Sunday, April 8, 2012

R.A Dickey's Road to Success

When R.A Dickey took the mound Saturday vs division rival the Atlanta Braves, it meant more to him then your average 1st start of the year. Dickey, the only knuckleballer left in the major leagues after long time veteran Tim Wakefield retired last year, has not had the easiest road to the starting rotation with the New York Mets.

After being drafted 18th overall by the Texas Rangers in the 1996 Draft, Dickey was offered a signing bonus of 810,000. Then, In his first team photo, a Rangers physician saw that his arm was hanging down oddly in the picture. The Rangers did further examination of Dickey's arm and found out the crazy discovery: Dickey had no ulnar collateral ligament in his right arm. After hearing the news, the Rangers downed their signing bonus offer to 75,000 dollars. Dickey did eventually make his major league debut for the Rangers in 2001, with a mid 80s fastball, a nasty breaking ball, and a forkball. Dickey eventually turned his forkball (which is actually a hard knuckleball) into an knuckleball. The transfer to the knuckleball would allow Dickey's career to go on for a longer time, without straining his arm with no ligament. After 10 years up and down in the Rangers minor league system, Dickey signed a minor league deal with the Brewers in 2007. He was named Triple-A Pitcher of the Year that year with the Brewers Affiliate, the Nashville Sounds. Dickey then became a minor league free agent, and was invited to spring training by the Minnesota Twins. Minnesota did not hold Dickey for long, as the Seattle Mariners got him in the Rule 5 Draft. Dickey made it to the majors with the Mariners in 2008, and got his name into the record books. He threw 4 wild pitches in a inning vs his former club, the Twins. This tied a former record set by Phil Niekro and Walter Johnson. Then, later that year, Dickey got a record of his own. He started the most games by a pitcher with fewer than 4 days of rest, He started 6. In late December of that same year, Dickey was picked up again by the Twins and pitched in 35 games for them.

Dickey was not picked up by another major league club for over a year after his 2nd stint with the Twins until on January 5, 2010, when the New York Mets picked him up, invited him to spring training, and then assigned him to Triple-A Buffalo. That year, Dickey made his debut for the Mets on May 19 vs the Nationals. He impressed throwing 6 solid innings. Dickey became a regular member of the Mets rotation, throwing every 5th day. The thing that sealed his fate in the rotation for the Mets happened on August 13, 2010. The Mets had to face their bitter division rival and offensive machines, The Philadelphia Phillies. Dickey kept his cool through out the entire game, and threw a complete game 1-hitter, only giving up a bloop single to starting pitcher Cole Hamels. Dickey went on to start 26 games for the Mets that year, and got 11 wins. Both career highs for Dickey. In early 2011, The Mets offered Dickey a 2-year extension, with a 1 million dollar signing bonus, a 18 percent increase from the signing bonus that the Rangers offered him just 15 years earlier before the discovery of his missing ligament. The Mets gave him 2.25 million in 2011, and will get 4.25 million this year if healthy. He has a 5 million dollar option for 2013, and a 300,000 dollar buyout. Last year, Dickey set another career high in starts with 32, but only had a record of 8-13.

Despite cautions from the Mets during the 2011 offseason, R.A went with his plan to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with a few of his friends to raise money for a charity to stop human trafficking in India. The Mets warned Dickey that if he got injured during the climb, they would void his contract. Dickey ignored the warning and successfully climbed Kilimanjaro with a few of his friends. Dickey returned from his expedition before spring training began, and told about the expedition and the charity that he donated to. A new light has been shined on why maybe Dickey chose to donate to this specific charity of choice. Dickey wrote a biography on himself during the offseason why he wasn't climbing Kilimanjaro. The autobiography starts out with him being 8 years old, and being sexually abused by a 13-year old female babysitter and once by a 17-year old male. The autobiography also states that Dickey contemplated suicide during the down years of his baseball career, and after cheating on his wife. The biography goes into great detail about more lows in Dickey's troubled childhood, including stating that his mom dragged him to Nashville bars when he was 5 and would drink constantly until closing time, and that he slept in abandoned warehouses alone as a teenager. Dickey found a syringe in the Rangers clubhouse in 2001, that could have belonged to then shortstop Alex Rodriguez, who has since been convicted for using steroids, but Dickey said that the Rangers could have forever been associated with Steroids if he had used it. If you want to read more about Dickey's tear-jerking stories, his book is called "Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity, and the Perfect Knuckleball". This is what makes R.A Dickey's road to Success a truly remarkable thing.

NOTE: All information comes from,, and

R.I.P Gary "The Kid" Carter #8. Never Forget Jose Reyes.