A moving, funny, inventive parenting memoir, written in a surprising form: an encyclopedia of failure in sports
What can a new father learn about parenthood from reading sports almanacs? For most dads, the answer to this question is: nothing. But to Josh Wilker, whose life and writing have been defined by sports fandom, all of the joy, helplessness, and absurdity of parenthood are present between the lines.
After all, what better way to think about losing control than Eugenio Velez’s forty-five consecutive at-bats without a hit? How better to understand ridiculous joy than the NFL career of Walter Achiu, whose nickname was “Sneeze”? In the stories of sports figures large and small, Wilker finds the pathos in success and the humor in losing.
As the terrified father of a one-day-old, Wilker recalls the 1986 World Series, when the moment was too big for the Red Sox. When he finds himself stealing away for an hour of alone time, Wilker thinks of boxer Roberto Duran, so beaten by Sugar Ray Leonard that he finally gave up. And yet, even as the frustrations and anxieties build, Wilker remembers Mets pitcher Anthony Young, who broke the baseball record for most consecutive losses — and never stopped showing up.
Finding the richness of life in obscure wrestling maneuvers and pop-ups lost in the sun, Benchwarmer is a book of unique humanity and surprising wisdom.