History was made during Sunday’s Marlins-Braves game, as it was the first time a professional sports game was played on an active military base. Dubbed the Fort Bragg Game on the eve of Independence Day, it was MLB’s way of showing appreciation for those in the armed forces.
Only those enlisted in the military and their families, as well as members of the Department of Defense were to attend. The tickets were deemed non-transferable, which means ticketholders weren’t allowed to sell or give them away to non-military personnel. Noted baseball collector Zack Hample found his way in, which angered a lot of people. As of this writing — about 1:30 AM EDT — his Wikipedia page is in shambles. Take a look. Click the image to view it in full size.
How did he get in? He made a Tinder profile specifically searching for ticketholders, as seen here:
Hample was also seen negotiating ticket purchases on Twitter. That runs contrary to his claim that he got the tickets through a friend. And it doesn’t matter anyway as I’ll explain below.
The 82nd Airborne Division called Hample out on Twitter:
As did Marlins Man:
Everyone is upset with Hample because he broke the rules regarding ticket ownership. Or, rather, he made someone else break the rules so that he could get in. As a result, he took a seat — and souvenirs — away from members of the military, for whom this game was specifically designated. It was supposed to be about military appreciation. Instead, Hample made it about himself.
The military is allowed to have its day at the ballpark just like anyone else. The members of the military didn’t deserve to have their day intruded upon by a 38-year-old memorabilia collector. Hample said he would donate $1,100 to a charity benefiting veterans, but he could’ve done that beforehand and not bought his way into the Fort Bragg Game, taking 11 souvenirs away that military personnel and their children could’ve enjoyed.
All this being said, the piling on Hample has gone overboard. Twitter is inundated with people yelling angry things at Hample from simple F-bombs to death threats to suicide requests. Aside from acquiring the ticket, Hample didn’t do anything on Sunday that he hasn’t already done before. His “skill” in catching souvenirs — including Alex Rodriguez’s 3,000th hit, a home run — has taken souvenirs from other fans, but in an effort to prove to each other that we love the military most, everyone’s jumping on Hample for taking a foul ball or a homer from a serviceperson. The eight-year-old Hample shoulder checks as he positions himself to catch a home run at Yankee Stadium is just as, and arguably more, deserving of the souvenir than a serviceperson, so where’s the outrage there? This is not to say we shouldn’t have outrage in the former situation, but that we should in the latter as well.
Hample’s entire scheme and his persona are anathema to a healthy environment for watching baseball. Kids shouldn’t have to worry about being trampled if a fly ball heads their way. Baseball players shouldn’t have to negotiate as if they’re in a hostage situation to recover a baseball representing a career milestone. Sending him hate mail is way overboard, but maybe teams could ban him from their ballparks. Remember: these are adults wearing pajamas playing a children’s game. It’s not that important in the grand scheme of things. Make it fun and safe for kids.
The Marlins beat the Braves 5-2, by the way.