Barry Davis-“You know, if you don’t come back from this—and I’m not saying you won’t—you should think about going into the broadcasting side of things.”- (Hayhurst 287)
Dirk Hayhurst is a two-time New York Times best-selling author, and after reading his third book, Bigger than the Game, I can safely say that number will grow in the coming weeks. The Bullpen Gospels and Out of my League were both fantastic books, filled with humor of all varieties as Hayhurst tells stories from the clubhouses of his days as a minor leaguer and a major league rookie.
The story of the third book is from Hayhurst’s time as Blue Jay, most of which was spent away from the big league club as he battled a shoulder injury for the entire 2010 season. What made this book different from the others though is that this is the first time Dirk’s playing career and writing career have intertwined in the novel.
This isn’t just a story of Dirk Hayhurst: Baseball Player, rather, it is a story of Dirk Hayhurst Baseball player and professional author. Although this doesn’t seem like a huge change, it is, because the premise of the book is based on the abuse Dirk is subject to throughout the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
In 2009, Dirk would record certain sounds of minor league life. This made some players mad, especially “Brice Jared”, a can’t miss prospect who started the season with the Blue Jays, but was sent down a couple of months into the season. Brice serves as the antagonist in the book, constantly “bullying” Dirk in each of the two seasons detailed in the book.
 Based on Hayhurst’s description, this player is most likely Travis Snider, but Hayhurst does say that his first taste of major league action came in 2009, which is not the case with Snider.
Thankfully Dirk escapes Brice in June when he gets called up to the big league club. He impressed at the level, and was able to stay up there for most of the season, aside from a one-month stint back in AAA for the month of August. During his time in the majors, the recorder story came back to bite Dirk in the butt, as “Brice” told his major league friends about it, and it got blown out of proportion. Dirk did some damage control, but the 2nd antagonist in the book, “TJ Collins”, a veteran reliever who controlled the bullpen, blew up at him for it. This had repercussions in Dirk’s life, as in 2010 he was struggling with mental issues. He could not take being injured and not being on the field, nor could he take the verbal abuse he was privy to because of what he had done in AAA years before.
 TJ Collins is quite obviously BJ Ryan. Best part of the book is Hayhurst’s lackluster job of hiding his identity, showing that he truly cares not for BJ Ryan and his feelings.
He turned to pills for help. Dirk devotes many chapters to his struggle with sleeping pills and other types of prescription drugs he was prescribed for his injury, even sharing his thoughts on the arbitrary line Major League Baseball sets for what is allowed in baseball, and what is not allowed when it comes to drug use. One of the ways Dirk used to bond to the new faces he met during spring training in 2010 was telling them that he was give oxycodone for the recovery from the surgery he had earlier in the off-season.
Perhaps my favourite part of the book was where the majority of it took place, which was at the Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Alabama. Hayhurst veered away from his usual setting of the clubhouse in the book, but was still able to maintain the comedic aspect of it that has made him so successful. By the end of the book I felt like I knew Kevin Wilk, the main physiotherapist Hayhurst dealt with, personally. Their relationship was responsible for some of the best moments in the book, such as the time a nun came into the clinic asking for Hayhurst, or when HHH, a famous WWE wrestler “almost” killed Dirk.
The book did have one fault though, that is present in all of Dirk’s writing and TV appearances. It was self-deprecating. It definitely was less self-deprecating than his other works, as not much of this book was actually focused on his time playing, but you can still point out quite a few times where he made it known that he was not very good at baseball. However, if you can let that slide, it was a great read.
Of the three major books he has written, Bigger than the Game, was my favourite, because it didn’t just focus on life in the clubhouse, but also gives you a detailed look into what it is like to rehab injuries. As fans that don’t make millions of dollars each year, we don’t think recovering from an injury is so bad. The player is still getting paid, but he cannot do anything to help his team. These players are people too, and the feeling of being useless is one that they all deal with when injured. Hayhurst was able to deal with those feelings in his own way, and shared his experiences with us in this fantastic book.