Back in 2005, R.A. Dickey came to the realization that in order to extend his career, he needed to perfect the knuckleball. Even though he threw a forkball that resembled a hard knuckler, Dickey worked towards making the pitch a mainstay in his arsenal. Today, R.A. is the only hurler to throw the unconventional pitch in the majors.
When a pitcher throws a knuckler, the ball moves every which way before reaching its final destination. In many ways, Dickey's life has embodied that same path. In March, R.A. released his autobiography, Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball, with the help of New York Daily News sportswriter Wayne Coffey. In the book, Dickey talks about everything from being sexually abused by his female babysitter as an 8-year-old kid to having suicidal thoughts after an episode of marital infidelity in the mid-'00s. Thanks to his mastery of the knuckleball, R.A. has revived his career over the past three seasons with the New York Mets, and is in a much better place now. But it took a couple sharp left and right turns to get where he is today.
Interview by Jose Martinez (@ZayMarty)
What’s your preference these days: the baseball player, R.A. Dickey or the author, R.A. Dickey?
Do I have to pick? I kinda like being both. I think there are parts of both that make up who I am. It’s nice to be able to put on one hat and the other. However, neither of those titles really defines me, but at the same time, it’s nice to know that I can be either guy and be OK with it.
With your book, what is the feeling that you want a reader to come away with?
Life is hard and that’s OK. There are people out there that you can trust, who love you even in your darkest moments and therefore, give you a real shot at hope and redemption.
There are a couple of revealing things that you touch upon. What is the motivation behind your desire make those situations public?
To tell the blatant truth, as a reader, I can tell when someone is tip-toeing around something. I felt that, as an author, you lose a lot of credibility when you do that. When I decided to write the book, I knew that I had to write it completely and earnest. I’m thankful that I did and luckily, I have people in my life that encouraged me to do it that way because the outpouring of support from people that can relate to this story has been overwhelming.
Recently, you and your teammates posted pictures in Western garb. What was the idea behind that?
Occasionally, our team will have a theme day that represents the city that we’re visiting. At that time, we were going into Houston and that’s a Western-flavored town, so we all had our cowboy wear on. I think we’re going to do a hockey jersey day when we go to Toronto and we’re working on a couple of other ones. Overall, we do it for team chemistry and to keep things light.
Going into your third season with the Mets, maybe we should start considering you a native New Yorker. What are some things to do in the city that you’d suggest?
I certainly love to be engrossed in the New York culture. I love Broadway and off-Broadway. I’m actually trying to get tickets to go to War Horse at Lincoln Center for my daughters. I’ve seen it, but I want them to watch it as well. Outside of that, I know that the food is fantastic, but honestly, I don’t have a lot of time. You know what, I love the pizza.
Is there a pizza place in particular that you went to that really grabbed your attention?
I can’t even remember the name. I was just strolling around a side street in the middle of New York, went into a pizza joint and it was the best slice I’ve ever had. It’s was probably Nick’s or Joey’s or something like that. [Laughs.]
During the off-season, you climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Could you talk a little bit about that?
Yeah, I did the Kilimanjaro climb for a charity called the Bombay Teen Challenge, which rescues girls and young women from sex slavery and human trafficking in Mumbai, India. We were able to raise over $100,000 for that outreach. It was a real rewarding experience to know that I was involved in something that’s saving lives. That was the motivation behind the climb, but outside of that, it was a real good challenge. Overall, it was a fantastic experience.
Before the start of the season, there was a lot of discussion about the Mets embracing the underdog mentality...
More than the underdog theme, we were all content with being under the radar. If we’re still unnoticed in August or September and only 4 or 5 games out, then that’s been a pretty good go at it. We’re happy being the team that everyone overlooks.