THE PLACE TO LEARN ABOUT BASEBALL -- AND HOW TO SNAG ONE AT A MAJOR LEAGUE GAME




Frequently (and infrequently) asked questions



Who are you?
I'm a baseball fan, a writer, a native New Yorker, and a really big nerd. That's the five-second answer. Keep reading and check out my photos to find out more.

New York City?
Yes. I've lived in Manhattan my whole life.

What was it like growing up there?
Great.

Ever been mugged?
Only once. I was 12 and stupidly walked down an empty street on my way home from school. Two guys stepped out of a doorway and one of them said, "Give us your money." I didn't even have a wallet at the time, so they only got two subway tokens, which were then worth $1.15 apiece. Haha.

Where did you go to school?

That was Friends Seminary. I was there from 7th through 9th grade. I went to Collegiate from 1st through 6th and finished up at Columbia Prep.

Where did you go to college?
I went to a small Quaker school in North Carolina called Guilford. I highly recommend it.

Are you a Quaker?
No, but Friends Seminary was Quaker and I really liked it. Quakers are cool. They think violence is dumb. They make decisions by consensus. They don't shove their religion in anyone's face. They don't believe in a hierarchy of power, so among other things, that means everyone goes by their first name. The president of Guilford was Don.

Why North Carolina?
I wanted to escape New York but stay on the east coast. I wanted to go warmer rather than colder, and I was looking for a small, liberal arts school with a gorgeous campus and a Division III baseball program. Guilford had it all and happened to be in Greensboro.

Did you play baseball?
I played my whole life right up into college and through my freshman year.

How come you stopped playing?
It's tough to play a varsity sport in college AND have a life. There were Saturdays when the team would leave campus at 4:30am to play a doubleheader in Virginia, and we wouldn't get back until midnight. All that for sitting on the bench and maybe, if I was lucky, getting to pinch-hit at the tail end of a blowout? I think not.

So you weren't that good?

Well, look what I'm doing with my life. I'm writing about baseball instead of playing it, so I guess I wasn't THAT good in the grand scheme of things. I would like to point out, however, that I finished my college career with a .429 batting average (6-for-14). Thank you.

How come you only got 14 at-bats if you hit so well?
I have no idea. It sucked. Upper classmen generally got more playing time even if they weren't the best players. I'm not saying I was the best, but still...

What position did you play?
Third base and scoreboard operator. Before college, I was a starting shortstop and usually batted third or cleanup, so it was tough to accept my limited role as a part-time player.

Did you play any other sports?
At Guilford? No. Unless you count that one-credit racquetball class. I played basketball in 8th and 12th grade, did the track & field thing in 11th grade, and played some serious tennis as a kid. I also skied and played ping pong and soccer and a bunch of other sports.

What sports do you follow now?
Just baseball. I appreciate other sports. I like watching highlights on "SportsCenter," but in terms of who wins and loses? Don't care.

What's your favorite baseball team?
I don't have one. I grew up as a Mets fan, but now I root for individual players regardless of what team they're on.

Who are your favorite players?
Cal Ripken Jr. is my all-time favorite. I love Heath Bell because he has always been incredibly nice to me -- and Tony Womack because he went to Guilford. I have a thing for numbers, so I like guys who consistently put up amazing stats (without using steroids): Frank Thomas and Wade Boggs in their primes, Ichiro and Pujols these days. I don't root for the Yankees, but I love Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. Trevor Hoffman and Greg Maddux rank high on my list. Tim Lincecum and David Wright are newer faves. I like Loek Van Mil because he's 7-foot-1, but he's still in the Minor Leagues.

What's the deal with your baseball collection?
I'm a natural-born collector. I'm a huge nerd. (We've discussed this already.) I tend to get obsessed with things, and one of them happens to be catching baseballs at major league games. Someone has to be insane about it. Might as well be me.

How old were you when you caught your first ball?
Twelve.

How'd you get it?

It was thrown by a Mets pitcher during batting practice at Shea. I remember calling out for it from the right field corner, and like a moron I quickly forgot who it came from.

When did you really get into collecting balls?
I caught my first four balls in 1990 and added 14 more in 1991. The following season, after I'd already been riding the subway to and from school for two years, my parents reluctantly gave me permission to go to games by myself. That's when my collection took off. I attended 80 games in 1992 and snagged 128 balls that year alone.

Do all your balls come from batting practice?
Most but not all. I've caught lots during actual games.

Have you ever caught a historic ball?
In September 2008, I caught two of the last ten homers ever hit at the old Yankee Stadium, and then a week and a half later I caught the last Mets homer ever hit at Shea. I also caught Barry Bonds' 724th career homer a few years earlier in San Diego. There've been others, but these are the highlights.

What were you doing in San Diego?
Visiting my friend Hannah, checking out PETCO Park, and trying to catch a Bonds homer.

Was it actually your goal to catch a Bonds homer?
Absolutely. I talked about it on my blog a month before my trip.

How did you catch it? Where were you sitting?
I wasn't sitting. I was standing, and I wrote a long entry about the experience.

You have an entire blog devoted to your baseball collection?
It's true. A senior editor at MLB.com invited me to start blogging about it in April 2005, and I stuck with it.

What did you do with the Bonds ball? Did you sell it?
I still have it. It's not for sale. It's never been for sale. It never will be for sale.

What if someone offered you a million dollars?

It's not worth a million dollars.

How about $100,000?

It's not worth that much either.

$10,000?
Still a bit high, but realistic. Anyway, it's not for sale. Owning the ball makes me happier than it would to own an extra $10,000. That might sound ridiculous, but it's true.

How can you prove that your ball is THE ball?
As soon as I caught it, I was hoping security would whisk me away and tell me that the ball was secretly coded with an invisible DNA stamp. Unfortunately that didn't happen, and at the time, I didn't know about MLB's authentication program, so I can't prove it beyond giving you my word as an honest New Yorker.

What about the last Mets homer at Shea?
I wrote a 5,000-word blog entry about that entire day, but basically, it was hit by Carlos Beltran. The left field bleachers were insanely crowded. Somehow I managed to maneuver into position and catch it on the fly. I immediately got the ball authenticated and later heard from a sports memorabilia dealer that it could be worth $100,000. I still have the ball and don't intend to sell it.

ARE YOU CRAZY?!?!?!
Many people seem to think so.

How much is your whole collection worth?
It's not for sale, and I have no idea. You tell me. If you wanted to buy an official major league ball from a store, it'd cost anywhere from $12 to $25. Would you pay more for one of mine because it was used? Or would you pay less for the same reason? How about all those commemorative balls? How much are those worth? $50 apiece? $100 apiece? More? Less? Did I mention that my collection is not for sale?

Do you label your balls? How do you know which is which?

I didn't label my first 2,000 balls, but I labeled the next 2,000 after that. As soon as I caught a ball, I wrote the number on it, and I kept a log on my computer with the corresponding details. For example, when I caught my 2,500th ball, I wrote a small '2500' on it and typed the following into my log when I got home: "2500: 6/7/05, Shea Stadium, tunnel/aisle between Loge sections 4/6, bottom of the 4th, no outs, 1-2 count, foul ball hit by Marlon Anderson off Roy Oswalt, caught it on the fly, 82nd gamer, oh baby." I still update the log, but I've pretty much stopped labeling the balls. It's too much of a hassle, and I like to keep them in their original condition.


How many balls are you up to now?
More than 4,600. Check out my lists (especially the one called yearly totals) for all the up-to-the-minute stats.

Are you in the Guinness Book of World Records?
I wish. The people at Guinness expressed interest at one point, but now they're just being difficult and making it nearly impossible for me to prove that my collection is legit. One of their policies states that anything sent to them BECOMES their property, meaning they would own the rights. I would love to send them a copy of my first book, but not under those circumstances. Same goes for my TV interviews (some of which are on YouTube), but the networks won't allow it. It's extremely frustrating.

But you do have the record, right?
It's hard to say. There are two guys who've caught more balls than me, but their collections include balls from Spring Training and the Minor Leagues. Mine doesn't. But I count balls that are thrown to me -- something that a handful of old-school "ballhawks" frown upon. Anyway, in terms of baseballs at major league stadiums, yes, I've snagged more than anyone.

Who are the best players that have thrown balls to you?
Craig Biggio, Tom Glavine, Tony Gwynn, Rickey Henderson, Trevor Hoffman, Ryan Howard, Derek Jeter, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Don Mattingly, Mark McGwire*, Mike Piazza, Albert Pujols, Mariano Rivera, Ozzie Smith, Ichiro Suzuki, and David Wright to name a few. Here's the complete list.

What's the most balls you ever snagged at one game?
My record is 32, and it happened on 6/18/09 at Kauffman Stadium. (Prior to that, my personal best was a 28-ball performance on 4/10/08 at Nationals Park.) My record for foul balls in one game DURING the actual game is three, and I've done it three times, most recently on 8/29/07 at Camden Yards. I also once snagged two home runs during one game.

How did you carry all those balls?
In a backpack.

Do you get a ball at every game?
Yes. The last time I went to a game and didn't snag at least one was September 2, 1993.

Where do you keep your balls?
At my mom's place. I have five filing drawers filled with 144 balls apiece, seven 32-gallon barrels each with 400, and more balls scattered in other places.

What does your mom think?

My parents thought it was cute until 1992, worrisome through '98, and fantastic once my book came out in '99.

Did you have a goal? Do you have one now?
My original goal was to get ONE ball. Early in '92, I decided I'd go for 100 (everyone laughed), and three months later, I changed my goal to 1,000. In 2005, I jokingly started comparing my ball total to the all-time hits list, and I passed Pete Rose four years later. At this point, there's not really a specific number that I'm shooting for, but I expect to snag my 5,000th ball this season.

Did you ever think your collection would turn into such a big thing?
Not at all. It's just something I started doing (and still do) for fun, though the attention has been pretty cool. The best thing about it becoming such a big thing is that I've been able to use all this attention to raise money for charity.

Are you ever going to stop collecting?
Yes, when I die.

When's your next game?
Hard to say. It's usually a last-minute decision, and the weather has a lot to do with it. The best way to keep up with what I'm doing is to check out my blog and read the comments. I get lots of comments and try to answer them all.

Can I go to a game with you?
I was hoping you'd ask. In fact, so many people have asked that I turned it into a business in 2007. It's called Watch With Zack, and if you join me for a game, I guarantee you'll get a ball.

Can I go to a game with you for free?
Yes, if you're a great friend, a member of the media, or my mom.

Can you give me one of your baseballs?
Absolutely. Hire me for a game and I'll catch one for you. It's as simple as that. I'll also help you snag balls on your own and teach you lots of lesser-known facts and nuances about the sport itself.

Can you give me a ball if we don't go to a game together?
Anything's possible. When I attend games on my own, I still give balls away, but not to people who ask. (If I gave one to everyone who asked, I'd have negative 10,000 balls.) I give them to kids with gloves who are trying hard to get balls on their own, but who are coming up just a bit short. Sometimes, if I'm too busy running around to spot a deserving kid, I'll give a ball to an usher and tell him to give it to the fan he thinks would enjoy it most. So who knows? Even if you're not an official Watch With Zack client, one of my baseballs might still end up in your hands someday.

Have you ever gotten into a fight for a ball?

I've been at the bottom of some scrums and taken a few elbows to the jaw, but nothing too serious or mean-spirited. Everyone gets a little crazy in the heat of the moment, but most people are then able to step back from it and appreciate the competition as part of the fun.

Do you knock over little kids?
No, no, and no. I've never knocked over a kid -- or anyone, for that matter. I'm extremely careful and aware of my surroundings. The most aggressive fans are often the ones who've never caught a ball. They really WILL go crazy and do whatever it takes to get one because they see it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Do you steal balls from kids?
I'll admit that when I was a kid myself, I used to reach in front of people for balls. I'm ashamed that I acted that way, but I learned from my mistakes. Now, as I mentioned, I give balls away and teach kids (of all ages) how to snag balls for themselves.

What do you do with the balls that you keep?
I do exactly that: I keep them. They make me happy. Is that weird? I don't sleep with them or take them out to Central Park and play with them, if that's what you mean.

Does your ball total indicate how many you've caught or how many you actually own?
The former. I think that's the more important number.

Do you trade balls?
No. I'm only interested in owning balls that I caught.

Do you ever just sit back and enjoy the game?
I enjoy the game BY running around. In general, I need to be doing eight different things at once or else my brain will rot. Going for balls helps me stay focused and keeps my head in the game. It's the same reason why some people like to keep score, but chasing baseballs is better exercise. I do sometimes miss a bit of the action by running around, but that doesn't mean I don't care. I watch games all the time on TV, and I read every box score every day.

What’s the best way to catch a ball?
You mean, other than going with me and having me by your side to show you exactly where to stand and what to look for and how to talk to the players? Read my blog. I write about every game I attend, and I explain exactly what I do. You will not find a better source of info, but if you're just looking for a quick answer, show up early for batting practice, bring a glove, be alert, stay mobile, wear a hat of the visiting team, beg the players for balls, and have large breasts.

I'm going to a game at _______ Stadium next week. Can you give me some tips?
I get so many emails like this that I truly don't have time to answer them, but there's a decent chance that I've already blogged about the stadium you're going to. I've been to dozens of stadiums since I started blogging in 2005, so just comb through my lists and you might find the one you're looking for.

How many stadiums have you been to overall?
All of them plus eighteen. Again, check out the lists. There's one in particular called stadium totals.

What's your favorite stadium?
Favorite in terms of what, beauty? Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, and that new one in San Francisco with the ugly names that keep changing. In terms of balls? Kauffman Stadium, Camden Yards, and Rangers Ballpark.

What are your least favorites?
I had lots of issues with the old Yankee Stadium. Now that it's gone, I have to go with the new Yankee Stadium. That place has too many rules, most of which are moronic and unnecessary.

How many games have you been to?
Hundreds. Lists.

Do you have season tickets?
Nope. Never have.

How do you get tickets?
I usually buy them at the ticket window on the day of the game.

What if the game is sold out?
Even at "sellouts," there are usually a few single tickets floating around, but most games don't sell out, and I'm good at avoiding the ones that do.

How do you afford to go to all these games?
It's called work.

No really, isn't it expensive?
Actually, no. I attend a few dozen games every season, many of which are in New York City and are accessible by subway. I usually buy the cheapest tickets, which cost $20 or less, so I spend less than $1,000 a year. Every now and then, I'll book a hotel and hop on a flight to check out a new stadium, but that's still a pretty cheap way to take a vacation. Anyway, like I said, I work.

Where do you work?
In addition to writing books and taking Watch With Zack clients to games, I work at my family's book store. I used to write for minorleaguebaseball.com, and I've had a bunch of random jobs over the years.

How come you don't write for minorleaguebaseball.com anymore?
The hours were brutal, the money wasn't great, and I had my own writing projects to pursue. So I quit. No hard feelings. I just had to move on.

What did you write for minorleaguebaseball.com?

Mostly game recaps like this or this, plus occasional feature stories like this and this. (I still write articles like this for other sites, and I've also gotten paid to write the forewords/introductions for a few books.)

Did you attend all those games?
Negatory. We did the work from an office in Manhattan and got the info online. When something spectacular happened (like a perfect game) and I needed quotes, I called the team and requested an interview with the players and coaches.

How did you get that job?
Total fluke. I knew a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy. That's the only way to get anywhere in New York City, it seems.

What do you do at the book store?
The book store is more than just books. There's an entire floor of antique maps and prints and another floor of autographs. I mainly catalog books and autographs for the website, but sometimes I'll answer the phones or ring up a one-dollar book at the cash register. It's an extraordinary place.
My grandfather started the business in 1926.

Do you collect autographs?
Yeah, but I don't try too hard to get them. I don't hang out at the hotels or anything like that. In all the years that I've been going to games, I've collected about 1,500 autographs, mostly on ticket stubs.

Ticket stubs?
I never wanted to get my baseballs signed. I thought they should stay in their original condition, which is why I never played with them. Tickets were small and portable and different.

So you don't have any signed balls?
I do, but only five of them are balls that I caught. I got my 1,000th, 2,000th, and 4,000th balls signed by the players who threw them to me, and I got a couple other signed balls without trying. I once caught one at Shea that was already signed by Rockies shortstop Omar Quintanilla. Another time I lent a ball to CBS for a segment with Charlie Sheen, and it was returned with his autograph.

How come you didn't get your 3,000th ball signed?
It wasn't thrown by anyone, and I'm not sure who hit it. The ball rolled onto the warning track during batting practice at the old Yankee Stadium, and I retrieved it with my glove trick.

What are some of your best autographs?

Cal Ripken Jr., Alex Rodriguez, the entire 1986 Mets team on a ball, Mickey Mantle, Jose Reyes on three different ticket stubs from his cycle. I don't know. Yogi Berra, Jim Palmer, Lou Brock, Hank Aaron, etc.

What other stuff do you collect?
Baseball stuff? I have about 100,000 cards from back in the day, plus I've gotten some bonus items at games over the years: lineup cards, batting gloves, hats, bats, a glove, a wrist band -- stuff like that. As for non-baseball items, I had all kinds of collections as a kid, and my three biggest were coins, business cards, and mix tapes. Nothing worth bragging about, though. I'd collect books if I had more shelf space, and I'd read them all if I had more time.

What are your favorite books?
Last Exit to Brooklyn, Native Son, Me Talk Pretty One Day, The Fixer, Slaughterhouse-Five, New Yorker Book of Cat Cartoons, Word Freak, Little Prince, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Portnoy's Complaint, Ball Four, Bronx Zoo, Shoeless Joe, Moneyball, Maus, Phantom Tollbooth, Arcade Fever, All the Sincerity in Hollywood, The Ball, Underground Dictionary, Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, Baseball Encyclopedia, Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, The Meaning of Tingo, Seams, Lolita, Regis P. Pissit's Romanciology (which incredibly remains unpublished), Children's Letters to God, Tuesdays With Morrie, Guinness Book of World Records, Mr. Nobody and the Umbrella Bug, Elements of Style, Where the Wild Things Are, A Light in the Attic, Limericks, The Silly Book, The Bad Guys Won, The 776 Stupidest Things Ever Said, and my high school senior yearbook.

Hey, isn't Children's Letters to God your dad's book?
Indeed. I snuck a few of his other titles in there as well. His name was Stuart Hample. Sometimes he went by "Stu" or "Stoo," so do a search and you'll see what else he wrote.

What are your best baseball cards?
I have a Ty Cobb from 1909, a Dizzy Dean from '34, a Mantle from '59, and various rookie cards of guys like Nolan Ryan, Reggie Jackson, Cal Ripken Jr., Rickey Henderson, Dave Winfield, Robin Yount, George Brett, Tom Seaver, Rollie Fingers, etc.

How do you get lineup cards and all those other things?
It's just a matter of luck, but I usually get them by asking at the dugouts. I don't worry about being obnoxious. If I see something I want, I'll speak up. The worst that can happen is getting ignored.

Do you play fantasy baseball?
Never! First of all, I don't have enough time, and secondly, I don't want an abstract game to dictate who I should root for in real life. That's not meant as a diss for people who are into it. I'm just saying it's not my thing.

How did you get into competitive Scrabble?
I got pretty good as a kid just by playing with my family and friends. In 1997, I discovered the New York City club, and later that year I started my own club in college. I became a member of the National Scrabble Association, memorized every two- and three-letter word, played in five sanctioned tournaments, and started working at national championships.

Are you ranked?
The Scrabble world uses a rating system instead of simply ranking people 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. The worst possible rating (like, for someone who plays in one tourney and loses every game) is 500. The few best players in the world are rated about 2000, and the cutoff for "expert" status is 1600. My rating is 1545, though my skills are a bit rusty now. At one point, I think I had something like the 479th highest rating in North America, whatever that means.

What's your average score?
Against rated players, about 350 to 375 points per game. Against non-rated players, I don't know, maybe 425 to 450.

What was your best game?
I've scored over 600 a few times against bad players, so in this case my definition of "best" has to be the time when I got extremely lucky and beat Joel Sherman at the NYC club. It was 1998, and he was still the reigning world champion from the previous year's tournament. Permanent bragging rights! Of course, he's kicked my ass half a dozen times since then.

What's your highest score for one word?
I once played "QUAGGIER" through a letter already on the board for 194 points. (Quaggy means marshy, BTW.) The word hit two Triple Word Scores, so my points were tripled and then re-tripled, and on top of that, I got the 50-point bonus for using all seven of my tiles at once.

Did you ace the verbal section on the SATs?
I got a 430 on the verbals (out of 800) and a 940 overall (out of 1,600), so no. I was the only kid in my 11th grade class who didn't take a prep course. I just didn't care.

When did you start your rubber band ball?
When I was four. My older cousin had one, and he was the coolest, so I had to have one too. My mom actually started it for me because I wasn't able to wrap the bands around themselves at the time.

You've spent decades working on a rubber band ball?!
I don't even take breaks on holidays. C'mon. It's just a part-time thing. At this point, I only add to it when I'm on the phone with someone who won't shut up. I have one of those hands-free telemarketer headsets.

What's in the center of the ball?
Rubber bands.

No, in the VERY center. Did you start with a ping pong ball or something?
Hell no. That's cheating. My ball is 100% rubber bands.

But how do you start with nothing?
You don't start with nothing. You start with a rubber band, preferably a big one. Just fold it over a few times or tie it in knots, and then carefully wrap other bands around it.

How much does your ball weigh?
228 pounds.

How big are you going to make it?
I'm limited by the width of the door to my apartment. If the ball gets much bigger, I won't be able to get it out.

Does it bounce?
Do I want my downstairs neighbors to kill me? And can I even lift it? Actually, it would bounce pretty high on a solid surface like the sidewalk, but Mayor Bloomberg might take issue.

Does it float?
No clue. I never had the guts to try this particular experiment. I suspect that if it got wet, the water would seep into the ball and slowly rot it from the inside out.

How do you find rubber bands that are big enough?
I order them from a company in Pennsylvania that specializes in big bands.

Isn't that expensive?
Two bucks a pound, baby. Adding to the ball was more expensive in its early stages when I used small bands that came in small packages.

Were you always the superstar of show-and-tell?
Yes.

Do you have the record for the largest rubber band ball?

Not even close. The biggest ball in the world weighs over two tons. The guy who made it lives in the country and keeps it in a garage.

Is it true that you have the world record on Arkanoid?

I don't lie.

How do you know you have the record?

Twin Galaxies says so. It's like the Guinness Book of video game and pinball scores. Every year Twin Galaxies runs a four-day competition for classic arcade video games at a place called Funspot in Weirs Beach, NH. I've been to a few of these events, and I set the Arkanoid record in 2000.

What was your score?
It won't mean anything to you if you've never played the game, but my score was 1,658,110.

How did you get so good at it?
I played it all the time as a kid and loved it so much that I bought my own Arkanoid machine in 1999.

How much d—
$280 on eBay.

What the deal with your writing group? Is it YOUR group or just something that you're part of?
It's my group. I started it in 2002 because I was tired of writing alone in my journal and wanted some company. The group started small -- I was the only person at the first meeting -- but I stuck with it.

What do you do at the group? Critique each other's stuff?
We write for the first hour. No assigned topics. People just do their own thing. And then we take turns reading our work and getting feedback. It's all very laid-back and social.

Where do you meet?
We used to meet at Barnes & Noble. Then the group became too big and moved to the public atrium at Ollie's Noodle Shop & Grille. And when we became too big for that, we started meeting in people's homes. In warmer months, we sometimes go to the park.

Are you looking for new members?
Not at the moment, sorry, but if you live in New York City and have a nice/big apartment and would be willing to host a meeting, I'll make an exception.

Did you do research for The Baseball or did you already know everything?
I thought I knew just about everything when I started the project, and I was wrong. I ended up doing lots of research and learning some amazing things in the process.

Can I have a free copy?
Shame on you for asking. I spent a solid year and a half of my life working on it, and it only costs $14.95. Be nice and support the cause, eh? I received two dozen copies from the publisher, and those are already gone. If I were going to give you a copy, I'd have to buy it first.

Where can I buy your book?
You can order it from Amazon or the Argosy Book Store or pick it up at any other store that sells new books.

How can I get an autographed copy?
If you order the book from the Argosy, I can sign it before it gets mailed out. Just call the store at 212.753.4455 and ask the person who takes the order to put the book aside for me. If you buy the book elsewhere, you can do two things: 1) Mail it to me at the Argosy Book Store with a self-addressed stamped envelope. 2) Bring it to a game and track me down, but please respect the fact that I might be busy running around for balls. The best times for me to sign the book at a game would be outside the stadium before the gates open, between batting practice and the game, or between innings. Pitching changes could also work. And rain delays.

How long did it take you to write Watching Baseball Smarter?
Four years, on and off. I didn't have a contract for that one at the start, so I had to keep working other jobs and squeeze in my writing time whenever possible.

How did you get your books published?
After writing my first two books, I wrote book proposals and found agents. The agents then sent the manuscripts to publishers. With my new book, I signed a contract and got paid up front.

I've written a book. Can you put me in touch your agent?
Sorry, no can do. She's extremely busy right now and not looking for additional projects.

Do you need an agent to sell a book?
Not officially. You can send an unsolicited manuscript directly to publishers, but they won't take you seriously, and it'll probably get buried at the bottom of the "slush pile" for six months. It would be like walking into a major league stadium and saying, "Hi, I'm pretty good. Can I play for your team?"

How much money did you get for you books?
What?

Are you working on a new book?
No. I'm totally burned out from writing, but I'll probably write another book eventually.

What's your middle name?
Ben.

Benjamin?
Did I say Benjamin?

How many siblings do you have?
I have two brothers and a sister. The youngest one is 14 years older than me.

What kind of camera do you use?
I have a Canon ELPH PowerShot SD870 IS. It's excellent.

Will you visit my school/camp/company/country club and give a speech?
Yes. Get in touch and I'll give you my rates.

How long did it take to decorate your bathroom?
Two months. Click here for a video tour.

Did you use some special adhesive to get all those cards to stick?

Just clear packing tape.

Do you have OCD?
No, it's called passion, bitch.

What kind of music do you listen to?

Basically, my collection includes all genres of pop from about 1953 to the present. We're talking doo-wop, oldies, lots of classic rock, disco, monster ballads, alternative/grunge, punk, hip-hop, techno/house, pretentious new hipster shyte, and even a little Britney Spears and NSYNC. Whatever. I'll admit it. We all have our guilty pleasures. I also have a good amount of classical music, a very teeny bit of (mostly old-school) country, and a whole playlist of video game music. (Ever hear the Life Force medley?) Tell me that's not cool.

Why do you shave your head?
Nature started it. I finished it.

How often do you work out?
I've never belonged to a gym, but I do my own little exercise routine at home and stay active in general.

Do you have a girlfriend?
No.

Are you on Facebook?
Nah, just MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/zackhample
And Twitter: http://twitter.com/zack_hample

How come?
I was the last person to join MySpace, and before that I was the last person to join Friendster. I'd poured my guts into my (now-deleted) Friendster profile. I updated it constantly, and I wrote amazing testimonials for all my friends, and then one day, everyone was like, "Friendster sucks. It's all about MY space," and I was like, "Your what?" and they were like, "MySpace, retard," and I was like, "I'm perfectly content being on Friendster, and I've spent all this time and effort maintaining my profile there, so whatever, you go have fun with your little MySpace friends," but then of course it actually became embarrassing to be on Friendster, so I had no choice but to join MySpace. Then one day, when all seemed right with the world, people started telling me, "MySpace is for losers. You gotta be on Facebook, Son," and I was like, "Ha, I'm not falling for this again." So I'm holding out. I refuse to transfer my entire e-social existence to another networking site. In addition, Facebook makes everything public. Anyone you're friends with, I've been told, can "write on your wall." I have a lot of different friends; some worlds were not meant to mix. And finally, Facebook just seems annoying. I'm obviously not one to judge (as I've spent the bulk of my life chasing baseballs) but I really don't feel the need to have a virtual pet, nor did I ever feel the need to play Scrabulous. I refuse to play online Scrabble. I used to play back in college and people always accused me of cheating when I pulled out eight-letter words they'd never heard of. Then they'd either start cheating or they'd quit. No thanks. I don't need Facebook to entertain me. There! I said it, and I feel a lot better.

Do you realize your FAQ section is 6,345 words?

Oops.