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What did Zack Hample do to elicit Chicago Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman’s response?

Baseball’s most hated fan has stoked the ire of MLB fans and players with his latest actions, leading Marcus Stroman to tweet a stiff accusation

Baseball's most hated fan has stoked the ire of MLB fans and players with his latest actions, leading Marcus Stroman to tweet a stiff accusation
Kamil KrzaczynskiUSA TODAY Sports

By now, if you are a baseball player or fan, you will already have formed an opinion of Zack Hample. Either he is bringing fun to the national pastime, or he is a greedy collector stomping on kids’ dreams, but one way or the other, however you feel about MLB’s most famous, or infamous, ballhawker you certainly can’t ignore him.

First coming to national attention back in 2015 when he caught Alex Rodriguez’s 3000th hit, which just so happened to be a home run, and then refused to give it to the 14-time All-Star under any circumstances, Hample claims to have caught over 11,000 baseballs.

Of course, the only way that you can catch that many balls is to do your homework, understand where a ball is likely to be hit, whether it be fair or foul, and make your way to that section. And then stop at nothing to get to it when it comes your way. And therein lies the rub.

Tickets to Major League ball games, in fact to any professional sporting event, are generally restricted to a specific section or area of the stadium. Fans are usually free to move around as long as they don’t sit or remain in a section other than where their seat is located. But catching a ball means that you need to hang around, and move around, a bit longer than is normally acceptable.

When he attended a Rockies game at Coors Field, the ushers took issue with the fact that he was running up and down the aisle. Not without criticism from Rockies fans themselves, the ushers in this case have been applauded for simply doing their jobs.

Social media has rounded on Hample, with one Denver paper referring to him as an “obnoxious adult baseball chaser” and a “kid-trampling ball-chasing man child.” The New York Post calls him “baseball’s most hated fan.”

He is seen as extremely unlikable to many baseball fans, who tend to find an adult fighting with children for baseballs rather unsavory and loathsome. Regularly attempting to box out children, Hample ignores stadium seating rules for better positioning or access and when questioned about it, he glibly berates other fans.

In Colorado, he maintained his previous form and posted two vlogs criticising the ushers for enforcing seating rules. “Come on, don’t be that strict,” Hample said. “That’s ridiculous. Telling me I can’t move 10 feet for a home run is ridiculous. Stop enforcing BS rules that you make up on the spot. It’s a home run ball, people can try to catch a home run.”

While most of the response on social media has come from other fans or media outlets, Chicago Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman waded into the fray and let his feelings be known in no uncertain terms. “It’s truly comical how much of a loser you are,” Stroman said. “Grown ass man taking baseballs away from the youth and making videos complaining about security doing their jobs. You’re the definition of a clown.”

Hample has shot back with a tweet picturing himself surrounded by kids asking for his autograph. If his past actions are any indicator, Hample will lose very little sleep over being reviled by baseball fans. He showed very little emotion or empathy when dealing with Alex Rodriguez and seemed all too happy to report that Clayton Kershaw refused to give him a ball, saying, “No, you already got 7000 of them.”

Earlier this year he illegally acquired a ticket to the Fort Bragg Game, which was meant for military personnel and their families, and when he was backed into tweeting an apology, he issued one that one CBS sports writer said, “boils down to ‘I’m sorry but I really wanted to go.’”

In the end, this is a business to Hample and he will ultimately spin it to his favor. The A-Rod ball was eventually given back, in exchange for a signed jersey, a signed bat, and a $150,000 donation to Pitch In For Baseball. In the end, for all the talk about loving baseball and being a fan, he is a businessman, and an infuriatingly good one at that. I doubt this is the last that we hear from the Ballhawker par excellence.


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