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R.A. Dickey and the “small cadre of knuckleball specialists”

Jun 7, 2012, 1:01 PM EDT

R.A. Dickey Reuters

There’s a big feature story on R.A. Dickey in the Washington Post today. Some of it you’ve seen before — about his life, his book, and the fact that he may be “The Most Interesting Man in Baseball,” to quote the article.

But if you’re into knuckleball porn, this will be great for you:

Former Rangers knuckleball ace Charlie Hough worked with him extensively, showing him a new grip and a repeatable delivery, and he later got lessons from noted knuckleballers Phil Niekro and Tim Wakefield. The small cadre of knuckleball specialists acted very much as a fraternity. “There’s an instant bond because we’re the only ones who have walked a mile in each other’s shoes,” Dickey says.

It’s like some comic book superhero team or something. Love it.  Also love the closing line from Dave Sheinin:

The fastball isn’t a living thing; it’s a rock in a slingshot, a bullet. They don’t have a relationship; it’s a one-way street. The fastball guy may love his fastball, but without that shared history, without the trust built up through understanding each other’s needs, it will never love him back.

Good read.

  1. ajcardsfan - Jun 7, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    That photo is priceless. You can see it in his eyes, “Feel the wrath of my knuckleball!”

  2. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jun 7, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    Knuckleball porn is great. You just never know where it’s going to go. Depends on the day.

  3. El Bravo - Jun 7, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    R.A. for Cy Young! Seriously, look at his numbers…he’s in the conversation. How awesome would it be for a knuckler to win the CY? Question: when was the last CY winner that was a regular knuckler?

    • Jeremy Fox - Jun 7, 2012 at 2:02 PM

      I don’t think a knuckleballer has ever won it. The award only goes back to 1956, by which time the number of knuckleballers was already well down from the deadball era (back in the deadball era, I think lots of guys threw a knuckleball as one pitch among others). A quick glance at the list of winners ( does not reveal any knuckleballers, unless I’m forgetting what somebody threw. Certainly, none of the the famous knuckleballers everyone knows–Wilhelm, the Neikros, Wakefield–ever won a Cy.

  4. Lukehart80 - Jun 7, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    With Dickey’s success this season, GMs will be insisting that all their pitchers climb Mount Kilimanjaro (it’s the new market inefficiency!). I’m going to go and scale it next summer, then see if I can get a contract offer.

  5. natstowngreg - Jun 7, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    Love the picture — on the front page of the Post’s actual paper version — of R.A. riding a Metro train to Nats Park. For those from the DC area, the trip was most likely Yellow Line, Pentagon City to L’Enfant Plaza; then Green Line to Navy Yard. I don’t expect to see a ballplayer on Metro, any more than I would a politician or big-time lobbyist or Cabinet secretary.

    BTW, Dickey beat the Nats, 3-1. No surprise there.

  6. jimbo1949 - Jun 7, 2012 at 6:04 PM

    Dave Sheinin, the best opera singing sportswriter around. Love his baseball writing.

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