Aaron Judge’s record-breaking 61st home run needed an expert.
The home run, which he hit in the Yankees’ 8-3 win over the Blue Jays on Wednesday, tied Judge with Roger Maris for the American League — and nonsteroid-tainted MLB — single-run homer record. season.
Tickets have skyrocketed for Yankees games as fans hope to catch the moment and perhaps get their hands on a lucrative piece of history.
A Toronto fan named Frankie Lasagna sitting in left field had that opportunity, but narrowly missed seeing Judge’s home run maddeningly fall under his outstretched arm and into the Blue Jays bullpen. Yankees reliever Zack Britton then got the ball back with no problem, as Lasagna threw his glove in frustration.
After the moment inches away from Lasagna, a question immediately arose in the MLB community. Within minutes, his name was trending on Twitter.
Where was Zack Hample?
The famous home run and baseball collector caught more than 12,000 balls in his career, including Alex Rodriguez’ 3,000th hit and Mike Trout’s first career home run. He regularly travels the country in search of striking and remarkable collectibles.
Well, he was hosting the Yankees’ cross-town rivals, watching the Mets’ emphatic victory over the Marlins with The Post. But rest assured, he was all over Judge.
For each of the batting judges, lively Hample intern Max Edelman, a Hofstra journalism student, streamed the YES Network show to watch on his iPhone.
The home run, however, only prompted a bigger question.
“I need to know where that bullet went,” Hample immediately asked aloud, a sense of physical FOMO overtaking his expression.
A few surrounding fans echoed that sentiment, shouting at Hample that he wasn’t in Toronto. Minutes later, Eduardo Escobar got Citi Field back on their feet around Hample with a two-run homer to cut the Mets’ deficit to 4-2 in the seventh inning, before later delivering the hit in the tenth. Escobar’s home run only landed one section where Hample was.
Hample got a slight reprieve moments later when it became clear no one had caught the 61st home run. On top of that, Hample pointed out, if Lasagna had the ticket to the seat closest to the home run and had actually gone to the game, he couldn’t have been at the place closest to where he landed.
But if he has been at this place, he is sure that the ball would have ended up in his glove.
As Judge returns to the Bronx, Hample plans to attend future Yankees games in pursuit of the 62nd – and record – home run.
And if he hangs it, he already knows what he will do with it.
“I think the fans should do whatever they want,” Hample said. “And unfortunately, no matter what you do, you are going to get screwed. If you keep the ball and want to sell it, you are greedy and selfish, it is not your achievement and the player deserves it more. And if you give it to the player, people will say you’re an idiot. Aaron Judge is going to sign a $300 million deal, he doesn’t need a fan’s favor. Really, I would leave that to the individual. I returned all the home runs players wanted, including Mike Trout’s first home run, which if I sent that ball up for auction now would cost millions of dollars. And I knew at the time how valuable that could be, he was the No. 1 prospect in baseball. Do what is right in your heart. The 60th of the judge was returned, the 700th of Albert Pujols was not.
“For all the people out there who are like ‘Judge, don’t hit it at Hample,’ people – if you want to see the judge get the ball back, he should hit it at me, because I’d love to give that baseball back to him. I make money making money on YouTube full time, and I have merchandise and I have sponsors, but the ball is going up in the air, I don’t see a dollar sign fly towards me. I’m just excited, I want to catch it. And beyond that, I would like the player to get it back, no matter the ball.