Life in the big leagues

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First aired on Saskatchewan Weekend (07/04/13)

Dirk Hayhurst is a broadcaster, bestselling author and former major league baseball pitcher who has played for the San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays. In a recent interview on Saskatchewan Weekend, he talked about his latest book, Out of My League: A Rookie's Survival in the Bigs, his career in baseball and the 2013 Blue Jays.

Hayhurst spent six years in the minor leagues, and recalls feeling desperate to make it to the pros. He was sleeping on his grandmother's floor at the time. "In the minors, you make nothing. In fact, you make less than nothing," he said. "A lot of guys go into debt just so they can have a chance to chase that dream of major league baseball. And I was one of those guys. "


In Out of My League, Hayhurst is frank about his rough family life, and his difficult path to playing in the big leagues. He didn't want to deliver the conventional story of overcoming adversity and achieving success, he said, because the reality for most players who get drafted is very different. "They run off to this dream job, and reality just blindsides them. And then they find themselves washed up, back at home, talking about glory days, running up debt, trying to find a job. It's a crap shoot."

Hayhurst went on to say that he'd been raised to think that if he believed in himself and wanted something badly enough, he would get it. "The hard reality is that that's not always how it works," he said. But as a result, he came to realize that there had to be more to him than simply being a baseball player, and so the book is mostly "about finding yourself and realizing that there's a person beneath the jersey, and that person can do more and mean more to people around him than that jersey can ever do."

For Hayhurst, making it to the pros didn't turn out to be the dream come true that he'd envisioned. "You don't realize, when you're dreaming about getting there, how hard it is to stick," he said. "If you get to the major league level and you blow it, it's like all those years you ever tried to get there are just washed away and meaningless, because that's the only level in baseball you can actually do something that matters. "

Hayhurst said he was immediately a flop, and yanked from every single game in which he took the mound. "You go into a game and people don't clap because it's you, and you're going to blow it. It's a terrible, terrible feeling."

What Hayhurst learned from this experience was that "if I let these outcomes define me, I would forever and always be branded a failure," he said. "I realized that I had more to my life than this game."

Hayhurst is now a broadcaster with Sportsnet's Baseball Central, and has a book in the works about his time with the Blue Jays. It will be out next year. It's about "what it's like to be injured in a career of 'what have you done lately.' And what it's like to be a writer on the inside of a profession...that hates people who tattle."

Host Dan Reynish ended the interview by asking Hayhurst what he thinks of the 2013 Blue Jays. They have "an amazing amount of talent," he said, adding that "it could come together in this beautiful way, like it did in the '92 [and] '93 years for the Jays, or they could become the new Miami Marlins of Toronto, or the new Boston Red Sox from 2011 of Toronto. They could completely fall on their face, money spent, no results gotten, the fans are even more jaded. But that is baseball. Don't mistake me. You take big risks, you spend money to get your superstars, and then you take your shot."

He went on to comment that the team has "great chemistry" and a good mix of veterans and young players. "I think these guys understand the task ahead, and they're talented enough to pull it off, and they have the personality and the communication skills to really make the team work."

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