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It’s every minor league baseball player’s dream to be called up to “the show.” But after five seasons as a minor league pitcher, Dirk Hayhurst discovered that being in the big league spotlight wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Hayhust talked with Only A Game’s Bill Littlefield about his new book, Out of My League, in which he discusses why he preferred his time in the minors.
“The money isn’t there in Triple-A. People didn’t know who I was in Triple-A, but I was happy there,” Hayhurst said. “I was succeeding there. I had pride there. And I don’t have that here. You know, I have money, but I also have a really red behind from all the times I’ve had my butt kicked.”
Hayhurst didn’t win a game in the two partial seasons he spent with the San Diego Padres. Even though his major league career equaled less than 40 innings, Hayhurst finds he doesn’t really miss baseball now.
“I knew I had the physical talent and I knew I could play, but there were all of these questions I kept asking that I needed to find answers to,” Hayhurst said. “Like, ‘Why is this game so important to everybody? All we do I throw a white ball for a living. How come we get paid so much money and teachers and doctors, they don’t?’ I don’t know, it was just these things made it hard for me to really commit to it. And then I would ask these questions aloud and guys on the team were like, ‘You are an idiot. Just sit there and be quiet.’”
Hayhurst will soon head to Italy to pitch for a different flavor of pro team, where fights between players and umpires are an art form. “I’m really going to have to spruce up my argument skills if I’m going to survive in that league.”
Bill’s thoughts on Out of My League:
Pitcher Dirk Hayhurst never made an error in the big leagues.
He also never got a win.
He did hit a couple of guys, and he has parlayed his professional baseball experience (five years in the minors, parts of two summers in the majors) into two books. The new one, Out of My League, is sort-of "Jim Bouton lite." Unlike the author of the infamous Ball Four, Hayhurst does not name names. He might make some enemies in baseball anyway, since he contends that pitchers looking for an advantage have been known to smear sun screen on the ball, but that's about as "tell-all" as Out of My League gets.
When I spoke with the pitcher/author this week, Hayhurst told me he'd soon be off to pitch for a pro team in Italy, where, according to him, arguing with the umpire is regarded as a crucial skill, and crowds number closer to 3,000 than 30,000. As a fellow who acknowledges that sometimes he felt guilty accepting his paychecks from the Padres and Blue Jays, perhaps he'll fit right in with Caffe Denesi Nettuno.
[sidebar title="More From Dirk Hayhurst" width="525" align="none"] In December 2011, Hayhurst wrote a commentary for Only A Game about the difficulties that journeyman players face during spring training, not knowing whether they'll survive the cut to play another year.[/sidebar]
This segment aired on March 3, 2012.
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