I love reading books about the exploits of former pro baseball players – the pinnacle of this genre is Ball Four by Jim Bouton, of course. If you haven’t read it, you need to stop what you’re doing and buy it immediately.
Here’s some other books I recently read and really enjoyed.
Out of My League (Dirk Hayhurst)
Out of My League is a great story told by Dirk Hayhurst while he was with the San Diego Padres’ organization. He talks about the life of being a non-prospect, the tough conditions of playing in the minor leagues, and a tumultuous family life that he has to come home to when he’s not throwing baseballs. This book follows up The Bullpen Gospels, which is Dirk’s story of playing in High-A and Double-A. Both are outstanding – Dirk’s an excellent writer, and his words bring the experience of the minors (and the call-up to the big leagues) to the reader. Full of hilarious stories, Out of My League mixes in some very emotional scenes as well. Definitely a must-buy.
Odd Man Out (Matt McCarthy)
Odd Man Out is a great story about a Yale graduate (classmate of current MLB pitcher Craig Breslow) who was gifted with a left arm that could touch 90 MPH off a mound – from time to time. His struggles in the Anaheim Angels system really illustrate the racial divides between the “Dominicans” and the “Americans,” and sheds some light on how “bonus babies” (Joe Saunders in this case) are seen by the guys who were drafted for $1,000 and a plane ticket (McCarthy, in this case). Odd Man Out includes a touching scene with current Angels GM Tony Reagins and helps tell the real human story of people grinding away in the minor leagues. I recommend picking it up.