The Bullpen Gospels

A Non-Prospect's Pursuit of the Major Leagues and the Meaning of Life Buy the BookRead an Excerpt

From the humble heights of a Class-A pitcher’s mound to the deflating lows of sleeping on his gun-toting grandmother’s air mattress, veteran reliever Dirk Hayhurst steps out of the bullpen to deliver the best pitch of his career–a raw, unflinching and surprisingly moving account of his life in the minors.

Hilariously self-effacing and brutally honest, Hayhurst captures the absurdities, the grim realities, and the occasional nuggets of hard-won wisdom culled from four seasons in the minors. Whether training tarantulas to protect his room from thieving employees in a backwater hotel, watching the raging battles fought between his partially paralyzed father and his alcoholic brother, or absorbing the gentle mockery of some not-quite-starstruck schoolchildren, Dirk reveals a side of baseball, and life, rarely seen on ESPN.

Somewhere between Bull Durham and The Rookie, The Bullpen Gospels takes an unforgettable trot around the inglorious base paths of minor league baseball, where an inch separates a ball from a strike, and a razor-thin margin can be the difference between The Show or a long trip home.

“One of the Best Baseball Books Ever Written”

The Bullpen Gospels is often described as the “Ball Four of the minors”, in that The Bullpen Gospels is considered the de facto player’s memoir on life as a fringe minor league player. Just as Jim Bouton pulled back the curtain on life inside the Major Leagues in Ball Four, Hayhurst has crafted a complete and encompassing vision of life as a minor leaguer. Indeed, the two books are often compared favorably, with Gospels considered to be the best player’s take on life inside the game of baseball in the last 40 years, by Keith Olbermann.

A True Picture of Life in the Minor Leagues

What Bullpen Gospels does so well is show the often neglected side of professional baseball life — the minor leagues. Specifically, Hayhurst focuses on lower levels, where oft-forgotten non-prospects vastly outnumber heralded prospects. Here, the humanity and sacrifice involved in chasing the dream of playing in the big leagues are on full display. 

Hayhurst consistently highlights the fan’s perception of what life inside of the game “must be like” against the backdrop of what it actually is. Readers are treated to revelatory insights in the struggle to reach to the top of baseball that most fans spend a lifetime unaware of. And, while doing this, Hayhurst provides a steady diet of jokes and jaw-dropping encounters–many at Hayhurst’s expense–that keep pages turning swiftly.

“Living the Dream”

For most making it to the Major Leagues is a dream that will never become a reality. If you’ve had the dream of playing professional baseball or chased any dream wherein the reality of the chase didn’t match up with romance you were promised, this book is for you.

Hayhurst has, by never compromising on the details and never bowing to the manufactured imagery about “living the dream”, crafted a hilarious, honest, and poignant read that shows real, unvarnished baseball in a way that makes readers love the game even more.

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.”

Ken Rosenthal

Fox Sports

“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.”

Keith Olbermann

MLB Blogs

“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.”

Patrick Saunders

The Denver Post

“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.”

The Wall Street Journal

“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."

Michael Silverman

The Boston Herald

“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."

John Manuel

Baseball America

“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.”

Tim Kurkjian

ESPN The Magazine

"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."

Tom Verducci,

Sports Illustrated

“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.”

King Kaufman

Bleacher Report

“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.”

Jayson Stark

ESPN

“After many minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years spent in the bullpen, I can verify that this is a true picture of baseball."

Tim McCarver

“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.”

Jayson Stark

ESPN

“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." 

Jordan Bastian

MLB.com

“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.”

Ben Zobrist

World Series MVP

“Hayhurst has written a book that’s a treat for anyone who loves baseball — or loves to read, for that matter."

Tyler Kepner

The New York Times

“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.”

The New York Times Book Review

“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."

Peter King

Sports Illustrated

“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.”

Bob Costas

“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.” 

Matt Fraction

Marvel Comics

“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.”

Tim Kurkjian

ESPN

“The best writer in a baseball uniform.”

The New York Times

“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.” 

Jonah Keri

Author of The Extra 2%

“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.”

Ian Browne

MLB.com

“A must read”

David Price

Cy Young Winner, MVP

“Bull Durham meets Ball Four in Dirk Hayhurst’s hilarious and moving account of life in baseball’s glamor-free bush leagues.”

Rob Neyer

SB Nation

“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.”

Daniel Bard

MLB Pitcher