Dear R.A. Dickey,
I heard you on the Baseball Today podcast from ESPN a few weeks back. I’ve seen you pitch before, because I’m a massive Atlanta Braves fan, but I never though much about you other than the rarity of seeing a Knuckleball pitcher. Something in your voice and about your story made me want to get your book…so I did. I chose it over the Smoltz biography that was just released, which should make you pretty happy because he’s been my favorite player since I was a kid.
Thank you for writing the book. I read a lot. I read a lot of theology/Christianity…and I read quite a few Baseball books. There are several things which I specifically appreciate about your book. It is very well written. You can’t say that about all “Christian” books or about all “Baseball” books. I know Wayne Coffey helped, but he has to have something to work with and you obviously have a good ear and a good story to tell.
I appreciate your transparency. In most sports books the author tries to paint his/herself in a good light. Often readers actually believe they get the truth about an athlete/hero, but your willingness to be brutally honest is rare indeed. It is obvious that you had more of a purpose than simply making a buck or getting your name out there. I’m sure it was therapeutic to you, but it was therapeutic to many others as well; it surely was to me, specifically the passage on miscarriage which is almost identical to what happened with my wife’s and my first child, and your honesty over struggling to be a good and Godly husband and father.
I respect you for being brutally honest, but at the same time for protecting your wife and family and keeping them safe. In your story, there were many heroes, not least Jesus and your wife, but you never paint yourself in that light. Your book is not a humblebrag…it is an expression of true humility. You come across as a real person, with warts and all, which is what we all are if we are honest.
I’m thankful for how you presented Christianity. It wasn’t a vehicle for self-promotion. You didn’t tack it on in a wooden fashion that didn’t work with the rest of your story. You didn’t fake an “everything was bad until I found Jesus and everything has been awesome ever since” story. Your Christianity came out organically, as an expression of your life that was important, meaningful, and ultimately redemptive. I particularly appreciated this passage:
“When I pray, I am not just talking to God. I am deepening my relationship to Him. To me, prayer is not a me-driven, goal-driven endeavor, something I turn to when I really need to pitch a dominant game or get out of a tight spot or a personal crisis. I’ve never prayed to God and said, ‘Lord, please let me strike out Albert Pujols four times tonight.” Nor will I ever do that. God is not a genie in a bottle that your rub when you want something. He is the ever-present, ever-loving Father, the guiding Spiritof my life, my Light and my Truth. He has a plan for me; I believe that as much as I believe anything in my whole life, and even if I don’t end up flourishing in New York or proving myself to be a trustworthy big-league pitcher, I know that’s because He has something else in store for me, and whatever it is, I know I will be at peace (286).”
Your book is a great baseball story, and I am huge baseball fan. I enjoyed the behind the scenes baseball stories and how you approach your profession, your passion for the game and perseverance. Your story is a great underdog story, and we all love those. But, most of all, I am thankful for the Gospel in your life and in the pages of your book. The Good News that, although we are all depraved sinners deserving of God’s judgement, although we all mess things up to some degree or another, we have a Redeemer in Christ the Lord. He doesn’t magically fix things overnight, but if we trust Him in faith and obedience, we will be made new.
So, I will be pulling for you like you pulled for Tim Wakefield. I hope you keep winning and have a long career, and every time you play the Braves I hope you pitch a complete game and give up only 1 run…and the Braves win 1-0. God Bless and I look forward to seeing how God uses you and your family to glorify His Name…wherever you wind up.