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Thursday, March 17, 2011
Zack Hample on why Skynyrd + Sheen = baseball


Zack Hample
Zack Hample has collected more than 4,000 baseballs. So he knows a bit about the horsehide sphere.

In his new book "The Baseball," ballhawk and previous Page 2 profile subject Zack Hample chronicles the history and evolution of his objet d'amour, offering legends, lore and the basis for some truly odd trivia questions.

For instance: Which Hall of Fame player once caught a ball dropped from a blimp? What part of the ball once came from dog food companies?

To answer those questions and more, Page 2 recently caught up with Hample:

Page 2: You wrote an entire book about the baseball. Why not, say, the bat?

Hample: Well, I have a strange fixation with baseballs. It's the object at the center of the national pastime. No other piece of equipment in baseball has changed as much. And I use it as a jumping-off point to explore other things in the game. You wouldn't get as rich and colorful a history writing about bats or gloves.

Is it true that fans who caught baseballs at games and refused to give them back once were considered criminals and thieves?

That is true. In fact, there was a time when it was considered unpatriotic to keep baseballs. Teams would donate baseballs to servicemen during the World Wars. You would get booed if you didn't give a ball back. And that's kind of strange, given that it's now sort of the ultimate American fan experience.