N.L. Cy Young winner’s hope finally rewarded
“I know my journey is nowhere near complete. The point isn’t to arrive. The point is to seek, to walk humbly with God, to keep walking and keep believing even though you know there will be times when you make mistakes and feel lost. You keep seeking the path, and He will show you the way…
“I turn out the light. I close my eyes. I have hope.”
In March of 2012 when R.A. Dickey ended his memoir “Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball” with these words, he had no idea how his season would turn out. As a knuckleball pitcher, he was an outcast in the sport. As someone who spent nearly 14 years in the minor leagues, he was different from most of his colleagues. As a pitcher for the New York Mets, he was entering a season that was not expected to turn out well.
Dickey’s hope, however, brought fans to the seats of Citi Field and gave them, as well as the entire baseball community, an underdog who clearly deserved every bit of praise he was given. On Wednesday, after a season where he won nearly 30 percent of his team’s games, Dickey’s effort was rewarded when he became the first knuckleball pitcher to win the Cy Young Award.
Dickey’s story is so much more than a baseball outcast succeeding. This story goes beyond baseball. It epitomizes the heart of the game and the passion some people have for life. It is almost unbelievable what the 38-year-old has been through. In his extremely honest and raw memoir, Dickey detailed how he was sexually abused as a child, his indiscretions and the times that he wanted to give it all up. These details had nothing to do with baseball — they are the colors that create the picture of a man with an unprecedented amount of determination and grit.
On the mound, the transition from fastball to knuckleball was not easy for Dickey, and just over two years ago, during Spring Training in 2010, the Nashville, Tennessee native was one of the first players cut from the roster.
But now, here we are. Dickey has become so much more to the Mets and to their fanbase. He is a real person, who has faced struggles. He is a real father, who wore friendship bracelets made for him by his daughters during games before he was forced to cut them off by an umpire. He is this down-to-earth human being with unbelievable skill and finesse at placing the most challenging pitch in baseball.
“I’d like to thank the fans,” Dickey said in a statement. “They stood behind me every time I took the mound.”
Dickey is thankful for the fans, but the fans are even more thankful for him. That underdog with his crazy and unreliable pitch gave fans a reason to enjoy a season that otherwise tested their loyalty on multiple levels. And he did it all with an abdominal injury — one that he sustained in the beginning of the season, but kept hidden from fans and media until the season ended.
The reality is that the Cy Young Award goes to the best pitcher from the American League and the National League. Dickey fulfilled that role — he put hitters in a daze, he succeeded with limited run support. But more than that, Dickey instilled a love of baseball into the hearts of fans round the country — not just in New York. He proved that hard work, determination, sweat, pain and, most importantly, hope, are worth it.