Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wherever I Wind Up by R. A. Dickey with Wayne Coffey

This is a very intimate autobiography of professional baseball pitcher R. A. Dickey, winner of the Cy Young Award in 2012 and just recently traded from the New York Mets to the Toronto Blue Jays.

As a baseball book, it is unique in several ways.  Unlike the landmark baseball books of the past--Jim Brosnan's The Long Season, his sequel, The Pennant Race, and Jim Bouton's much more bawdy classic, Ball Four--Dickey's Wherever I Wind Up is personal and in greater detail provides his history and career in relationship to R. A. Dickey, the family man.

Dickey is also a religious man and there is much talk of God.  The word "sin" never appears, but he spends a lot of time praying for God to keep him on the right track, to show him the way.  He stops short of praying to win, but he seems to have a sense of entitlement, which some might see only as confidence.

A batch of pictures are included, including the cute one of a very young Dickey trying to seal a kiss from his future wife, Anne, then in the seventh grade.

Apparently journalist and author Wayne Coffey is to be credited for the fine pacing in this autobiography, and it is a splendid piece of creative non-fiction.  Dickey's prospects rise and fall but reach bottom after a crisis in his marriage--at about the time he finds himself near death at the bottom of the Missouri River.

I watched the news conference he had in Toronto yesterday.  He said that he got better as a pitcher as his form improved as a man of conviction and responsibility.  Dickey had some trouble buttoning his new Blue Jay top, but otherwise he came off solidly enough, an old guy, gifted with the wisdom of years, but also very self-effacing.  I wished they had let his wife speak.

Baseball buffs will enjoy his frank discussion of knuckleball mechanics, and young players might learn a thing or two from it.  The rear dustjacket picture shows his grip on the ball.

Many baseball people pass through the narrative as they passed through his life, but unlike many other baseball books, no one is denigrated in here.  Dickey says that he has never taken performance enhancing drugs, and I believe him.

R. A. Dickey versus Stephen Strasburg, the Baffler Vs. Rocket Boy--Wall Street Journal

The funniest scene takes place on a subway where Dickey hears others talking about the pending match-up between Dickey and the ultra-hyped flame-thrower Stephen Strasburg, the Baffler vs. Rocket Boy.  None of his fellow passengers recognized him.  He even saw one man looking at the Wall Street Journal editorial cartoon above.

I remembered the game well, as I watched it on television.  It will be interesting to see how Dickey performs this year.  I suspect he'll be even better.  His honesty makes us want to root for him all the way.

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