Canton South graduate continues success as author, broadcaster

By WALTER DOERSCHUK The Press-News Published:

He last toed the rubber on what is now Tim Miller Field as a member of the Canton South High School baseball team in 1999.

Fifteen years later, Dirk Hayhurst has become a New York Times best-selling author and a baseball analyst on national television. That is all after he had a short stint playing Major League Baseball with the San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays.

The 33-year-old said he never thought he'd achieve everything he has accomplished.

"I'm shocked this has all happened," Hayhurst said.

Hayhurst just released his third paperback book last month titled Bigger Than a Game. It's his latest in a trilogy of books detailing his professional baseball career. He also had an e-book that was an addition to his second novel, Out of My League.

He said his newest book is "very different" from his first two.

"This book is a lot more critical of professional baseball," Hayhurst said.

The latest book describes what it was like for him to battle back from a torn labrun. He suffered the injury to his right shoulder during some offseason workouts before the 2010 season. He was with Toronto at the time.

Doctors had told him the injury was really nothing he should worry about and surgery would fix it.

The surgery was supposed to be simple, Hayhurst said, but...

"I never really came back the same person," he added.

Hayhurst went into detail about some of the troublesome times during his rehab including an addiction to pain killers. He said writing about some of his most difficult experiences wasn't necessarily hard to do.

"It was theraputic for me," he said. "It wasn't impossible for me to write it, and I wasn't the only guy that was dealing with it. It had to do as much with the mental aspect as it did the physical."

He emphasized that his intent of writing his books was never to call anyone out. They were instead intended to show what life in baseball is "truly like."

In addition to continuing his writing career since his playing days ended, Hayhurst has enjoyed some success in broadcasting.

He spent last season with Sportsnet and the Blue Jays radio network in Toronto. He also impressed executives with TBS and was hired to work as a studio analyst during Turner's coverage of the MLB postseason.

Hayhurst was in the studio during the pre and post-game coverage of the Cleveland Indians' American League Wildcard game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

He listed the names of the others he was on set with that were already well-known for their days on the diamond or behind the television camera. Some of his colleagues included host Keith Olbermann and analysts Pedro Martinez, Tom Verducci and Gary Sheffield.

"And then there was Dirk Hayhurst," Hayhurst said with a laugh.

Martinez was a former three-time Cy Young award winner and a World Series champion for the Boston Red Sox. But Hayhurst noted the former all-star pitcher enjoyed working with him.

"Pedro pulled me aside once," Hayhurst said, "and he said 'I wish I played with you. You're fun.'"

Olbermann is a former SportsCenter anchor who worked with Dan Patrick in the mid 1990s. The two anchors skyrocketed the show's popularity and made SportsCenter must-see television each night.

Olbermann left ESPN in 1997 for MSNBC among other ventures. He returned to ESPN last year.

Hayhurst knew Olbermann a bit before the two worked together on TBS. Hayhurst has made some guest appearances on some of his shows on other networks. The words "One of the best baseball books ever written," which Olbermann wrote, appear on the cover of Hayhurst's first book, The Bullpen Gospels.

Hayhurst compared the way Olbermann works behind the camera to the way his one-time teammate, Roy Halladay, pitched on the mound.

"When you're working with Keith Olbermann, you're working with one of the very best," Hayhurst said. "It was a treat to work with him and he makes it look so easy."

Hayhurst will not be back working in Toronto this season, but he does have some other ventures. He is working with Bleacher Report as well as ESPN and recently made an appearance on Olbermann's late-night show.

The rights to The Bullpen Gospels were also bought for a second time to possibly be made into a movie.

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