The pitch: As a follow up to the huge debut of “The Bullpen Gospels” of 2010 and then “Out of My League” in 2012 (and then “Wild PItches” in 2013) comes the latest from the N.Y. Times bestseller/former Padres, Rays and Blue Jays relief pitcher who goes much deeper into the count than he did in previous accounts of his life.
We had fun with more light-hearted situations, but now Hayhurst has seen teammates and management turn against him because of his writing abilities. As he said during a Q-and-A with Deadspin readers:
“Yes, the fourth book by a guy who had less time in the big leagues than the average fruit fly is probably my most important. It talks openly about how easy it is for people in ‘prestige’ professions to stay mute in regards to their mental illness, stigmatize others as weak, turn to drugs to cope, and allow the fear of what others might think to keep them from getting help. I wanted to bring awareness to that cycle in hopes that I could help those suffering inside of it break out. Baseball is more than a game. It’s a platform to reach people. I was a washout in the bigs, but if I did use what little time on the platform I had to help others my career would have truly been a waste.”
He added: “Baseball allowed me to not have to deal with my psychological issues —a s long as I was healthy and successful. Since most of my career was fringey at best, I had a really hard time dealing with anxiety and depression. Of course, I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time. I always thought it was just normal competitive side effects and I was supposed to be quiet about because saying I had an issue would brand me as a whiner and damaged goods and get me out of the game faster— thus, dream destroyed. So, now that I am out, it’s actually nice. I mean, I miss baseball, but, it’s an intense load psychologically and I’m glad to be fee of that.”
Having been through this kind of reveal-all series in reading the evolution of Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four,” and its update every decade additional chapter, we feel deep for Hayhurst’s pain after all these years. It feels more personal for the reader, and lamenting more about how it touches each one different, we’ll really leave it for you to decide how you’ve taken it to heart.
Hayhurst’s bravery for writing this after the previous life-revealing books is really more than just him bringing up locker room bullying, or drug abuse, or the problems of players need treatment for psychological issues — including thoughts of suicide — as a result of injuries. We’re pulling for him to get through this next chapter of his life — and if it’s worth writing about in his own voice, we’re ready to read more.
If all you see of Dirk von Hayhurst is a 0-2 career record with a 5.72 ERA in 25 career games, or popping up on TBS as an MLB studio analyst, you’ve only scratched the surface.