I have no quibble with Katie Couric filling the last five minutes of last night’s newscast with a fluffy little bit from correspondent Steve Hartman on Zack Hample, who has an uncommon knack for snagging baseballs at major league games. After all, Hample wrote the book on coming home from the game with a souvenir. No really, he did, and it’s called How To Snag Major League Baseballs. It was an interesting, if inconsequential, piece that’s even somewhat timely, seeing as the World Series is underway.
Only problem is, Hample and his sphere-snaring ways—addressing players in their native language, devising a ball-trap with a glove, rubber bands and a pen–is an old story. I know because I profiled Hample as part of a How-to piece for Stuff Magazine back in 1999, and I certainly wasn’t the first, or the last (here’s a partial list, and Stuff isn’t even on it). The story was a lot more interesting back then, because Hample was a kid. Seven years later, he’s a full-on grown-up—presumably taking balls from kids.
I could go on about wars and elections and other matters that perhaps deserve more air time, but I won’t. But if Couric’s going to fill the last five minutes with fluff, she should at least make it fresh fluff.
By Michael Malone