R.A. Dickey’s story had a little bit of everything.
He performed at a high level. He overcame adversity. He inspired others. And he broke new ground.
The totality of that performance made him the choice for Sports Person of the Year, the top award at Thursday’s 15th Annual Celebration of Champions, hosted by the Nashville Sports Council. The event took place at the Grand Ole Opry House and included a celebration of the Sports Council’s 20th anniversary.
Dickey was the choice from among five finalists, all of who boasted extraordinary achievements in 2010. The other four were fellow Major League pitcher and Cy Young Award winner David Price, PGA touring pro and FedEx Cup champion Brandt Snedeker, tennis pro and Brian Baker and Vanderbilt football coach James Franklin.
At 37 years old and in his 10th MLB season (he also spent a lot of time in the minor leagues) Dickey became the first knuckleball pitcher to win Cy Young. He also wrote a revealing biography that detailed his struggle to deal with sexual abuse he endured as a child. He also climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro among numerous charitable endeavors.
Previous winners of the award were former Titans quarterback Steve McNair (2001-03), Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler (2005), Predators defenseman Shea Weber (2010) and Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin (2011). Snedeker won the award in 2007.
Other winners Thursday were:
• Fred Russell Lifetime Achievement: Woody Hunt — Cumberland University Baseball
• Community Spirit Award: Goodlettsville Little League Baseball
• Ed Temple Amateur Female Athlete of the Year: Ebony Rowe — MTSU Basketball
• Ed Temple Amateur Male Athlete of the Year: Steven Fox — U.S. Amateur Golf, UT-Chattanooga
• Kaia Jergenson Courage Award: Andrew Kittrell
• High School Male Athletics: Corn Elder — Ensworth Football & Basketball
• High School Female Athletics: Alex Banks — Beech Softball
• High School Male Team Athletics: Beech Football
• High School Female Team Athletics: Riverdale Basketball
• Sergeant York Trophy: Tennessee State University
• Nashville Sports Council Volunteer of the Year: Rachel Terry
• Brandt and Mandy Snedeker Scholarship Award Recipients:
Brock Baker, Oakland High School; Barbara Lee Ball, Lipscomb Academy; Michelle Chintanaphol, The Harpeth Hall; Nicholas Egli, Battle Ground Academy
The event also counted down the top 10 events of the year:
10. Predators advance to 2nd Round of playoffs
9. Vanderbilt Men’s Basketball wins SEC Championship
8. Brian Baker advances to 4th Round at Wimbledon
7. Pat Summitt wins SEC Tournament in final Nashville coaching appearance
6. Jalen Hurd breaks two state records during state title game
5. Brandt Snedeker wins FedEx Cup, Tour Championship, and is named to Ryder Cup team
4. Steven Fox wins U.S. Amateur Championship
3. Vanderbilt Football finished season 9-4 with Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl victory
2. R.A. Dickey and David Price win Cy Young Awards
1. Goodlettsville Little League Baseball Team wins U.S. Championship at Little League World Series
“Congratulations to all of the nominees and winners in an unforgettable year in sports in Middle Tennessee,” Scott Ramsey, president and CEO, Nashville Sports Council, said. “What a great event to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Sports Council.”