Dickey beat out Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals with 209 votes. Clearly, the 20 wins were not the only thing that put him on top. He had a 2.73 ERA and led the league in innings pitched, strikeouts, shutouts, and complete games. He also most definitely led the league in personality, a shiningly bright example of everything good about the game.
He is also a knuckleballer, and that seems rather unique these days, a throwback to old fashioned baseball as much as the high stockings he wears on the field. He has the old-time aura about him, as if he could have been a contemporary of Cy Young or that he could have struck out Mel Ott or Ty Cobb just as easily as he could Ryan Howard or Matt Kemp.
Dickey’s story is so inspiring because he defied the odds. He had the pinball journey from team to team, from majors to minors, and then he finally came to the Mets in the minors, pitched very well, and got the team to notice. He came up in 2010 and his knuckleball excited the fans, inspired his teammates, and earned him 11 wins. Dickey was on his way after that, but the 20-6 Cy Young season still comes out of nowhere, and it is a shot in the arm to Mets fans who suffered through another dismal year, one in which Johan Santana threw the team’s first no-hitter and then fell apart, as did the season after that. The one shining light was Dickey, and fans appreciate that and he definitely knows it.
Off the field, Dickey is a simple family man from Nashville. What some people might not know is that last year Dickey climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to help Bombay Teen Challenge, a charity that assists girls in danger of abuse in Mumbai, India. He wrote of this journey in The New York Times, Dickey also wrote a book (along with writer Wayne Coffey) – Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball – and this great story is told by a man who has climbed the mountain both literally and figuratively. One can see the beauty of this story, the metaphor of mountain climbing not just to help others but as a summary of his whole pitching career. The struggle, the moving upward against all odds, the reaching the top, and the reward being not just the stunning view but the fact that he got there.