It was a good day for D-backs rookie Didi Gregorius. It might have been an even better day for Zack Hample, a fan and home run ball collector who was in attendance at the Diamondbacks-Yankees game Thursday night at Yankee Stadium.
Gregorius homered on the first pitch he saw in a D-backs uniform in the third inning, a drive into the right-field seats that was caught by Hample, wearing a Sedona red Arizona hat among a sea of New York fans. And Hample wasn’t done yet.
In the ninth inning, with the Diamondbacks leading 2-1, closer J.J. Putz gave up a game-tying home run to the Yankees’ Francisco Cervelli into the first row in left field. You’ll never guess who caught it.
Hample, author of the book “How to Snag Major League Baseballs,” was there to make the grab, making Thursday night’s game the second in which he’d caught two home run balls. The 35-year-old New Yorker also caught Barry Bonds’ 724th homer in 2006 and snagged Mike Trout’s first career long ball in 2011.
Hample said he’s caught 29 home runs balls overall.
“It’s a little bit of luck, obviously. I move all over the place constantly,” Hample told the Associated Press after the game. “People don’t notice the seven games I’ve been to this year and didn’t catch a home run.”
FOX Sports Arizona’s Jody Jackson caught up with Hample for an interview after his catch of Gregorius’ homer (which he gave to Gregorius after the game in exchange for an autographed ball). But the TV face time may have kept Hample from making it a trifecta, as D-backs third baseman Martin Prado’s homer during the same half-inning landed just a few rows away.
Remarkably, the night got even better for Hample, who said he’s not as much a D-backs fan as he is a supporter of reliever Heath Bell, playing his first season in Arizona after being acquired over the winter from Miami.
Bell, who pitched the 11th inning, earned the win when the Diamondbacks scored four times in the 12th to pull out a 6-2 victory.
“Zack’s crazy. I know Zack from when I was a rookie with the Mets,” Bell said, according to the Associated Press. “He probably was a Padres fan when I was a Padre, a Marlins fan when I was a Marlin.”
Crazy or not, Hample was doing something right Thursday.