Age as of November, 30, 2012: 20 (January, 25th, 2012)
Home Stadium: PNC Park
Home City: Pittsburgh, PA
Throws: Left (It’s really more of a “catches right” thing, because obviously one does not throw a ton while ballhawking, but no one says “catches right”, so yeah. Zac is actually one of the very few ballhawks who is left handed. The only other one who comes to mind is Alex Kopp.)
Total Baseballs as of November, 30, 2012: 434
In only his fourth year of ballhawking/snagging baseballs, we can see that Zac is on the steady upwards climb in terms of his ballhawking — still not having a season where he hasn’t improved his per-game average from the previous season. This is comes at no surprise to anyone who knows of Zac’s work ethic.
Yes, it’s very top heavy. Some may use this as a criticism of Zac, but what naysayers fail to recognize is that getting 37 or 29 baseballs from the same person requires something admirable in one shape or from. Getting that many baseballs from one person requires 1. A dedication to ballhawking long enough so that you could get that many baseballs from one player or coach without him recognizing you. or Zac’s approach: 2. Foster a good relationship with him so that he’ll toss you that many baseballs. Zac has his charity initiative (which you can read about if you click this sentence), so he brought it up with both Heberto “Herbie” Andrade and Euclides Rojas, and they feel as though they are doing good by tossing him baseballs — which they *are*. This might seem cheap, but Zac had to start the charity in the first place, and can you really look negatively on a person for starting a charity? At that point, I think you are just looking for reasons to dislike a person. In addition, he also fosters the relationship between Andrade and Rojas by speaking to them in Spanish. Learning Spanish, of course, not being something you just learn in a day.
Top-5 Locations of Snags:
The ballpark all of these snags should come as no surprise, since PNC Park is by far the park Zac has attended the most in his career as a ballhawk. However, the location of the balls he snags within PNC Park is very odd. Of the eight ballhawks on mygameballs.com who list PNC Park as their home stadium and have snagged more than 5 baseballs in 2012, Zac is the only one whose highest “snag location” isn’t the left field bleachers. While this makes sense, since left field is the place where the season ticket holders are restricted to in the first half-hour of the gates opening, it means that once the rest of the stadium opens, Zac –more so than anyone else — takes advantage of this fact and flees the left field bleachers. As one reader put it:
” … Zac [plays] a completely different strategy than all of the other PNC regulars. For God knows what reason, all of the other regulars seem to battle it out for BP homers in the LF bleachers. Those seats seem to get fairly packed out there. Meanwhile, every single game I’ve seen him at Zac ends up in the handicapped seating area (or seats right behind it) in the RF foul corner. I am 100% on board with this strategy. There is almost no competition, or very little. And it gives you great access to the visiting team’s pitchers — which actually results in a lot of the “competition” being autograph collectors. [Down] the RF line, you can scoop up foul grounders over the short fence. There is very little foul territory and it is very easy (and frequent) for foul balls to hop into the crowd. I have no clue why more [people] don’t go down there…”
Breakdown of baseballs year-by-year:
From this we can see that he has a pretty steady ratio of hit balls to thrown balls. While people — like with the people who threw him the most baseballs — might see the surplus of thrown balls when compared to hit balls as a negative, this again is not necessarily the case. Sure, hit balls may be worth more to some people, but they aren’t objectively harder to obtain or anything like that. Zac’s style has just lent itself more to snagging thrown balls. Along with going elsewhere besides the left field bleachers when the stadium opens-up, Zac also does his homework when it comes to the players so as to increase his odds of tossing out a nugget that gets a ball tossed to him. Additionally, he has one of the main attributes of a hit-ball ballhawk down: speed. So it’s not completely the case that he is unskilled at getting hit baseballs, but his ballhawking just doesn’t pan-out that way as to snag a ton of hit balls.
I’ve pretty much covered this. I could do something further on this with another ballhawk in future profiles (if I do others), but Zac has snagged a total of 10 baseballs outside of PNC Park, so it would be pretty redundant to do it here.
Those aren’t bad highs for a career 3.12 Balls Per Game; not bad at all. If you want to check them out, the links to his blog entries on those games, they can be found 1. Here, 2. Here, 3. Here, 4. Here, and 5. Here.
Finally, if you want to check-out Zac’s blog in general, it is:
The past two offseasons I’ve thought about doing a ball-snagging related charity effort, but I didn’t want to possibly take away from the funds source of the others raising money for my charity. So, I created this monstrosity:
It was my little consolation for not creating a charity, since it does not require monetary effort, but considering my readers have only offset 20 pounds of Carbon Monoxide (which is a lot for how little it weighs, but is nothing compared to how much is in the atmosphere), I’ll take that down unless anyone has any objections and plug these ballhawks’ charities instead.
So who are these ballhawks and what are they’re charitites? Here they are:
Charity-Pitch In For Baseball.
Method of Payment- Pledge Per Ball.
Baseballs in 2011- 293
Let me take an excerpt from his blog entry about his charity work this year:
But what does Pitch In for Baseball do?
Direct from their website:
“We ship new and gently used equipment to children all over the world, as well as here in the U.S. Anyone is eligible, so long as your community has a genuine need for youth baseball and softball equipment and the kids want to have fun. We normally work with leagues and programs in the community that have the ability to distribute the equipment and have a demonstrated track record of working with kids.”
Speaking of his blog entry, ther is no way I could encapsulate what any of these people are doing with their charity better than they can, so here is a screen shot of (the top of) the entry:
, and here is a link to the entry so you can check it out for yourself (or selves if you want to refer anyone you know).
Charity- Seattle Humane Society “Snagging Baseballs for Puppies”.
Method of Payment- Pledge Per Ball and Charity Auction.
Baseballs in 2011- 136
The humane society is pretty self-explanatory, but if you don’t know what they do; they work on the prevention of animal abuse and providing support for abused animals in general.
Here is a screen shot of his charity page since he hasn’t written an entry on it since the World Series:
So if you would like to read that entry, here is the link.
Charity- Pitch In For Baseball.
Method of Payment- Pledge Per Ball with automatic entry into a raffle with donation based on amount donated.
Balls in 2011- 1,157. I think I just made myself dizzy writing that number. Anyway, this will most likely not be anywhere near the number it will be in 2011, so don’t worry about going bankrupt.
See Shawn’s description of Pitch In For Baseball’s mission, as Zack is fund raising fro the same charity.
Here is a screen shot of Zack’s entry on his charity work:
and here is the link to said entry for you to read about the donation process.
Charity-The Children’s Institute
Method of Payment- Pledge Per Ball, One-time Contribution, or you can bid on items and the money that you pay for it goes to the Children’s Institute.
Balls in 2011-137
The Children’s Institute is an organization that helps children that are behind others of their age in certain skillssuch as learning, motor, etc.
Here is a screen shot of Zac’s entry on the charity:
and although the entire entry is contained within the screen shot, here is the link, because the entry has links to some of his other pages where he manages the charity from. A general note on any of the screen shots:
If When have trouble reading them, click on the picture and you can zoom in to read it just fine, or, better yet, click on the link provided below all of them and read the whole entry as it is meant to be read.
Naturally I encourage anyone reading this to donate to at least one of their charities (why else would I be writing it?), I will personally be donating to all of them as my contribution to charity. Also, if you are interested anyone of these charities, or really like the cause, but don’t think you can donate to them, spread the word. The only thing that can come from doing so is good.