April 24, 2013 In the Internet era with its unceasing news cycle, athletes tend to speak in platitudes and PR statements, but memoirist R.A. Dickey, the Toronto Blue Jays’ new knuckleball pitcher, has never resorted to trite or banal responses in interviews. Since the publication of his memoir, Wherever I Wind Up (newly released in both paperback and a young-readers’ edition called Throwing Strikes),
Dickey has been forthcoming about his baseball struggles, his love of literature, and his harrowing experience with sexual abuse as a child.
Last week, 60 Minutes featured Dickey at his most straightforward. He walked Lesley Stahl through his tumultuous baseball career before finding the knuckleball—the most difficult pitch in the game and that he alone is throwing today—and talked to her about the demons that haunted him for so many years. “The shame [of sexual abuse] is that you didn’t speak up. That you didn’t have a voice. That you, in some way, might have invited it.”
Eventually Dickey—a Nashville native and graduate of Montgomery Bell Academy—sought therapy to confront his shame, but as he tells Canada’s National Post, it was literature that helped him “unpack” who he was and find his way. “I went to an all-boys school that was fairly affluent, and very academic, so we would delve into the classics,” he says. “I was always drawn to the classics, whether it was Dickens, Steinbeck or Hemingway.
Dickey’s inner peace dovetailed with his mastering of the knuckleball, which finally took him out of the minors to the New York Mets and ultimately to last year’s Cy Young Award (given to the each league’s top pitcher) at a stunning thirty-seven years old. In December, the struggling Mets traded Dickey to the Blue Jays, who rewarded the longtime journeyman with a three-year, $30 million contract.
To read Chapter 16’s report about Dickey’s appearance on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, click here.
For more updates on Tennessee authors, please visit Chapter 16’s News & Notes page, here.
Tagged: Children & YA