The actual record may be a little fuzzy, but we’re guessing it will be a good show when author Zack Hample attempts to set a mark for catching a ball dropped from a high distance.
The event will be attempted at LeLacheur Park with the help of the Lowell Spinners (short season A; NY-Penn League).
Hample will attempt to set a new record for a ball dropped from a high distance, but it’s not entirely clear exactly what record he’s attempting to break. Some recognize the current record being set by Hall of Fame catcher Gabby Hartnett, who caught a ball from a blimp at anywhere ranging from 550 to 800 feet in the air in 1930, but there never was a measurement, and estimates vary. A more recognized record is 708 feet, one listed in previous editions of the Guinness Book of World Records, set by Cleveland Indians catchers Hank Helf and Frankie Pytlak when they each caught a ball dropped from Cleveland’s Terminal Tower. Former Major League catcher Joe Sprinz broke his jaw and lost several teeth in a failed attempt in 1939, the last time the stunt was attempted. The current Guinness Book of World Records website doesn’t list a record.
Hample described in his 2011 book The Baseball: Stunts, Scandals and Secrets Beneath the Stitches, previous record-breaking attempts to catch a baseball from great heights.
“When Zack first approached us about the idea, our initial reaction was ‘absolutely yes’,” said Spinners Director of Media Relations Jon Boswell. “When you shoot someone out of a cannon over the outfield wall, there’s not much that falls into the ‘no’ category.”
The record-setting attempt is set to occur Monday, July 2 at 7:30 a.m. when the wind and sky conditions are optimal. Hample, decked out in catcher’s gear, will first attempt to catch a softball from a height of 300 feet, before moving on to a baseball from intermediate heights building up to 1,000 feet. That distance would set a definitive record.
“There are only so many times you can be a part of history,” said Boswell. “Zack has done the research and is putting himself on the line. We’re just thrilled to be a part of it.”
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