Mike Trout has hit his fair share of home runs in his young career, but there is one that still remains special: His first. Trout hit his first dinger three years ago in Baltimore. It sailed far past the leftfield wall of Camden Yards, but somehow it found the webbing of a glove anyway.
It was the glove of Zack Hample, who had run across empty seats and leapt into the row behind him to make what seemed like an improbable catch. But there was no luck involved.
Hample has caught 7,600 balls in what you might call his “career” as a ballhawker. It’s a number that he makes sure to update every time he attends a game because he often comes home with five or 10 baseballs. He has written three books, one of which contains information on how to snag a homerun ball. His impressive collection can put any array of priceless baseball cards to shame.
Put another way: It might be a good idea to seek Hample out if you’re looking to snag a home run. He’s a walking magnet for baseballs.
Baseball magnet Zack Hample breaks down his method for being in the right place at the right time to snag a homerun ball.
I would say the two biggest things are bring a baseball glove and show up early for batting practice. That right there instantly puts you ahead of 99 percent of fans.
Ryan Howard has been a fixture in the Phillies lineup since getting called up in 2004. But before he was a star in Philadelphia, he made his name playing Little League ball. So of course he had to get in on the Little League World Series action!
Howard has stopped in to Williamsport a few times since going pro. And he did it again today, surprising the young ballplayers as part of Subway’s Throwback Thursday #TBT campaign to benefit Little League Baseball’s Challenger teams. (Howard is a Subway Famous Fan.)
SI Kids spoke to Howard from Williamsport about his days playing Little League baseball, the current LLWS, and a certain pitcher from Philadelphia making a name for herself in the tournament.
Graphic designers have a lot of fun mashing up sports logos with things like the Simpsons and Star Wars and even other sports. But we rarely see one sport's jerseys get mixed up with another, which makes this set of Major League Baseball hockey sweaters really stand out.
Designer David Parkinson submitted a set of concept images of what MLB teams would wear if they met up for a hockey game. The first batch ran on the Icethetics website over the weekend (if you've never visited Icethetics, it's a great site and well worth your time) and feature the 15 teams in the American League. The Red Sox sweater at the top of the page is pretty cool, as are these:
Last night, the Cumberland Americans from Rhode Island were bounced from the Little League World Series by the team from Chicago, 8-7. And of course, the kids on the team took the loss pretty hard. But when the game was over, Americans coach David Belisle gathered his team together and delivered one of the all-time great inspirational speeches:
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim designated hitter Albert Pujols is one of the greatest sluggers in baseball. In April, he hit home run number 500, putting him in some elite company. And as the 2014 season has progressed, Pujols has kept hitting home runs — climbing the all-time list (he’s currently at number 21 with 515 dingers) and helping his team reach the top of the American League West.
But Pujols’ accomplishments on the field are nothing compared to what he has done off it. His daughter Isabella has Down syndrome, and since his days as a St. Louis Cardinal Pujols has been an active advocate for kids and adults with special needs. He has partnered with the Down Syndrome Association since 2001, and in 2005 he founded his own non-profit organization, the Pujols Family Foundation, with his wife, Deidre. The foundation promotes awareness of special needs issues and helps kids and families living with Down syndrome both in the US and his native Dominican Republic.
Pujols’ is also helping raise awareness by being the cover model for Toys “R” Us’ 20th annual Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids. The guide launched today, and it’s a resource for anyone looking for a great toy for the special needs kid in their life.
Pujols spoke with SI Kids yesterday about his work with Toys “R” Us and special needs kids and adults, as well as hitting 500 home runs and what the Angels need to do to finish the season as AL West champs.
I love baseball and I have been able to play in both Little League and Pony League. I also play on a travel team. I cannot imagine not having a place to play or not having my bat and glove. But for many kids in inner cities, it's not so easy to go and play ball.
But thanks to Major League baseball’s RBI Program, there's an opportunity for them.
You might think RBI means "runs batted in" or is a video game. But in this case, it stands for Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities. The MLB RBI Program gives kids the chance to play baseball, love the game, and learn from it.