Mateo back out with you. We have a nice little group going at Target Field and would love to welcome you at Gate 34. Feel free to drop me a line as the date comes closer.

    Best of luck! This truly sounds like a ballhawk’s dream come true!

  5. brewfan87

    In response to the other Ben: Milwaukee IS on the schedule, June 8th and 9th to be exact. I’ve already got tickets to both of those games in my 20 game pack. I’ll see you there, Zack!

  6. Garrett Meyer

    Congratulations, Zack. I’m very excited for you. I’m also excited because I think this will shine a good light on ballhawking and give great recognition for it. Good luck!

  7. Mike

    Who hoo! Free sunflower seeds for dropping a ball on Zack. Thell me when you are coming to Boston, I got a lot of tickets, and I’d like to go with you.

  8. Cook & Son

    Pretty cool, Zack. But I’ve been eating David’s sunflower seeds for about 25 years. How are you (or Neal) gonna convince me to make the move to BIGS? You know, the relationship between a baseball guy and his seeds is a sacred relationship.

  9. heyjohn

    z -I saw the BIGS truck out in AZ passing out samples.salted seeds are good for u in the hot sun.replinish lost fluids,gives you energy actually. padres are done already after 2 games.Heath Bell what happened,he never gave up HR s in SD

  10. Tyler Greenwald

    That is really cool!!! Dang, you’re in Minnesota the day before I’ll be going for the series with the Sox.

  11. txrangersfan

    Sounds like one heck of an opportunity Zack. I’ve been trying to get some ideas for dates to go to Arlington this summer so I may have to go watch you in action again on May 3rd when you’ll be in Arlington. Last time (and only time) I’ve been at a game that you were at was Game 4 of the 2011 World Series when I met you there.

    Ironic thing though is I was originally planning on taking a trip in June and the June 8th and June 9th games in Milwaukee I had been looking at going.

  12. James Lee (@esigs)

    Congrats on a great gig! It looks like you’ll be at Camden Yards on 5/9? I already had tickets to that game, so I hope to be able to watch you in action. I specially want to see you interacting with one of your favorite players, Jeremy Guthrie…

  13. Navi

    Congrats Zack, happy for u being sponsored. Zack, how much money do u spend in total on each night at a baseball game?

  14. Zack Hample

    Your nickname should be changed from “Padre Leigh” to “Negative Nancy.” BIGS wants to do something that will last all season and build steam, and they like the idea of helping me break records. If everyone were snagging baseballs on the same day, that’d be cool, but it wouldn’t be a record, and the whole thing would be done in the blink of an eye.

    I hear ya. For my own personal stats, I won’t count 3rd-out balls as “gamers,” but for the purpose of doing the 30-stadium challenge and raising money for charity, then why not? As for the “only person” line in the press release, c’mon now. You can’t have it both ways. You’ve made fun of me in the past for getting so many toss-ups, so now that it’s going to be crucial to my success . . .

    Thanks. Let me know what your guy at Cut4 says. As for Oakland (and many other places), Neal is still working on the schedule, but I’ll keep you posted.


    Take another look . . .

    Thanks! I’d love to hang with you guys, but let’s not plan anything yet. It’s possible that the dates will change. (Hey, Mateo, wanna go to Minnesota with me?)

    I actually do. I’m particularly skilled at putting a whole bunch in my mouth at once and opening/eating them one by one.

    KELLY T-
    Totally. Thanks. :-)

    I like it.

    Many thanks. That’s a nice way to look at it, and I agree.

    You’re the best. (I need the weather to be nice when I’m at Turner Field because you know how well I always do there during BP. Can you help with that?)

    You know it, son! April 10th at Fenway. See you there.

    RYAN S.-
    Thanks. It’s gonna be so much fun that it’s kind of hard to believe.

    COOK & SON-
    Because BIGS seeds are supposedly bigger? And maybe better? I’ll know soon when my personal supply arrives in the mail. And hey, has David’s done anything for Pitch In For Baseball? Don’t knock it ’til you try it. :-)

    Thank you, sir.

    HEYJOHN (aka T.C.)-
    Oh yeah? Did you get in on some of that seed action? I hope Heath Bell gets himself together. I still love that man.

    Bummer. Woulda been cool to see you there.


    Well then. Hopefully I’ll see you in a few weeks. And maybe a month after that. I just wish I could spend a whole week (or month) in Arlington instead of one day. That ballpark is amazing.

    Thanks! That Baltimore game is likely but not definite. Because I live so close (three hours by car) to Camden Yards, I can go anytime, but I think Neal is free that day and has to be there anyway for something else, so that’s why it’s on the schedule.

    Thanks. The money I spend can vary quite a bit depending on where I am. Citi Field is really cheap, so I only spend about $10 or $20 on a ticket. Yankee Stadium can easily cost double or triple that amount. Going to Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston, or Washington D.C. for a day usually costs more than $100 because of gas, tolls, and parking. And if I go anywhere else, it’s even more expensive because of flights and hotels. I usually don’t spend much on food at games, but the folks at BIGS are thankfully going to make sure that I’m well fed.

  15. connor

    That’s great! (And if there is anyone from Bigs reading this, I really like your bacon flavored seeds (and the original)). Anyway, hope to see you in SF Zack.

  16. Katie (@katiebravesfan)

    I can’t promise good weather in Atlanta…but if you think of anything else let me know! I may have to bring one of the kids I nanny…he keeps asking me how to get a baseball, so I may have him watch you. Hehe. He’s gotten a ball at every BP he’s been to so he isn’t slacking. Can’t wait to see you, wish I was coming to NY this summer but my travels are taking me to Milwaukee instead. See ya in July!!!

  17. Zack Hample

    I usually sit in the outfield because I like to catch home runs.

    I read your comment to Neal, and he liked it. I have yet to try any of their seeds, but I know that’ll be changing soon. A sizable shipment is supposed to arrive at my place in NYC next week, and I’m sure Neal will also have some when we’re on the west coast in a week. See you soon.

    Milwaukee, huh? Can’t argue with that. Miller Park is one of my favorite places.

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