“The Happy Youngster” a complete loser

Last night, Chris Coghlan, a recently called-up rookie for the Florida Marlins hit his first career home run. On camera, you could see an adult catch the ball and then disappear. After some research by the Marlins staff it was discovered that the guy who caught the ball was a Zack Hample wanna-be douche bag who calls himself “The Happy Youngster”.

When interviewed on camera, the guy came off as a total sleeze ball and demanded game-used signed bats from Coghlan and Hanley Ramirez. It wasn’t until much later than the Marlins organization found out just what a piece of crap this “Happy Youngster” really is.

Source: Miami Herald’s Fish Bytes

Coghlan said the man demanded an autographed baseball by Coghlan, a personalized Coghlan bat, an autographed Ramirez bat and — to top it all off — tickets to the Yankees/Marlins series in South Florida in June. He also wanted his photograph taken with Coghlan, whose name the man mispronounced even though he pretended to be a fan by wearing a Marlins cap.

29 thoughts on ““The Happy Youngster” a complete loser

  1. I’ve actually exchanged a few emails with Zack over the past six months… not at all what I expected.

    Needless to say, I apologized. 🙂

    This guy on the other hand is completely different. He held a kid’s ball hostage, a ball he promised to his mother.

  2. What a d-bag. I still get excited when I catch a ball during batting practice, but I always – ALWAYS – give it to a kid. It’s just a freakin’ baseball, you can buy them in stores for a couple bucks.

  3. Wait wait wait. You and Zack “talk to the hand so Ill shave it into the back of my head” Hample made up? That is weak. So, so weak.

  4. I actually read Hample’s blog, thanks to finding out about him thru here. It very well written , and I actually enjoy it. He has had a few stories about the Happy Youngster already this year. He was actually a guest at his house a few weeks back….

  5. I always like the Youngster. He’s been around since County Stadium. He was actually given the name by former Brewers broadcaster Matt Vasgersian after he caught TWO Henry Blanco home runs on consecutive days (how about those odds?). He’s always seemed a little boisterous, not a total dick, but not how I’d act. THIS, however… give the kid his ball. He’s probably older than Coghlan anyway.

  6. What a d-bag. I still get excited when I catch a ball during batting practice, but I always – ALWAYS – give it to a kid. It’s just a freakin’ baseball, you can buy them in stores for a couple bucks.

    Yeah, batting practice balls are about as cool as wal mart balls. Unless you are going to be playing with them in a game of your own, why keep them? Besides, tossed up balls dont count anyway. What a cop out.

    The young kids who would find joy in those baseballs should be getting them instead of creepy post-college burger king employees. I would much rather create a fan of the game for life than keep a ratty ball that was hit around in practice. I mean, dont these guys just keep them in trash cans in their houses? They are weird, sad little men.

  7. Screw all that, I went to Phillies game tuesday, BP before hand I almost killed for a ball. I do have 2 kids that were thrilled to death about that ball and to boot after the game got Furcal to autograph ( they were playing the Dodgers) but if I had been by myself I would have never given a kid the ball. I payed my way in the park that is my memorbilia. This guy maybe a douch bag but I would want something for the ball. At least a game used piece. Call me a dick, a douch or mf but at the end of the day I’m leaving happy.

  8. JL, I would ask for something but he went too far.

    Personally, I’d ask for a Coghlan signed bat and that’s all.

    He wanted a game-used bat from Hanley & Chris, a photo with Chris, and Yankees tickets.

  9. I think that this guy was just taking advantage of a once in a lifetime ball for a player. I think that we have all seen this before. How about 1 millon for a 500hr ball, or 825,000 for a record ball. What is the difference, in the end do what the players do look out for yourself.

  10. Hey, everyone-

    This is Zack Hample. Even though I’m a “grown-up” and I catch lots of baseballs at games, I’d like to say…for the record…that I give away lots of balls to kids, and I’m also doing a big charity thing this season to help kids. I’ve been getting people to pledge money for every ball I snag, and that money is going to a charity called Pitch In For Baseball, which provides equipment to needy kids all over the world. I’ve already gotten 104 donors and raised over $3,600.

    As for the Happy Youngster, I met him last month for the first time, and we’ve crossed paths at several games since then. I’ve personally witnessed him giving away baseballs as well, and although his demands may have been a bit high in this case, you should know that he really is a good guy.

    One the one hand, we could bash him for holding the ball hostage, but on the other hand, we could bash the Marlins for being so stingy and refusing to turn over a few pieces of memorabilia that they get for free. It’s actually a common practice for fans who catch important home runs to bargain with teams for memorabilia. I haven’t had the opportunity to do so myself, but I’ve talked to lots of fans who have, and usually it all goes much more smoothly.

    I don’t want to create a whole new firestorm here. I just wanted to offer another way to look at the whole situation. And on a final note, I hope the rookie ends up getting the home run ball returned to him. I suspect he will…


  11. The Happy Youngster doesn’t come off particularly well in the newspaper account, but I think we all realize that writers (and editors) slant things to make better stories.

    I know I would have wanted a signed bat or tickets to another game in exchange for the ball… maybe he just figured he had to haggle.

  12. Speaking as a writer (and editor) I’d like to clarify:

    “SOME writers (and editors) slant things to make better stories.”

    And by “some” I mean not the good ones.

    And I think we can throw bloggers in with the writers and editors, in that statement, too.

  13. Hmm…here I was all ready to bash the dude, and then I read the comments. Always remember there’s two sides to every story. Now I think I should go watch “Rashoman” again.

  14. I wouldn’t give a kid a ball I caught at a game. Why would I? I’ve never gotten a ball at a game and I’ve always wanted to. If and when I ever do, it’s MINE. I don’t understand the kid fetish that people have.

    I knew several kids when I was in school who had balls they had gotten in games, and none of them were baseball fans. Why would getting a ball from someone else who caught it make you a fan for life? What, you’re going to display that ball on your shelf and when anyone asks about it, you’re going to tell them the story about that fateful day in April of 2009 when your dad took you to see the Braves play the Pirates at PNC Park and Clint Sammons fouled off a pitch from John Grabow and some idiot next to you caught the ball and gave it to you? That’s a lasting memory?

    A Clint Sammons foul ball THAT YOU DIDN’T EVEN CATCH YOURSELF is going to create a baseball fan for life?

    As for this guy asking for memorabilia, I don’t see what the big deal is. Coghlan doesn’t pay for his bats. An autograph takes two seconds of his time, and he’s ASKING A FAVOR OF SOMEONE ELSE. If giving someone something he got for free and spending two seconds of his time is too much cost for Coghlan, then he doesn’t deserve the ball.

    The tickets don’t cost the team anything, the bats don’t cost the team anything, and they’re asking a favor of the guy. It’s not like he asked for a game-worn Joe DiMaggio jersey and hotel, tickets and airfare for a road series.

  15. This happy youngster guy is a strange fellow, to be sure. I’d be thrilled with a bat signed by the kid who hit the ball, that’d make for a cool story! Especially for a bat in a “color” other than natural brown.

    My favorite piece of my collection is the black, game used bat I got personally signed by Jeff Francouer. It was from when he played in Myrtle Beach… the bat broke during the game, and since I was working for the home team at the time (MB was visiting), I asked for it, had him sign it (and he did so in silver sharpie), and now I own it. It was stamped with his name and everything. Even though Francouer may never turn out to be anything other than a fringe major league, it’s a pretty cool looking piece. The stories and memories about my collection are for more valuable to me than any price tag you could put on it. I have a feeling that neither party in the Marlins negotiation acted with much class….

  16. The Brewers beat writer Tom Hardicourt has his own views on the matter. Seems this isn’t the first time happy has tried this.


    As for me, I would give a ball away under most circumstances. Lessen it was a home run or something else notable. I got my first ball ever at County Stadium from Greg Maddux. Now that ball I probably wouldn’t even give to my own kid. I will most likely be buried with it.

  17. ^ Kind of a surprise…but I was following it the past couple of days, and the comments were really getting out of hand.

  18. This is all bull crap! None of you have a clue about this guy. He donates the majority of the balls that he gets to kids! Not only that he has been great at giving back to the community. Before you go bashing someone, get the facts!

    Good people like him getting doged on really pave the way for more a-holes out there! It’s no wonder more people don’t want to good things, cuz jerks like you screw it up for everyone!

  19. His blog is back up.

    This guy steals baseballs from bullpens, he has, reportedly, knocked people over (including kids) to get balls. He pretends to be a fan of the opposing team to get them to throw him balls and he held a rookie’s home run ball for ransom.

    Tell me again what redeeming qualities he has?

  20. Zack Hample and Nick “The Happy Youngster” are both good guys. It’s just a hobby and they’re not hurting anyone. They pay the money for their tickets to the game and they do give balls to kids. Not EVERY ball, but at least some. The media in Nick’s case didn’t get the story completely right and I don’t believe the Marlins acted professionally in this case as well. Don’t always believe everything you read in the paper.

  21. all you guys are just jealous.. i know nick (The Happy Youngster) and he is a nice guy…. he gives the balls to others to play with, and he does have kids of his own that he gives that balls too also. It a hobby. Its not harming anyone.

  22. You guys are all a bunch of douche bags. You don’t know the guy. I know Nick personally and he’s a great guy. I’ve been to plenty of games with him and he give most baseballs away. I was also sitting next to Nick after he caught the ball. He showed and told me what he wanted. Signed bat of Hanley and Chris, and a signed ball. Theses guys make millions… What the hell is a few bats? Chris is just an asshole. I saw him go out and meet Nick and just be a complete ass. At least he’s not out doing drugs and shit like half you pole smokers are doing. Get a life and leave the guy alone. He did nothing wrong. Had I caught one I’d have done it myself. I ball hawk as well and it’s a fun hobby. It’s a hobby get over, your just pissed you weren’t clever enough to be a “fan” of the other team. He didn’t ask for Yankees tickets as well. All he ended up getting was a bat, and he gave the ball to him so quit your bitching.

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