Jacob Kornhauser can relate to the common baseball player.

The Cup Of Coffee Club : 11 Players And Their Brush With Baseball History Kornhauser's first book, is a winner.

His material is fresh. You aren't inundated with statistical analysis. It is fun to learn about big league players an overwhelming number of fans have never heard of, who fall into a topic that most never have given thought to.

Ballplayers with no regrets - how novel.

Think of hall of famer Cal Ripken, Jr. Baseball's "Iron Man"; 21 seasons patrolling the infield in Baltimore. The former Baltimore Orioles' perennial all-star holds MLB's consecutive games played record of 2,632. Kornhauser's selected 11 players are the complete opposite of what Ripken,Jr. is remembered for.

Kornhauser, a producer for FOX Sports digital, is telling 11 stories in 168 pages of players who suited up in exactly one MLB game in their careers. Think of Archibald Wright Graham, known during his baseball life at "Moonlight."

Remember the story of "Moonlight" Graham in Field of Dreams, released in 1989? Graham played in one game for the New York Giants during the 1905 season. That was it. He went home to Chisholm, Minnesota and became a medical doctor. One game in right field, and his dream was fulfilled.

While Graham isn't included in Kornhauser's Cup Of Coffee Club, a short time spent by a minor league player in the major leagues, his selections make for well qualified substitutes.

Book cover Rowman.com
Book cover Rowman.com

Two of my favorites zeroed in on in The Cup Of Coffee Club is Larry Yount and Stephen Larkin. If their last names seem familiar to you, you're not alone. Both are brothers to hall of famers - Robin Yount and Barry Larkin.

Both Yount and Larkin couldn't have had their careers go in more opposite directions than their famous baseball brothers.

Larry Yount is the only pitcher in MLB history in the record books without ever actually having faced a batter. No mention in a box score for him, either. His one-game brush with the major leagues came on September 15, 1971, as a 21-year-old.

Kornhauser selected a winner of a story to remind fans of in Yount.

While warming up in the bullpen for the Houston Astros, in a game against the Atlanta Braves in the Astrodome, Yount began to feel his throwing arm stiffen up. He gets announced into the game as the Astros' pitcher, throws a few pitches, then the team trainer makes a trip to the mound.

As the situation unfolds, the trainer decides not to risk the kid's future, and escorts him to the Houston dugout. Not a single pitch gets tossed that inning by Yount. Never another call to an MLB game. Never. The 137 innings he pitched at the Triple-A level during the 1971 season, prior to getting the promotion to Houston, could have contributed to the stiffness Young experienced at the Astrodome.

With two weeks left in the MLB season, Yount was called into the game against the Braves to retire a line up consisting of Hank Aaron, Ralph Garr, and Darrell Evans - superstars back in the day. What happens post his one-game wonder is a fantastic follow-up by Kornhauser.

For Stephen Larkin, 11 seasons in the minors, and unlike Yount, the Cincinnati, Ohio native actually did get to play in a game.

It's the final game of the season, September 27, 1998 - Cincinnati Reds - Pittsburgh Pirates. Cinergy Field in the "Queen City" is where Larkin experienced his baseball dream come true.

On a Sunday, there's 19,000-plus fans on hand to see Reds baseball one more time before dreaming of next spring training. The Reds are 25 games behind National League Central Division leading Houston. Cincinnati manager Jack McKeon writes Larkin in his line up card at first base, batting third.

Having played in two College World Series with the Texas Longhorns, fresh from being called up from Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts, Larkin's future appears bright.

The rest of the Reds' infield for Larkin's debut consisted of Bret Boone at second, brother Barry Larkin at shortstop, and Aaron Boone playing third base. This is the only time in baseball history that two sets of siblings were on the field at the same time.

As Kornhauser fills in the blanks in what and why transpired after 11 players got a taste of MLB life, an overall theme is no regrets.

These unique baseball stories told take a fresh angle at a journey many have taken but few complete. Treat yourself, learn about what it feels like to touch what appears unreachable, then have it snatched away for good.

You can't help but to cheer for Kornhauser and his chosen 11 players in The Cup Of Coffee Club.

Kristine Bellino, WIBX

Don Laible is a freelance sportswriter living in the Mohawk Valley.  He has reported on professional baseball and hockey for print, radio, and on the web since the 1980's. His columns are featured weekly at WIBX950.com. Don can be contacted via email at Don@icechipsdiamonddust.com. 


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