Dr. Rico, June 8, 2010 (view all comments by Dr. Rico)
One of the best books about baseball in years. Hayhurst's voice is distinctive and manages to be by turns funny, instructive, dark, and touching, and always insightful. We don't see many books about minor leaguers who aren't destined for success, and Hayhurst's marginal status allows him to give us an unusual perspective. In the end, though, he manages to find meaning in ways that any baseball fan, and perhaps anyone, will find valuable in their own lives. A terrific baseball book.
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maryloucookie, April 1, 2010 (view all comments by maryloucookie)
Whether you think you know everything about baseball or know nothing about baseball, you will enjoy this book. Bullpen Gospels is about a world that few outsiders have any experience with. We were personally introduced to the world of the minor leagues on accident two years ago, and this book reflects the roller coaster existence in an accurate and humorous way.
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Dirk Hayhurst may well be the antithesis of the stereotypical athlete, and his book, The Bullpen Gospels, is unlike any other sports memoir of late. Chronicling the uncertain and often frustrating life of a professional ballplayer as he ascends and descends the minor league ranks, The Bullpen Gospels is more than just another tale of big league aspirations. Already crowned as one of the finest baseball books ever written, Hayhurst's autobiography really does live up to all the hype.
Easily the funniest book I have read in years, The Bullpen Gospels is also tragic, poignant, touching, and hopeful. The story is a personal one, and nowhere does Hayhurst veer into the realm of gossip. With remarkable candor and no small amount of self-deprecation, Hayhurst humbly and entertainingly conveys his tale. As probably one of the only teetotaling virgins ever to toe the rubber, Hayhurst's outlook on both baseball and life are far from what one would expect of the average athlete. Troubled by a tumultuous home life and plagued by doubts about his stalling career, Hayhurst somehow maintains both tenacity and a sense of humor.
Save for the absolutely wretched cover (pinstripes, really? as a Padre? or a Blue Jay?), The Bullpen Gospels is an exceptional work. Hayhurst has already announced plans for another book, and if his on-field talent can keep pace with his writing, he ought to be moonlighting as an author for some time to come. Lots of well-worn adjectives could be employed to describe how wonderful The Bullpen Gospels really is, but it's the combination of humor, humility, and humanity that make it one of the year's great reads.
(For the Oregon reader, it should be noted that Mr. Hayhurst used to play for our own beloved Portland Beavers, where he was honored as the 2008 Community Player of the Year).
From The Bullpen Gospels:
Baseball doesn't have any intrinsic power. It only has what people give to it. For some, the man who plays is a superhero, and he can do great things. For some, the man who plays is an obstacle who must get out of the way. Is baseball as important as food, knowledge, care, or a dry pair of boots? Is it as important as some of the things that pass by us in everyday life? I don't think so. Can it inspire, motivate, and call us to something greater than ourselves? Absolutely. The burden of the player isn't to achieve greatness, but to give the feeling of it to everyone he encounters. It was wrong of me even to try to separate life and the game. They were intertwined, meant to be, one affecting the other, one teaching the other, even when the mixture occasionally blows up. It takes a real person, one who understands himself, to use the tool of baseball for something good. For that person, as long as he has a jersey on his back, he has a chance.
In this real-life version of the movie "Bull Durham," pitcher Hayhurst chronicles a poignant year in Minor League Baseball.
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