Tuesday, April 26, 2016

It’s a “ball” game

Not all of the competition was on the field at Monday’s Detroit Tigers game.

In the stands there was a battle between two fans to see who could catch more baseballs, and my boys and I got to see it played out over social media and Comerica Park.

Roseville resident Bill Dugan – who received national attention for catching five foul balls in a game at Comerica Park – was seated in his seat between sections 124 and 125 when my boys and I passed his prime foul ball catching location.

As we passed, I told my boys about this legendary fan who sat in this area behind the plate and caught five balls. Then the affable Dugan turned around with a big smile and waved his mitt.

He shared that he caught a few balls during the game and batting practice Monday, but one of the most prolific “ball hawks” in the nation was in Detroit and challenging him to see who could catch more balls.

Zack Hample, who according to the New York Post has caught more than 8,000 baseballs including A-Rod’s 3,000th hit and Mike Trout’s first home run, was in the park.

After a short chat, we settled into seats along the first baseline and watched as Hample worked to snag foul balls. When righties were up, he was on the third base side of home. For lefties, he was on the opposite side of the plate. And with every foul, he sprinted to catch the ball.

This made for entertaining viewing between pitches during the game. 

According to Hample, he caught 10 and Dugan caught six. He even gave a hat tip to Dugan, saying he was “talented and super-friendly.”

Hample’s Twitter feed showed that he was in Detroit again for Tuesday’s game and he caught eight(!) batting practice balls.

What a hustler to get all those baseballs. I’ve only been lucky enough to catch one batting practice ball at old Tiger Stadium, but we’ve collected nearly a dozen balls from spring training and Florida minor league games over the years.

I guess we’ll just have to get to the park earlier to scope out the best spot to get batting practice balls or get standing room seats behind home plate to get some game-used souvenirs!

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