Dirk Hayhurst Returns

The entire roster is very small and I’m not even confident we have one guy for every position (although we have the beginnings of a pitching staff), but there is no question that if they ever open a Players/Authors Hall of Fame next to the larger one in Cooperstown, Dirk Hayhurst will be a first ballot electee.

And as of today he has two titles to put on his plaque. Out Of My League is now officially published and available in all formats, and without a prescription.

The Bullpen Gospels, his startling and unexpected 2010 debut as an author, told the gritty yet funny and redeeming story of a ballplayer’s sudden realizations that a dream career can still turn into a desperately unpleasant job, and that all but about six guys in his minor league were merely there to provide game-like practice for the actual prospects. It became a New York Times best-seller. If you want my detailed unabashed joy at reading the best baseball book since Ball Four, here is my original post from December, 2009.

In Out Of My League Dirk’s journey takes him to the majors with the Padres in 2008, and while the experience does not have quite the range of emotions as his first book (that would have required him to produce two baseball versions of Poe’s The Pit And The Pendulum) there are enough laughs and terrors to keep any baseball fan – or just any person – riveted.

Without scooping his story and telling it as my own, Hayhurst goes – in the span of one baseball season and one book – from moments of absolutely certainty that his career will end with nothing more achieved than the faint afterglow of a Texas League Championship, to being the starting pitcher against the San Francisco Giants. The same kind of disillusionment that made The Bullpen Gospels a universal story of handling the sour taste of reality – and one that you also discover to your shock, not everybody around you is bright enough to perceive – continues in the new book.

That this unhappy surprise comes at the major league level makes Out Of My League a touch more heretical, because it dents the fiction that The Bigs are Perfection With Whipped Cream On Top. Just because you’d give your right arm to pitch a game in the majors does not mean that’s a greater sacrifice than giving 20 years of your life for exactly that same singular opportunity. When you think of it in those terms – and Hayhurst forces you to – it suddenly seems less like the childhood dream of fame and success, and more like the scenario in which you get that bicycle you desperately wanted for Christmas, and are promptly directed to spend nearly all of your youth learning how to ride it, with the reward being your opportunity to guide it across a tightrope stretched across the two rims of a bottomless pit.

And still it’s a fun read. Plus, it will explain the hesitation of most modern pitchers. Once you read Out Of My League you’ll understand exactly where that uncertainty comes from: The pitcher staring back over his own shoulder is not always just checking a baserunner’s lead.

5 Comments

really enjoyed the first book, good to know his second book is out and will look for it soon.

I’ve been following Dirk Hayhurst on Twitter for a while now, and he’s one of the nicest, classiest people there. I highly recommend him as a follow. He tweets with panache. I try to do the same whenever possible, but I don’t come close. If his tweets are any indication of what his books might be like, then I can’t wait to read The Bullpen Gospels and Out Of My League. Keith’s glowing recommendations and write-ups reinforce that.

I have a confession to make. The Bullpen Gospels has been sitting on my night table for a long, long time, but I haven’t gotten around to reading it for lack of time. I know that sounds so phony, but it’s true. I dutifully keep it dusted and flip through it once in a while with the promise to myself that I WILL read it. Dirk, if you’re reading these comments, I apologize profusely for being so remiss in my reading.

I’m rather hoping that Dirk will someday go in another direction with his writing and provide us with The Adventures of the Garfoose, complete with illustrations. I’m not entirely certain I know what a Garfoose actually IS, but he seems to lead a fascinating life worth writing about! :)

Dirk Hayhurst is a wonderful writer…”The Bullpen Gospels” was awesome…he takes you into the story and keeps you captivated. You don’t have to know all the players and stats to love baseball…and there’s a good possiblity that you will totally enjoy his books even if for so really strange reason (like you’re from another planet) you don’t like baseball…thanks for the heads up about the new one,Mr. Olbermann :)

Oh, I hope to read it! English teachers love good books. I was watching the night you did a brief pitch for The Bullpen Gospels and was thrilled he went with my publishing company! I was watching again when he was on a while back! Now, he won’t need to self-publish! Wow! I look forward to this one as well! Also, a heads up…there is somebody selling baseball caps in these stands here. Hm.

My 11 year old son wants to read this book but I would like to know if has anything in it that would not be appropriate for his age. Any ideas?

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