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About the Author

J.B. Bernstein is the cofounder and president of Access Group, an athlete management firm that has represented some of the greatest athletes of all time, including Barry Bonds, Barry Sanders, and Emmitt Smith. Bernstein created the Million Dollar Arm contest in India, which yielded the first two Indian men to ever sign pro sports contracts in the US.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

PROLOGUE

Their crisp white Million Dollar Arm uniforms gleaming in the bright Arizona sun, Rinku and Dinesh took the field. They had spent the last hour warming up inside the training facility, throwing 90-mile-per-hour fastballs that hit the catcher’s mitt with lots of mustard and a satisfying pop. They were locked in and ready to go. About to face a crowd of pro scouts, the two were far from finished projects, but to look at them, you’d never guess that just a year before, they had never touched a baseball. Hell, a year ago, they didn’t even know what a baseball was.

These two guys, who hailed from the kind of small, rural Indian villages where many people didn’t have indoor plumbing, running electricity, or opportunities for work, found themselves in Tempe that early-November morning to compete for a spot in the bigs. The experiment began a year earlier with a zany idea to canvass India, where baseball is virtually unknown, in search of raw pitching talent. Rinku and Dinesh were the winners of the nationwide contest and reality TV show. Now they were trying to make history as the first natives of India to become pro athletes in the United States.

The training facility where we were holding the tryout, housed in an ordinary office park adjacent to a strip mall, didn’t exactly look like the stuff of Cooperstown. But it was one of the top facilities in Arizona. Several office suites had been combined to create a beautiful, modern space with cold tubs for ice baths, workout equipment, an indoor pitching mound, and the like. Out the back door and across a parking lot was a strip of Astroturf with a pitching mound and pitching cage specifically designed for pitchers and hitters to train.

Behind home plate stood thirty stony-faced scouts. It was unbelievable, even surreal, how many scouts had turned out to see if Rinku and Dinesh could throw. These travel-hardened vets of the sport, who will look under any and every rock for the next megastar, couldn’t stay away from our tryout, no matter how ridiculous a long shot it was.

The scouts weren’t the only ones eager to discover whether baseball can be learned well enough in a year to play in the pros. A huge crowd of media—including ESPN, USA Today, and local reporters and TV crews—had assembled, which was very atypical. No one ever covers baseball tryouts. Even a crazy, once-in-a-generation high school recruit is a tough sell to an editor. But two guys who, if they didn’t do the impossible and land a spot on a baseball team, would be sent back to a life of hardship, at least by American standards? Well, that was newsworthy. Rinku’s and Dinesh’s tryout had all the melodrama and nail-biting potential heartbreak that make for an irresistible sports story.

When the time came to bring out Rinku and Dinesh, their pitching had been great, which wasn’t always the case. While both had big-league potential, their lightning-quick education meant that their deliveries could be erratic. Some days were good, some days not so much. We wanted them to warm up inside so that they would come out looking sharp. And, thank God, today their mechanics were laser-focused.

When Rinku; Dinesh; their pitching coach, Tom House; talent scout and trainer Ray Poitevint; my business partners Ash Vasudevan and Will Chang; and I walked out of the building in one badass line, it was like a scene from Reservoir Dogs. (Well, maybe more like the scene from Swingers where they imitate Reservoir Dogs.) As Coach House started to introduce the boys, smiling and thanking everyone for coming out to see this miracle of baseball, our mini-entourage was buzzing with nerves. I was so pumped; I couldn’t wait for them to get out on the mound. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that Rinku and Dinesh were going to nail this thing.

Dinesh was up first. The scouts, three deep, jostled one another and shoved their radar guns into place. (Scouts all bring their own guns, since they don’t trust anyone.) Dozens of barrels pointed at Dinesh as he trotted out to the mound.

I’d never been more excited about anything in mylife—and as a pro sports agent who had been in the businessfor more than twenty years, it took a lot to get meexcited. I had seen and done just about everything: drivenexpensive cars, flown on private jets, partied at the hottestnightclubs, dated the prettiest girls, and watched the

Super Bowl from the sidelines. But this was different. If Rinku and Dinesh showed the scouts the best they could do, it would change the courses of their lives and their families’ lives forever. It would also vindicate me after most of the sports community told me I was an idiot when I first came up with the idea.

I felt great. Success was assured. There wasn’t a hint that anything could go wrong—until someone pulled back the tarp that had been covering the mound. Suddenly, like a train wreck unfurling in slow motion, the entire situation went south. The mound, sandy, crumbling, and uneven, was totally messed up.

“Coach, mound no good,” Dinesh said.

The scouts, their guns raised in the air, waited. There was no time.

“You gotta go,” Coach House whispered loudly. “Just go!”

And just like when the guys left their villages back in India for a foreign land and a crazy dream, Dinesh took a major-league leap of faith, stepped up to the mound, and wound up for his first pitch.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books (April 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 147676588X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476765884
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #390,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Carol Ann Stone on April 24, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is fantastic. I read it in only a few hours. I was so amazed as how these two young men from India learned English and also learned how to play baseball. I admire J.B. Bernstein for taking on the responsibility of living with these young men and guiding them as they learn how to play baseball in the US. These young men were so lucky to have an agent such as J.B. Bernstein. This man was willing to put his life on hold to make sure these two young men succeeded. Must read book. I am looking forward to the Disney movie which comes out in June. If you don't have a chance to read the book go see the movie.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Naomi Buechner on May 2, 2014
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This book focuses on the life lessons learned by the sports agent as well as the two young men from India. When you are faced with an issue whether it be job related or personal, collaboration and problem solving skills are key as well as not fearing failure.
Some of the greatest achievements are made from mistakes that do not turn out as you expected.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By runner67 on May 17, 2014
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This was an excellent book. It was well written and very descriptive. It a good example of how hard work can result in a life changing outcome. Both of these young men were able to overcome huge obstacles to get to where they are. As a result, their families were able to benefit from this. It is a very quick read. Now I want to see the movie.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By avidreader on June 1, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I love true stories, especially (I admit it) feel-good stories. Sports books aren't my favorite genre, so if they aren't yours either, don't let that stop you. This was a quick read, too, easy to finish in a single evening.

Bernstein was an American sports agent who launched a reality show in cricket-crazed India to discover someone with enough potential to become a major league baseball player, because he's become disillusioned by the young talent in the US. He's lucky enough to find three and is able to bring two of them back. Million Dollar Arm tells that story. It's currently being made into a movie.

Minor quibble:The POVs of Dinesh and Rinku were missing; their perspective would have added a lot to the story, especially on events near the end. I realize they didn't author the book, but if they had written even a few paragraphs in the epilogue it would have felt more complete.

If you liked this, see: Invictus on DVD.

*ARC won in a Goodreads.com giveaway*
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Donovan TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 27, 2014
Format: Audible Audio Edition
Summer is a great time to find an audiobook that the whole family can enjoy. Whether you are taking a road trip or just enjoy listening to it at home or hearing 20 minute-bits as you are driving from here to there, I think that this one would be a good one for 9ish and up through adult. I enjoyed it a lot.

I don't feel like I need to say what the book is about, since Disney publicized the heck out of it for the movie. I haven't seen the movie yet, but it seems that the book and the movie were sort of done concurrently. For those who have seen the movie or will see it after, Bernstein talks about how the movie came to be made, a bit about the casting process, and some of the differences between the real story and the movie version.

This is not just a story about baseball. I'm not really a baseball fan, but I still enjoyed it. My son isn't either, and he's interested in seeing the movie. It's a story about dreams and motivation and innovation.

CONTENT: Because I'm recommending this for family listening, I wanted to point out that J.B. does talk about the early empty life he led of picking up women and bringing them home. He talks about him getting out of bed when he couldn't sleep and then them leaving. I don't remember any swearing, so it wasn't prolific, though I can't guarantee that there's not a mild swear word or two in the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By FRANK P. BENINATO on May 24, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
the book is a very easy read. the subject is very interesting and i had no idea how involved it could be to put something like this together. i want to see the movie now. by the way the guy is my next door neighbor and he is a real down to earth person. i met him after all of this took place. JB if you read this good luck with book. the movie got an excellent review here in New York the other night by a CBS 880 reviewer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gabriela on May 22, 2014
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If you love baseball, you have to read this book. I can't wait to watch the movie this weekend! I hope it does the book justice.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By timothy sho donahue on May 10, 2014
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I really enjoyed this book. You do not have to be a baseball fan to enjoy it either. The challenge to find a big league pitcher in India is a good story in itself as base ball is unknown in India.It is quite an undertaking. Then there is the cultural aspect of the Indian boys learning about life in America which is educational, interesting and at times funny.
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