Tag Archives: Montgomery Bell Academy

The Pride of Nashville: R.A.Dickey

R.A.

A product of Nashville’s Montgomery Bell Academy and the University of Tennessee, major league pitcher R. A. Dickey was the banquet speaker at the 69th annual Old Timers banquet in 2007 where he related his experiences on the field and called attention to his life’s faith journey.

“For me, it’s not about an All-America award or other accolades, it’s about my experiences,” said Dickey.  “Sometimes you are not as bad as you feel nor are you as good as you might think you are.  It is more important to have a purpose, be it in faith or in baseball, but in all things to have joy in it.

“I try to glean wisdom from a game and apply it to my life.”

R. A. was the 18th player taken in the 1996 draft, the first-round pick of the Texas Rangers, and was prepared to sign a contract with the team.  The signing was to have taken place before a Rangers home game in Arlington, Texas, where Dickey was set to throw out the first ball.

Just before finalizing the contract, his agent informed him that Rangers general manager Doug Melvin was backing off of the $900,000 signing bonus that had been agreed to.

During a routine physical examination it had been discovered that a tendon was missing in his throwing arm, and Melvin was not sure that he wanted to sign Dickey at all.  After being named Freshman of the Year by Baseball Digest during his first full season at the University of Tennessee and collecting a bronze medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, the news regarding his arm caught him off-guard.

Dickey’s choices were to return to the Knoxville and rejoin the baseball team or continue to pursue a professional career, but on the eve of stepping back on the UT campus he was told that the Rangers were still interested.  However, the signing bonus would be reduced to $75,000. Dickey signed with the Rangers on September 12 and his professional career began.

“One cannot predict what is going to happen.  Often we may need to make adjustments,” said Dickey.

Little did he know how many turns his career would take.

The 6’2″, 215-lb. right-hander spent time in the minor leagues with Oklahoma, Frisco, Charlotte, and Tulsa.  For 2007 he signed a AAA contract with the Milwaukee, where ironically Doug Melvin was the general manager. Dickey joined the Brewers affiliate Nashville Sounds and finished 13-6.

Having recently turned to mastering the knuckleball, Dickey told the banquet attendees, “Be ready to re-invent yourself.”

His knuckleball – combined with his persistence – worked. With the Seattle Mariners for 2008 and Minnesota Twins in 2009, R. A. signed with the New York Mets in 2010 and threw a one-hit shutout against the Philadelphia Phillies on August 13, 2010. His ERA for the season was 2.84. Agreeing to a two-year contract with the Mets beginning in 2011, his record 8-13 but his ERA was a respectable 3.28.

R. A. had a dream season in 2012, setting a New York Mets record for consecutive scoreless innings (44 1/3), led the National League in starts (33), innings pitched (233 2/3), and strikeouts (230). Named to the National League All Star team, he finished the year with a 2.73 ERA.

Named winner of the prestigious 2012 National League Cy Young Award, he became the first knuckleballer in the history of Major League Baseball to capture the award.

Dickey was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for the 2013 season where he finished 14-13 and won the pitcher’s American League Gold Glove Award.

R. A. will be speaking at Lipscomb University’s “Forehand & Friends” event Wednesday, January 8th at 11:30 in the Hall of Fame Room of Allen Arena.  Cost is $10 including lunch.  RSVP via email paul.nance@lipscomb.edu.

© 2014 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.

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Get Your Off Season Baseball Fix…

calendarIt has been just over a month ago since the Boston Red Sox won the World Series, and 2014 spring training is still 87 days away.  However, don’t despair! There are upcoming baseball events in our area:

Thursday, December 12, 2013: Pulitzer Prize winning author, Doris Kearns Goodwin will be in Nashville discussing her latest book, “The Bully Pulpit”.  The event takes place at Montgomery Bell Academy at 6:15 PM.  You may remember Ms. Goodwin from her interviews on Ken Burns’ PBS Special, “Baseball” and as author of “Wail Till Next Year” about her family’s love for the Brooklyn Dodgers when she was a young girl.

I’m not sure that Ms. Goodwin will be speaking about baseball, but we all know from her appearance on PBS that she is an interesting author. Take a copy of her book, I’ll bet she’ll be happy to sign it!

Thursday, January 23, 2014: The Nashville Old Timers Baseball Association will hold their 76th annual banquet at the Millennium Maxwell House. Former New York Yankees second baseman and 1960 World Series MVP Bobby Richardson will be the speaker.

Tickets are $50.00 each; let me know if you are interested. Better yet, get a group of 10 and be recognized with your own table!

Saturday, January 25, 2014: Fifth annual SABR Day. Our Grantland Rice-Fred Russell chapter will meet at Shelby Park in east Nashville in the “Junie” McBride Old Timers board room from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM.

The Old Timers Nashville Amatueur Baseball Hall of Fame is displayed there. Guests are always welcome at SABR chapter events.

Friday, April 4, 2014: The 19th Annual Conference on Baseball in Literature and Culture will be held at MTSU in Murfreesboro. The luncheon speaker is former Kansas City Royals star Willie Wilson.

Would you consider joining the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR)? No matter whether your interest is baseball research, history, or whether you need your statistics fix, SABR is for you. The research opportunity is almost unlimited, and the friends you’ll meet are great! Check us out here:  http://sabr.org/content/frequently-asked-questions.

For more information about SABR or any of these events, email: skip@sulphurdell.com

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