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Catching Heat: The Jim Leyritz Story
     

Catching Heat: The Jim Leyritz Story

by Jim Leyritz, Douglas Lyons, Jeffrey Lyons
 

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Most people remember me for two events, both of which tested my faith in different ways. I controlled one; the other, I did not. I was in control of the home run I hit in the 1996 World Series against the Atlanta Braves, which turned the Series around for the New York Yankees and eventually led them to their first world championship in eighteen years. I was not

Overview

Most people remember me for two events, both of which tested my faith in different ways. I controlled one; the other, I did not. I was in control of the home run I hit in the 1996 World Series against the Atlanta Braves, which turned the Series around for the New York Yankees and eventually led them to their first world championship in eighteen years. I was not in control of the 2007 car accident in which I was involved that resulted in the tragic loss of a woman's life . . . I decided that I would not let my life be defined by either of these moments. This is my story.

 So begins Jim Leyritz's dramatic tale Catching Heat, a thrilling spectacle of professional and personal highs and lows that take fans behind the scenes of life on the road, in the locker room, and ultimately to the defendant's seat in a courtroom.

From a struggling player fumbling through the Minors and finding resilience during disappointing trades to speaking his truth when others wouldn't, Leyritz evolved into the epitome of a 'clutch' player when it came to leading teams to victories when it really counted. Well beyond a successful sporting career saga, Jim's story is an inspiring example for anyone who wants to pursue a dream or learn life's lessons--both hard and hallowed--from a man who knows what it is like to live his.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Leyritz is known to sports fans for two things: a homerun he hit that allowed the New York Yankees to stage a comeback against the Atlanta Braves in the 1996 World Series, and his high-profile trial for vehicular manslaughter (at the scene of the accident he admitted to having been drinking, refused the breathalyzer test, and was arrested for a DUI). What fans might not know is that Leyritz has long had a huge chip on his shoulder. Besotted with the concept that he should be a star, Leyritz regularly got into fights with teammates, managers, and the front office over how he wasn’t getting his due—he even fired an agent for not preventing him from yet another self-destructive rant. As a result, he ended up playing for six teams in an 11-year pro career. Despite having teamed with a lot of great players, he has next to nothing to say about any of them. Rather, Leyritz’s ego stays the focus. He appears to want sympathy for the way he was treated by the criminal justice system, despite beating the rap for vehicular manslaughter (though not for the DUI). It emerged that the victim, Fredia Veitch, wasn’t wearing a seat belt and also had a blood alcohol level over the legal limit, key factors in the jury’s move to acquit. Nevertheless, Leyritz shows little compassion for her, and goes on at length about how much he was a victim that night. Add to this a series of injuries, infidelities, and an ugly divorce/custody battle and the result is a surprisingly defensive attempt at a self-serving memoir. (June)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780757391859
Publisher:
Health Communications, Incorporated
Publication date:
05/04/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
244
File size:
515 KB

Read an Excerpt

Introduction

Imagine you're just moments away from reaching your childhood dream. All that stands between you and your life-defining goal is ticking seconds on a clock. Suddenly, your entire life is about to change ­forever.

For some, the moment that leads them to their destiny happens because they make an instinctive decision, or meet the right person at the right time, or strategically plan for it day in and day out. For me, all of my dreams came true with one swing of a bat.

My defining moment came on October 23, 1996, in front of 52,000 fans at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium while millions more watched on TV around the world. That swing, which ultimately resulted in a World Series turnaround and win for the New York Yankees against the Atlanta Braves, was the culmination of twenty-five years of sacrifice, hardship, injury, betrayal, failure, success, decisions right and wrong, hard work, and a lot of sweat.

My life-long dream of being part of an historic baseball moment had finally been fulfilled. But at what cost? Sometimes I had to sacrifice my relationships and my beliefs to reach my ticker-tape moment. When you achieve lofty goals at such a young age, something scary happens after the storm of media and excitement passes. After the word 'hero' is tacked onto your name, the calm settles in, and the phone calls quiet down. You sit and find yourself asking, Now what? What you have worked for all your life has defined you, and now you've hit the big time, so you ask yourself, What's next? What defines me now? What do I work toward next? What is to come, and how will I get there?

With that swing, I'd achieved every personal goal I'd set for myself as a young man. Now, every Yankee fan would remember that homerun and the name that went with it. I had lived my dream. But I'd become tricked into thinking that somehow, because so many wonderful things happened to me in such a short amount of time, my fortune would continue. Little did I know that my life and struggles were just beginning. The results would not always garner ticker tape. Different paths would have to be taken. Some bumpy, some straight.

It's said that once at the top, there's only one way to go—down. I learned the hard way what that means and that the direction was downward. Some of the mistakes which led to my descent were of my own doing, and some, I believe, were the doings of others. All were brought to me from a higher power, as humbling reminders that I'm not so special or perfect and that I need to pay better attention to the values and morals my parents instilled in me. Otherwise, it can all be taken away.

Every time I started to believe I was in control, that I created my plan or destiny, God found a way to remind me: stay grounded. Your plans have already been made. And the 1996 home run was not a destination, just part of the journey that I'm still on to this day.

Through this book, I invite you on this journey of dreams that came true, tragedies which tested my faith, and triumphs that would once again give me the spirit of hope. I want to share with you how I learned the hard way that life is a succession of mountainous climbs: each mountain is put in our path to teach us how to climb better and more efficiently the next, with hope, faith, and happiness revealed along the way.

Most people remember me for two events, both of which tested my faith in different ways. I controlled one. The other, I did not. I was in control of the home run I hit in the 1996 World Series against the Atlanta Braves, which turned the Series around for the New York ­Yankees and eventually led them to the World Championship.

I was not in control of the 2007 car accident in which I was involved and resulted in the tragic loss of a woman's life.

Through God's love, I decided that I would not let my life be defined by either of these moments.

This is my story.

Meet the Author

Jim Leyritz, aka "The King,"(Ft. Lauderdale, FL) is a former major league catcher/infielder/designated hitter and World Series champion who played for 11 seasons with the New York Yankees and five other teams. Today, he gives back much of his time and resources to numerous charitable organizations, including the Jorge Posada Foundation, a charity supporting children with Craniosynostosis (with which Jim's youngest son is afflicted), and the ALS Association, which combats Lou Gehrig's Disease (which Jim's brother–in–law suffered from). Dedicated to charities benefiting children, Jim is the executive founder of Home Run for Hope, a charity launching in 2011, designed to assist and empower children who have lost a parent though tragedy, war, or natural disaster. Jim is also a proud member of Flamingo Road Church and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He is a devoted father and primary parent for his three young sons. www.jimleyritz.com.


Douglas B. Lyons (New York, NY) is a criminal lawyer. He has spoken about baseball and his research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Smithsonian Institution, and many meetings--national and regional--of the Society for American Baseball Research, of which he is a member. Among his prior books are autobiographies of Red Sox broadcaster Joe Castiglione (Broadcast Rites and Sites: I Saw It on the Radio with the Boston Red Sox), and softball legend Eddie Feigner (From an Orphan To a King).


Jeffrey Lyons (New York, NY) is one of America's most respected film and theater critics and is the author of 101 Great Movies for Kids. He has reviewed more movies—some 12,500—than anyone in any medium. He is also the coauthor (with brother Douglas Lyons) of three books of baseball history and trivia, including Out of Left Field, Curveballs and Screwballs, and Short Hops and Foul Tips.  

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