At first glance writer/director Jeff Siegel’s (directed episodes of 30 for 30 Shorts and UFC: 25 Years in Shorts) film seems like a rather documentary that will appeal to only a small audience. Once you give it a chance or dig a little deeper you begin to realize that the film is really a look at a man who has spent most of his life trying to find his place in this world. How his mother doesn’t really understand him and is quite worried about him. How he lives his life has made him at the same time hated and revered. That the energy he puts into his “hobby” or obsession has led to him not being able to find a life partner. This is not a baseball story at its heart. Rather, it is a human story.
On the precipice of turning 40, Zack Hample is at a point where he has achieved a milestone and is examining what he wants to do with his life. Besides hitting the age at which many believe you are truly becoming an adult, Hample has reached his desired number in his hobby of collecting MLB baseballs. He does not buy baseballs, rather the self-dubbed “tenth fielder” travels the country to MLB stadiums and collects game baseballs. Years ago he set up the goal of collecting 10,000 baseballs and now, incredibly, he has got his 10,000th ball. This leads to the question “Now what?”
Well, first, apparently, is to be the focal point of a documentary on his unusual hobby. Siegel attempts to give the full picture of what Zack Hample is all about. Told in his own words as well as in interviews with baseball people, other fans and his mother. A picture begins to form of a man who is not your typical guy and one who does not seem to want to be one.
Big MLB fans might recognize the name. Despite the fact that he is not a player. Hample has found himself involved in a couple of the biggest and most controversial moments in recent baseball history. Along the up and down road of him attempting to collect 10,000 among some in the MLB world, Zack Hample has become a polarizing figure. Some hate what he does while others respect him. Some young fans even hope to become just like Zack Hample.
What Siegel does really well is not judge the man. He just allows the story to unfold without injecting any opinion into it. That is left up to us the viewer. We get to decide whether we respect/like the man or see him as an attention seeking oddball.
The documentary is available on Apple, Amazon Prime, Google Play, YouTube Movies, Vimeo on Demand, and the Microsoft Xbox Store.