R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets is the winner of this year's National League Cy Young Award—and that bit of news contains two remarkable stories.
The first story concerns Dickey himself. He languished in the minor leagues for 14 years, bouncing from one team to another before finally perfecting the knuckleball, a pitch that wind currents push up and down and often past perplexed batters.
“Isn’t that awesome?” said Dickey, the first knuckleballer to win a Cy Young. “It just shows you there’s not just one way to do it, and it gives hope to a lot of people.”
The 38-year-old New York Mets pitcher came in first on 27 of 32 National League ballots and totaled 209 points, 113 more than 2011 winner Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Washington lefty Gio Gonzalez finished third.
Dickey switched from conventional pitcher to full-time knuckleballer in a last-ditch effort to save his career. It took him years to finally master the floating pitch, which he often throws harder (around 80 mph) and with more precision than almost anyone who used it before him.
He was the first cut at Mets spring training in 2010 but earned a spot in the big league rotation later that season and blossomed into a dominant All-Star this year. He led the NL in strikeouts (230), innings (233 2-3), complete games (five), and shutouts (three)—pitching through an abdominal injury most of the way.
The second story is what the Associated Press and other mainline news outlets did not include. I interviewed Dickey in May and noted that in his autobiography, Wherever I Wind Up, he’s explicit about how God saved and changed his life. I asked him what percentage of the interviewers have asked him about his Christian faith. Dickey responded, “Probably 15 to 20 percent.”
I then asked him if the subject came up in a National Public Radio interview I had heard. Dickey responded, “I brought it up. They edited it out. I always look for opportunities to talk about my faith in a way that is congruent with the story or the question that they ask, because it is important to me that people know. Most of the time it will be edited out.”
I don’t know if Dickey noted his faith in Christ during the interviews he gave yesterday when news spread that he had received the award, but I suspect he did—yet none of the news stories that I read this morning reported on what gave Dickey the spiritual strength to persevere when other players would have given up long ago.