R.A. Dickey might be one of a kind but he is the first to say he didn’t do it alone.
A day after he became the first knuckleball pitcher to win the Cy Young Award, the 37-year-old Nashville native was focused on sharing his story, sharing his achievement and sharing the spotlight with as many people as he could squeeze into it with him.
“This knuckleball fraternity that I’m a part of, this is a victory for all of us because in some shape or form what they have done in their careers was looked upon as illegitimate, as freakish or as gimmicky,” Dickey said Thursday morning. “Now we’re able to hang our hat on the fact that a knuckleballer has won a Cy Young Award. It’s a victory for all of them. They’re a part of this.”
In a bit of fortuitous scheduling, which was done more than a year ago, the Nashville native, Montgomery Bell Academy graduate and former University of Tennessee All-American spoke Thursday at Lipscomb University as part of the school’s Heroes of Business series, which recognizes “business leaders who have demonstrated ethical business practices and working from a foundation of Christian faith.”
The night before the Baseball Writers Association of America named him the National League Cy Young Award winner by a wide margin in a vote of 32 members. The award capped a year in which he published a book that detailed personal struggles of his youth but also experienced the type of professional success that had eluded him for much of his career. He won 20 games for the New York Mets and led the National League in several major pitching categories.
“You know, God’s got an enormous imagination,” he said. “It’s huge. I’m just captivated by the narrative that he’s allowed me to have and I’m humbled by it. At the same time I’ve had a lot of people that have poured into me in a way that’s impacted my life. If it weren’t for other people I wouldn’t be here.
“This is an award to celebrate with them as well.”
Dickey said his intent is to include as many people possible in his celebration of the award and to recognize all those who somehow had a positive impact on his personal and professional journeys.
“I’ve already kind of started in the only way that I know how to and that’s to reach out to them and tell them ‘Thank you,’ or write them an email or write them a hand-written letter, and I’m slowly but surely trying to do that,” he said. “Of course, it’s been really busy the last 18 hours, but I’ve already in my mind thought about doing that kind of thing. It’s fun for me.
“That’s a real blessing for me to be able to celebrate and share an award like this.”
The Cy Young is given annually to the top pitcher in both the American and National Leagues.
The American League winner, also announced Wednesday evening, was Murfreesboro native and Vanderbilt All-American David Price. In addition to the common ground they share that the top of their profession each is represented by local agent Bo McKinnis and, therefore, have been well-acquainted with each other for some time.
“I think that’s one of the neatest things bout the whole experience for me is that you have two guys from Middle Tennessee, from the Nashville area, that have grown up playing baseball in the state, in the city, that we were taught here, that we grew up here, that we learned here how to play the game and how to play it in a way that we carried over into professional baseball even,” Dickey said. “For us to be able to do that together at the same time, the odds are astronomical.
“I mean, it’s a miracle. It’s miraculous and only God can script a narrative like that. It’s really powerful, now.”
Then again, it makes perfect sense to him that someone else would be there with him at his finest moment. After all, there were people by his side every step of the way.