They Don't Play Hockey in Heaven: A Dream, a Team, and My Comeback Season

Overview

Ken Baker wanted nothing more than to play ice hockey with the pros–until a brain tumor cut his dreams short while in college. After surgery and several years of rehab, Baker, who in high school was a top prospect for the U.S. Olympic team, put his successful journalism career on hold to attempt the seemingly impossible: a comeback.
He moved away from his family to become the third-string goalie for the Bakersfield Condors, an AA-level minor-league team in the dusty oil town of ...
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Overview

Ken Baker wanted nothing more than to play ice hockey with the pros–until a brain tumor cut his dreams short while in college. After surgery and several years of rehab, Baker, who in high school was a top prospect for the U.S. Olympic team, put his successful journalism career on hold to attempt the seemingly impossible: a comeback.
He moved away from his family to become the third-string goalie for the Bakersfield Condors, an AA-level minor-league team in the dusty oil town of Bakersfield, California. At the age of thirty-one, Baker became the oldest rookie in all of pro-hockey, facing 1000-m.p.h. slap shots and long bus rides, hostile fans and cheap motel rooms, body bruises and battle-worn teammates.
Ken Baker is the West Coast Executive Editor for Us Weekly. He has written for ESPN the Magazine, Premiere, The Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also appears regularly as an entertainment expert on E! Entertainment Television, VH-1, and several syndicated television shows. A native of Buffalo, New York, Baker also is author of the critically acclaimed Man Made: A Memoir of My Body. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two kids. He has all his teeth.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A riveting and often hilarious account."--The Hockey News

"Inspirational...colorful descriptions make this a fun read."--Los Angeles Times

"One of the best sports books of the year."--Booklist

Library Journal
As a teenage Olympic prospect, Baker wanted to play in the National Hockey League (NHL). However, by his senior year at Colgate University, the opportunity to play pro hockey had not yet materialized. Disillusioned, he moved on to become a journalist. Baker's world came to a grinding halt when a pituitary tumor was discovered in his brain. After a life-saving operation, he decided to live life to the fullest, putting his journalist career on hold to attempt a hockey comeback. At 31, Baker joined the Bakersfield (CA) Condors (a minor pro club) as a third-string goalie, becoming the oldest rookie in the league. Here he chronicles his trials and tribulations on the team and those of the many aging veterans who still have aspirations of playing in the NHL. Currently, Baker (Man Made: A Memoir of My Body) is the West Coast Bureau Chief for U.S. Weekly. A heartwarming tale of courage and determination; buy where demand warrants.-Larry R. Little, Penticton P.L., B.C. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592286058
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/2004
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 630,518
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Ken Baker is the West Coast bureau chief for Us Weekly and his work has appeared in The Washington Post, Premiere, and ESPN the Magazine. A native of Buffalo, New York, Baker is also the author of the critically acclaimed Man Made: A Memoir of My Body. He has all his teeth.
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2003

    Honest and Inspiring.

    Ken Baker draws you in from the 1st page and keeps you enthralled to the last. This is a painfully open and honest look at a man who, having survived a life-threatening illness (never a laughing matter), fights to realize a long abandoned dream. You live his daily struggle with him via his incredible writing, his ability to bring a moment to life with the written word. Well worth the time and a difficult book to put down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 24, 2010

    Perfect for any sports fan or anyone in need of inspiration!

    They Don't Play Hockey in Heaven by Ken Baker is one of the most inspiring and real books I've ever encountered. It starts off with The Dream. A dream of Baker in the net for his former college team the Colgate Red Raiders and him making the big glove save in the final seconds of the game to lift his team to the win. After listening to the crowd chanting his name, he wakes up. It felt so real to him and ignites the flame back into him. Baker hadn't played hockey in over 8 years despite being a top prospect for the U.S.A. Olympic team in his hay day. This was due to a shocking diagnosis of a brain tumor. After this dream occurred it stuck in his mind and heart and inspired him to go out and try one more time to become a pro. However, at this point he was already 30 years old so it was now or never. He finally built up the courage to try out for the WCHL's Bakersfield Condors and was sure enough kept on as the third string goalie. During his time as a pro he encounters some very vivid characters, such as the captain of his team who was arrested for battery on his wife, and a coach that pushed him near the breaking point. In the end he fulfilled his dream of playing as a pro.
    This book is all about perseverance and beating the odds to become something great. Beating cancer in itself is an amazing story and Baker just took it those million steps further by coming back from such a devastating event and living his dream. He perseveres and even after eight years of not playing a single minute of competitive hockey makes it to the pros. He also struggles against the other much younger goalies that are competing for their spots in net and encounters a large amount of age discrimination. Being ten and twelve years older then some of the other players on his team made him the odd ball out and gave him just another challenge to overcome. His dedication and strong will power are awe-inspiring to say the least. Baker was also a successful journalist for U.S. Weekly magazine which made the style of the book very fun and interesting to read. He keeps you engaged in the story with vivid descriptions of the events he goes through and characters that he encounters through out his journey. His voice really shows itself in the book. The only thing that wasn't very good for me was how he didn't go into very much detail about his time as a young goaltender when he was at his prime. If you are a sports fan or just need to be inspired, this book is the perfect choice for you. Overall I would give it 4 out of five stars.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2005

    Great, true story any hockey or sports fan will love!

    Great book and a must read for any hockey/sports fan. Does the fire still burn in you? Will you have the courage to answer the dream? What will you learn from it all?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2004

    An inspiring, thought-provoking read

    Ken Baker's story of his 'comeback season' in minor pro hockey is a book for sports and non-sports fans alike. From his 'dream' of getting back to the sport he grew up with to the long journey to go from a doughy writer to a professional hockey, it kept me interested throughout as he takes us on a journey through minor pro hockey in cities like Fresno, Tacoma, Boise, and of course, Bakersfield. This is not a written advertisement for the wonderful world of pro hockey; clearly, there are parts of it Baker finds repellent (the drinking culture, the infidelity are chief among them); the title should provide a clue to this. That he chooses to not gloss over this or some of the more unsavoury characters lends credibility to his work. At times, Baker comes to the edge of the area in which he wants you to feel pity for him because he isn't being given a chance to play in a game, but that's usually when he catches himself, and reminds himself that he has chosen this journey, and that being a forgotten 3rd-string goalie on a minor-pro hockey team is still far better than a lot of things. The manner in which he describes his teammates does border on the stereotypical, but then, the reality is that this is the nature of the sport. This could easily be in the upper echelon of sport-themed books; in fact, it should. Written by someone who is neither a critic of the sport nor an apologist, but someone who is able to be a 'fly-on-the-wall' without going into unnecessary detail of that which the reader can discern for themself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2004

    It was GREAT!!!!

    The book shows that if you ever have a dream then dont give up because I know that Ken tried his best and he never gave up that is why he got to be goalie on April 6, 2001 and he ended up beating the #1 team ( Idaho Steelheads) and he just wants to tell people that if you have a dream then dont let anything stop you from fufilling your dream.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2004

    Hat Trick!!!!!!

    Ken Baker puts his master's degree to excellent use. His description of sights, sounds, smells, and the like really draws in the reader. I actually got to meet Mr. Baker at a hockey game. He was very nice, vibrant and full of life. This book tells about the life and times of a great man. Ken Baker: the author, the player, the man. A hat trick not to be missed.

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