The Bullpen Gospels

Last February, I wrote my own review of Jane Heller’s Confessions of a She-Fan.  At that point, my blog was still relatively new.  I’d had it for about two months, and Jane’s blog was one I regularly read.  If you never got the chance to check out my review, here’s the link.  It’s been about a year since I wrote that review, but I bought a book on Monday that I have to write about.

As you may know, I’m on Twitter.  A lot.  And I follow every MLB player that has been confirmed to be real.  So I follow Dirk Hayhurst (@TheGarfoose), and I’ve always been pleasantly entertained.  He’s incredibly funny, and he interacts with his followers.  Not many players do, so I’m personally grateful that he takes the time to talk to people he’s never met.  Because I follow him, I learned that he wrote a book called The Bullpen Gospels.  I’d read some reviews of it, and when you have endorsements from Keith Olbermann (“One of the best baseball books ever written.”), Bob Costas (“Hilarious, poignant, a really enjoyable read.”), and even Trevor Hoffman (“Fantastic…a perspective that fans rarely see.”), I knew it was a book I had to read.

When I reviewed Confessions of a She-Fan, I told you all how much I love reading.  It’s relaxing.  There’s nothing there but your own imagination and the words on the page.  When I started reading Confessions, I knew I was going to like it since it was about baseball.  I just didn’t know to what extent I was going to like it.  The same thing happened with The Bullpen Gospels.  It was about baseball, so I was going to like it.  I had heard good things about it, so I was probably going to like it more.

What I didn’t know was how much I was going to like it.

Even though I love reading, there are very few books I find that I just cannot put down.  There is only one that I can remember staying up late into the night reading because I couldn’t stop: Confessions of a She-Fan.  I can now add The Bullpen Gospels.

I’m very critical when it comes to books.  Since I love reading so much, I don’t want to read a bad book.  Most of the books I’ve read in recent history have lived up to my expectations.  Some haven’t.  But none have exceeded my expectations.  The Bullpen Gospels exceeded my expectations.

I used to think that you had to be a good writer in order to get a book published.  But then a series of crappy vampire books came out, and I was proven wrong.  Luckily, Dirk Hayhurst is not a crappy writer.  In fact, he was better than I had thought.  I wasn’t expecting him to be a bad writer, but with enough time, anyone can be a decent writer.  Hayhurst is more than a decent writer; in fact, I would call him an excellent writer.

The Bullpen Gospels is more than just a baseball book.  It’s Hayhurst journey of struggles and successes in the 2007 season.  It’s his growth and change as a person and a player.  It’s interactions with teammates in High-A and Double-A ball.  It’s the struggles he had with his family.  It’s more than I can effectively convey in this blog.

I cried a little.  I laughed a lot.  But most importantly, I learned more than I thought I would.  I learned about players I’ve never heard of.  I learned about players I may have heard of but whose names were changed for various reasons.  I learned about players I had for sure heard of.  I learned a lot about how the minors work, and I learned how quickly a dream can either be crushed or come true.

I remember something Hayhurst tweeted after it was announced he’d be having surgery.  I went all the way back through his tweets just to find the couple tweets because they had an impact on me then.  After reading The Bullpen Gospels, I knew I had to comment on them now.  Hayhurst said: “Yes, It’s true, I may only get 15 minutes of fame,
but it’s not the length of the fame, Mr. Blair, but what you do with it
while you have it.
I may never have great career numbers, or big time
accolades for baseball. But I’ve tried to make the most of my little
platform.
A few Dollars for Haiti, a few goofy smiles on
faces, a book that may help thousands understand more about players, and
themselves…
I can’t guarantee it’ll last long, or it will
effect everyone, but I’m trying my best with what I got, even if it’s
only 15:01.”

He said, “it’s not the length of the fame [...] but what you do with it while you have it.”  Reading about the interactions he had with people in that season and knowing what he did for Haiti on Twitter, I think I can say that Dirk Hayhurst has touched more people than he may realize and that he has used the fame he has for the better.

When it comes to books, I’m incredibly critical because I love reading.  It takes a lot to get a ringing endorsement from me.  I know in the grand scheme of literary criticism, I’m a nobody.  But I think I know a good book when I read one since I read so often.  On that note, I offer you this: if you were only going to read one book ever again, it should be The Bullpen Gospels.

I, Jen, have a new favorite book.  The Bullpen Gospels has surpassed Never Die Easy: The Autobiography of Walter Payton as my favorite book.

I don’t know if baseball players ever read my blog, but that hasn’t stopped me from addressing them in the past.  Therefore, I’m taking this opportunity to address Dirk Hayhurst.

Dirk, this was the best book I have ever read.  I read many reviews of it, and you far exceeded my expectations.  I don’t know if you plan on writing another book in the future, but if you do, I’ll definitely be purchasing it.  You should be incredibly proud of this one, and I hope a lot of people read it.  All of the reviews written about it can’t do it any justice.  Best of luck to you with your rehab, your book sales, and the rest of your baseball career.  In case reading all of your tweets didn’t make me a fan of yours (which they did), reading The Bullpen Gospels has solidified me as a Dirk Hayhurst fan!

6 Comments

I think you’ve convinced me to check out this book. I, too, love to read – a LOT. Baseball books alone fill two shelves in my bookcase, and they’re about to overflow. Can’t get used to the idea of reading on a Kindle – I like the feel of books, I like the smell of books. I’m weird, I know. :-)
Sue
Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts

Wow, nice review. I also read Jane’s blog a lot. Though she is a Yankee fan, it’s still a lot of fun to read what she has to say!! That book sounds really good. I’ve been looking for something new to read for awhile. Now I know!! Have a great day!! Looking forward to seeing the White Sox play the Red Sox.
-Holly
http://irishsoxkid19.mlblogs.com

I’ve definitely had intentions of buying this book for a long time. I LOVE DIRK HAYHURST!! His tweets ALWAYS crack me up and I kind of have an obsession with the Garfoose! I’ll definitely have to pick it up if my twin recommends it, because I will definitely love it too.
Emily
http://deconstructingthoughts.mlblogs.com/

Jen,
I was not even half way thru your review and you had already convinced me to read it. I already have a list of books at home that are waiting for me to read them. I too have two shelves of baseball books and they are actually more elsewhere. I too love to read. The first thing you noticed when I open my wallet is my list of library card. Bookstore and libraries are favorites of mines. The LA Times Book festival is a yearly favorite of mine.
Emma
http://crzblue.mlblogs.com

Jen,
If you think Dirk is funny in his book, you should meet him in person before a baseball game.
To say he is the comedic bond to that Toronto Bullpen is an understatement.
As you know I am a huge fan of his first writing “The Garfoose” and have posted it a few times. But Dirk is also a great guy to talk about the small nuamces of the game and his perspective on it is rare and genuine.
Hopefully you will bring your copy of his book to the ballpark, and you know he would be more than happy to meet a loyal reader and Twitter follower who laughs, giggles and enjoys his special brand of baseball and humor.
Really great book review!

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Sue – I’m really picky when it comes to books. This is BY FAR my favorite ever. Definitely check it out.
Holly – Jane’s a great writer. Her book and this book are my two favorite baseball books. :)
Emily – definitely definitely check this out, twin. And I love the Garfoose too! Best Twitter ever hahaha!
Emma – I have a huge book list waiting for me to read too. Bt I’d been looking forward to this one for a long time, so I moved it to the top. :)
Renegade – I would LOVE to meet Dirk. His Twitter his hilarious, and I love his sense of humor. I wish he was gonna be in Chicago with the Blue Jays in May. That would be so awesome.

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