Zack Hample, who caught Alex Rodriguez’s 3000th hit, plans to keep baseball for now

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Alex Rodriguez hit a home run for his 3,000th hit last night and the ball ended up in the hands of Zack Hample, a Yankees season ticket holder who is well known for snagging home run balls. He claims to have caught 8,161 baseballs at stadiums around the country and has even written books about it.

That Hample caught the historic homer was interesting, especially in light of what he tweeted (it has since been deleted) on Thursday night in response to a question about what he would do if he caught it:

@Yankeefan98 I’ll give him the finger and a dummy ball. That man deserves favors from no one, least of all a fan.

According to Tim Rohan of the New York Times, this was Hample’s reaction before the Yankees whisked him away in an attempt to get the ball back:

“I really think that whatever you want to do with it is your choice,” Hample said, moments afterward. “I think that somebody like Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez, who’s made half a billion dollars in their career, doesn’t really need a favor from, you know, a normal civilian and a fan like me. I don’t know right now if I’m going to sell it. Depending on what the Yankees could offer, I’d consider giving it back.”

The negotiations, which included Yankees president Randy Levine and chief operating officer Lonn Trost, didn’t get anywhere last night. Here’s a tweet from Hample during the game:

Hample appears to be softening on that stance, as he later told the Associated Press that he’s “thinking about” giving the ball back because the Yankees were “so nice.” He said the same thing on his Twitter account this morning.

David Kohler of SCP Auctions told ESPN that the ball is worth more than $50,000. Regardless of how you feel about Hample or his supposed approach to catching baseballs, that’s a lot of money to potentially turn down. It’s his right to keep it or sell it.

When Derek Jeter homered for his 3000th hit in 2011, Christian Lopez was quick to return the ball in exchange for some premium seats and memorabilia. It’s not coming as easily this time around:

“Where’s Jeet’s guy? That’s the guy I needed,” Rodriguez said. “I wasn’t so lucky.”

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.