Book Club – Watching Baseball Smarter
Not Just Baseball…Aceball is beginning a series of “Book Club” posts, highlighting baseball-related books. Posts will include a brief overview of the book so fans can decide if they would like to check it out for themselves. Some posts, such as this week’s feature, will also include an interview with the author.
If you have a suggestion for a book to be included, send an e-mail to Shannon at email@example.com.
Today’s Book Club installment features Watching Baseball Smarter: A Professional Fan’s Guide for Beginners, Semi-experts, and Deeply Serious Geeks by Zack Hample.
Watching Baseball Smarter is an excellent guide to the game, for fans of all levels. The book provides an in-depth, understandable guide to all things baseball, from explanations of positions and fundamentals to statistics and random facts about the game. Fans who are interested in expanding their knowledge of baseball will benefit greatly from Hample’s book.
The “Random Stuff to Know” and “Random Stuff to Notice” sections can be particularly entertaining for seasoned fans, because a lot of the information focuses on things that happen outside of the field of play. Baseball is a very intricate sport and system, and fans are not always privy to information regarding the inner workings of the game.
In addition to Watching Baseball Smarter, Hample also wrote How to Snag Major League Baseballs: More than 100 Tested Tips that Really Work and The Baseball: Stunts, Scandals, and Secrets Beneath the Stitches. An avid ball-hawk, Hample has snatched over 6,400 baseballs at Major League games throughout 23 seasons.
Recently, he has turned his ballhawking into a charity initiative, prompting family, friends and other fans to donate a certain monetary amount for each ball he gets during a season. Hample raises money for a non-profit called Pitch In For Baseball that provides baseball equipment to underprivileged kids all over the world.
Hample was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding his book and future plans for Not Just Baseball…Aceball.
Not Just Baseball…Aceball: Watching Baseball Smarter was published in 2007–while most of the information is still accurate/relevant, some things have changed in the game in the last five years. Is there anything you would want to change if you were to update the book?
Zack Hample: I’m planning to update the book, but I’m not yet sure when. I came pretty close to updating it last year, but I held off because there were some big changes in the baseball world right around the corner. Now the Astros are moving to [the] American League, the playoff format has changed, and there’s a seven-day DL for players with concussions. When the book came out in 2007, there wasn’t even instant replay. I would love to update all the rule changes and also some important stats and accomplishments — the Triple Crown for Miguel Cabrera, the new record for the most career home runs allowed by Jamie Moyer, Carlos Beltran joining the 300/300 club, etc. There are new players, new stadiums, new anecdotes, and new terms for the glossary, so it’ll be a big job.
NJBA: Do you have anything in the works that you’d like to share?
ZH: I’ve been toying around with a few different book ideas, but I haven’t yet plunged in. Some writers manage to crank out a book every year or two. I crank them out once or twice per decade, mainly because there’s so much other stuff that I like to do. I mean, one thing that I’m currently “working” on is decorating my apartment, but as you can see, this doesn’t fall into the writing category. Nevertheless, it’s a huge creative project that I’m proud of.
NJBA: How do you stay involved with baseball during the offseason?
ZH: I don’t. I get as far away from it as possible. I need to focus on other stuff so I can come back fully charged in the spring.
NJBA: What was your inspiration for adding a charity tie-in to your ball snagging? Have you been happy with the results?
ZH: I’m extremely happy. I’ve raised more than $20,000 since 2009, and with everyone’s help and participation, I’m still going strong. The inspiration was simple: you know how some people run marathons and get their friends to pledge a dollar (or whatever) for every mile? Well, it randomly occurred to me that I could do the same thing, except instead of running, I’d be snagging baseballs at major league games. As you can imagine, it feels pretty awesome to be able to use my hobby to raise money for less fortunate people.
Thanks to Zack for taking the time to answer some questions for us. For more information on Hample, including his charity initiative, you can visit his official website.