After hurting his throwing arm while training for a chance to make the Toronto Blue Jays big league roster, Hayhurst’s shot at returning to the Big Leagues—and the dream life that comes with it—goes under the knife.
Some players—stars with prolific talent—get all the time they need to bounce back. Dirk Hayhurst is not one of those players. As a roster-filling journeyman with average ability, Hayhurst has to recover quickly and completely, or his career is over.
Like all of Hayhurst’s books, Bigger Than the Game takes you to the parts of baseball few dare to go. Bigger Than the Game goes behind the scenes, into Major League Locker room with the Toronto Blue Jays, and then down the rabbit hole of major league rehab, where wild training room shenanigans, egomaniac surgeons, and drug abuse reign unchecked.
Bigger Than the Game is Hayhurst’s most powerful book to date, and a tour de force on sports and mental health before mental health was something even talked about in sports. Bigger Than the Game is a must read for those who truly wish to know what their favorite player goes through when they break—and the cost the must pay to recover.
Mental Health in Sports
Bigger Than the Game explores two major themes that, at the time of its writing, were still considered taboo: mental health in sports, and opioid addiction.
Bigger Than the Game talks player mental health in a very human, accessible, story-driven way. Indeed, the book made a mark on professional sports in a time when it was considered “weak” to speak up about mental health issues. Hayhurst exploration of anxiety and depression, exacerbated by the closed system that is professional sports, made it possible for other Major League players to speak up about their own struggles.
Opioid Addiction in Sports
Every day a player is not on the field is revenue lost. Thus, professional sports teams do not shy away from handing out powerful drugs—from anti-inflammatories to potent opioids and sleeping pills.
Whatever it takes to get a player pain free and back producing.
However, as Hayhurst elaborates in Bigger Than the Game, these choices have real consequences and can cause lasting mental damage– to the players and their loved ones. In the book, Hayhurst details a common abuse cycle of uppers and downers that are by prescription. Forget about performance-enhancing drugs, performance sustaining drugs are the real drugs of abuse, and every Major League player has access to them.
Praise for Dirk's Writing
“Once again, Dirk Hayhurst brings readers into a world they rarely see: the hardscrabble world of minor-league baseball. It is a world full of political drama, financial stress and daily heartache. These are players you rarely hear about, players who rarely become rich or famous. Most, in fact, face the same kinds of struggles as the rest of us.”
“If they ever open a Players/Authors Hall of Fame next to the larger one in Cooperstown, Dirk Hayhurst will be a first ballot electee. Out of My League contains enough laughs and terrors to keep any baseball fan – or just any person – riveted. A fun read.”
“Brutally candid, funny and heartbreaking, yet surprisingly inspiring…For me, the best part of THE BULLPEN GOSPELS is the frankness with which Hayhurst assesses himself and his baseball career…It’s a look at baseball with all the machismo and glitter wiped away…When I got done reading it, I loved the game more than I had before.”
“Hayhurst has a message to deliver about the things that matter in life—and those that don’t. And he offers sage observations about the nature of celebrity and ambition, forgiveness and family.”
“Get your hands on THE BULLPEN GOSPELS…In a culture in which self-reflection usually is all about physique rather than psyche, and uber-masculine behavior is the norm,Hayhurst not only fearlessly exposes his sensitive side but lives to tell about it."
“Hayhurst keeps the pace brisk and deftly mixes in bawdy clubhouse episodes with deeper reflections on the journey no one thought he’d make—the journey to the big leagues… As an author, he’s certainly a prospect."
“Dirk Hayhurst has written a fascinating, funny and honest account on life in the minor leagues. I loved it. Writers can’t play baseball, but in this case, a player sure can write.”
"Bullpen Gospels is a rollicking good bus ride of a book. Hayhurst illuminates a baseball life not only with wit and humor, but also with thought-provoking introspection."
“If Holden Caulfield could dial up his fastball to 90 mph, he might have written this funny, touching memoir about a ballplayer at a career — and life — crossroads. Might have called it “Pitcher in the Rye.” Instead, he left it to Dirk Hayhurst, the only writer in the business who can make you laugh, make you cry and strike out Ryan Howard.”
“Hayhurst has done it again. I was blown away by every page, every chapter, every twist, every turn. I kept thinking that if I could only pitch as well as Dirk can write, I might have more Cy Youngs than Greg Maddux.”
“After many minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years spent in the bullpen, I can verify that this is a true picture of baseball."
“This is the long-awaited, much-needed minor-league equivalent of Ball Four. It’s eloquent. It’s insightful. It’s poignant. It’s hilarious. Sometimes all in the same paragraph. I loved it. All of it.”
“After THE BULLPEN GOSPELS, people will know exactly who Hayhurst is and they should see ballplayers as more than just numbers on the backs of jerseys. Much like Hayhurst and others who spend careers fighting labels, it is too simple to call this a baseball book. It is so much more. It is a book about life, with baseball as the backdrop….Hayhurst has written a big-time book. That much is clear."
“Hayhurst isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. He has a genuine gift for telling the stories of his life in such a way that they reveal profound truths. I find his writing both entertaining and thought-provoking… unlike his fastball.”
“Hayhurst has written a book that’s a treat for anyone who loves baseball — or loves to read, for that matter."
“Hayhurst has a good story to tell, indeed an American classic. It feels true, and Hayhurst knows how to keep the reader turning pages. In fact, THE BULLPEN GOSPELS may be the funniest baseball memoir since Jim Bouton’sBall Four…I hope he recovers and continues to pitch—and write. If Hayhurst can be as honest about the big leagues as he was about the minors, we’re in for a treat.”
“Hayhurst does the best job I’ve ever seen of capturing the minor-league life. He pulls the curtain back on the off-the-field life, and it’s riveting – there’s a rawness to this book that I’ve never read about baseball before…Strongly, strongly recommended."
“A bit of Jim Bouton, a bit of Jim Brosnan, a bit of Pat Jordan, a bit of Crash Davis, and a whole lot of Dirk Hayhurst. Often hilarious, sometimes poignant. This is a really enjoyable baseball read.”
“By the time you finish Out Of My League — which is so compulsively readable and enjoyable that it could be the same day you start – you’ll feel like you’ve just sat with an old pal who clawed his way into the bigs and couldn’t wait to tell you everything about the experience. Apparently it’s not enough for him to be a major league pitcher; Dirk has to be a fantastic writer, too. This is because God is cruel and unfair. You, however, are lucky: you get to read Out Of My League.”
“Dirk Hayhurst has done it again. His second book is a good as, if not better than is first. Turns out he’s a starter and a closer.”
“The best writer in a baseball uniform.”
“Baseball is a game governed by countless rules, none bigger than this one: Don’t over think it. Dirk Hayhurst takes us down the rabbit hole that is his mind, to a place where that rule is constantly violated, every decision, every move, every breath over thought. In the process, he provides a brutally honest take on life in the majors–the oversized ballparks, hotel rooms, and personalities, but also the self-doubt, loneliness, and despair. I laughed, I cried, I even learned how to doctor a baseball.”
“A highly compelling and great read…Hayhurst takes you on bus rides, in the clubhouse, and, of course, in the bullpen with in-depth descriptions and terrifically written passages.”
“A must read”
“Bull Durham meets Ball Four in Dirk Hayhurst’s hilarious and moving account of life in baseball’s glamor-free bush leagues.”
“Everyone he describes you can say I played with someone just like that. Any pro baseball player can relate to his stories, but for anyone who enjoys baseball, it’s a good read too.”