Book Review: Free Byrd

Paul Byrd was a journeyman Major Leaguer who played 14 seasons for 7 different teams, but just like everyone, he has a story to tell. This story is told in his book Free Byrd: The Power of a Liberated Life. This 219-page work details the life of the major leaguer as well as how his faith and life ideals helped him get through some rough times both on and off the field.

The book starts with a foreword by baseball Hall of Famer John Smoltz, who made waves in the MLB as both a starter and a closer. Smoltz touches on the importance of intertwining faith and baseball in his brief introduction to prepare readers for Bryd’s story.

As an Indians fan, I distinctly remember Bryd’s unique throwing motion. Byrd would rock back on his heels, throw both arms back to get the momentum to propel him forward toward the plate. As a part of what is described in the book, Bryd talks about how he started the motion and how it led to a slight revitalization in his career.

Paul Byrd at 2007 spring training in Florida

Paul Byrd at 2007 spring training in Florida (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While baseball is probably what makes people pick the book up as that is what Bryd is known for and the cover of the book includes a picture of the pitcher just about to deliver a pitch in his Indians uniform, the importance of faith takes up more time and is more prevalent of a subject throughout the book.

It becomes abundantly clear fairly early in the book that Byrd’s faith means everything to him and is the force he relies on daily to get him through the ebbs and flows of life in general. Bryd details the difficulties of being a strict man of faith in the world of baseball. For instance, he states, “I have found at times that Major League Baseball and living in America is not exactly the best recipe for someone like me who wants to walk with God.” He carries on to describe that life in professional baseball is often full of many who not only don’t follow a strict faith guideline, but who spend their lives breaking many of the ten commandments.

Bryd further states that, “I keep getting presented with options to get my needs met from something or someone other than God.” Describing that even though life in the league can be rough, there is always kindness all around if you know how to find it.

The middle of the book has 8 pages of black and white photographs during various different times of Bryd’s life.

While the subject is interesting and it is always heart warming to see someone profess their faith at such a high level, the book lacks a steady flow and entertainment value. It was a slow read which some interesting segments throughout, but ultimately failed to deliver in the interest level. While the book jacket gives high praise from the likes of comedian Jeff Foxworthy, FOX Sports Network anchor Dave Burchett and Orlando Magic front office man Pat Williams, this reviewer’s impression of the read wasn’t in line with their effusive praise.

Baseball Reflections Review: 2.5/5

The book was published by Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster, in 2008 and the hardcover retails for $23.99.

One Comment

  1. Peter Schiller

    November 27, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    I have read this book and thoroughly enjoyed it, but then again I knew that it was less about baseball & more about the faith of Paul Byrd before I read it. I think that makes my experience different that the author of this review (not his fault though – he is a fair reviewer)!

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