Carlos Beltran grand slam

Although you can’t really tell from the following highlight, I caught Carlos Beltran’s grand slam on August 8, 2014 at Yankee Stadium. Take a look and then I’ll explain how it all went down:

Here are a few screen shots from that video, starting with the moment of contact:


Here’s the ball descending toward my section:


Did you notice how crowded it was?! Look how many people lunged for the ball:


Here’s a close-up that shows me buried in the crowd. The arrow on the left is pointing at my head; the arrow on the right is pointing at my glove:


How did I manage to catch the ball?
It was actually quite easy. And lucky.

Yes, the section was pretty much packed, but I had a tiny bit of room to work with. I was sitting in the end seat in the 3rd row (with the stairs on my left), and for some reason, the 2nd row had seven empty seats right in front of me. Those seats had been empty all night, so I’d been planning to use that space in case a home run ended up getting hit to my right. And that’s exactly what happened. As soon as Beltran connected, I jumped up and moved down one step and then drifted to the right through the 2nd row. The ball was heading about 10 feet to my right, so I got in line with it, and as it began descending, I knew that it was going to be a home run — but not by much. Thankfully it sailed *just* above everyone’s hands in the front row, and I reached up for the catch.

Here’s a photo of the ball that I took the following inning:


Meanwhile, the whole section was buzzing. Lots of people congratulated me, and one guy even thanked me. “You saved my face,” he said. At least a dozen fans asked to take photos with me and the ball.

Then, somehow, word spread about who I was. Someone who recognized me must’ve said something to the people sitting near them because a bunch of folks started shouting my name and holding up their phones with various pictures of me. One guy approached me with this image on his phone and said, “Is this you?!” Another guy asked me later, “How did you know to sit there?” Another man crouched next to me on the stairs, asked if I was the guy with 8,000 balls, and asked how much money I wanted for this one.

“Thanks for asking,” I said, “but it’s not for sale.”

“Come ONNNN,” he replied. “I gotta have that ball. I’m the biggest Carlos Beltran fan!”

“I appreciate that,” I said, “but I’ve been to 1,200 major league baseball games, and this is the first grand slam I’ve ever caught on the fly. Therefore *I* gotta have this ball. Plus, I’ve never sold a ball in my entire life, and I’m not about to start now.”

Someone else offered me $1,000 for it on Twitter, and my answer was no. He could’ve added a zero to the offer, and it wouldn’t have changed anything.

I was SO happy to simply hold/own the ball, as you can see by this photo taken shortly after the game ended:


By the way, the photo above was a re-creation of this pose with my only other grand slam baseball, hit by Robinson Cano on 9/28/09 at Yankee Stadium.

Here’s one final photo of the ball at the stadium:


The man pictured above in the Beltran jersey insisted that he had brought me luck. There’s no doubt I’d gotten lucky on this particular ball, but I think my home run luck overall this season has been dreadful. This was my first longball in 27 games at Yankee Stadium. Does that sound lucky to you? What about the other 26 games filled with bad deflections, bad decisions, and nothingness?

I’ve recently come up with a statistical formula/comparison to judge how well I’m doing with game home run balls in an individual season. I like to imagine that I’m a starting pitcher; the number of homers I’ve snagged represents my innings pitched, and the number of games I’ve attended represents my pitch count. This season, I’ve snagged three home runs in 55 games, so if I were a pitcher, my pitch count would be 55 through three innings — not great but not a total disaster.

Anyway, this was my 29th lifetime game home run ball (plus six others that I don’t really count because they were tossed to me). Here’s the complete list.

Also, this wasn’t my first Carlos Beltran homer — and the other one was MUCH more meaningful. The other one is probably my favorite ball ever. It was the last home run that the Mets ever hit at Shea Stadium. Here’s a huge blog entry I wrote about it.

I guess that’s about it for now. I’m taking this weekend off, running my writing group on Monday, and planning to be at Citi Field on Tuesday.


Thanks to a friend who recorded the game, I’ve now seen some additional footage, and look — I *did* appear on TV:



  1. James Lee (@esigs)

    Congrats on a great snag! I saw your tweet last night and checked the MLB replay this morning, but it was hard to see you on the crowd, so I’m glad you described how you got to the ball and made the catch.

  2. Drew

    One of my 6 HR game catches was a Beltran shot at Joe Robbie stadium in the left field Club seats. I got him to sign the ball after the game.

  3. Zack Hample

    Thanks and you are correct!

    It was *very* hard to see me. I still haven’t seen the actual game footage (with slow-mo replays and different angles), but based on this highlight, I’m surprised that anyone knew that I’d gotten the ball.

    Thanks! But ugh, you haaaaad to mention those other home runs that I missed. I did get your email, and I’ll reply soon.

    Thanks, dude!

    Nice. That club area was amazing. I wish I’d gotten to spend more time there.

  4. RyanC

    Hey Zack,

    Nice work with the grand slam ball. Heck of an accomplishment.

    Question for you: I’m visiting Wrigley next week and am wondering about using your glove trick. I’ve read every entry you’ve made about Wrigley, and you never mention using it. Is it worth it? Are the ushers pretty cool about that or are they typical Wrigley ushers (I commented in April about them to you from my last game there)? Last time I went I snagged three but would love to increase my chances. Thanks!

  5. Larry

    Congrats!!! Yankee stadium looks impossible. I fear going there, and it will probably be the last out of the 30 parks I visit. Yikes. And I also need to go back to visit citi, because we ended up not making it there.

  6. Zack Hample

    Yankee Stadium is pretty tough, and it’s also extremely dull. And expensive. But for this one night, it was good to me.

    Thanks! How many grand slams have you gotten? I suspect I’m way behind you.

  7. Algenis

    When you mentioned, “Someone who recognized me must’ve said something to the people sitting near them” I instanly thought about myself (I was the dude that was with someone with a white bucket hat) calling your name once the gates opened, I asked you what was the easiest park you gotten balls this year and which I cant remember the park you told me. I caught an Indians HR during their BP and then saw you looking almost hopeless to get your first and I asked my friend if you’d ever get one that night. Sure enough you did haha! But congrats on that catch man it was a good pleasure to meet a die hard baseball fan like you!

  8. Aaron m

    Hey Zack, won’t they have to change the baseballs next year for the new commishiner of baseball, right?

  9. Zack Hample

    Nice meeting you too. I think I said that the Sydney Cricket Ground was the easiest place I’ve gotten baseballs this season. Hope to see you again soon. I think you might be a good luck charm for me. :)

    AARON M-
    Yup, there will be a new signature stamped on the balls, although I’m sure there’ll be lots of Selig balls left over. Ugh — so sick of those.

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