Charity prizes — 2015

For the last six years, I’ve been raising money for a children’s baseball charity called Pitch In For Baseball, and for the last three seasons, I’ve given away a bunch of prizes to the people who’ve donated. I’ve decided to do it again in 2015 — with one major difference — so let me start with a quick list of the stuff you can win. Then I’ll show you photos of everything and explain how this is going to work:

1) a baseball signed by Willie Mays
2) three baseball cards signed by Kent Hrbek, Rick Cerone, and Dave Stieb
3) a Mickey Mantle ball with an image of his 1952 Topps rookie card
4) a Bernie Williams ball with his image and the Yankees logo
5) a Curtis Granderson bobblehead
6) signed copies of The San Francisco Splash and The Wrigley Riddle
7) a signed copy of Man Versus Ball
8) two Mets prints
9) three Mets t-shirts
10) a Mark McGwire rookie card

Here’s a photo of the ball signed by Willie Mays:


Why am I just giving this away? Because I want to make it irresistible for you to donate money to this worthy cause.

In case you’re wondering, this ball was given to me on a private tour of the Panini America headquarters before I went to a game on 5/3/13 at Rangers Ballpark. I’ve been holding onto it ever since, indecisive about what to do with it, and this seemed like a good idea. Obviously it’s a very special item, so good luck.

Here are the three signed cards, which, FYI, will be given away as one prize:


They came from the autograph department at my family’s business — the Argosy Book Store. My mom thought about selling them, but then she was like, “Eh, why don’t you take them and give ’em away.”

Here’s the Mickey Mantle ball:


I have no idea where it came from. Same deal with the Beanie Williams ball:


Here’s the Curtis Granderson bobblehead:

That was a giveaway at Citi Field during the 2014 season, and yes, I’ll send it to you in the box with all the packaging.

Here are the covers of The San Francisco Splash and The Wrigley Riddle . . .


. . . and this is how they’re signed:


They were dated “2013” because that’s when the author, David A. Kelly, gave me a bunch of books to be used as charity prizes. These two “Ballpark Mysteries” books will be given away as one prize, and by the way, David and I are friends. We met on 6/20/11 at Fenway Park, and we’ve kept in touch.

Here ‘s the copy of Man Versus Ball:


I’m friends with this author too — Jon Hart. Remember this article he wrote about me last season? Anyway, this book isn’t signed yet, but it will be. Jon will personalize it for the winner, so when the time comes, let me know and I’ll pass along your autograph request.

Here are the two Mets prints:


The one on the left shows the very first Opening Day ever at Shea Stadium in 1964. The one on the right shows the Mets’ dreamy captain, David Wright. These two prints, which each measure 12 x 9 inches, will be given together as one prize. They were giveaways at Citi Field in 2014, as were these shirts:

All three shirts will be given away as one prize.

And finally, here’s Mark McGwire’s rookie card:


Somehow this card found its way into the Argosy. I have no idea how much it’s worth. I used to collect cards like a maniac until 1995, but now I’m officially out of the loop.

People who donate money to Pitch In For Baseball through my fundraiser will be eligible to win these prizes. (I don’t get any money from this because my fundraising page is simply a place for people to make pledges. After the final game of the World Series, I will email everyone with info about how to actually donate the money directly to the charity.)

From 2009 through 2014, people used to pledge money for every ball I snagged over the course of the season — batting practice, toss-ups, foul balls, home runs, you name it. But now, for a change, the only balls that will raise money are the home runs I snag DURING games. Previously, if someone wanted to donate about five bucks over the course the season, they’d pledge one penny per ball. But because I’m going to raise money exclusively with game home runs, the math is much different. Now, in order to donate five bucks, you’ll want to pledge one dollar per ball. This is not an exact formula, of course, and that’s what makes it fun. It’s highly unlikely that I won’t snag any home runs, but there’s a chance I might only get one or two. There’s also a chance that luck will be on my side (for a change) and I’ll end up snagging half a dozen or more.

Previously, for every penny per ball that people donated, their names were entered into the drawing. But now, for every dollar per game home run that you donate, your name will be entered. Are you with me? For example, if I snag five game home runs this season, and you’ve pledged $5 per ball, that will amount to a $25 donation, and your name will be entered into the drawing five times. If someone else pledges $25 per ball, they’ll end up donating $125 at the end of the season, and they’ll have five times the odds of winning something. The person whose name is picked first will get to pick which prize they want; the person whose name is picked second will get the next choice, and so on.

You can make a pledge anytime — here’s more info about my fundraiser — but in order to be eligible to win a prize, you’ll need to send in the money by December 1, 2015.

On a final note for those who don’t know, Pitch In For Baseball is a non-profit charity that provides baseball and softball equipment to underprivileged kids all over the world. Here’s a blog entry that I wrote a couple of years ago about the charity helping Hurricane Sandy victims. Here’s a TV segment about the charity on the NBC Nightly News. There’ve also been a bunch of articles about Pitch In For Baseball on, which you can read here and here and here and here.


  1. Liz Merry

    Great prizes, heavy on the Mets, YAY! DW is going to bite that tongue off one of these days. I am surprised it hasn’t happened already.

  2. Big Glove Bob

    Z-Man, Meh, I like the old math a lot better. At first blush, i think the charity will get less this way. Most people will never catch a game homer in their lives. Catching them isn’t easy…especially in NY. There is a real chance you could get shut out and the charity gets nothing. Most likely you will only get a couple and the people that only donate a couple bucks a ball will only have to pony up some pocket change. To stoke the fires a little, for the lady that ends up donating the most I will throw in a…ahem “date” with the Dinner Portion to be redeemed November 1st. between 10-11pm at a Minnesota motel of my choosing.

    Big Glove Bob AKA The Dinner Portion

  3. Zack Hample

    Thanks. I plan to. I don’t know how many more seasons I’ll have the time and motivation to attend 80 to 100 games, so I might as well do it now.

    I knew you’d like that. And yeah, David better be careful.

    If I get shut out, then I’ll switch things back to the old format in 2016 and perhaps people will be inclined to donate a little bit more. I’m not too concerned, though. The New York stadiums aren’t great for gamers, but they’re better than some other places. If I’m sitting in the outfield three to four times per week for the duration of the season, I will at least be near a bunch of home runs, and I’ll gladly take my chances from there. Have faith in physics and my deep-fly-ball-catching skills. As for your generous prize offer, I wonder if we could open it up to gentlemen as well. That might really get the donations to start pouring in.

  4. Kelly

    Just pledged. Like the new idea. I’m sure you’ll do well! I’m going to predict that you’ll wind up getting more than everyone thinks you will. Good luck!

  5. raytheaustralian

    You`ve got a challenge ahead with that charity pledge method. Maybe let people decide whether to donate per ball snagged or game homer caught. Or is that too complicated. I like the old way more. How many game home runs did you get last year ? I`m having a cheese and bacon pie and a nenish tart today in memory of Opening Day in AUS last year. Seems like a long time ago. Good luck for 2015. Bring on Opening Day. Go Rays [ even though I hardly recognise a lot of the team or staff this year ]. Baseball season is the best.

  6. Zack Hample

    Eh, I think that’d be too complicated. I thought about tallying up the donations based on the number of runs that each home run produces (so that if you pledge a dollar, a grand slam would be worth four dollars), but that also seems tricky. I got four game home runs last year, and that felt weak. Overall I felt like my luck was TERRIBLE, so I hope to get more this season. Meanwhile, I’m so envious of your food!

  7. TC

    not good for HEATH HE GOT THE loss and his era is in the 6s…..the McGwire card is on ebay for 12 or 13$ rite now ….TC and rockies Robert are here snagging at royals bp lot more crowded in 2015 plus schools out

  8. Zack Hample

    Thanks! It does take some time to do this every season, but you’re right — it’s for a good cause, and it actually makes ballhawking more fun for me by raising the stakes a bit.

  9. jvfuentes

    Man, it could be an exciting season on the north side of Chicago! And yes, I know, it’s only spring, but still…

  10. Sanjay Sridhar

    I like the idea with catching game-home runs for the charity. Does this mean you are no longer going for fouls and third-out balls? Anyway good luck and I will be sure to donate.

  11. Zack Hample

    Thanks. I’ll still go for some of those other types of balls, especially if there are commemorative balls to be snagged, but I plan to spend the majority of my time in the outfield.

  12. Bryan

    Have you heard you’re not allowed in LF for Bp in Yankee Stadium unless you have a ticket?

  13. Bryan

    I’m certainly hoping it isn’t true but considering the disregard the Yankees have shown throughout the years for the fans who show up to Bp it wouldn’t be surprising at all. Guess that gives you more reason to travel around if possible haha

  14. Zack Hample

    “Disregard” is the perfect word. Unfortunately, though, regardless of any new policies at the stadium, I’m probably gonna be staying close to home for most of this season.

  15. Juan C Munoz

    Hello Zack, greetings from Guatemala !
    (Sorry if double a comment, not sure if previous comment went trough)
    Besides your 3 great books that I own, what will you consider or recommend as a yearly great baseball reference book (teams, players, statistics, etc) ?

  16. Zack Hample

    Hello! Thanks for commenting from so far away. I’m not sure about current reference books because I haven’t bought or read any for many years. I know that Baseball Prospectus was huge a few years ago, and it might still be the best source of that type of info, but I would recommend asking someone else who knows more about that. Sorry, but I hope that still helps a bit.

  17. Victoria Hibbard

    I just caught my first game balls on 4/25 at an Oakland A’s game and 5/2 at a S.F. Giant’s game.
    I’m a die hard Giants fan and my boyfriend is a die hard A’s fan, so now we have one of each! Maybe we’ll add to the collection or maybe not, but I’m eyeballing that Willie Mays… :-)
    Regardless of any prize, it sounds like a winner non profit so I’m in!

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