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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A Helluva Read: BA: The Non-Prospect’s Diary

So I was just now alerted to the blog of non-prospect Dirk Hayhurst.  Just from reading one entry, I am impressed by this guy’s perspective and ability to write about it.  I will be checking back regularly.

On the subject of signing autographs:

For me, it’s a dead ritual, and doesn’t make sense. Maybe this is because I know who I am. Because everyday I see the mistakes and shortcomings I deal with that humanize me. I disagree that I am somehow more valuable because I do this job.  Fans however, see my clean uniform and their boyhood dreams incarnate. When my hand presses a pen to paper, they find it magical. I don’t understand why this works the way it does, but its lack of logic in no way negates the reality of it.

Harold can be a fun sponge Posted: September 05, 2007 at 05:42 AM | 113 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: minor leagues, padres

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   1. Harold can be a fun sponge Posted: September 05, 2007 at 05:50 AM (#2512475)
Seriously, that is an awesome quotation from a 26-year-old minor-league ballplayer. What perspective, that you don't usually don't find from a guy in that situation.
   2. Steve Treder Posted: September 05, 2007 at 05:58 AM (#2512482)
What perspective, that you don't usually don't find from a guy in that situation.

Perspective, hell, I'd call it wisdom, that you don't usually find from any of us, at any age.
   3. Harold can be a fun sponge Posted: September 05, 2007 at 06:11 AM (#2512485)
Perspective, hell, I'd call it wisdom, that you don't usually find from any of us, at any age.

Agreed. One might even say: well said.
   4. Harold can be a fun sponge Posted: September 05, 2007 at 06:15 AM (#2512488)
It's a great entry. I think the paragraph I picked might be most representative, but I feel like I missed out on posting this:

I bent down at the fence to get on the boy's level, steadying myself with one hand on the links. As I did this, the mother knelt down quickly and put her hand on mine. My comfort zone was just violated, but before I could say anything, she spoke, in a soft and sad voice saying, "My son has liver cancer. It's terminal. He really wanted to do this before . . . um, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with him."
   5. Esoteric Posted: September 05, 2007 at 07:02 AM (#2512492)
Dear god, this is an incredible entry, as polished and elegant as what you'd expect from a professional writer (a real writer), yet with a level of insight that can only come from a player's view. The part about intentional avoidance of eye contact rang so true.

Seriously people, RTFA. I'm about to read the rest of this guy's diary...why don't people like this guy become sportswriters instead of the Bill Plaschkes of the world?
   6. Squash Posted: September 05, 2007 at 07:03 AM (#2512493)
jesus
   7. larkin4HoF Posted: September 05, 2007 at 07:20 AM (#2512495)
I cried.
   8. Dave Bell Posted: September 05, 2007 at 07:38 AM (#2512496)
Everone should read this article, best piece of writing linked here in fricking ages
   9. Tike Redman's Shattered Dreams Posted: September 05, 2007 at 08:19 AM (#2512502)
The archive has some gems too.
   10. Esoteric Posted: September 05, 2007 at 08:49 AM (#2512505)
I'm gonna keep commenting on this thread and bumping it until I have written verification that every regular Primate has read this guy's stuff; it's remarkable. Dude's playing minor league baseball, but he could be rocking an MFA at any of the most prestigious graduate programs in the United States with the way he puts across an authorial voice as well as genuine insight - I've read a silly amount of baseball literature and yet this feels fresh.

I've been hearing the sportswriter cliche that baseball has a remarkable preponderance of dummies since I was a wee tyke. And I dunno, maybe it's true, but if so then Hayhurst's work here is only that much more impressive. If Dirk doesn't take up writing when he hangs up his spikes I'll be disappointed. I've read a number of his entries since my earlier comment and, no joke, if this guy suddenly appeared in a mainstream media sports page tomorrow he'd be hailed as the next Halberstam/Angell/Boswell.
   11. Dave Bell Posted: September 05, 2007 at 10:54 AM (#2512516)
if this guy suddenly appeared in a mainstream media sports page tomorrow he'd be hailed as the next Halberstam/Angell/Boswell.


I'm going to write him an email and tell him much the same thing .
   12. Dave Bell Posted: September 05, 2007 at 11:10 AM (#2512521)
For those interested, his minor league stats this year...

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/stats/player.php?id=460602
   13. Russ Posted: September 05, 2007 at 11:11 AM (#2512523)
This article is one of those that makes me wish BPrimer had a way to "rate" articles and then rank by date and rating, rather than by most recently posted to. It's sad that it could get pushed off the Hot Topics by the same three guys arguing about PED's for the eleventy-billionth time. Truly amazing stuff from the writer.
   14. There are a lot of good people in alt-Shooty Posted: September 05, 2007 at 12:02 PM (#2512533)
Just a bump so you a-holes will RTFA.
   15. bob gee Posted: September 05, 2007 at 12:03 PM (#2512534)
i got the chills. thanks for posting.

can someone do a favor? send a link to this posting to him @the address listed, so he knows he should continue writing. i'd so much rather read him than (fill in the blank blowhard who appears on espn). NOT part of the 'jockocracy'.
   16. T.J. Posted: September 05, 2007 at 12:14 PM (#2512543)
Wow. I'm choked up. I dropped him a line and linked back to here.
   17. A Random 8-Year-Old Eskimo Posted: September 05, 2007 at 12:22 PM (#2512549)
I agree with every sentiment expressed so far. I read this about two weeks ago and thought it was a fantastic read and meant to drop him a note saying how much I appreciated his writing. I never did and now I regret that. I read it again and it's just as good the second time as it was the first.

Dirk, please keep writing.
   18. The Bones McCoy of THT Posted: September 05, 2007 at 12:58 PM (#2512569)
I've passed the link along to THT for our daily. I'm going to put it on top of my Friday column as well.

Amazing stuff.

Dick: If you're reading this, I hope you'll consider a future writing about the game whether as a columnist or author (or both). You've got a rare gift and ever rarer insights. Keep chasing the dream as long as your body allows. When the sad day comes when it's time to put away the gloves and spikes please stay close to the game and continue to share your thoughts and wisdom with the fans of the sport.

Only a small minority have the ability to play in the big leagues. What you might not be aware of is that--despite the ink spilled and bandwidth used by folks covering the game--only a small minority can cover the sport as it deserves to be covered.

To get to your level in professional baseball is a huge achievement of itself; very few in the world of play-for-pay have reach where you are right now. To write about baseball as well as you do is also a tremendous achievement.

Sadly, baseball writing is like fast food. Since eating is part of our daily routine, every town has a McDonalds, a Taco Bell or a Pizza Hut. However, not every town however has a restaurant with truly excellent cuisine. Likewise, every town or city also have folks who write about baseball because there are fans who wish to read about it--but few have scribes who do so with distinction.

I hope you'll put your distinct gift to writing about baseball to good use one day. There's no sadder story in the game of a truly gifted player not fulfilling his promise due to whatever circumstance transpired. It would also be a shame that a truly gifted writer such as yourself didn't have a chance to fulfill his promise.

Give it some thought. You're damned good. Just check out the comments in this thread. I've been associated with this band of miscreants for most of the aughts and I can tell you straight up: It's a tough room, so their props is a terrific indication of your talent.

Best Regards

John
   19. NJ in NY (Now with Baby!) Posted: September 05, 2007 at 01:13 PM (#2512578)
Yeah, I don't know. I was kind of skeptical reading the comments here, but now I'm sitting in my office kind of choked up and hoping no one comes by and notices.
   20. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 05, 2007 at 01:17 PM (#2512584)
I remember reading this back when it first came out. I think it was linked from Deadspin.

Quality piece.
   21. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: September 05, 2007 at 01:18 PM (#2512586)
eh, it was ok.
   22. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: September 05, 2007 at 01:18 PM (#2512588)
Just kidding...I was crying by the end of that. Amazing.
   23. asinwreck Posted: September 05, 2007 at 01:36 PM (#2512601)
Some of Hayhurst's earlier columns have typos, and that is the limit of nitpicking I can do about a writer who humanizes baseball like few do. Shouldn't prevent a press from contracting him to do a minor-league Ball Four, or have Baseball America keep him on staff long after he hangs up the spikes.

Hell, if I edited the New Yorker, I'd give him a call.
   24. The Bones McCoy of THT Posted: September 05, 2007 at 01:45 PM (#2512612)
Shouldn't prevent a press from contracting him to do a minor-league Ball Four, or have Baseball America keep him on staff long after he hangs up the spikes.


Or he could join the Hardball Times--right studes/sardonic? In fact, they could drop him a line right now and put an open offer on the table: When you're done, we've saved a seat for you.

Having both CBW and this guy on staff and we'd rock the huckin' fouse.

Best Regards

John
   25. BFFB Posted: September 05, 2007 at 01:49 PM (#2512615)
That was an excellent article, I'm not ashamed to say it made me choke up. First time in years.

Keep writing.
   26. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: September 05, 2007 at 01:53 PM (#2512623)
The contrarian in me was skeptical after all the fawning comments, but wow, this guy is great. This should be on a list of required reading for every Primate.
   27. asinwreck Posted: September 05, 2007 at 01:58 PM (#2512633)
In case anyone has gotten this far without reading Hayhurst's columns, they won't all choke you up. The ones about the team bus had me laughing out loud, and his portrayal of Greg Maddux was as illuminating as any I can remember reading.
   28. greenback wears sandals on his head Posted: September 05, 2007 at 03:35 PM (#2512747)
Is this real?
   29. LA Podcasting Hombre of Anaheim Posted: September 05, 2007 at 04:03 PM (#2512790)
Had to blink away a few tears. Not that I'm emotional or anything, just something in my eyes...

What a fabulous article. I immediately sent an email.
   30. BFFB Posted: September 05, 2007 at 04:45 PM (#2512870)
Bump
   31. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: September 05, 2007 at 04:48 PM (#2512877)
Dirk has his final entry of the season up at BA.

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/minors/features/264795.html
   32. Gaylord Perry the Platypus (oi!) Posted: September 05, 2007 at 04:51 PM (#2512882)
I've made it through most of his columns for the year. He should definitely continue writing; this is great stuff. Funny, poignant, touching, and real.
   33. Paul M Hates Krispy Kreme Posted: September 05, 2007 at 05:11 PM (#2512918)
Just read a few of the posts and have to 31st(?) the raves. I love his writing style and flat-out honesty. A great read.
   34. depletion Posted: September 05, 2007 at 05:15 PM (#2512922)
Great writing. I couldn't find a list of the journal entries, but search Hayhurst on the site and you get them. The 8/31/07 entry is hilarious.
How much finer is this journal than the latest Jeter/Arod love triangle or whatever passes for newsprint!

Keep up the great work, Mr. Hayhurst.
   35. A Random 8-Year-Old Eskimo Posted: September 05, 2007 at 05:43 PM (#2512971)
All in favour of protesting outside PETCO until Towers promotes him?
   36. Cowboy Popup Posted: September 05, 2007 at 05:52 PM (#2512985)
Fantastic.
   37. PETCO Thread Posted: September 05, 2007 at 05:53 PM (#2512986)
One used to be able to protest inside PETCO, until I was closed.
   38. The Non-Prospect Posted: September 05, 2007 at 06:27 PM (#2513043)
Hello everyone,

I got wind of this thread through a reader who sent me the link.

First, thank you all for reading my stuff. I have to admit, I have no previous experience writing, so this is all very new to me. I am glad someone likes what I have scribbled out so far because when I started I totally expected to flop, or get eaten alive by my teammates or the media.

The Idea for the title of Non-Prospect was my own. Not because I feel I am some how inferior as a player, but because the sports industry seems to place a huge amount of prestige on those athletes who will be the next big thing. The rest of us, well, I guess we are just roster fillers until we put up some mythical string of numbers or get a huge clump of money dropped in our lap. I disagree. Statistically most of us minors boys wont make it. Does that some how discount our experiences in this game?

I also chose it because I didn't want anyone to take me to seriously. I am just a person after all- no better then anyone else. I have a very hard time stomaching how our culture places undo honors on those who posses a title like "professional pitcher." What exactly do I do that helps out so much? Do I cure diseases? Do I pass laws? Do I fight battles? Last time I checked, I just tossed a little white ball. Ooo, ahhhh. Regardless of my personal feelings However, for better or worse, pro sports has given me this voice and I have decided to use it for something positive. Something we don't get so see in sports very often. There are more of us out there then the media tends to report.

I don't know where writing will take me. Actually I don't even know what I am doing. As I have said, I have no previous experience with writing before this year. I am raw, and I will be the first to admit my grammar is deplorable (which may explain the typos). However, I think my rawness has allowed me to capture the real side of the minor league life you don't hear about. The fact that we players are real people playing a surreal sport. We deal with real issues, and pro-sports doesn't answer all life's questions.

I appreciate your kind words and support. Thanks for reading. I hope I can provide you with more thoughtful moving stories in the future, but until then, may I just provide you with me deepest thanks.

Again, thanks for reading my minor league ramblings.

Yours in baseball,

Dirk Hayhrust (The Non-prospect Diary Author)
   39. rr Posted: September 05, 2007 at 06:32 PM (#2513056)
I didn't send Mr. Hayhurst the link, but I did drop him an email from my work account and mentioned BTF.

I also sent the story to my non-baseball fan girlfriend, who was in tears.

Thanks for stopping by and for the article, Mr. Hayhurst.
   40. Greg Luzinski's #1 fan (Chris M.) Posted: September 05, 2007 at 06:40 PM (#2513074)
Dirk -

You're a class act and a deeper thinker than a sizable portion of our society. I wish you well in your quest to make the Show and even more so in your apparent quest for self knowledge and understanding. Oh, and definitely keep writing. You may have found that "life after baseball" career.
   41. WillYoung Posted: September 05, 2007 at 06:48 PM (#2513088)
Great story. Thanks Dirk!
   42. Rally Posted: September 05, 2007 at 07:01 PM (#2513110)
Dude's playing minor league baseball, but he could be rocking an MFA at any of the most prestigious graduate programs in the United States with the way he puts across an authorial voice as well as genuine insight


Stay away from grad programs. They might mess you up. This is excellent stuff, and Dirk, I'll keep an eye out for anything you write in the future. Actually, anything that comes up, just submit a link here at BTF - any registered member can submit a news item, and you've definitely got fans here.

P.S. I'll try and avoid bragging too much about throwing 97 back in '86 before my coach screwed me up.
   43. My guest will be Jermaine Allensworth Posted: September 05, 2007 at 07:06 PM (#2513115)
Oh, and definitely keep writing. You may have found that "life after baseball" career.

It seems to have worked for Paul Shirley.
   44. NJ in NY (Now with Baby!) Posted: September 05, 2007 at 07:23 PM (#2513138)
Re: 43's user

Hey, hey!
   45. SoSH U at work Posted: September 05, 2007 at 07:24 PM (#2513143)
Great work Dirk and thanks for stopping by.
   46. Esoteric Posted: September 05, 2007 at 07:32 PM (#2513149)
Yup. Still worth reading. And Dirk's comment here is added icing.

Check out the Greg Maddux diary, it's great. Sample quote:

Maddux created the professor of baseball image. The thinking man's game. When he throws, he makes pitching look so easy. You would almost think he wills the ball where he wants it to go. Like he uses Jedi force powers, with a wave of his hand he says “you will ground out to short” and the batter obeys. It's uncanny.


http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/features/263641.html
   47. Marty Winn Posted: September 05, 2007 at 07:37 PM (#2513156)
I was hoping to find a page that had an archive of all the articles in the Non-Prospect Diary: Dirk Hayhurst but am unable to find it. I was able to do a search and get a collection of article but have no confidence that I found them all. Little help please?

Thanks.
   48. Jack Keefe Posted: September 05, 2007 at 07:41 PM (#2513163)
Hey Al did you see that your pal Jack Keefe is not the only pitcher who can sling a word or 3 togeter there is Dirk Haywurst who writes real good only as he says Al you can not expect him not to have tipos he has not been a wrider as long as me. Good luck Dirk and do not call yourself a non prospect the way we Sox are going it will be you and me as 1-2 starters in Ought Eight.
   49. The Non-Prospect Posted: September 05, 2007 at 07:44 PM (#2513166)
Here is a link to another article I have written that you won't find on BA. Also, the best way to find my list of articles on the BA site is to search for them. They are terrible about keeping the site links up to date. Below is a link to one I wrote for my home town newspaper.


http://www.cantonrep.com/index.php?ID=372536&Category=17&subCategoryID=0
   50. Esoteric Posted: September 05, 2007 at 07:45 PM (#2513169)
Another great one: Hayhurst writes about your typical minor league bus trip. Again, what a great eye for detail he has...

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/minors/features/263883.html

Again, you really ought to RTFA.
   51. The Non-Prospect Posted: September 05, 2007 at 07:49 PM (#2513174)
Oh, and here is my final piece fro BA. Don't tell anyone- they want you to pay for it, but they don't pay me anything to write for them so I am just going to slap it up here for you all to read. Enjoy.

Sacrifice


A teammate and I spent the other day watching movies.

It was our off day, and we decided it would be nice to spend the whole of it
in an air conditioned theater watching the latest and greatest Hollywood had
to offer.

It was time well spent, because in those fleeting hours of movie magic, I
could lose myself completely in some other world. I could forget about the
grind for a while and dream I was some place else. A mental vacation.

After back-to-back-to-back films, we went to dinner. Over burritos, we struck up a
conversation about the reality of life as a baseball player. It was a time of reflection.

During this year alone I have witnessed at least a dozen friends get
released between spring training and now.

I've watched guys get sent up, get sent down, and get sent home.

It's been a long summer.

Now its August and the season is coming to a close. We're in the playoff hunt, fighting
for first. We have been through many ups and downs, and now we are finally
in striking distance of something tangible. Something worthy of a 140-game
grind. Something that makes the hardships of a season worth it: A
championship.

Some things are just that easy, others, however, are complicated.

This is my fifth year of pro ball, my fifth year of slugging it out in the
minors. It's my friends seventh. Seven years of chasing, but not catching,
the dream of big league ball.

Will this be me in two years? This realization forces tough questions that
scream at me when things are going bad but whisper quietly when things are
going good. Questions like: How much longer should I do this? Can I really
make it? Is this job worth it?

Some tell me they are envious of this job. They say they'd give anything
to do it. Even for just a chance at it.

Anything?

A young father once told me he would give anything to do this
job, in fact, he had a chance to but, alas, “My daughter was born, and she
screwed up everything.”

Your first-born screwed up your dreams of being a minor leaguer? I am sorry
to hear that, sorry for your daughter's sake. He honestly felt he made the
wrong choice.

I want to play in the big leagues. I work hard every day to give myself a
chance, a chance that may never happen. But if it did, would it be the
tangible result that made this five-year grind worth it?

Would the void from all the friends left behind be filled if I make it?
Would I forget about the great times I missed with loved ones? Would all the
days I wanted to quit and toughed it out, all the days on a tour bus, all
the days in a hotel room in some nameless, faceless town be justified when
I toe the rubber of a big-league diamond?

Would it be worth trading the birth of my precious daughter for?

I can't answer those questions. Each dream comes with a different price for
those who chase them. How can anyone know if their dream is worth the price
they'll pay to have it?

If I am honest, the closest I come to toeing the rubber of a big-league
mound may be in my imagination. But in my imagination, it's a great moment.
A wonderful vision that pushes me on.

Yet, when it does happen, if it does happen and it turns out to be the
amazing experience I hope it to be, I know it won't erase the sacrifices I
have made to achieve it.

People ask, “When are you going to make it into the big leagues?”

I have no idea. Maybe next year, maybe never, but I wouldn't trade the
experience of trying to get there for anything. The choices I've made to get
here have made me the man I am today. The pain, joy, confusion and certainty- all of it.

I will never forget the people baseball has introduced me to or forced me to
leave behind. The experiences I have had because of it or been asked to
miss out on. I'll never forget the teammates I've seen come and go or the
kind people who have helped along the way.

I won't forget the sacrifices I have made to be where I am, and I won't
pretend to think my first big league game will somehow make sense of them
all. I will just enjoy that moment. I will cherish and savor it because it came at a price.
Like all dreams do.

Until that then, I'll continue to believe there are some things worth
enduring for. Some things worth braving the pain and confusion of life
for. Those are the dreams that guide our choices, and whether they are of
big league glory, or a beautiful smile stretched across your child's face,
they are worth the sacrifice.
   52. HowardMegdal Posted: September 05, 2007 at 07:53 PM (#2513178)
Dirk,

What a pleasure it is to read your writing. Were you spurred on by any baseball writing you'd read? Jim Brosnan comes to mind, for instance.
   53. Esoteric Posted: September 05, 2007 at 07:55 PM (#2513181)
Dirk -

Thanks for dropping by and sharing some of your other stuff with us. If you started a blog and wrote about baseball stuff, I guarantee you'd have an audience here.
   54. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: September 05, 2007 at 07:56 PM (#2513182)
Is BA's archive list incomplete?
   55. CrosbyBird Posted: September 05, 2007 at 07:58 PM (#2513184)
The story linked in #49 is my favorite so far. You really have a gift for writing in a way that makes the reader feel like he's right there with you. I hope to see more of your stuff and wish you the best of luck in your quest to reach the majors.
   56. Meatwad in mourning Posted: September 05, 2007 at 08:00 PM (#2513189)
we need to get CBW over to this thread
   57. BTL: Lesser Primate, 4th Class Trainee Posted: September 05, 2007 at 08:06 PM (#2513191)
I just read all the articles listed on the Baseball America site by date, about ten.

I echo all the advice to read what he has written. Astounding writing, especially considering he states he's never written before.

Mr. Non-Prospect: Be sure to announce publication of your first book here, so we don't miss it. Thanks.

And thanks for sharing your experiences.
   58. Bowling Baseball Fan Posted: September 05, 2007 at 08:07 PM (#2513192)
Wow.....

just wow.

Wonderful reading. I usually read articles and threads while watching tv or playing cards online or both. I stopped everything for an hour to read as much as I could. Dirk, I will continue reading your stories as long as you keep writing. The most honest stuff I've seen in years. Great job.
   59. Esoteric Posted: September 05, 2007 at 08:14 PM (#2513200)
Yeah, I was sleepy last night and I didn't get to absorb these as much as I should've. I'm re-reading the entry on clubhouse gear and it's another great one.

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/features/263952.html
   60. Sam M. Posted: September 05, 2007 at 08:20 PM (#2513207)
Wow. It is so wonderful to be reminded of the things about baseball that keep us wedded to it, the qualities that gave us such joy in the first place . . . when we were all as young as that child Dirk writes about. When the players were larger than life, when the simple fact that they wore the uniform and played the game so amazingly well (we were just Little Leaguers trying so damned hard to be like them!) did make them worth worshipping, at least in our 8-year old eyes. As fans, we can grow so disillusioned with the game from our adult perspective, and it's easy to understand -- when so vivid a writer as Dirk captures it -- why the players can get that way, too. The grind, the sameness, the cynicism, the hardness of it all. Sigh. But sometimes . . . sometimes, it reminds us. When a kid living his dream throws a no-hitter in his second major league start, or when we go to the park and see a dad taking his child to his (or her) first game.

But especially, when we read something like what Dirk has written, and understand that there are players who can touch and be touched. I still love this game. And even a bit more now than a few minutes ago.
   61. Schilling's Sprained Ankiel Posted: September 05, 2007 at 08:28 PM (#2513214)
I don't think the internet has ever made me cry before this. Jesus - I hope that guy gets a cup of coffee at least - he deserves it just for this.
   62. Esoteric Posted: September 05, 2007 at 08:30 PM (#2513216)
Sam -

Yeah, there's a lot to love about baseball, but then again, there's ball bucket duty: http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/features/263819.html
   63. TVerik, who wonders what the hell is "Ansky" Posted: September 05, 2007 at 08:32 PM (#2513218)
I don't care if pointing this out makes me crass...

We looked at each other and, without a word of discussion, scooped up the youngster and placed him the pen with us.

If this was completely unexpected by the boy or the mother, I can imagine the horrified expressions while they saw where this move was leading.
   64. Guapo Posted: September 05, 2007 at 08:34 PM (#2513221)
The quality of writing at Lake Elsinore has really picked up since they got rid of Eric Cyr.
   65. Diamond Research Posted: September 05, 2007 at 08:48 PM (#2513240)
Well written, sir! Good luck v. Frisco.
   66. Sam M. Posted: September 05, 2007 at 08:53 PM (#2513251)
Yeah, there's a lot to love about baseball, but then again, there's ball bucket duty:

Yet more to love. Things that made me laugh for $400, Alex.
   67. Esoteric Posted: September 05, 2007 at 09:14 PM (#2513283)
Oh man, I missed this one on page 2:

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/features/264780.html

Absolutely hilarious, and sort of melancholy, too.
   68. Gambling Rent Czar Posted: September 05, 2007 at 09:32 PM (#2513297)
this is awesome ...
I linked to this story last week, in tears, and it got zero replies ..
I was kind of surprised.
great read

http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/newsstand/discussion/ba_non_prospect_diary_dirk_hayhurst/
   69. Esoteric Posted: September 05, 2007 at 09:36 PM (#2513299)
GR -

I vaguely remember that now. And guess what? Like most Primates, the lack of comments on the entry plus characteristic Primate sloth led me to skip over it. Which is why I'll keep bumpin' this stuff until Dirk Hayhurst becomes a paid contributor to THT or something.

You realize that ESPN Insider would be worth paying for if it actually featured writers like this?
   70. The Bones McCoy of THT Posted: September 05, 2007 at 09:56 PM (#2513306)
A young father once told me he would give anything to do this
job, in fact, he had a chance to but, alas, “My daughter was born, and she
screwed up everything.”


(shakes head)

Hey, some of my dreams didn't come true as well, but you know what? Ultimately it doesn't matter. I'm the father of two beautiful young women and they turning out the way they have is a greater feeling that I ever had when I imagined my dreams being fulfilled.

Baseball is a wonderful game but the fact of the matter is, at least when my services are no longer required as a dad (read: my offspring leave home) I can rest confident that rather than being given a pink slip and shown the door, my daughters (and hopefully one day, grandchildren) will come back through my door to continue sharing their lives with me.

And that beats the hell out of an old-timers game any day :-)

Best Regards

John
   71. Diamond Research Posted: September 05, 2007 at 10:08 PM (#2513316)
Yeah, I had the same thought. Reminded me of:

Ray Kinsella: Fifty years ago, for five minutes you came within... y-you came this close. It would KILL some men to get so close to their dream and not touch it. God, they'd consider it a tragedy.
Dr. Archibald "Moonlight" Graham: Son, if I'd only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes... now that would have been a tragedy.
   72. The Bones McCoy of THT Posted: September 05, 2007 at 10:29 PM (#2513334)
How did that song go? "It's not getting what you want, it's wanting what you've got."

Bingo.

Bottom line, had my big league dreams come true, I'd be retired right now. My current happy experience is ongoing and has a while to go yet.

Life's not so bad when once you understand that some of life's greatest treasures are right under your nose.

Best Regards

John
   73. base ball chick Posted: September 05, 2007 at 10:34 PM (#2513338)
dirk

your writing is just awesome. real without the least little bit of gossip or meanness.

i am SERIOUS dude, you have just GOT to turn these columns into a book. like a column for each week of the season.

and oh how i luuuvvved your column about getting the box of stuff and all the other guys wanting to see it.

i got 3 little boys and somehow it is not surprising to me to learn that no matter how big or old little boys are that some things NEVER change

i know the season is bout over for yall but please PLEASE keep writing for the hardball times. you are just incredible. please really seriously think about it.

and i tell you something - all the guys here, well, most of em can always fone SOMEthing wrong with something that a person writes and every hardboiled guy here just LUUUUVVVVED your stuff and dude you are the greg maddux of writing trust me on this...
   74. scotto Posted: September 05, 2007 at 11:12 PM (#2513353)
I'll add that I really enjoyed that story. People forget how even the tiniest things can make a big impact on kids, and knowing that some grown up took an interest in them and showed some care and concern would make a huge difference. Sometimes that doesn't come from the people most intimately involved in the child's life, but may come from elsewhere.

I'm glad the mom was persistent. I'm glad you guys were open to her persistence. I hope he's still a happy boy, with the fond memory of his day at the ballpark with the big boys.
   75. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: September 06, 2007 at 12:07 AM (#2513415)
uh.

wow.

that article deserved every bit of praise lavished upon it.
   76. Raines Posted: September 06, 2007 at 01:19 AM (#2513541)
"like two in the pinky slot" Funny stuff.
   77. Jeff K. Posted: September 06, 2007 at 02:15 AM (#2513619)
Hmm. I read the story and enjoyed it, but I am frankly surprised, if not shocked, at the lavish praise heaped upon it. It was very good. Personally, I don't think it was transcendent or heart-breaking. It was simply a very good story about an emotional moment.
   78. rr Posted: September 06, 2007 at 02:23 AM (#2513631)
Personally, I don't think it was transcendent or heart-breaking. It was simply a very good story about an emotional moment.


I think the fact it was by a player and written unpretentiously gave it an immediacy people responded to.
   79. TVerik, who wonders what the hell is "Ansky" Posted: September 06, 2007 at 02:30 AM (#2513638)
I prefer my coffee black.

BLACK LIKE JEFF'S WITHERED HEART!!!!!!!!
   80. Jeff K. Posted: September 06, 2007 at 02:31 AM (#2513639)
I think the fact it was by a player and written unpretentiously gave it an immediacy people responded to.

Except there are multiple people saying that he's Halberstam, or that he's got a slamdunk career in sportswriting. Taking a step back, all I'm saying is that I don't agree, at least on that evidence.
   81. Justin T drives a crooked hoss Posted: September 06, 2007 at 02:32 AM (#2513642)
Little boys with terminal liver cancer are always heartbreaking in my book.
   82. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: September 06, 2007 at 02:42 AM (#2513655)
It's a good story. It tugs at your heartstrings. I agree with Jeff, though, that it isn't something to which I would expect to see comments like:

* “Dear god, this is an incredible entry, as polished and elegant as what you’d expect from a professional writer (a real writer), yet with a level of insight that can only come from a player’s view.”

* “I’m gonna keep commenting on this thread and bumping it until I have written verification that every regular Primate has read this guy’s stuff; it’s remarkable.”

* “You’ve got a rare gift and ever rarer insights. Keep chasing the dream as long as your body allows. When the sad day comes when it’s time to put away the gloves and spikes please stay close to the game and continue to share your thoughts and wisdom with the fans of the sport.”

* “You’re a class act and a deeper thinker than a sizable portion of our society.”

* "I stopped everything for an hour to read as much as I could. Dirk, I will continue reading your stories as long as you keep writing. The most honest stuff I've seen in years. Great job."

(To pick but a few.) That's a wee bit over-the-top.
   83. rr Posted: September 06, 2007 at 02:56 AM (#2513660)
Except there are multiple people saying that he's Halberstam, or that he's got a slamdunk career in sportswriting.


Well, I didn't say that. I think what got people is that it was very real, and the guy showing up and being so nice and so humble about it (he seems to have good perspective on his work, which will help him should he pursue writing as a career) added to that.
   84. The Non-Prospect Posted: September 06, 2007 at 05:22 AM (#2513706)
Jeff, deJesus, just so you know, I think you are right. I am not that good at this, and certainly nothing special because of it. I don't take it as an insult by any means. I hope someday I can get better at writing- crank out solid stuff that really makes people feel like they are right there on the bench, flicking seeds and putting bubbled chewing gum on teammates heads with me.

I have a confession to make. I have never read any baseball books. I heard about Ball Four AFTER I started writing this stuff. I don't know what that means. I guess I should read it and a lot of other stuff huh? I don't know who Halberstam, or well, any of those guys for that matter?! Oh man, I am so out of my league! I don't read EPSN the Magazine or Sports Illustrated and most of the time Baseball America (though I write for them) just makes me mad when I do read it because I know the guys they write about and its not always flattering. Why do they get to pick who the prospects are!? How come I never make the list!? ;-)

Anyway. While I agree I am not as amazing as some of the very flattering comments on this site have made me out to be, I would also like to point out that writing touches all people differently. Everyone will extract a different level of meaning and emotion. If some people really like and appreciate my lucky shots at writing and are touched by it, well, I am glad and they are entitled to that opinion just like those who think my writing is sub par (which it is, I am certain). However, I still love hearing the good feedback and lavish complements- It inspires me to keep doing this, and encourages me to put my pen to paper more often. Maybe someday I will be one of those great writers referenced above. Maybe someday I'll pitch in the big leagues. Maybe someday I'll bag trash cans at McDonalds (actually that will be in about 9 days when the off-season starts). I hope for one of the former.

Speaking of reading things with different views; here is a rather severe hate mail from a person who read something very different out of the article you speak of.

Dear Dirk,


You probably won’t read all of this letter, but after reading part of your diary on the Missions’ website, I feel compelled to respond.

I was shocked at the arrogance, insolence, self-centeredness, and disdain expressed toward fans by a mere AA baseball player. Normally these inflated egotistical traits don’t come to fruition until one reaches the major leagues where being a pompous jerk is more readily accepted.

From reading your article, I surmise that you pretend to be involved with the game while tuning out the noise, but not pretending to be rude. From your own writing, it appears you have that mastered.

The fans that you demean and quickly categorize as beggars and pleaders are the people that spend money at ballparks to generate revenue to pay your salary. Your comments truly reflect the old saying of “biting the hand that feeds you”.

Your comment that there is no shortage of kids asking for baseballs or no shortage of (people) begging and pleading for stuff is an indication that ballpark revenues must be pretty good if there’s “no shortages”.

Your other comment that these baseballs, autographs, and stuff are wanted “because someone else has them” indicates that you must truly be a genius in knowing why people want things or that you’re just quick to judge people and not give a lot of thought to their motivations and not see them as individuals. In either case, you’ve mastered the tasks of avoiding people on purpose and being rude and heartless.

People want things for different reasons. Some kids do want a ball because other kids have one, but some want one because they don’t have one at home to play with due to financial hardships.

Some people do want autographs to fantasize about their boyhood dreams, but what a joy it should bring to realize that your occupation brings happiness to others. I’m sure this joy escapes you because your writing reeks of your disdain for the fans and your belief that you’re a far superior being than the people who frequent ball games. Kids need role models, people to immulate, or people that represent an occupation to which they may aspire when they grow up. This can range from police men, firefighters, soldiers, or baseball players. A friendly smile, a vote of confidence, an encouraging word, or just recognition of them may have a lifelong impact on the life of a youngster (or even some adults).

“Illegible autographs” are very common in today’s athletes—I’m not sure if it’s just bad penmanship or a deep-rooted feeling of inferiority (or maybe superiority based on the ego). I began collecting autographs in 1988 as a hobby with my two sons who were 9 and 12 at the time. While we encountered some true jerks of the game, we also met and collected autographs of some memorable baseball players—Warren Spahn, Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Goose Gossage, Bobby Richardson, Moose Skowron, Tim Raines, Jeff Huson, Doug Jones, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Jose Lima, John Hudek, etc. Warren Spahn was the consummate gentlemen—as he signed autographs, he talked to each person and shared a brief, but memorable moment with each person. My sons met and talked with the great Warren Spahn and they have an autographed ball to recall this great moment that we all shared. Jose Lima interacts well with fans and talks with them as he autographs items for them. Jeff Bagwell—another true gentleman of the sport.

The truly great ones have clear or distinctive autographs that will stand the test of time and years from now, others can recognize the name inscribed—Hank Aaron, Al Kaline, Doug Jones, Jeff Huson, etc. Others will be but mere ink spots on a ball, a card, or (in your words) “scraps” because the signer had not the time, inclination, nor penmanship to make it a lasting and readable opportunity.

You aren’t obligated to give away balls or sign autographs, but you don’t have to be rude to get the message across that you don’t want to be accommodating. You can respond to requests with, “not now” or “I can’t” or “no, thank you” or “I don’t sign autographs”, but at least you acknowledged the person.

I have team balls from the Missions dating back to 1988. Without a note to accompany some of the balls, some of the names are not readable. Others stand out without assistance—Jerry Royster, Mike Mimbs, Chris Demetral, etc.

I have a Missions’ team ball from this year—I checked it this AM and am happy to report it does not contain your illegible scribble. I’m glad I didn’t bother you as you pretended to be too busy to notice me.

Regardless of our chosen occupations, we all have an opportunity to positively impact, or interact, with others. Too bad that many choose to be too bitter, rude, self-centered, or blind to see and appreciate these opportunities. I am glad that for some reason you were approachable to the mother and her child, but just think of the opportunities you have wasted. I would hope this experience would change the way you interact with fans, but the harshness of the words in your article lead me to believe it won’t. You may have shunned Medal of Honor winners, college instructors, business leaders, or just good hard-working people---and those opportunities are gone forever. Regardless of occupation, social status, or economic well-being of the types of people you shun on a daily basis, all of these people, in some form or fashion, have made sacrifices to allow you to pursue your career—either in baseball or some other field.

I should end this letter with “Best Wishes” or “Sincerely” or “Thanks for the Memories”, but I can’t. I’ll just end by saying I read part of your diary.
   85. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 06, 2007 at 05:36 AM (#2513712)
Dirk,

Just for the record, I thought your inclusion of how you tried to tune out the fans and your initial discomfort at the mother's touch is what made the story genuine and far more interesting. And far from a sense of superiority that this reader took away from your reticence to sign autographs, it reveals just the opposite.
   86. PreservedFish Posted: September 06, 2007 at 05:45 AM (#2513716)
Don't take that criticism to heart. All of the rhetoric from that man about the "opportunity to positively interact with others" is clear bulls--t. That guy is a memorabilia obsessive that still treasures his Jeff Huson autographed ball.
   87. anon1000 Posted: September 06, 2007 at 05:45 AM (#2513717)
Dirk,

Just from reading some of your other entries, I would go out on a limb and suggest that it's safe to say the person you received that email from was the father who would have made it, if it weren't for that darn daughter of his being born. Unfortunately, the "readers' mailbag" is more often peppered with bitterness than sugar. Welcome to the Media!

Oh, and if you do eventually choose to read those writers, just remember there is nothing as strong as your own voice. Just keep repeating: "No one better, better than no one."

And to the writer of Dirk's shared letter: Daddy...is that you?
   88. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: September 06, 2007 at 06:26 AM (#2513726)
Hey Dirk,

I also want to add to the compliments here. Your writing is fantastically authentic and refreshing. The fact that it is also somewhat simple and raw is nothing to be ashamed of for a fledgling writer. Believe me, i know all too well that insight and honesty is far more rare than polish, and that much harder to learn. Most people I went to college with never learned this.

Keep up the good work.
   89. Esoteric Posted: September 06, 2007 at 08:57 AM (#2513741)
Jeff K. -

Speaking from my point of view (I threw out the Halberstam reference...tho' honestly I always thought he was overrated), I was responding not merely to the entry posted at the top of this thread, but to the totality of his diary entries. If you think the cancer one is slightly mawkish, then fine, read the ball-bucket one or (especially) the team bus article. Is Hayhurst perfect right out of the chute? Of course not...there are a lot of little things I could critique. But the overall impression of both his observational eye and his writing style is so positive that you can't help but respond enthusiastically. Witty, thoughtful, observant, with a genuine soul. I've read a lot of sportwriting that is either moronically obvious or mere facile wordsmanship, and what appealed to me about this stuff is that it combined honest-to-goodness novelty with talent and a sense of comic timing.
   90. The Bones McCoy of THT Posted: September 06, 2007 at 09:17 AM (#2513744)
I find it odd that the person that wrote that letter seems to be complaining about a lack of fellow feeling on Dirk's park when it's clear that he has none himself. He has a preset idea of how someone in Dirk's role should comport themselves and if they don't--they're jerks.

He is the only one in life with a script while he expects every one else to know their lines.

His entire letter was about how he feels and how he feels he should be treated. I wouldn't be surprised if he's sent that particular messages to other players whom he felt behaved improperly toward him (he collects autographs and has been ignored before). The sheer length of this letter devoted to "setting Dirk straight" is indicative that this is a crusade to him. Crusaders rarely stop at one person.

This is the type of guy who screams at nurses in ER's about having his sprained ankle looked at while the staff is preoccupied with a child that came in suffering severe trauma in a car accident. Since it's his ankle, it should be given priority since it wouldn't take so long to examine that it would interfere (much) with the kid's treatment since there's still personnel tending to the child.

Best Regards

John
   91. Russ Posted: September 06, 2007 at 11:21 AM (#2513751)
Yeah, I'd guess that one of the key attractions to Hayhurst is not that he is perfectly polished writer, but that he is a perfectly UNPOLISHED writer. Essentially, he's got the stuff that you can't teach, an innate ability to write and connect with the reader, that goofy ability to paint a picture that anyone can see clearly. I'm sorry, but that's one of those things you can't teach, just like passion in music or originality in art. No matter how much you polish someone's writing with the "correct" writing classes, you could never teach someone to write with the honesty that Hayhurst writes with. You either have it or you don't. As he grows in experience (and hopefully tries to really work at the more technical aspects of his craft), he could be really fantastic.
   92. nobody Posted: September 06, 2007 at 02:38 PM (#2513934)
The fact that it is also somewhat simple and raw is nothing to be ashamed of for a fledgling writer.


what makes his writing so good is that it's simple, clean, and well-spoken; no matter his topic of choice.
   93. asinwreck Posted: September 06, 2007 at 02:50 PM (#2513951)
Yeah, I'd guess that one of the key attractions to Hayhurst is not that he is perfectly polished writer, but that he is a perfectly UNPOLISHED writer. Essentially, he's got the stuff that you can't teach, an innate ability to write and connect with the reader, that goofy ability to paint a picture that anyone can see clearly. I'm sorry, but that's one of those things you can't teach, just like passion in music or originality in art.


Which is why I brought up the typos in #23 as nitpicking. Strong voice, perceptive, succinct. The role of an editor in this case is to not screw him up -- just do some light copyediting and let the voice come through. Dirk, what you need to do is keep your eyes and ears open the way you have all season, for that is your greatest strength.
   94. Esoteric Posted: September 06, 2007 at 09:19 PM (#2514390)
Bippity boppity bumpity.

I reiterate: despite minor quibbles (I'm talking about light copyediting stuff like asinwreck discussed), Hayhurst's work is stunningly top-flight for someone with no prior experience with writing. In fact, I'm so suspicious of the "noble savage" theory of literary skill (having noticed a remarkable difference between those who have spent time honing their written voice vs. the rest of the world) that I almost don't believe Dirk when he says he's never done this sort of thing before. Not in an accusatory way, mind you; I just suspect he's either kept a diary at some point, has spent time writing long letters to friends/family, or has a real literary jones.

I spent some time as a professional editor before heading to law school, and I was known for being a nitpicky and hands-on type. Yet I wouldn't really change much of the Hayhurst's structure. I would contract it somewhat, but I wouldn't rearrange significantly. That's really the most miraculous part to me, because it's the sort of thing you typically have to be taught unless you have a remarkable knack for unconsciously absorbing style from what you've read. For someone without any prior formal experience, Hayhurst does a good job of both generally observing, and also at times constructively flaunting, the common conventions: setting the stage, establishing a thesis, and reinforcing it throughout while adopting a leisurely picaresque "storytelling" style. This is the sort of writing that I would fight against word-limits for.
   95. bunyon Posted: September 06, 2007 at 09:44 PM (#2514407)
I haven't read many of the posts, but I read enough that all the badgering to make me RTFA worked. To those who badgered, thanks.
   96. bunyon Posted: September 06, 2007 at 09:55 PM (#2514413)
Hey, some of my dreams didn't come true as well, but you know what?

Anyone who lives a life in which all their dreams came true didn't have enough imagination.

Dirk, keep pitching until they tell you you can't anymore. Same for writing. Keep writing. Of course, though you're much younger, you seem to have a better perspective and more wisdom than me, so don't listen to me, either. :)
   97. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 06, 2007 at 10:06 PM (#2514427)
It's quite good, as is the entire archive. But I too wonder why Baseball America didn't do a little light editing on the minor grammar matters [e.g., your for you're] that slipped by the author. Not a big deal since most publishers wouldn't have a problem providing such services if Hayhurst were to pursue a writing career.
   98. The Bones McCoy of THT Posted: September 06, 2007 at 10:14 PM (#2514434)
Anyone who lives a life in which all their dreams came true didn't have enough imagination.


WELL SAID!

Best Regards

John
   99. A Random 8-Year-Old Eskimo Posted: September 06, 2007 at 11:36 PM (#2514484)
This site links to dozens of articles from the mainstream media and this one (or any number of other articles by Dirk) will easily be in my top 5 of the year, as I'm sure it will be for many readers.

Dirk, if you're still reading, the article has been linked at several other sites and met with more praise, such as at USS Mariner.
   100. bostrin Posted: September 07, 2007 at 12:11 AM (#2514516)
Agree with all comments praising that article; it is fresh and direct, packs a wallop.

It has been 35 or more years since I read Arthur Daily's "Kings of the Home Run" and the posted article reminded me of a bit about Ted Williams, perhaps apocryphal (I paraphrase/quote Daily's piece from an excerpt found online from Prime and Nolan's "Ted Williams the Pursuit of Perfection):

Red Sox had lost a game they should have won; they filed from the clubhouse to the bus, ignoring the autograph seekers,

"Will you help me Ted?" said a trembling little voice.

"What do you want kid?" --boy is holding an autograph book, Williams "snatches" it

to players

"Listen you baboons" he bellowed "everybody sign"

The "great man" collects autographs from all the players on the bus.

"here kid" growled Ted "Now beat it"

I apologize for not quoting this exactly, as I was unable to cut and paste; accordingly I have butchered Daley's prose; this story stuck with me for many years and the posted article brought it to mind.
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