In case you are unaware, R.A. Dickey is having one of the finest seasons in Mets history and currently on one of the best stretches any pitcher has had in the modern era. Among the thousands of pitchers who come and go throughout major league baseball over the years, there isn’t a more fitting player to ascend to such an unheard of level of success in 2012 than R.A. Dickey.
We all know Dickey’s story of how the first round pick was found to be missing an ulnar collateral ligament and eventually became a journeyman knuckleballer before finding tremendous success with the Mets in 2010 and becoming a fixture at the top of the rotation ever since. That however, doesn’t tell the true story of who R.A. Dickey really is and what a kind and caring person he is. Much like Pedro Feliciano used to do, Dickey is out there almost everyday at Citi Field signing autographs for adoring fans and does it happily.
In the times I have gone to Citi Field to cover games for MMO, I have only encountered him once (mostly because he is pitching every other time I’ve gone).
I covered an event for Tuesday’s Children, a charity for families of the victims of 9/11 last fall. At this event, the families went into the press conference room to meet several of the players who came to meet them. Dickey was there and had a long line of kids across the room. He is standing right in front of the post-game press conference table kindly talking to all the families and children, taking his time, no effort to make a quick escape; he is genuinely happy to speak with these people.
He is in the middle of signing a hat for a girl who couldn’t have been more than seven years old, when a news crew from SNY rushes him with a camera man and a pretty blonde reporter, and cuts off this little girl, putting themselves between her and Dickey. The reporter starts asking him questions, and he just stares at her blankly, as if completely ignoring every word she is saying. When she finishes, he doesn’t say a word. He simply waves them away, and returns to signing the hat for the little girl and his line of adoring fans.
There needs to be more people like R.A. Dickey out there. Despite his success to this point that has already broken several MLB records, Dickey remains the same humble man throughout. He is one of the few players that never forgets how lucky he is to put on a uniform everyday and play the game we all love. He is the type of player anyone can root for, and he makes it all the easier to do so with his historic dominance in 2012.
These first 13 starts have been some of the best pitching we have ever seen in Mets history, I can only imagine what R.A. Dickey –a gentleman and a scholar– has in store for those remaining 22+ outings in 2012.