BUFFALO, N.Y. — Admittedly, baseball is a little weird this year. While a professional team is playing in the Queen City, fans can’t go to a game, get some peanuts, or catch the illustrious foul ball.
Well, most people can’t get a foul ball.
"I consider myself a professional baseball nerd," said Zack Hample. "My YouTube channel is the main driving force behind all that and basically I just love to hit up as many different majors big stadiums as possible, try to catch as many baseballs as possible."
Zack Hample has nearly half a million YouTube subscribers, and his channel is filled with him catching foul balls.
The sheer number of balls Hample has collected is pretty impressive.
"I know exactly how many Major League baseball's I've snagged, 11,155," said Hample. "It's over 1700 major league baseball games and 58 different major league stadiums."
But we live in a pandemic world now and you can’t go to a baseball game. So what’s a professional foul ball catcher supposed to do?
"I heard about the Buffalo Blue Jays and I knew that I had to check it out," Hample said. "Because for me, I'm really mainly interested in Major League Baseball, so anytime that MLB plays official regular-season games at an alternate venue, I try to make a point to be there."
Hample has attended MLB games in Australia and Japan, so he's pretty committed to that claim.
But how does Buffalo fare compared to big major league cities?
"This was definitely an extra weird situation in Buffalo with fans not even being allowed in the stadium," Hample said. "I had heard from people that baseball's do sometimes leave the stadium and I thought if I can get a baseball outside the stadium."
As he posted in a YouTube video, Hample walked away with three baseballs by the time he wrapped up his trip to Buffalo in mid-August.
"I actually got the baseballs thrown out of the stadium," Hample said. "Leftfield is really the only place where a batted ball could leave the stadium, but the netting is so high, I think it's like 35 feet high — so guys really have to crank them and also hit them pretty much down the line or at least straight away."
For Hample, and many of us trying to experience little specs or normalcy during the pandemic, even familiar pastimes have a way of being just a little different.
"It was one of the weirdest baseball experiences of my life," Hample said. "I didn't even get to see a live pitch and yet it was in its own weird way. A baseball experience."
A Buffalo, baseball experience.
You can subscribe to Hample's YouTube channel here.