“This is one of the very best baseball books in years.” Booklist, Starred Review
Reaching the major leagues is a pipe dream for most young baseball players in America. Very few ever get to live it out. A select number of those players face the elation and frustration of getting to play in just one major league game.The Cup of Coffee Club: 11 Players and Their Brush with Baseball History tells the unique stories of eleven of these players. It details their struggles to reach the major leagues, their one moment in the limelight, and their struggles to get back. They include a former Major League Baseball manager, the son of a Baseball Hall of Famer, and two different brothers of Hall of Famers. Exclusive interviews with each of the players provide insight into what that single seminal moment meant and how they dealt with the blow of never making another major league appearance again.Spanning half a century of baseball, each player’s journey to Major League Baseball is distinct, as is each of their responses to having played in just a single game. The Cup of Coffee Club shares their unique perspectives, providing a better understanding of just how special each major league game can be.
Jacob Kornhauser is a sportswriter and former television producer. He has worked for ESPN, FOX Sports, and Bleacher Report.
Introduction: The Invisible Battle
1: Charlie Lindstrom: September 28, 1958
2: Roe Skidmore: September 17, 1970
3: Larry Yount: September 15, 1971
4: Gary Martz: July 8, 1975
5: Rafael Montalvo: April 13, 1986
6: Jeff Banister: July 23, 1991
7: Stephen Larkin: September 27, 1998
8: Jon Ratliff: September 15, 2000
9: Ron Wright: April 14, 2002
10: Sam Marsonek: July 11, 2004
11: Matt Tupman: May 18, 2008
12: Other “Cup of Coffee” Stories
About the Author
Kornhauser details the journeys of 11 players who made the majors for a single game. Some never made it back due to injury; for others, it was lack of talent. Circumstances often drive the shortness of a career: perhaps the role a team envisioned for a player is usurped when someone playing the same position develops more quickly. Or maybe the front-office staff who believed in a player’s potential was fired en masse. The rigors of minor-league life—two steps up the hierarchy, then one back—also drive players to abandon the dream and get on with life. Kornhauser examines all of these situations in his moving profiles of these 11 one-game wonders. This is one of the very best baseball books in years. Readers will put faces and names to what they knew on a subliminal level: major-league baseball is really, really hard, and a lot of fine young players get left behind.
The book is a fascinating concept. . . . Kornhauser has done his homework here, and then some. His sketches are illuminating, profound, and heartbreaking. You'll love each and every one of them, but for very different reasons. You'll just have to take a break here and there to recover before reaching the end.
11/13/20: Sports Collectors Digest named book an honorable mention in their “Best Baseball Books of 2020.”
3/21/2021: WBIX 950 AM (27,439 uvpm): The Cup of Coffee Club was reviewed by Don Liable who said “You can't help but to cheer for Kornhauser and his chosen 11 players in The Cup Of Coffee Club.”
3/22/23, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: This is featured in a roundup of new baseball books.