The Last of His Kind

Clayton Kershaw and the Burden of Greatness

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By Andy McCullough

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$32.00

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$41.00 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around May 7, 2024. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

The definitive biography of Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, examining the genesis of his brilliance, his epic quest to win the World Series, and his singular place within the evolving baseball landscape—based on exclusive interviews with Kershaw and more than 200 others.​

More than any baseball player of his generation, Clayton Kershaw has embodied the burden of athletic greatness, the prizes and perils that await those who strive for it all. He is a three-time Cy Young award winner, the first pitcher to win National League MVP since Bob Gibson, and a surefire, first-ballot Hall of Famer. Many of his peers consider him the greatest pitcher to ever climb atop a big-league mound. 

In an age when baseball became more impersonal, a sport altered by adherence to algorithms and actuarial tables, Kershaw personified the game’s lingering humanity, with his joy and suffering on display each October as he chased a championship. He pitched through pain, placing his future at risk on the game’s grandest stages. He endeared himself to teammates and foes alike with his refusal to make excuses, with his willingness to shoulder the blame when he failed. And he only further impressed them when he returned, year after year, even as his body broke down from the strain of his profession. The journey captivated fans in Los Angeles and beyond, so much so that when the Dodgers finally won a title in 2020, the baseball world exulted in his triumph. 

The Last of His Kind traces Kershaw’s path from a boyhood fractured by divorce to his development as one of the most-heralded pitching prospects in Texas history to his emergence in Los Angeles as the spiritual heir to Sandy Koufax. But the book also charts Kershaw’s place in baseball’s changing landscape, as his own stubbornness butted against the game’s evolution. The story of baseball in the 21st century can be told through Kershaw’s career, from his apprenticeship with icons like Joe Torre and Greg Maddux, to his wary relationship with the implementation of analytics, to his victimhood in the 2017 sign-stealing scandal at the hands of the Houston Astros. The game has changed so much during Kershaw’s illustrious career. To understand how baseball is played today, and how it got that way, you must understand the journey of Clayton Kershaw. 

  • “Reading Andy McCullough is like watching Clayton Kershaw: you sit back and savor a master of his craft. In The Last of His Kind, McCullough captures Kershaw as only he can, with graceful prose and lively details that illustrate the forces driving one of baseball’s towering figures. With rare access to the private world of a very public—but very guarded—superstar, McCullough offers a stirring portrait of what it means, what it takes, and what it costs to be an all-time great.”
    Tyler Kepner, author of K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches and The Grandest Stage: A History of the World Series
  • “Andy McCullough delivers a masterclass biography of the captivating Dodgers titan. Clayton Kershaw was always chasing something out there, and The Last of His Kind takes you to the depths of his imperfect pursuit of perfection. As worthy heirs go, Kershaw is to Sandy Koufax what McCullough is to Roger Kahn. Mandatory reading for anyone who wants to know what it takes to be great.”
    Ian O’Connor, author of The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter and Coach K: The Rise and Reign of Mike Krzyzewski
  • “Clayton Kershaw comes to life—the good, the great, and the hardball calamities—in this vibrant and soulful rendering by Andy McCullough. When one of the game’s most gifted writers takes on a subject as complex as Kershaw, both the man and the career, the result is an exceptional book.”
    Tim Brown, author of The Tao of the Backup Catcher, Imperfect with Jim Abbott, and The Phenomenon with Rick Ankiel
  • “The colorful life of the best pitcher of his generation, as chronicled by the greatest pure baseball writer of his generation. This is the literary equivalent of a perfect game, filled with the beauty of a Clayton Kershaw curveball and the richness of an Andy McCullough paragraph. It will make your summer sing.”
    Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times columnist and panelist on ESPN’s Around the Horn
  • “McCullough…traces the arc of the pitcher’s time with the Dodgers since he was drafted in 2006 as a high schooler out of Dallas. The author, who spoke extensively with Kershaw for the book, sensitively portrays his subject…an all-time transcendent talent—and a world champion.”
    The Wall Street Journal
  • “That’s where The Athletic’s Andy McCullough comes in. He’s been one of the best baseball writers in the country for more than a decade, a decent chunk of which he’s spent covering Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers. It figured he’d eventually write a book and a damn good one at that, featuring more than 200 interviews and plenty of participation from Kershaw himself.”
    D-Magazine
  • “The definitive biography of the iconic Dodgers left-hander, written with expertise…both informative and revelatory…. McCullough is the perfect writer for this project…. The Last of His Kind is great insight into Kershaw, and a great chronicle of the last two decades of Dodgers baseball.”
    TrueBlueLA
  • “A great book.”
    “Dodger Talk” podcast
  • “If you are a Clayton Kershaw fan, you will love this book. The stories will get you excited, they will make you emotional at the highest points and the lowest points as well and help you understand Clayton Kershaw."
    DodgerBlue
  • “Athletic writer McCullough debuts with a commanding biography of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ ace pitcher…. McCullough offers a granular account of how Kershaw navigated the scouting process… traces the pitcher’s rise to the top of the pros after getting drafted by the Dodgers in 2006, and recreates the highs and lows of Kershaw’s quest for a World Series title, which he attained in 2020 after a near miss in 2017…. McCullough enriches his narrative with humanizing detail (Kershaw once rebuffed Samuel L. Jackson for upsetting his rigid game-day routine with a visit to the Dodgers locker room), offering an intimate portrait of an athlete…. fans should consider this a must.”
    Publishers Weekly
  • “[A] vigorous account….Dodgers fans and aspiring pro pitchers alike will enjoy this report of how a master of the diamond works his magic.”
    Kirkus Reviews
  • “[Andy McCullough] gives full attention to Kershaw’s development as a lockdown pitcher, especially his ridiculously devastating curveball and seemingly rising fastball, the bane of generations of hitters. But it's Kershaw’s humanity…that will win over pretty much any baseball fan.”
    Booklist
  • "McCullough expertly weaves faith — so crucial to what makes Kershaw tick — throughout the book’s 400 pages. That’s not to suggest The Last of His Kind serves, in any way, as a devotional guide. At its heart, this is a baseball book — a deeply reported, descriptively riveting one. It’s the best I’ve read since Yogi: A Life Behind the Mask."
    Religion Unplugged
  • "Andy, I hope the burden of having written a great book isn't too heavy for you.”
    Fangraphs’ “Effectively Wild” podcast
  • “Andy McCullough… allows readers to peer into the microscope in a way rarely--if ever--seen in modern sports biographies. Much of that has to do with the access he enjoyed to his subject and many family members, friends, teammates, coaches and others in Kershaw’s world. A fair amount of insight into his philosophy rests with his faith, which McCullough writes about in a way that is inclusive but not preachy or potentially off-putting.”
    Bookreporter
  • The Last of His Kind is an extremely well-written account of the gifted Los Angeles Dodgers lefthander…. [Kershaw’s] sincere involvement – as well as that of more than 200 of his friends, teammates, opponents, and coaches – results in a candid and exhaustive look into the life and times of the three-time Cy Young Award winner and the first pitcher to win National League MVP since Bob Gibson.”
    The Atlanta Jewish Times

On Sale
May 7, 2024
Page Count
400 pages
Publisher
Hachette Books
ISBN-13
9780306832598

Andy McCullough

About the Author

Andy McCullough is a senior writer at The Athletic. He has covered Major League Baseball since 2010, previously for the Los Angeles Times, the Kansas City Star, and The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J. His work has been honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors on seven occasions for beat writing, explanatory reporting, and feature writing. He lives in New York with his wife, the writer Stephanie Apstein. This is his first book.

Learn more about this author