"40,000 to One"
Over the past year, author and former Major League baseball player Ben Petrick has developed a loyal readership for his stories about his remarkable life, beginning with his meteoric rise from prep hero to big-league catcher; to the concealment of his stunning Parkinson's diagnosis after his rookie season; to his return home to a very private life with his wife and daughter; and finally to his decision to undergo a highly risk procedure to lessen his symptoms — not once, but twice.
Several of those stories, along with 15 originals, appear in 40,000 to One, Petrick's just-released book with a foreword by Pittsburgh Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle. The significance of the book's title is twofold: First, 40,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's each year, as Petrick was in 2000 at the remarkably young age of 22. Second, Petrick eventually left the game and became caregiver to his infant daughter, going from playing before crowds of 40,000 to an audience of one. It was this "one" who revealed to him a love that made him embrace the future and discover a courage he never knew he had.
40,000 to One transcends the sports genre, as the singularity of Petrick's story — and the raw transparency with which he tells it — lifts the work to a different plane. Had Petrick's career continued uninterrupted, his biography might well have been a retrospective on a career that included multiple championships and All Star appearances. But reading 40,000 to One and taking in the clarity and fury with which Petrick writes, the reader can't help but feel Petrick is only now doing what he was born to do.
Writes ESPN's Steve Wulf: “Ben Petrick could’ve become the best catcher in baseball, and maybe one of the best in history, until young-onset Parkinson’s robbed him of his physical abilities. But as 40,000 to One shows, he lost one gift only to find another.”