The Bullpen Gospels: Major League Dreams of a Minor League Veteran is a must read for fans who want a glimpse inside the game! It combines elements from two of my favorite baseball books, Ball Four and Minor Players, Major Dreams, for a fascinating look at the life of a minor league veteran bullpen pitcher. I read it cover-to-cover on my flight to and from Boston last weekend, and I literally laughed out loud on the plane at a number of places in the book.
First, there’s the “withered old puppet of evil” the author, Dirk Hayhurst, lives with during the offseason, otherwise known as grandma! She forces him to sleep on an air mattress, because she refusese to remove the plastic cover from the new mattress in the other bedroom for fear it will wear out. She also routinely wakes him at the break of dawn to chase squirrels from her bird feeders and curses him out on a daily basis.
When it comes to baseball, Hayhurst’s life is just as amusing. I particularly liked when he bribed the guys with the radar guns in spring training to add one MPH to his pitches in return for a “log of dip and a six-pack.” Then there’s “Coach Castrate” who is on a mission to make his life miserable all spring. Then he goes “Star Trek geek at a convention excited” about meeting his idol, Trevor Hoffman and proceeds to embarass himself and his teammates with a lofty philosophical question Hoffman doesn’t understand.
The philosophical question he asked of Hoffman is just the beginning of Hayhurst’s exploration into what it means to be a baseball player and whether it’s something he wants to continue to be a part of. He starts out being disenchanted with a coach who informs the players they are gods of entertainment. Then he’s sent to A ball only hours after making the AA club out of spring training. He calls his agent to vent and is greeted by his self-created nickname, Shizzle, which he now finds ridiculous.
Next comes my favorite line in the whole book, as Hayhurst is confiding to his agent that he might not want to be a ballplayer anymore: “I don’t open up the f—ing wardrobe and frolic into Narnia every time the umpire says play ball.” While I am one of those fans for whom baseball is all magic and happiness, I recognize that basebal makes me feel that way, not necessarily the guys who are grinding it out in the minor leagues every day.
I don’t want to go into too much more, because you should read the book yourself. If you’ve ever said, why do these guys complain so much, I would give anything to play baseball for a living, then read this book. While Minor Players, Major Dreams was a long-standing favorite of mine, I can say it’s be dethroned. The Bullpen Gospels has everything it has and more, with a great deal more comedy. I flew through it on my flight to and from Boston, which means I read the whole thing in about 5 hours. It’s an easy read and will literally make you laugh out loud!
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