Ballhawk Extraordinaire Zack Hample Discusses Lineup Cards

Zack Hample is best known for having snagged 8,633 baseballs at 51 different Major League stadiums (as of December 2015), including Alex Rodriguez’s 3,000th hit and Mike Trout’s first career home run, to name just a couple of his ballhawking feats.  He has been blogging about his ballhawking exploits here since April 2005.

But many people don’t know that Zack posted the first and most extensive lineup card collection online, which can be found here.  The collection consists of 45 MLB lineup cards with the oldest dating back to 1999.

Zack was nice enough to answer my questions about his lineup card experiences.

Fun With Lineup Cards: On your website, you have images of 45 lineup cards that you have gotten at MLB games.  Are these all of your lineup cards, or do you have more than this?

Zack Hample: My entire collection of lineup cards is displayed on my website. I love playing Show & Tell with the world, so I haven’t withheld any of them.

FWLC: Do you have a guess as to how many times you have tried to get a lineup card? Has it gotten easier or more difficult over the years to get a lineup card?

Hample: I’ve attended more than 1,300 games, and I’ve probably tried to get lineup cards at several hundred.  I didn’t even know about lineup cards at first, and lately I’ve been going to games in New York where it’s basically impossible to get down to the dugouts.  Sometimes, regardless of the stadium, I stay in the outfield all game because I’m more interested in catching home runs.

FWLC: Which is your favorite lineup card and why?

Hample: This is probably my favorite because it was the first huge one that I got with the MLB logo in the middle.  That felt great, and I’m still thrilled to own it.

FWLC: Do you have a favorite experience of getting a lineup card that you can share?

Hample: Back in 2000 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, I got into a terrible argument with a power-tripping usher who wouldn’t let me go down to the dugout.  I knew I had a great chance of getting a lineup card, so I found a way to sneak around her and ended up getting this one.  I felt great after that, though I was still annoyed by the experience.  In fact, I’m still annoyed 15 years later.

FWLC: What do you do with the lineup cards you get?  Do you display some/all of them, or have you just filed them away somewhere?

Hample: I don’t display them because I’m concerned that they’d fade over time, so I just have them tucked away and enjoy pulling them out and looking at them from time to time — and showing friends.

FWLC: Hypothetical question: An MLB game you are at has ended.  You are out near one of the bullpens.  You can see that there is a ball lying in the bullpen, and also that the bullpen lineup card has been left up on the wall.  There’s one grounds crew member in the bullpen.  Assuming you can ask for and get either the ball or the lineup card, but not both, is there any scenario where you would ask for the lineup card instead of the ball?

Hample: Good question, but no, I don’t think so.  I decided long ago to ALWAYS go for a ball before anything else.

FWLC: Is there anything else you would like to add related to lineup cards?

Hample: I would just encourage people to ask for them whenever possible.  At major league stadiums, you might get rejected 19 out of 20 times, but when you finally succeed, it feels incredible.

 

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