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New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez gets 3,000th hit, but not the Ball

Alex Rodriguez (Reinhold Matay - USA TODAY Sports)

Alex Rodriguez (Reinhold Matay – USA TODAY Sports)

New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez stepped to the plate in the first inning on Friday night one hit from the historic No. 3,000.

One pitch into his at-bat, Rodriguez was able to circle the bases after delivering a 95-mph Justin Verlander fastball over the right field wall for a home run.

As Rodriguez made the circuit, and the Yankee Stadium crowd erupted, one man in the stands was not cheering. A man by the name of Zach Hample, a notorious ball-hawk who makes a “career” out of catching Major League Baseballs.

Hample, who has written multiple books about baseball such as The Baseball: Stunts, Scandals, and Secrets Beneath the Stitches, How to Snag Major League Baseballs: More Than 100 Tested Tricks That Really Work and Watching Baseball Smarter, was wrestling in the right field seats trying to snag the piece of history Rodriguez sent his way.

Hample, along with many fans scrambled for the ball, but Hample’s experience paid off as he crawled up the steps and grabbed it. The famous ballhawk who has snagged over 8,000 baseballs in his time as a fan was able to snag this “one-in-three thousand souvenir.” Hample, was very generous with fans after catching it allowing for pictures with him and the ball. Generous with Alex Rodriguez, well that is a different story.

The 37 year-old New York native was escorted to by Yankee representatives, and New York City police to visit and talk with Jason Zillo, Yankees Director of Media Relations, and Randy Levine, Yankees President of operations to discuss what it would take for Hample to give the ball back.

Hample didn’t budge at anything the Yankees offered and refused to give the ball back.

“They [The Yankees] offered me all kinds of memorabilia, bats, jerseys, signatures, to meet A-Rod, to be on the YES Network with my own press conference, legends tickets,” Hample said. “I really don’t know what I am going to do with it but I do not plan on giving it back to Alex Rodriguez.”

Fans were not amused with the decision of Hample as he was taunted and yelled at throughout the night. Many fans believed that he should have returned the ball, but Hample was stern on his decision. “It’s a lose-lose for me. I give it back and people will say I should’ve sold it. I sell it and people will say I should have gave it back. Either way I lose and I want to do what I want and that is keeping this baseball.”

Hample also stated, “If I chose to sell it, A-Rod is welcome to bid on it, but I don’t think A-Rod deserves a favor from a normal civilian like me.” Hample, who is not a fan of Rodriguez is also against the use of performance enhancing drugs. “I’m not trying to screw anybody over by keeping it,” Hample explained. “I’m not a fan of A-Rod, and I don’t like the whole steroid thing. A-Rod needs to pay the piper.”

Hample has snagged multiple milestone homers in his ballhawking hobby, including Los Angeles Angel’s sensation Mike Trout’s first career homer.

“I’ve always regretted giving the ball back to Mike Trout from the sense of what will it be worth, but I am happy I gave it back because I don’t see dollar signs when home runs are flying towards me. I get excited because I love coming out and catching balls.”

Hample, who was escorted by security out of Yankee Stadium Friday night will have a decision to make in the future on what he actually wants to do with the ball. “Well I have already heard from Auction House, who wants to sell it, a charity that I work with wants to help promote it, and some kid offered me one hundred dollars for it so I am considering all offers,” Hample chuckled. “I have never sold a ball.”

When asked after the game about the emotions Rodriguez felt, he told reporters that it was an exciting moment that he was very thankful for.

“I’m grateful. I’m extremely appreciative to the Yankees, giving me an opportunity to put the uniform back on,” Rodriguez said. “There were days last year that I never thought I would sometimes get that uniform back on and to be able to play in this stadium in front of these fans. And for that I’m thankful to the Steinbrenner family and the whole Yankee organization.”

When asked about the baseball, Rodriguez told reporters, “The thing I was thinking about was where Jeets (Derek Jeter) guy is. That’s the guy I needed. I wasn’t so lucky.”

Derek Jeter’s guy A-Rod was referring to is Christian Lopez. Lopez is the young man that caught Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit and immediately returned it to him.

Either way anyone looks at it, ball or no ball, Alex Rodriguez has reached 3,000 hits and he did it in grand style.

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