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Sports


NE Ohio author Dirk Hayhurst's "Bigger Than the Game" counts the personal cost of big league baseball
Stark County native's latest book looks at the struggle to make -- and remain -- in the big leagues
by WKSU's MARK URYCKI


Reporter
Mark Urycki
 
Dirk Hayhurst's new book explores the life of a struggling ballplayer.
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Former professional baseball player Dirk Hayhurst has a new book out called “Bigger Than the Game."

It’s the Hudson author’s third volume about his life as a pitcher struggling to get to – and stay in – the major leagues.

In his latest book, Hayhurst writes about his difficult 2010 season with the Toronto Blue Jays. His first book “Bullpen Gospels” was just about to come out. But what might have been his best year ended up falling apart when he injured his shoulder before Spring Training.

LISTEN: An interview with Dirk Hayhurst

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Hayhurst recalls working with pitching great Pedro Martinez on TBS during the fall's MLB playoffs.  (photo: working out at his alma mater Kent State Univ in 2011)


Hayhurst recalls working with pitching great Pedro Martinez on TBS during the fall's MLB playoffs. (photo: working out at his alma mater Kent State Univ in 2011)

Hayhurst was the first Toronto Blue Jay player to start his own Twitter feed. It scared some players then. Things have come a long way.


Hayhurst was the first Toronto Blue Jay player to start his own Twitter feed. It scared some players then. Things have come a long way.

Rarely do you have books that come from the 90 percent of the baseball world, where fringe prospects make it to the top for a little bit and then disappear -- or never get there at all. 

“Bigger Than the Game” explores the mental trauma players go through. 

“The tie-breaker between the guy that gets called up and the guy who stays in the minors -- or the guy who stays in the big leagues and the guy that gets sent down -- is your track record on injury. You do everything to cover tracks. You don’t want anyone to know you’ve been hurt. You certainly don’t want them to know you’ve had some sort of psychological problem.”

Hayhurst writes about how he began to depend on sleeping bills and pain pills to make life bearable. He also explores the suspicion that a couple of his teammates had of him because they feared he may be writing about them. 

“So not only was I worried about my body, but I was also worried that writing may just put another bullet in the chamber to get me out of the game permanently.”

He never pitched for the Blue Jays again, although they did offer him a broadcasting job. Hayhurst instead signed with the Tampa Bay Rays and pitched one year for their Triple A team. Eventually he tried one more pitching stint in Italy – and there’s gotta be a book in that.  

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