Blue Jays' R.A. Dickey took hard road to the top
By BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency
|You can file R.A. Dickey's rise from journeyman pitcher to Cy Young-winning knuckleballer under the heading of feel-good story -- especially for the Blue Jays. (Reuters)
TORONTO - He had thrown floaters playing catch down the right-field line while getting loose before games.
He had worked on the pitch in the bullpen.
He had orders from Texas Rangers manager Buck Showalter to use it in a game, for at the time he had a 6.09 ERA.
And it was time to begin his new life with a pitch that would either extend his career or take him into retirement.
R.A. Dickey took the mound for the first time as a full-time knuckleballer on Sunday, July 24, 2005 for the triple-A Oklahoma RedHawks against the Iowa Cubs.
“The first one was rough,” said Lee Tunnell, Dickey’s pitching coach that day, from Oklahoma City on Tuesday. “He was behind in the count a lot.”
Playing catch in the outfield is one thing — it’s why legend has it Mickey Mantle, not Hall of Famers Hoyt Wilhelm or Phil Niekro, had the best knuckleball ever.