58° Good Afternoon
58° Good Afternoon

Zack Hample, who caught Alex Rodriguez's 3,000th hit, isn't inclined to give him the ball

Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees runs the bases

Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees runs the bases after career hit No. 3,000, a first-inning home run, against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium on Friday, June 19, 2015. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

In his Twitter photo, Zack Hample is sitting in a bathtub filled with major league baseballs. He has his own website. He has a Wikipedia page. He has written a book titled "How to Snag Major League Baseballs."

And now he has the ball from Alex Rodriguez's 3,000th hit.

"My intention all along imagining this scenario, one in a million, was not to give it back just because the guy who got Jeter's 3,000th hit, a lot of people called him an idiot," Hample said as he received a police escort to the Yankees' executive offices. "A lot of people said that he was a wonderful person and extremely generous. I really think that whatever you want to do with it is your choice.

"I think that someone like Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez who's made half a billion dollars in their career doesn't really need a favor from a normal civilian and a fan like me."

Asked if he had a price in mind that he would accept in exchange for the ball, Hample said whatever amount Rodriguez offered likely wouldn't be enough to make it worthwhile.

"He's not going to offer me a million dollars," Hample said. "If he did, I would consider it. It's kind of like, well, I don't like you and I have something you want and you can't have it. I wanted you to not take steroids and be the greatest of all time and you disappointed me. So I still respect A-Rod, he's an amazing player and I think he is pretty fan-friendly, but I have to hang on to this ball right now.

"If I want to sell it, he's welcome to come bid on it at auction," he added. "And if I choose to keep it, well, he has the bat that he used, he has the helmet he was wearing, he has the jockstrap that he was wearing."

Comparing Hample to Christian Lopez, who caught the homer that gave Jeter his 3,000th hit in 2011 and gave it back after the game, A-Rod said, "The thing I was thinking about is, where's Jeet's guy? The guy that caught the ball. That's the guy that I needed here. Where's that guy? I wasn't so lucky."

Hample, 37, a Yankees season-ticket holder from New York City, said he has caught more than 8,000 major-league baseballs, including batting practice. He said some of his more prized catches were Barry Bonds' 724th career homer, the Mets' final homer at Shea Stadium and Mike Trout's first career homer.

Hample said he gave that ball to Trout and asked for nothing in return, wanting nothing more than to be the guy who handedit to him personally. He added, "With A-Rod, I don't think he deserves charity or sympathy.''

Hample, who was seated in section 103, said the ball was hit right to him. Just as he was about to jump to catch it, he was shoved from behind. He assumed he had lost his chance until he noticed it at his feet.

Hample, who said he is a baseball writer and also works in his family's bookstore, said he has never sold a single ball that he has caught and often gives them to kids or donates them to raise money for a children's baseball charity.

"I've always said if I get a ball that would be life-changing money, I would have to keep it and think about it," he said.

The Yankees met with Hample, who said they offered him memorabilia, the chance to meet A-Rod and publicity on YES Network and other TV stations. He turned them down.

"Security personnel, led by Eddie Fastook, attempted to engage him in some type of exchange,'' Yankees director of media relations Jason Zillo said. "He declined. Took it a step further, tried to get him directly with Randy Levine or Lonn Trost, he declined again. So as far as we're concerned, we've done everything we could do to engage this guy in some type of discussion about some type of exchange. He wouldn't hear what we were saying.''

Zillo later said Hample did talk with Levine and Trost but that no transaction was made.

For now, Hample has another ball for his impressive collection. "I couldn't live with myself if I didn't walk out of this stadium with this baseball tonight," he said. "I gotta hang on to it."

Rodriguez was philosophical about the potential memento. "Maybe years ago that would have been kind of an important thing for me,'' he said. "I think about 2015 and I think about 2009, and for me there is a lot of resemblance there. The memory in my 21-year career by far, nothing that I've done personally, would ever compare to winning the championship in 2009. And I don't have a ball, I don't have a bat, but I do have a memory. And the memory is forever. Kind of the same way I feel about the ball."


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

New York Sports