Alex Rodriguez. Much vilified and, probably, rightly so. But, we must remember that A-Rod is a gifted ballplayer...PED's or not.
So, a few weeks ago Alex hit his 3 thousandth hit...a home run. Still an awesome feat even under the circumstances of his meteoric fall from grace over the past few seasons. That ball flew out of the stands in Yankee Stadium and into the hands of...Zack Hample.
Don't know Zack? Well, by now, most of you do. But, Zack Hample is a professional baseball-snagger. Over I don't know how many years, Mr. Hample has collected over 8 thousand(!) baseballs. These have come from player and manager toss ups, foul balls, batting practice hits, and...well, historic...home runs. Personally, I find what Zack does to be fascinating. It takes dedication and skill to amass that many baseballs in professional ballparks. It really is amazing.
To be truthful, I was unsure even to write this particular entry. But, it does have to do with baseball and memorabilia...so, it fits here.
Back to the story. Zack hauled in A-Rod's historic homer and security and the like mobbed him. But, that young man was now faced with a huge decision: What to do with the ball?
I wish that I was as famous as that friggin' baseball. It made the rounds all over New York, has been on talk shows, radio shows, and national television. Of course, it was all in the presence of it's owner, Zack Hample.
Zack was bombarded with social media messages and emails and phone calls from the famous (the Yankees) and the not-so-famous (insert neckbearded Yankee Tweeter name here). Many of these communiques were amazing. Zack got messages that he should "do the right thing and give A-Rod the ball", "not be a douche" and was called a litany of names that would make a construction worker blush. But, Mr. Hample took it all in stride while taking his time about what to do with the baseball.
Let me say write now, for the record: Zack Hample is a saint. Let me tell you why.
Zack decided to have the Yankees give $150,000 to his favorite charity (Pitch In For Baseball). The only thing he would walk away with is a couple of signed bats. The Yankees, and Alex Rodriguez, got of CHEAP!
If this were me? Old J. from Can't Hit The Curve would have CASHED IN. For real. My house would be paid off and I would be working full time on my blog...no more work for this sucka! Of course, I'm sure that makes me evil and a pariah in NY. However, I dare any of you Yankee fans that say you wouldn't do the same thing.
But, no. Zack Hample turned and gave what could have been a huge payday to a worthwhile charity. He, himself, got peanuts. So, that qualifies for sainthood in my non-religious opinion. But, what do I know?
So, now Alex Rodriguez has his baseball back. The Yankees are out 150 grand (like it even bothers them). A charity has funds to do great things. Zack has a couple of bats. I have nothing...as usual. So, all is right in the world.
The outpouring of hate towards Zack Hample during this whole situation bothered me. I'm sure it did him, too. What we all need to remember that baseball is a GAME. A game, folks. Zack is a person and did his best to make the most of a weird situation for him.
So, Zack, I say kudos. You seem like a stand up dude and I respect that.
But, like I said, this guy would not have been so saintly.