RA Dickey wins National League Cy Young award
Thursday, November 15, 2012
New York, New York
By NCN News Staff
New York Mets pitcher R. A. Dickey became the first knuckleballer to win a Major League Baseball Cy Young award this week, and a Nazarene general superintendent couldn't be happier for him.

Dickey, 38, received 27 of 32 first-place votes to win the National League's award for being its top pitcher. The all-star won 20 games for the Mets this season, a far-cry from when Dickey was toiling in the minor leagues for Oklahoma City. It was there he met a Nazarene pastor — Stan Toler.

"I'm thrilled with R. A. Dickey winning the Cy Young award," said Toler, now a general superintendent. "His persistence and discipline have paid great dividends."

Dickey began his baseball career when he was selected by the Texas Rangers in the first round of the 1996 draft out of the University of Tennessee. The Rangers offered the Nashville native an $800,000 contract, but during a physical doctors discovered he was missing a bone in his right elbow. When doctors told Rangers leadership Dickey wouldn't be able to continue pitching without seriously injuring himself, Dickey's contract was reduced by more than 90 percent.

He spent the next 14 years in the minor leagues, including six seasons with Oklahoma City's AAA team, the Redhawks. Stan and his wife, Linda, were Dickey's host family for parts of four seasons.

"It was a pleasure to keep him in our home," Stan Toler said. "We love him like a son."

In 2006, the Rangers signed Dickey again and he switched from being a traditional pitcher to a knuckleball pitcher. The knuckleball, thrown by gripping the ball with the thumb and two-to-four knuckles or fingertips, barely rotates, making its motion unpredictable and difficult to hit. Over the years Dickey perfected the pitch and later earned stints with the Minnesota Twins, Seattle Mariners, Milwaukee Brewers, and now the Mets.

He was named an All-Star this year for the first time in his career.

Toler and his two sons, Seth and Adam, met up with Dickey during the All-Star Game in Kansas City.

"Going to the All-Star Game was a dream come true for me since my days of playing baseball," Toler said after the game. "The event was made even better because R. A. Dickey made the team and pitched the sixth inning. I was like a proud father when he stepped on the mound." 

Toler said Dickey, who studied briefly at Trevecca Nazarene University, is a strong Christian. 

"His commitment to Christ and his family is evident in all aspects of his life," Toler said. "The Cy Young is a great honor for a man who told me, as it relates to this baseball season, 'only God good orchestrate a script like this!'"

In January, Dickey risked his career by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for Bombay Teen Challenge, a nonprofit organization that combats human trafficking in India. He works with a nonprofit organization called Honoring the Father Ministries, which began spreading the gospel through baseball in Cuba.

Dickey's co-written biography, Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball, was released in March.
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