Former University of Hawai‘i Hilo baseball player Emil DeAndreis dreamed of making a big splash in the world of professional baseball. He has, but just not in the original way that he imagined.
DeAndreis, who played for the Vulcans from 2005-08 as a pitcher, has released a book entitled Hard To Grip that has become a popular read among Major League Baseball players and many others. The author tracks his path from a healthy professional baseball hopeful, to his battle with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
The San Francisco native will be in Hilo next week for two book signings—on September 2 at Basically Books (tentative 2 pm) and on the UH Hilo campus on September 5 (Campus Center 301, 11:30 am).
The book has received positive press this summer, named as one of the "Top 25 Books of the Summer" by Honolulu Magazine. Former MLB pitcher and author himself, Dirk Hayhurst said this: “Hard To Grip is the genuine article: A baseball story about a player and his traumatic, insane, hilarious and completely relatable love of the game—and how fragile that love is.”
DeAndreis, who had a double major of communications and English at UH Hilo, had an average college baseball career (2-2, 5.43 ERA) but a YouTube video of the left-hander's bullpen session garnered professional interest from a team in Belgium. “I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in that same month, and I never signed the contract, or threw a pitch in professional baseball,” he said.
The author, who also wrote a book called Beyond Folly, has fond memories of his time in Hilo. “UHH was the perfect combination of kind people, a diverse and communal atmosphere, and untouched beauty you can't find at many other colleges, or places, in America,” DeAndreis recalled. “I had professors and coaches who provided a great balance of compassion and firm expectations. Back then, lord knows I needed that.”
The 31-year-old, when not writing books, is a high school baseball coach and college English teacher at the College of San Mateo.