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on March 5, 2012
Dirk Hayhurst has taken us behind the scenes in his latest book, Out of My League, and shed light on the difficult struggle of a ball player who has worked his way through the minors in hopes of one day making it to the big leagues.

The book is equally funny, honest and insightful. You will laugh out loud at some of the stories Hayhurst retells. Stories about his offseason relationship with his grandma, getting hit on by transvestites while on the road, and many of the rookie hazing moments he goes through when he finally reaches the big leagues.

Even with all the funny moments, and there are plenty of them, this book focuses on so much more. The reality and struggle of what a fringe prospect goes through.

Baseball is a sport that is marked by failure. Players will always fail more often than they succeed. These failures can weigh heavily on a players psyche and in turn make them even worse as a player. It is a struggle to overcome these overwhelming obstacles and find success in a sport where the odds are stacked against you.

Hayhurst takes us behind the curtain and sheds light what it is like to be an actual baseball player and what runs through their minds in many of these types of situations.

Baseball, even with all its benefits, can be a serious grind for its players forcing them to sometimes wonder if making it to the show is worth it or not. Hayhurst openly talks about many of these struggles that he faced throughout his 6 years in the minors en route to his first appearance in the majors.

What I love most about this book is the honest approach it takes to what life is like for a major league player. So often in movies and books that talk about this subject, we see the athletic side of life being glorified, but we fail to see a lot of the real struggles and doubts that are also a part of being a professional athlete. Living up to 6 or 7 figure contracts are not as easy as it would seem.

We want this dream of becoming a professional athlete to be glorified. We want to dream that if, by some miracle, we were to be in these players shoes, everything would work out for us in our own lives. The reality is that it isn't easy and if we were in their shoes, we might think differently about what it is we want to do with our lives.

Don't get me wrong; this book isn't about feeling sorry for a major leaguer who is having a tough time. What it does do however is paint a complete picture of what life at the major league level is really like. There is both good and bad that comes with being at that level and we, the reader are shown what it really is like.

The other thing that makes me appreciate the book is that it helped shed light on the human nature side of baseball. Ever since Moneyball came out, stat heads have had an increasingly bigger and bigger impact on the game trying to make the way we look at the game as precise and scientific as possible.

What has gotten lost in all of these stats is that what we are dealing with is human beings. Sure certain players and their stats have been incredibly predictable through the years but that doesn't mean they aren't robots. Hayhurst has helped shed light on what goes on behind all this and what can affect a player during his ups and downs throughout the season.

If you would like to get a picture of what being a professional baseball player is like I can't recommend this book enough. Between this book and his first, The Bullpen Gospels, an equally compelling and well written book that focuses more on what life is like in the minors, you won't get a better picture of what life in the world of professional baseball is really like.

(This is an excerpt from a review I wrote for my website)
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on March 30, 2014
This is a great look at the trials and tribulations of a 6 year minor league player trying to make the big leagues. It is a good look at how hard minor league playing can be. Poor pay, bad hotels, little meal money, hard travel, insane playing conditions, insane teammates and more. The comparison between the minors and the majors in all things is like night and day. The decisions Hayhurst makes concerning playing or not playing his second guessing himself and his interior conversations is all very interesting. On top all this throw in meeting the women of his dreams and wanting to marry her, his dysfunctional family, and his crazy grandmother whom he lives with is all very entertaining. This book is by turns funny, sad, depressing, and poignant. It shows that making the bigs is one thing staying there is another. It is a great look at behind the scenes. This is a very entertaining book and if you like baseball and human relations with warts and all you will love this book. I intend to read more of Hayhursts books. More Please.

Papa Place
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on March 25, 2017
As a fan of baseball, I have always been interested in a day-in-the life of minor leaguers and big leaguers. This book reveals thoughtful observations and insight into that process for one player, working hard to make it to the big leagues.

Even if you're a casual fan of the game, I would recommend this book for it's look into the mundane, non-baseball factors that players have to deal with while trying daily to prove they belong and strive to move to the next level.

Poignant and vulnerable moments and interesting philosophical thoughts are scattered in between entertaining dialogue and game play descriptions.

Looking forward to reading other books by Hayhurst.
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on March 6, 2012
Hayhurst bravely lays bare his life again in his second book. The raw difficulties of the reality of struggling for a career in baseball (while dealing with a dysfunctional family) comes through strongly, as it did in his first book (The Bullpen Gospels).

As a baseball fan, I'm left with the unfortunate feeling that some of my major league baseball "heroes" are probably not all saints, but that many are as flawed and selfish as the rest of any cross-section of society. Which shouldn't be surprising, but is a bit jarring when contrasted with the impression you've probably been sold by the MLB marketing machine your whole life. And the minor leaguers and fringe players are just pawns in the machine.

The strongest part of the book for me was the chapter when he broke down with his wife in his fancy hotel room after another poor outing - he does an effective job of painting the picture of his ever-growing anxiety and anger over his pitching struggles leading up to this point, and how it came close to changing what kind of person he is.

The only reason I give 4/5 instead of 5 was because the first half of the book was a little slow, and a bit too similar to his first book. I understand his intent to provide a chronology of his whole season, but the novelty of the day-to-day minor league activities to us outsiders was not as compelling the second time around.
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on March 3, 2012
What a marvelous book. Hayhurst weaves the stories of his baseball career, falling in love, and escape from a toxic and tragic upbringing into a funny, touching and insightful narrative. The writing is graceful and perhaps, in a way, inspired.

Out of My League is much more than a baseball book, but the baseball parts are enough to make it a good read. Sort of a minor league version of Jim Bouton's Ball Four, Hayhurst describes well the anxiety of the AAA player who gets the occasional sniff of the Bigs, the foolishness of young men thrown together for a season, knucklehead coaches, and the day to day life in the minors.

Out of My League is a great example of George Plimpton's theory that the quality of a sport's literature is inversely proportional to the size of the ball in play. He had golf and baseball at the top and the cruder games of soccer, football and basketball in the literary cellar. The book uses a baseball life to shine light on larger issues without preaching or becoming tedious.

More than anything this is a book about growing into manhood. It touches on many of the points Hemingway dealt with from a different angle (and in a different style) and would be profitable reading for most young men. I hope that Hayhurst has more of this in him. It is good stuff indeed.
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on March 6, 2012
Dirk Hayhurst has once again provided readers with a book that simply can't be put down. "Out Of My League" is a truly compelling book about more of his time spent in the minors, his growing relationship with his fiancee, and his eventual shot at being a Major League Baseball player.

Although there's a lot of the same players and characters as his first book, "The Bullpen Gospels", one doesn't necessarily have to have read that book in order to enjoy this one (but I highly recommend it!). Dirk's humanness (if that's even a word) really shines in his writing style - he knows he's a borderline nobody in the grand scheme of things, and doesn't try to make himself out to be anything else. You personally can feel and relate to his triumphs and his tragedies. I received this book on a Friday, and had really hoped to stretch it out, and savor it over the course of a week. By Sunday night, I was done - staying up much later than I anticipated in order to finish it.

Yes, the book is THAT GOOD.

If you're a fan of books about the inside life of baseball, or any sport at all, this book deserves a permanent place on your bookshelf. I can't recommend it enough.
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on November 22, 2014
Not since reading Jim Bouton's "Ball Four" in the 70's have I read a better book about baseball and the men who play it. Dirk Hayhurst relates the game through his eyes as he struggles to adapt to big league life late in the 2008 season. His ability to share his highs and lows in an honest and humble fashion makes this book well worth reading. His engagement and wedding with his wife Bonnie provide a pleasant sidebar to the story of his on-field experiences. Hayhurst's reflections of his relationship with his parents is especially pertinent as the reader gains insight into his personality.

Granted, most non-baseball fans might not find interest in this book, but when you look beyond the game elements, you discover an enjoyable narrative of the life of a professional athlete.
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on March 15, 2012
A few years ago, a friend asked if I had read the book Bullpen Gospels. I told him that I had heard of it, but never read it. When I asked him why he brought it up, he responded, "my girlfriends dad is mentioned in it, and not in a very positive light". I was intrigued and I had heard good things about the book. Just a few weeks later, the author was picked up as a big league invitee to the Rays spring training. The Rays Index carried a piece he wrote about the first fime he faced his new (and shortlived) teammate, Manny Ramirez. I was hooked and immediately downloaded the book. I must have read it in just a few days and loved every page and became mildly obsessed with the author Dirk Hayhurst. The Bullpen Gospel's is the laugh-out-loud tale of minor league hijinx with a more serious set of themes deftly woven into its pages. (I thought I had written a review for the blog here, but I guess I just posted elsewhere. I'll fix this soon.)

Out of My League picks up where the Bullpen Gospels leaves off. Dirk opens the story, still living on the floor of his batty grandmothers house. He has met a girl on e-Harmony and is trying to make a relationship work while hocking TV's at Circuit City. The book then traces a two part storyline as Dirk makes his way through triple-A and eventually to the big leagues all the while working through a long distance engagement and cross-country wedding planning.

While the book is not quite as funny as the Bullpen Gospels, it is far more piognant. There is a scene that humorously encapsulates the book. Dirk, who has just been called up to the bigs, is sitting on the bed at his 5-star hotel talking to his fiance who has flown out to see him. He is eating $100 room service pancakes while he bemoans the way that "the Show" changes people. He complains about his triple-A frineds who don't act the same, who are aloof. The scene drips with irony and reminds me of the scene in Wayne's World, where Wayne and Garth are trying to be eloquent about the way fame/money/endorsements change people, all while prominently pitching products. Very funny.

At the heart of Out of My league is a story about idolatry and dreams. Sometimes we think that acheiving a certain something will make us happy. We think, "If I just had x, I would be happy". The trouble is that when we do finally get x, it doesn't satisfy like we expect. Out of My League is an honest tale of the way that getting what we want can kill us.

Even if you don't like baseball, the book is a fun read and a great tale of love and life.
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on August 21, 2012
Out of My League is a surprising look at MLB from the perspective of a rookie pitcher who spent six seasons in the bushes to become a Padre and for a time wished he had not made the trip. I had a hard time rating this book because The Bullpen Gospels, also by Dirk Hayhurst, was so very excellent. I am not trying to give the impression that this wasn't a really good book and well written because it was all that and more. Had I read it first I may have liked it even more, but then my opinion of The Bullpen Gospels might not have been so high. (Am I confusing you? Sorry.) Putting this all in perspective to give you some small idea of what lay ahead if you purchase this book is this: Several wondrous hours wrapped-up in the exhilaration of pitching and dominating in AAA and then making the trip to the Padres and the extreme, (mostly self-inflicted) pressure of pitching in the Bigs. Hayhurst brings your elation to a peak, then crashes it into a brick wall then scrapes the pieces, that are your emotions, into a pile of crap. Then finally, with the help of his father and a few others, he stiches his life into perspective. Maybe you ought to read it yourself because I don't think you are quite grasping my view. Hayhurst is an excellent writer who has proven his ability to make non-fiction read like a gripping novel. While there is an abundance of torment in this tale, there is also great comedy, and of course, in the end it is a love story.
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on March 7, 2012
Dirk's ability to paint the picture of what goes on in the world of baseball while giving you a view of what's going on in his heart is masterful. There's no doubt that the experience is genuine, at times maybe a little too much. As in his first book I wasn't a fan of some of the language used, but as I said... very genuine.

I don't know if I'd categorize this as a great baseball story but a tremendous story of life, failure and realizing what is truly important. It isn't the Cinderella story of making the show and being a Rookie phenom; not to discredit anything Dirk accomplished in his entire baseball career... still so much better than the great majority of ball players. Still so many elements of Dirk's story telling ability that had me laughing out loud (unwrapping Hoff's gum, etc). I also found myself emotionally overwhelmed reading about getting called up and subsequently telling his fiance and family.

There were some also very hard things to read. You come to sympathize with this pitcher and all of a sudden you see him transform into the very character he hates the most, all the while not realizing it until Bonnie calls him on it... this is real.
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