Synopses & Reviews
Hard to Grip, a memoir by native San Franciscan Emil DeAndreis is a love story to baseball that is also a frank and humorous account of the author s struggles with rheumatoid arthritis, the chronic illness that threw a curve into his life and dashed the hopes of becoming a professional pitcher in the major leagues that he had harbored since he was old enough to throw a ball. Scarcely out of Lowell high school where he was an up-and-coming star pitcher for his two-time championship team, Emil discovered the early signs of the disease were hampering his ability to compete, and it became increasingly evident to him as he played throughout his freshman and sophomore years in the D1 Leagues for University of Hawaii/Hilo that his lifelong dream to go pro was to be only that a dream. Even as he was being courted by the big leagues and about to sign on to play pro ball in Europe. Hard to Grip is a personable, humor-filled and inspirational story of a robust, athletic young man who, barely into his twenties, must confront the reality of living with a physical illness, but at the same time learns to embrace that one thing he loves in order to forge a new life with a different perspective: as a high school coach for his alma mater, Lowell. Moreover, it is also a story of love for a girl, for his friends, for his family, for his hometown of San Francisco and the game itself."
In 2008, after a record-breaking career as a D1 college baseball player, Emil DeAndreis' life seemed set: He was twenty-three, in great shape, and had just been offered a contract to pitch professionally in Europe.
Then his body fell apart.
It started with elbow stiffness, then swelling in his wrist. Soon, his fingers were too bloated to grip a baseball. He had Rheumatoid Arthritis, a disease that causes swelling and eventual deterioration of the joints, mostly targeting old people and women.
Hard To Grip tells the story of a young man s body giving out when he needs it most. It chronicles an ascending sports career, the ups and downs of life in the NCAA, and the challenges of letting go of pro baseball due to a dehumanizing condition. In a series of humorous anecdotes, Emil takes the reader on his bittersweet journey of a young man s having to grapple with an old woman s disease. From striking out future major leaguer All Stars, to sitting in support groups; from breaking university records, to barely making it up the stairs; from language barriers with Chinese healers to figuring out how to be employed as a vegetable, this book unveils the disease with humor and fearless honesty through the eyes of an unlikely victim. This memoir is an honest, rueful and at times hilarious story about learning to come to terms with a new reality, and an inspiring account of how Emil learned to run with the disease and not from it."