He may not be a professional athlete, but catching baseballs is nothing new to Zack Hample. Since 1990, the renowned “ball collector” has caught 6,819 balls at 50 different MLB stadiums, according to Yahoo Sports. However, Hample’s most impressive catch may have occurred in June, when he set an unofficial world record by catching a baseball dropped from a helicopter flying 1,050 feet overhead.
Hample, 35, accomplished the feat on Saturday at LeLacheur Park, home to the Red Sox Single-A affiliate Lowell Spinners, Yahoo Sports reports. Wearing the requisite protective gear and staring upward, Hample waiting patiently as the baseball dropped from a helicopter flying 1,050 feet overhead into his waiting glove.
For Hample, catching the baseball wasn’t nearly as simple as tracking a routine pop-up. The baseball reportedly took 12 seconds to drop the 1,050 feet, and traveled at speeds as high as 95 mph to do so, Yahoo Sports reports. To make the record-setting catch, Hample had to overcome the ball’s speed, gusts of wind, and the possibility of severe injury.
After the attempt, Hample admitted that he had worried that the ball’s velocity during its 1,050-foot drop could have negative consequences. "If I were to just miss it and it hit me in the face with my neck tilted back at that angle, would that snap my neck? Would it kill me? Would it paralyze me? I actually thought about these things,” Hample said on a YouTube video.
Despite his fears, Hample managed to make the catch without hurting himself, setting what would have been a world record in the process. There was just one caveat—because a Guinness Book of World Records official was not on hand to witness the feat, Hample’s efforts will go unrecognized.
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Hample isn’t the only baseball fan to pull off an unlikely catch lately. On Sunday, a Cleveland Indians fan caught four foul balls during a single game, an event so improbable that the odds of such an occurrence were placed at one in 1 trillion, NESN reports.