A Review of Dirk Hayhurst’s Bigger than the Game

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 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”[1], 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.

[1] 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”[2], 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.

[2] 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.

Bigger in the Game is scheduled to be released on February 25th in the United States, and March 4th in Canada. You can order it on various websites, like Amazon and Amazon Canada.

  • JefQ27BlueJayz

    You have quite a future ahead of you young man. You ought to get some points from Hayhurst on sales, I am not very fond of his commentary but now I will go and buy his books because of you. I wish he was a little less of an aggressive demeaning type about the organisation. We do have a great thing going on. But now I will buy his scribe and read it.

    • Rick

      I believe Brice Jared might be Marc Rzepcynski. This blog post says that Brice reached the Majors in 2009 but was sent back down: http://dirkhayhurst.com/2012/12/the-process/

      The post is from June, at which point Rzeypcynski had indeed debuted in the Majors and been sent back to the Minors. And he did have good numbers that year. I don’t remember if he was ever really a can’t miss prospect, but everything else checks out.

      • alfreed

        I just finished Hayhurst’s book and I’m pretty sure said that Brice and his crew later jumped on twitter to interact with the fans after the plaform blew up. Scrabble to my knowledge does not have twitter.

        • jeff

          I searched for quite a while on different sites for pitcher movements and injuries and narrowed it down to Cecil or Romero…But just from both of their personalities I would lean toward Romero. Cecik just doesn’t seem like the “bro” type or carry hinself as a jackass & that was the year Cecil won 15 games..and throughout the book he says Brice was pitching poorly

  • JefQ27BlueJayz

    Gideon, OK BUB, What is going on? Please leave school and go to Florida and give us a full report and everything happening in Dunedin. From how many balls are in each bucket, to what kind of gum they are chewing. Thanks, I knew you’d understand.


  • Justin T

    The excerpt published on Deadspin indicates that Brice was a pitcher, so it can’t be Travis Snider.

  • Justin T

    It sounds like it could be Ricky Romero. He fits the “can’t miss prospect” as a 1st rounder. He made his debut in 2009, started the season with the Jays and then he was sent down to Las Vegas in May for a rehab assignment.

    • MP

      I agree with this.

  • Jimmy Conway

    Pretty sure that Brice Jared is Brett Cecil — got this from Deadspin.
    Is BJ Ryan TJ Collins? Don’t think he was with the team in 2010.

  • Guest

    Pretty sure that Brice Jared is Brett Cecil — got this from Deadspin.
    Is BJ Ryan TJ Collins? Not sure he was even with the team in 2010.

    • Gideon Turk

      The TJ Collins stuff takes place in 2009. He was on the team then.