Book Review: The Cup of Coffee Club

by Fred Hofstetter on March 22, 2020

Jacob Kornhauser tells the stories of 11 ballplayers and the unique journeys carving the path to their single MLB appearance.

The Cup of Coffee Club Book Review

Not every “cup of coffee” player looks back on their brush with baseball history with warm fuzzies.

The Cup of Coffee Club: 11 Players and Their Brush with Baseball History

by Jacob Kornhauser

The Cup of Coffee Club: 11 Players and Their Brush with Baseball History

The story of how a handful of momentary big league ballplayers tasted and savored their own cups of MLB coffee.

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Tragedy, triumphs and dreams briefly reached.

What comes next after getting a first taste of MLB ball? Sometime only a sliver of circumstance forks the path of fate. 

One splits off to a big league career. Maybe you wiggle yourself into a comfort zone and earn a few years on the lineup card every day. Grab a moment in the spotlight. Earn your keep. And a half a dozen more chances to retain it.

Another splits off into the unknown. 

The difference can be a whim. A manager’s ire. Nagging injury. A trade; or front office overhaul.

Jacob Kornhauser’s The Cup of Coffee Club chronicles 11 players’ journeys to the big leagues; how they got to the top of the mountain, what happened at the summit, and how they dealt with the descent.

How this book reads.

This is a non-fiction book. Reportorial style. Something like an anthology of several longform singular pieces. Chapters are broken up by player; one for each. 

Reminds me of another baseball book I recently read called The Wax Pack. The players in focus are mostly unknowns given their very brief MLB careers, but there are connections to Hall of Famers and bigger names all over the place. Even these near-anonymous MLB contributors have left a memorable imprint on the game in some way. 

The Cup of Coffee Club spares no word, packing dense substance into a small physical volume. The interviews are excellent. The human element of the game so often taken for granted is squarely in the spotlight.

John Steinbeck might find it dry. Kornhauser resists embellishment and lets the players do the talking. This book is show, not tell. Much appreciated.    

“It’s baseball’s cruel reality and part of its charm: nothing is ever handed to you, and even what you earn for yourself can always be taken away.”

Who will like this.

A great book for readers who like to chip away at a book 10 minutes at a time. Chapters are brief, like long articles you can digest individually and let it simmer. Common threads are carefully interwoven, but this is a story of 11 individuals and it makes sense to consume it that way.

Baseball history buffs will really get into it. Featured players are from a variety of eras spanning much of the 20th century (and into the 21st). Some names might twist your eyebrow, like Larry Yount or Stephen Larkin (yes, the relation is what you suspect – and I am probably a little bit over-impressed by MLB brothers so this was particularly enlightening). I must confess I didn’t know about any of these guys before reading this book.

If you are as fascinated as I am with baseball’s place in the American psyche this book is definitely for you. The Cup of Coffee Club pulses the American experience with baseball as its fickle medium.


Like many great baseball books in this genre, you don’t have to be a hardcore baseball nerd to really enjoy it. These are stories of tragedy, triumph, and a whole lot in between.

Highly recommend.

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