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Extended Audio Sample Benchwarmer: A Sports-Obsessed Memoir of Fatherhood, by Josh Wilker Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Josh Wilker Narrator: Chris Lutkin Publisher: Dreamscape Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Sports as an organizing principle for stumbling through life and fatherhood—funny, enchanting, and lyrical. Painfully familiar.”

    Sports Illustrated

  • “Wilker…proves himself the possessor of a particular kind of mastery in his new memoir, Benchwarmer. By fixating on failures—both his own, personally and as a parent, and those of his beloved sports heroes—he’s crafted a game plan that turns out to be unbeatable.”

    Boston Globe

  • “This almanac of fatherhood (and other failures) is honest, relatable and humorous—an indispensable read for fathers (and sons) whose joy in life comes not from winning the big game but being alive to witness the beauty of its happening.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Chris Lutkin immerses himself in the role, narrating with self-aware gravitas…Lutkin deftly expresses Wilker’s passion for sports…Lutkin’s vocal presence yields a comforting, storyteller’s approach that is worthy of a well-written memoir about a dad learning to be a dad.”


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About the Author

Josh Wilker writes about his life and childhood baseball cards at CardboardGods.net. Since his first posting in 2006, his site has been featured in The New York Times, the Chicago Sun-Times, and ESPN.com. He is a winner of the Howard Frank Mosher Prize for Short Fiction and has an MFA from Vermont College. He lives with his wife in Chicago.