R.A. Dickey spent his offseason climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for a charity that fights human trafficking.
Now as the MLB regular season draws to a close, Dickey has reached another apex — the top of the Cy Young race. After a year in which the re-invented and rejuvenated pitcher saw career highs in almost every category, he has become the frontrunner to earn the top pitching honor.
The 37-year-old pitcher has been one of the brightest points for the New York Mets in an otherwise dismal season. R.A. Dickey leads the National League in a number of categories, including innings pitched, strikeouts, and his ERA is second-best in the league by less than a tenth of a point.
But even more impressive than his play is R.A. Dickey’s story. In the offseason he wrote a memoir detailing sexual abuse as a child.
And just a few years ago, R.A. Dickey would have been considered light years away from being a Cy Young candidate. A former flamethrowing pitcher who struggled to earn his place, Dickey decided to revamp himself and become a knuckleballer instead.
The change has paid off, John Rowe of NorthJersey.com wrote:
For a lot of reasons. Dickey’s story is one every subway straphanger can relate to. Until this season, he had never been much more than a journeyman, somebody whose dreams were bigger than his achievements. He bounced from franchise to franchise, much like fans moving from job to job. Like many of them, he has overcome a lot. In an age in which books are written to glorify star players, Dickey, in Wherever I Wind Up, revealed he was sexually abused as a child by a baby sitter and that he experienced suicidal thoughts as an adult.
His baseball journey was rocky. Just a few years ago he bounced around the International League in AAA, and in 2010 was only invited to the Mets camp as a non-roster invitee. But Dickey impressed, and earned his way onto the roster.
R.A. Dickey just won his 20th game this week, playing in the last home contest for the Mets this year. He became the first 20-game winner for the Mets since Frank Viola in 1990 and the first knuckleballer to win 20 since 1980.
What’s also incredible about R.A. Dickey is the way he changed the knuckleball itself, Dave D’Alessandro of the Newark Star-Ledger wrote. Known as a fluttering, unpredictable pitch, Dickey instead throws the ball with a velocity and command not seen before.
As D’Alessandro wrote:
Anyone who has ever held a baseball has tried it, and that simple pop from its release delights the fingertips and stimulates the mind from the earliest attempts. Soon enough, of course, you realize you have to spend the rest of your life just chasing the depth of this experience, which is why virtually everyone just stopped trying.
So now a maestro named R.A. Dickey has changed everything we thought we knew about pitching, because it simply isn’t plausible that a guy with a 40-50 lifetime record over nine seasons can turn into the best pitcher in baseball virtually overnight.
Now after all the wins, all the strikeouts, and all the accolades, R.A. Dickey only has one thing left to pick up this season. The Cy Young award.