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The Last Natural: Bryce Harper's Big Gamble in Sin City and the Greatest Amateur Season Ever Hardcover – May 22, 2012
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“From the best seat in the house, a sportswriter chronicles the final amateur season of perhaps the most hyped baseball prospect of all time. Ever since LeBron James took the basketball world by storm in 2003, other sports have sought their own phenoms, individuals possessed of the talent and charisma to shatter statistical records while drawing in casual fans. Enter Bryce Harper, a baseball-mashing savant who, in order to circumvent MLB draft rules that prohibit a player being drafted until the age of 18 or one year after graduating from high school, earned his GED after his sophomore year and enrolled at the College of Southern Nevada in order to hone his skills with a wooden bat and make himself eligible for the draft a year early. Recognizing the uniqueness of the situation, CSN coach Tim Chambers granted Miech full access to the team's dugout and locker room. From that unique vantage point, the author chronicles Harper's struggle to adjust to the college game, where his immaturity and fiery competitiveness got him ejected from two games, but where his incredible hitting prowess enabled him to crush 31 home runs, obliterating the previous team record of 12. Miech pays particular attention to Harper's efforts to balance his desire to fit in with his older teammates with his steadfast dedication to his Mormon beliefs. Though CSN's season ended short of a championship ring, Harper would win the Golden Spikes award, given annually to the nation's top amateur, and be selected first overall by the Washington Nationals in the 2010 draft.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“In 2010, baseball phenom Bryce Harper--with his parents' blessing--earned his G.E.D. and joined the College of Southern Nevada's baseball team as a sophomore, using it as a springboard to get drafted first overall by the Washington Nationals). It was a risk, but a calculated one. Aside from displaying his otherworldly talents in a competitive conference, the 17-year-old was managed by Tim Chambers, a longtime family friend, and played with his older brother, Bryan, a pitcher who had transferred from California State University, Northridge. Both helped contribute to a familial, supportive environment. Veteran sportswriter Miech traveled with the college team for the entire 2010 season, and he captures Harper's maturation by fire and growing celebrity. Those moments don't come often enough. Clearly guarded, Harper isn't exactly an eloquent subject ("It's just incredible playing with your brother and being around your brother"), while Miech's constant flaunting of his insider status--the pointless on-the-road chronicles, the skin-deep, distracting profiles of Harper's teammates and coaches--becomes overbearing. Years from now, the book may be useful in viewing a legend before he was submerged by the avalanche of fame, but readers will still leave with a better understanding of a dedicated junior college baseball team than its superstar alumnus.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Like Bryce Harper, Rob Miech has all the tools, and they are on display in THE LAST NATURAL, a compelling, behind-the-scenes account of the making of a phenom.” ―George Dohrmann, Pulitzer Prize-winning Senior Writer, Sports Illustrated
“In THE LAST NATURAL, Rob Miech gets the last unfettered access to baseball's next great star, Bryce Harper, before he turns pro, before he can vote, before the handlers and hangers-on and hero-worship descend. The result is a fascinating eyewitness account, a baseball version of the Beatles in Hamburg circa 1961, just before the klieg lights get switched on.” ―Steve Rushin, Sports Illustrated
“The Last Natural is a remarkable story of Bryce Harper's action-packed junior-college adventure, told from the vantage point of a tremendous reporter and writer who was fortunate enough to go along on Harper's unforgettable ride from Morse Stadium to the top of the baseball draft.” ―Jayson Stark, ESPN.com senior baseball writer
“Rob Miech rides the bench and the buses to craft a stirring story of a young man, an extraordinary dream and an amazing baseball season. Through an insider's access and a reporter's eye, Miech lays back the scouting reports to capture the real Bryce Harper--the son, the brother, the teammate and the phenom. Touching and edgy, The Last Natural captures the essence of a hard game made easy by a rare player.” ―Tim Brown, MLB writer, Yahoo! Sports
“The Last Natural is a fascinating tale of risk, struggle, ambition and triumph. The LeBron James of baseball is brought to life, and all his talents and warts are expertly exposed by an exceptional storyteller. Miech has done what Harper is known for--hitting a spectacular home run. Terrific stuff.” ―Ed Graney, Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist
About the Author
ROB MIECH has won several awards in his twenty-five-year career as a sportswriter, predominantly at the Pasadena Star-News and Las Vegas Sun. His work has appeared in many publications, including USA Today, The Washington Post, CBS SportsLine, and MLB.com.
Top Customer Reviews
The Last Natural also allows the reader to learn about the real Bryce Harper. He's a warrior on the field but you may be surprised to find out that he is a respectful, polite young man off it. Too many have made judgements about Harper, believing him to be selfish and spoiled (for example, Cole Hamels). You'll find out here that he has a burning competitive desire to get the most out of his exceptional ability. He plays the game very hard, but truly respects it. He's also a seam head, who really knows the history of the game and its players.
As the book's title explains, it was a very big gamble that Harper took. There is no precedent for what he did, blazing a trail that won't likely be followed due to his unique baseball gifts. If he failed playing at this level, critics and skeptics would have been delighted and his baseball career would have likely been derailed. When he should have been a junior in high school, he was playing and excelling with the Southern Nevada Coyotes, competing against athletes who were several years older.
The microscope Harper was under would have wilted most. He can't go anywhere without fans wanting a piece of him, whether it's a picture, an autograph, or to chat. The opposing teams are all gunning for him, trying to beat the best.Read more ›
Rob Miech does an amazing job documenting Bryce Harper for the most important year of his life, teaching me along the way to become a baseball player. Eventually Harper won the Golden Spikes award, which is given to the best amateur baseball player in the country. Then, as expected, Harper signed the largest contract ever for an amateur baseball player after being the first overall pick of the MLB draft. After reading this book, I really know what it feels like to be a superstar!
Miech’s matter-of-fact, journalistic style forbids him to give a sugarcoated account of a team lead by one of the more highly touted ball players in recent years. The good, the bad, and the ugly are not withheld from the pages, which in the end, love him or hate him, gives us a new perspective of who Harper is. While we might check the current stat lines of Harper’s big league career, or watch his highlights on ESPN, Miech’s uncanny ability to introduce us to the rest of the Coyote team has us consider what they too have done sense that 2010 season. The Last Natural reminds us that the game of baseball has its big time players, but none are bigger than the game itself.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed this book about my favorite player. I hope Bryce continues to grow and get better than he already is?Published 12 months ago by Porter Nelson
Bryce Harper catches a lot of flack for his behaviors at times, but with the help of Mr. Miech's book I was turned into more of a fan of Harper. Read morePublished on February 28, 2014 by Josh H.
The book is very entertaining and gives a very good insight into the life of Bryce Harper. It's not just another baseball book.Published on November 27, 2013 by M. Pollack
My father in law is a baseball fan, so we got this book for him. He loved it. Great supplier.Published on August 6, 2013 by S. S. Arthur
I've read a lot of great books mind you, but this one really tells the story of all of us succeeding, not just one man.Published on May 24, 2013 by Squiggy Wigginz
A must read for any baseball fan - especially Washington Nationals fans! Once you pick up this book and start to read it, you won't be able to put it down. Read morePublished on May 4, 2013 by Joel Scheraga