Image Credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Man, that photo stings.
Knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey was one of the few bright spots for the fourth-place New York Mets last season, winning 20 games and the Cy Young Award as the National League’s best pitcher. So of course, when the 38-year-old pitcher couldn’t come to new terms with Mets management in the off-season, he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, where he’s bound to be even better in 2013. (It’s a Mets thing.)
Dickey was an amazing story even before last season’s heroics. Once a blazing fireballer whose professional career seemed stalled in the high minor leagues, Dickey became a knuckleballer out of sheer desperation. It took years to master, years that dragged him and his growing family across minor-league ballparks in places like Tulsa, Tacoma, and Rochester. When he finally landed in New York in 2010 as a 35-year-old castoff, little was expected of him. But in three seasons, his darting knuckleball that had had a mind of its own finally began to cooperate and he became one of baseball’s most formidable hurlers.
But that wasn’t even half of the real R.A. Dickey story. Before the 2012 season, the former English Literature major co-authored a memoir titled, Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball. Along with the myriad of challenges he faced in his baseball career, Dickey wrote about dark episodes of his childhood when he was sexually abused. He was only 8 years old when the alleged crimes occurred, and he never said a word to anyone about them — not to his divorced parents, to the police, to his wife — until he was 32 years old. The reception to his autobiography was positive, but Dickey wanted to adapt it for readers who can benefit most from his life lessons: children who might be enduring similar experiences and not know where to turn for help. Throwing Strikes: My Quest for Truth and the Perfect Knuckleball comes out today. The Blue Jays’ new ace pitcher checked in with EW after pitching eight spring-training innings against the Phillies on Friday to talk about his life and love of literature.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you think to adapt your memoir, Wherever I Wind Up for a younger audience?
R.A. DICKEY: When I was putting together the first four or five chapters [of the first book], I felt like it was going to be something I wanted to do because when the stuff that happened to me happened, I was young, and I didn’t necessarily have a resource of any kind that would have helped equip me to make different choices, and this book will do that. So, for ages 7 to 14, basically, if you’ve been a victim of sexual abuse, or if you’ve grown up in a divorced home, or had an experience with alcoholism, it gives you real tangible things that you can do that might help your journey. That, to me, may be more important than the first book.
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