Zack Hample’s Tips for Leaving With a Baseball
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.
First of all, you ideally want to have room to move left or right. It’s all about lateral mobility. You don’t want to get trapped in the middle of a long row. So if a section is really crowded it’s going to be tough.
Sometimes a game might be sold out, but it’s still easy to catch home runs because of how the stadium itself is designed. If they have a wide aisle behind the outfield wall where nobody can sit, then maybe you can lurk nearby in the tunnel, and then spring into action if a ball is hit. Some stadiums have standing room areas where you can always hang out. Baltimore has one down the right field line, and Cleveland has one down the left field line. Anybody with any ticket can hang out there for the whole game. It’s obviously easier to move there on flat ground than if you’re jumping over railings, where there’s other fans and vendors.
But you also have to be realistic. You don’t want to sit in the last row of the upper deck because it’s empty. “Oh boy, look at all this room I have to run left and right!” You still have to be in a place where balls are physically capable of reaching you. I would just say 375 to 400 feet away is a good typical range, if there are more right handed batters, I usually go over to left field, because most home runs are pulled. If there are more lefties up, go to right field.
Then it’s kind of just instincts from there. If there’s three righties but they all stink, they’re all bottom of the order slap hitters, but if there’s one good lefty then maybe it is worth going to right field for that.
So the basic tips are: Make sure you have some room to run, pick a side of the stadium according to how many lefties and righties there are. And I generally like to be straightaway left or right field, or even shaded slightly to the power alleys in left and right center. I find that more people usually cluster near the foul poles, so if you’re straightaway or in the power alley it could be a little emptier. If there are a lot of people in the first 10 rows, go to the 15th row, as long as you’re not 500 feet away. There’s a lot of common sense and instincts that come into play.
Photos courtesy Zack Hample