A few statistics tell the story:
Heading into the 2012 season, Dickey, having toiled in obscurity for four organizations, had posted just 40 wins while suffering 51 losses. He'd considered leaving baseball, finishing college and getting a job teaching English. But first, he wanted to give something a try.
He learned the knuckleball. This is a pitch that flutters and floats, shimmies and shakes on the way to home plate. It’s a sort of anti-fastball, a wackadoodle pitch meant to keep the batter guessing.
Initially, it didn’t go exactly swimmingly. Dickey gave up six home runs the first time he tried it out in a real game. But he hung in. He kept on hoping for a better tomorrow.
His record in 2012 was 20-6. He led the league in innings pitched, strikeouts, shutouts and complete games. His ERA was a svelte 2.73.
R.A. Dickey was nearly on the scrap heap, a vague baseball memory. If that. And now he is king of the hill, standing tall as an inspiration, the embodiment of hope for late bloomers everywhere.