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Curveball: My Story of Overcoming Ego, Finding My Purpose, and Achieving True Success

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After watching his career as a professional baseball player go down in flames, Cy Young Award-winner Barry Zito discovered a real connection with God and a renewed passion for life. In 2007, pitcher Barry Zito signed a seven-year, $126 million contract with the San Francisco Giants. At that time, it was the largest contract ever given to a pitcher. He was at the top of his After watching his career as a professional baseball player go down in flames, Cy Young Award-winner Barry Zito discovered a real connection with God and a renewed passion for life.  In 2007, pitcher Barry Zito signed a seven-year, $126 million contract with the San Francisco Giants. At that time, it was the largest contract ever given to a pitcher. He was at the top of his game, in peak physical condition, and had the kind of financial security most people can only dream of. He was also miserable. And it began to show. Zito’s career declined over the next few years until he hit rock bottom—watching from the bench as his team won the World Series in 2010.  In the months that followed, Zito came face-to-face with the destructiveness of his own ego—his need to be viewed as the best. He also came face-to-face with God and with the truth that he was loved no matter what he achieved. In Curveball, Zito shares his story with honesty and transparency. The ups and the downs. The wins and losses. By sharing his experiences as a man who had everything except happiness, Zito offers readers a path through adversity and toward a life defined by true success.


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After watching his career as a professional baseball player go down in flames, Cy Young Award-winner Barry Zito discovered a real connection with God and a renewed passion for life. In 2007, pitcher Barry Zito signed a seven-year, $126 million contract with the San Francisco Giants. At that time, it was the largest contract ever given to a pitcher. He was at the top of his After watching his career as a professional baseball player go down in flames, Cy Young Award-winner Barry Zito discovered a real connection with God and a renewed passion for life.  In 2007, pitcher Barry Zito signed a seven-year, $126 million contract with the San Francisco Giants. At that time, it was the largest contract ever given to a pitcher. He was at the top of his game, in peak physical condition, and had the kind of financial security most people can only dream of. He was also miserable. And it began to show. Zito’s career declined over the next few years until he hit rock bottom—watching from the bench as his team won the World Series in 2010.  In the months that followed, Zito came face-to-face with the destructiveness of his own ego—his need to be viewed as the best. He also came face-to-face with God and with the truth that he was loved no matter what he achieved. In Curveball, Zito shares his story with honesty and transparency. The ups and the downs. The wins and losses. By sharing his experiences as a man who had everything except happiness, Zito offers readers a path through adversity and toward a life defined by true success.

30 review for Curveball: My Story of Overcoming Ego, Finding My Purpose, and Achieving True Success

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brina

    My holidays are over (exhale). It is back to the grind of living day to day but for me that means lots of reading time. The World Series started this week as well and I am looking forward to a Fall Classic for the ages. During the last two days of holidays, I picked up a baseball memoir, just in case I pined for the sport while I was offline. One of my favorite baseball books is Moneyball, which details the small market Oakland Athletics and how their management has fielded competitive teams on My holidays are over (exhale). It is back to the grind of living day to day but for me that means lots of reading time. The World Series started this week as well and I am looking forward to a Fall Classic for the ages. During the last two days of holidays, I picked up a baseball memoir, just in case I pined for the sport while I was offline. One of my favorite baseball books is Moneyball, which details the small market Oakland Athletics and how their management has fielded competitive teams on a low budget year after year. The book features the 2002 edition of the team that consisted of a young, dominant starting pitching staff and a team of nobodies, which went on to win twenty games in a row and over one hundred overall. One of the pitchers on that team was Barry Zito, who turned in the best season of his career with a 23-5 record en route to the league’s Cy Young award. On the surface, a top athlete appears to lead a life that average denizens can only dream of; yet, Zito’s had been a life of internal turmoil. Curveball is his memoir of achieving personal harmony amid the fame and fortune thrown in his direction. Barry Zito was the surprise third child of his parents Joseph and Roberta, who at the time were parents to teenaged Bonnie and nine-year-old Sally. Joseph had already reached middle age by the time Barry was born yet doted on him like any loving parent would. Yet, Joseph was also a schemer. Both Joseph and Roberta were respectable musicians, hobnobbing with celebrities from Nat King Cole to Frank Sinatra, yet both careers did not last forever and Joseph turned to scheming to provide for his family. Eventually the scheming would take the Zito family to Las Vegas and then San Diego, with the family always struggling to make ends meet. When Barry turned six, it became apparent to his parents that he possessed real athletic talent, so Joseph came up with his biggest scheme of all: to raise a son who would became one of the best big league baseball pitchers of all time. Only knowing the environment that he grew up in, Barry easily followed suit and started down a path toward adult fame. Barry’s pitching skills took him all the way to a first round draft pick by the Oakland Athletics. He joined the team at age twenty two in 2000 and became part of their big three pitching staff alongside Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder. The Big Three pitchers lead the team depicted in Moneyball to stardom and propelled Zito to personal fame. Having been raised in a home where he did not know where his next meal would come from, Zito took to fame and fortune like a fish to water. He moved his family to a nice home, becoming his parents sole provider; in their senior years, Joseph and Roberta Zito could finally live easily. Yet, Barry also became obsessed with the materialistic culture almost expected of the rich and famous stars of Los Angeles. He became addicted to expensive cars, watches, clothes, and eventually purchased two glitzy homes, one each in Los Angeles and Marin County, hosting glamorous parties at each. The lifestyle took its toll on a once promising top flight pitcher, who, while logging multiple years of over fifteen wins, never quite achieved the level of his 2002 award winning season. Before the 2007 season Zito signed a lucrative seven year contract with the San Francisco Giants, becoming the highest paid pitcher in baseball. Over the course of the contact, Zito pitched like a middling pitcher, not like the ace he was expected to be. During those years, he was booed by fans and longed to become invisible in Los Angeles, living the lifestyle of the rich and famous in the offseason. The price of fame took its toll on him as Zito appeared to have it all by Americans’ standards, yet professionally he continued to sink into an abyss. He turned to one self help book after another in attempt to find himself as a professional pitcher and a person. Nothing seemed to work, and in 2010 he hit rock bottom as pitcher, being left off of the Giants’ playoff roster, that eventually went on to win the World Series. During these bleak years Zito was introduced to Amber Seyer, and it was love at first sight for him. Still dependent on his father for validation and most materialistic things to define success, it took Zito nearly two years to break away from this cycle and see in Amber what a special person she was. After successfully breaking away from the cycle of co-dependency and needing others’ approval to feel successful, Zito happily wed Amber in 2011. As a religious person, it was refreshing to see that a religious awakening also played a key role in allowing Barry Zito to find personal happiness. I found it ironic that I found myself reading about another religion on the last day of my holidays, but at the same time, happy with religion declining in America, that the Zito family would find inner joy through their faith. While Barry Zito never did become the most successful pitcher of all time as his father once envisioned, he did manage to balance fame and fortune with the things that mean the most to him- his family and religion. Today, the Zitos have two children and Barry is enjoying a second career as a song writer, based in Nashville. I enjoyed this quick read about him as both a baseball player and a person, and, for a lack of a better word, refreshed to see someone be redeemed by religious beliefs and not become defined by the materialistic culture in which we live. 3+ stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lance

    Barry Zito was a star pitcher in the early 2000’s for the Oakland Athletics, winning a Cy Young award and was part of the excellent staff for the Athletics that allowed them to compete with teams from bigger markets at the start of the Moneyball era. His success in Oakland turned into a big payday for him when he signed a contract before the 2007 season with the San Francisco Giants, which at the time was the biggest contract awarded to a pitcher. He did not come close to the same success with Barry Zito was a star pitcher in the early 2000’s for the Oakland Athletics, winning a Cy Young award and was part of the excellent staff for the Athletics that allowed them to compete with teams from bigger markets at the start of the Moneyball era. His success in Oakland turned into a big payday for him when he signed a contract before the 2007 season with the San Francisco Giants, which at the time was the biggest contract awarded to a pitcher. He did not come close to the same success with the Giants that he did with the Athletics. It is at his lowest point during that time with San Francisco, when he was left off the postseason roster during the Giants’ 2010 championship run, that this book starts and from there, Zito takes the reader inside not only his career, but his entire transformation – both when he was a high school and college pitcher when he was always following the advice of his father on the best course to take and also near the end of his career, when he, with the help from his wife and Giants team chaplain, to follow the advice of God and turn to his Christian faith to guide him on the best decisions to make. The book really was not much different in structure or in types of reflection than other sports memoirs. Zito’s reflections on family, the role of his father in his career, his transgressions in excessive living life in the fast lane, and even his decision to reaffirm his faith and let that aspect of his life become more important and prominent. All of these aspects, as well as his discussions about his performance on the mound, are all present in other sports memoirs. So what makes this one different? Readers will immediately realize how refreshingly honest Zito writes without embellishment or exaggeration. There wasn’t a single passage in which I felt that Zito was not being completely honest with his audience and hearing him describe some of his inner struggles with trying to please his father, just for starters. It went as far as him transferring from a four-year college (UC Santa Barbara) to a junior college because, according to Zito’s father, Barry had a better chance to be a first round draft choice playing at a junior college. When he still wasn’t a first round draft choice, he transferred to another four-year school and then was a first round pick for the Athletics. The role of his father is told completely and with nothing held back by Zito. This information about his father and the completely unfiltered version is also present in every aspect of his baseball career and his devotion to his faith. There is a good balance in all of these aspects of his life up to the best story of the book which is near the end. Zito won two World Series rings with the Giants – 2010, when he was left off the postseason roster as mentioned earlier and in 2012, when he was pitching better and won a World Series game as the Giants swept the Detroit Tigers. He shares that of the two rings, the 2010 one is more meaningful to him. If this doesn’t make sense, once one reads this honest assessment of himself, it is easier to understand why he believes this. Any fan of baseball, of honest memoirs, or just of a good read will want to read this one. Don’t expect anything amazing or provocative – just a truly honest reflection of a baseball career that reached both the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I wish to thank Thomas Nelson – W Publishing for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. https://sportsbookguy.blogspot.com/20...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    I’ve read many sports biographies over the years and there is a tendency for the authors to at times tell too much of the year-by-year details of the athlete’s career. Writing like this can take away from the overall message or themes that a writer is trying to focus on. Thankfully, this is not the case in Curveball. Zito focuses on his spiritual journey of ridding himself of his ego and the temptations of the ‘good life’ as his tries to ‘feed the monster’ of entitlement. It takes him until many I’ve read many sports biographies over the years and there is a tendency for the authors to at times tell too much of the year-by-year details of the athlete’s career. Writing like this can take away from the overall message or themes that a writer is trying to focus on. Thankfully, this is not the case in Curveball. Zito focuses on his spiritual journey of ridding himself of his ego and the temptations of the ‘good life’ as his tries to ‘feed the monster’ of entitlement. It takes him until many years into his career to determine the true difference between hubris and confidence. This journey is what makes this book such a worthwhile read. Chapters are filled with self reflection and important anecdotes that reveal how he made his departure from that need for fame and to really started to delineate what he can control from other’s expectations. The rock star off the field was routinely at odds with the athlete he was trying to be on the field. Everyone has tried the quick fix and Zito uses this book to discuss that many times only changes that actually stick are ones learned through experience. This is a rare biography that gets to the heart of this matter. From one lefty to another: Kudos to you, Barry. For my full review: https://paulspicks.blog/2019/08/24/cu... For all my reviews: https://paulspicks.blog

  4. 5 out of 5

    Garrett Millbrooke

    Barry Zito had a roller coaster of a life. From becoming a first round pick, to not even starting on the team. Zito had a work ethic that was undefeated, with help from his dad. Barry has a very supportive family, that helped him become the baseball player that he wanted to be. After signing a 126 million dollar deal, Zito gradually got worse and worse at the sport he loved. Fighting the backlash and fans yet once supported him.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Scott Buchanan

    As Yogi Berra once said, "Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical." It takes elite talent and dedication to play professional baseball at any level. Only the best of the best make it to the major league level. And then to reach the pinnacle of this position as a Cy Young recipient is amazing. Barry Zito walks readers through his life to show how he reached this level. MLB pitching exposes an individual athlete's performance on every pitch, sometimes 100+ times a game, 30 As Yogi Berra once said, "Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical." It takes elite talent and dedication to play professional baseball at any level. Only the best of the best make it to the major league level. And then to reach the pinnacle of this position as a Cy Young recipient is amazing. Barry Zito walks readers through his life to show how he reached this level. MLB pitching exposes an individual athlete's performance on every pitch, sometimes 100+ times a game, 30 or more times a season. Having the mental toughness to endure the ups and downs in a single game, a season or a career requires a special talent in itself. Couple this ongoing challenge with the label of being the highest-paid pitcher and multi-millionaire single guy in his twenties living in LA & SF and you have the formula for things to get out of control. Zito takes readers through this stage and eventually comes to terms with his success and failures in baseball and life, attributing his turnaround to a strong relationship with his wife and his Christian faith.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mary Vogelsong

    Barry Zito’s family was steeped in the occult from two generations back on his mother’s side. Barry’s father made it his mission to train Barry and manage his baseball career, which he did from the time Barry was a young boy. Barry’s dad taught him he could control everything with his mind. When his game was “on” Barry was full of confidence. When he was losing, Barry couldn’t figure out how to make his thoughts be in charge. Berry fell into the same sins many ball players and others with an Barry Zito’s family was steeped in the occult from two generations back on his mother’s side. Barry’s father made it his mission to train Barry and manage his baseball career, which he did from the time Barry was a young boy. Barry’s dad taught him he could control everything with his mind. When his game was “on” Barry was full of confidence. When he was losing, Barry couldn’t figure out how to make his thoughts be in charge. Berry fell into the same sins many ball players and others with an excess of money face. Because he was one of the highest paid pitchers in baseball, he felt he had to justify his outrageous salary with wins. This was a self-imposed pressure that only made his game worse. Read Curveball to find out if Barry was able to pitch his way out of the slump, or if he got help of another kind.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Heart wrenching and brutally honest. Barry doesn't sugar coat anything in his life. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The life of a baseball superstar. While he may have loved the stroking of the ego back in his ball days, this memoir is anything but. It is refreshing to hear someone humbly admit that they weren't such a great person. I have never read a memoir that has ever been so honest. While I cannot relate to the things he struggled with, I found myself sobbing through some of his own self Heart wrenching and brutally honest. Barry doesn't sugar coat anything in his life. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The life of a baseball superstar. While he may have loved the stroking of the ego back in his ball days, this memoir is anything but. It is refreshing to hear someone humbly admit that they weren't such a great person. I have never read a memoir that has ever been so honest. While I cannot relate to the things he struggled with, I found myself sobbing through some of his own self reflections and realizations. How hard it must have been to type those words on paper. A self admitting dick (my words, not his) yet you find yourself rooting for him at the same time. 4.5/5 stars I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Easy

    I was a HUGE Zito fan the first time he was an Athletic. This book actually makes me kind of hate him as a person. I know we’re supposed to find some redemption in him at the end because he’s found Christ but honestly, it’s too heavy handed, the same way Born Again Christians try to convert you. Not enough baseball, Hollywood kiss and tell and too much weird spirituality. If Barry Zito came knocking on my door with the good word, I definitely would turn off the lights and pretend to not be home. I was a HUGE Zito fan the first time he was an Athletic. This book actually makes me kind of hate him as a person. I know we’re supposed to find some redemption in him at the end because he’s found Christ but honestly, it’s too heavy handed, the same way Born Again Christians try to convert you. Not enough baseball, Hollywood kiss and tell and too much weird spirituality. If Barry Zito came knocking on my door with the good word, I definitely would turn off the lights and pretend to not be home. I kinda wish I had done that with this book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Doris Raines

    I THEW MY FRIST CURVE BALL SOMEONE CAUGHT IT WENT AROUND THE TELEPHONE BOOST AND SAID WHO THREW THIS CURVE BALL. HAAA THAT WAS SO FUNNY I DI NOT. WHAT A CURVE BALL WAS I ENDED UP THREW ANOTHER CURVE TO MY STEP DAD HE MISSED THE CURVE BALL AND ENDED UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD AND SKINDED HIS UPPER LIP HAAAAA —- JUST THINK I COULD HAVE BEEN A PITCHER. ——MY RIGHT AND LEFT HANDS IS SOLID GOALS. ——- THIS IS A TRUE STORY I THEW MY FRIST CURVE BALL SOMEONE CAUGHT IT WENT AROUND THE TELEPHONE 📞BOOST AND SAID WHO THREW THIS CURVE BALL. HAAA THAT WAS SO FUNNY I DI NOT. WHAT A CURVE BALL WAS I ENDED UP THREW ANOTHER CURVE TO MY STEP DAD HE MISSED THE CURVE BALL AND ENDED UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD AND SKINDED HIS UPPER LIP HAAAAA —- JUST THINK I COULD HAVE BEEN A PITCHER. ——MY RIGHT AND LEFT HANDS IS SOLID GOALS. ——- THIS IS A TRUE STORY😎

  10. 5 out of 5

    William Dury

    Barry Zito’s dad had the bad habit of spending money he didn’t have. He was a smart man. He was Nat “King” Cole’s music director and Barry’s mom was one of Cole’s back up singers. Barry’s dad got in trouble with Las Vegas money lenders necessitating a move to San Diego where Barry’s mother’s family had a new age-y church. His dad never appeared to go back to work, but, noticing his son’s athletic talent began to teach him how pitch, his own ignorance of the sport notwithstanding. Like the recent Barry Zito’s dad had the bad habit of spending money he didn’t have. He was a smart man. He was Nat “King” Cole’s music director and Barry’s mom was one of Cole’s back up singers. Barry’s dad got in trouble with Las Vegas money lenders necessitating a move to San Diego where Barry’s mother’s family had a new age-y church. His dad never appeared to go back to work, but, noticing his son’s athletic talent began to teach him how pitch, his own ignorance of the sport notwithstanding. Like the recent Moby autobio, this one is most interesting during the subject’s developing years. The subject’s celebrity years are predictably drug and sex abusey. Moby found AA; Barry finds Jesus and domestic bliss with, of course, the former Miss Missouri. The included photos are of a startlingly photogenic family. As with Moby, best wishes.

  11. 5 out of 5

    David Douglas

    Zito Spells It Out! I watched this young man from his rookie year to his last pitch. I saw the triumphs (I was at the 20th game), and his lows. I always rooted for him, because I saw a man who was sincere. Zito brings that sincere transparency to this book. He clearly define the Gospel as he met the God of the universe, the God of you and me.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Stanley Turner

    A decent memoir but lacking something. He gave decent coverage of his career at San Francisco, but sort of blowed off his career at Oakland. He mentioned parts of his work for Oakland in particular the year he won the Cy Young Award but limited mention afterward...SLT

  13. 5 out of 5

    Cristie Underwood

    The author wrote a great account of the personal journey they embarked on. The honest and detailed writing made it easy for the reader to feel invested in their journey.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sam Matassa

    Deep cuts inside a story of redemption. What I assumed at the time was redemption to worthiness of a big contract. In this book, Barry goes a lot further. Thanks for sharing.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Carl Palmer

    An interesting peak into the psyche of someone I've booed and cheered over the years. This book really changed my view of him.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Steven Ridgely

    Such a wonderful story. Faith heals all.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael Travis

    Interesting book, BZ full of himself but does have significant self discoveries late in his career. Honest, gives some insights to the life of a ballplayer.

  18. 4 out of 5

    PWRL

    O

  19. 5 out of 5

    MARJ HALL

    I really enjoyed the book. It really explained a lot of what was observed when he was with the Giants. I am thrilled that he ended up in a good place!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Heart wrenching and brutally honest. Barry doesn't sugar coat anything in his life. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The life of a baseball superstar. While he may have loved the stroking of the ego back in his ball days, this memoir is anything but. It is refreshing to hear someone humbly admit that they weren't such a great person. I have never read a memoir that has ever been so honest. While I cannot relate to the things he struggled with, I found myself sobbing through some of his own self Heart wrenching and brutally honest. Barry doesn't sugar coat anything in his life. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The life of a baseball superstar. While he may have loved the stroking of the ego back in his ball days, this memoir is anything but. It is refreshing to hear someone humbly admit that they weren't such a great person. I have never read a memoir that has ever been so honest. While I cannot relate to the things he struggled with, I found myself sobbing through some of his own self reflections and realizations. How hard it must have been to type those words on paper. A self admitting dick (my words, not his) yet you find yourself rooting for him at the same time. 4.5/5 stars I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kenton Shantz

    Great story! An honest look at the price of fame and the paradoxical peace that can come from realizing we can't control our own destiny.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    More reviews and book-ish content @ Club Book Mobile & Andrea RBK Curveball: How I Discovered True Fulfillment After Chasing Fortune and Fame by Barry Zito was an enlightening book as prior to reading it, I only knew that Barry Zito was a really good pitcher. This was a reflection on how he made it big, then how he made it really big with a huge contract. From there, the pressure of his career got to me too much, and he talks about the crossroad(s) he found himself at, and the choices he then More reviews and book-ish content @ Club Book Mobile & Andrea RBK Curveball: How I Discovered True Fulfillment After Chasing Fortune and Fame by Barry Zito was an enlightening book as prior to reading it, I only knew that Barry Zito was a really good pitcher. This was a reflection on how he made it big, then how he made it really big with a huge contract. From there, the pressure of his career got to me too much, and he talks about the crossroad(s) he found himself at, and the choices he then made to frame his life differently. This is a baseball book that is grounded in faith. I actually wish there was a bit more about his faith journey. However, this is still a great piece about what it's like to have the weight of a team/city/family/all the things on your shoulders, and how one guy navigated it all. I will also say the story of his family is particularly compelling, and it immediately drew me in. This was a good chance to hear a story about an athlete's career and life that isn't often told. Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to see this September release.

  23. 5 out of 5

    eringoread

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Faer

  25. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Bonham

  26. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Hefke

  27. 5 out of 5

    Megan Chavez

  28. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gerard

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