I’ve always been a peripheral baseball fan. I grew up in Portland, Oregon where the only professional sports team was basketball. On the other hand, family lore is that my dad’s parents, huge Brooklyn Dodger fans, lasted one season after the Dodgers moved to California before packing up my dad and uncle and heading west. Whether this is true or not, doesn’t matter as it’s become such a part of the family legend.
So if I have to say a favorite team, I’m going to have to say the Dodgers. But since moving to New York, I’ve developed an appreciation for the Mets and the fact that my uncle is a huge Mets fan, it’s rubbed off on me.
About a year ago, I was listening to Fresh Air on NPR and there was an interview with R.A. Dickey. Being that I am living in New York, I had heard about him but really didn’t know much about him. Well the interview was out because he was in the process of writing a book. During the summer I started going to some Mets games with my roommate and became hooked. So, for my birthday, my roommate bought the the Dickey biography.
R.A. Dickey has a fascinating life. He was raised in a divorced family in Tennessee and was sexually abused twice as a child-once by a man and once by a teenage female babysitter of his. Although he’s had some horrible life experiences, he has also overcome these experiences, whether through his faith or through his passion for baseball. He actually met his wife as a kid, when he became friends with her brother. They were a very well off family in the private school that he was lucky enough to attend and it was pretty clear to him that they were meant to be.
His career into baseball was by no means an easy one. He had been drafted straight from college to play for the Texas Rangers but when he had a physical for them, it became apparent that he was missing a muscle in his wrist (ironically, earlier this year I had wrist surgery and they found an extra muscle so a friend of mine teased that it was R.A. Dickey’s missing muscle). As a result of that, the offer was rescinded. He ended up playing AAA ball for a long time and even spent time playing in South America. He was not successful and kept volleying between teams and was not happy nor was his marriage good. He ended up having a near death experience of his own making and started turning his life around.
It was around this time that he also began learning how to be a knuckleballer. Prior to this, he had been a traditional pitcher but when it came down to either he was going to need to leave baseball or learn something new to keep him in the game, he started learning. He currently is the only knuckleballer in the major leagues and hopes to stay there until someone replaces him.
He has also become an advocate for children who have been sexually abused and actually climbed Mount Everest, against the wishes of the Mets in order to raise awareness. This book was an amazing read and the entire story is an unbelievable story. R.A. Dickey is a true hero in my mind.
Probably my biggest disappointment now is that I never got to see R.A. Dickey pitch. Every time I went he had just pitched the night before. Now he’s being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays so unless I see him against a team I’m watching, I won’t get the chance.