KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Fresh off his trek to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, former Vol standout and current New York Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey became the 18th person inducted into the Tennessee Baseball Hall of Fame at the 2012 Leadoff Banquet, presented by Coca-Cola, at the Knoxville Convention Center on Wednesday.
“I have mixed emotions about (being inducted) because it’s real nice to be recognized as a great player at Tennessee, but at the same time, I’m certainly aware that I’m no more than the product of people that poured into me well and loved on me well while I was here, two of them being Bill Mosiello and Dave Serrano,” Dickey said. “I think whatever level of talent I brought into UT from high school, they cultivated it into this honor. It’s as much their award as it is mine.”
Dickey joined former teammate Todd Helton, as well as 15 other players, one coach and one broadcaster in the Tennessee Baseball Hall of Fame. He is the first person inducted since Helton had his jersey retired in 2008.
The Nashville native was presented with a granite plaque, as well as a unique piece of art, created by current Tennessee junior pitcher Samuel Davis, entitled “Through the Years.” The drawing featured Dickey’s various journeys in baseball, including his time at UT, with Team USA and in professional baseball.
In addition to Dickey’s induction, the nearly 1,000 fans in attendance were rewarded with a candid and comedic speech by the event’s guest speaker, two-time World Series champion manager with the Boston Red Sox, Terry Francona.
Just one day after returning from his successful trip to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, which helped raise over $100,000 for Bombay Teen Challenge, Dickey spoke on his time at Tennessee, his relationship with current Volunteer coaches Dave Serrano and Bill Mosiello, as well as his journey through professional baseball.
“I think one of the things that I learned (at Tennessee) is that there are more ways to skin a cat than just one, and that has helped me,” Dickey said. “Having the aptitude to own the things you don’t do well and try to recognize that and get better from them has been a big deal in my career. Self-awareness has been a part in that, being able to realize that being a conventional pitcher no longer was going to work for me, so I really had to embrace the knuckleball completely. To that end, I went and worked with Charlie Hough, Phil Neikro and Tim Wakefield, three of the best knuckleballers to ever walk the planet, and tried to gain any wisdom I could from those guys and they were very generous with it. It’s another situation where guys leveraged themselves to help me, and I’m incredibly grateful for that.”
The only three-time First Team All-American in Tennessee baseball history from 1994-96, Dickey was also a two-time first team All-SEC selection and an academic All-American following his junior year. In addition, he was a member of the bronze-medal winning 1996 Team USA Olympic team in Atlanta.
During his time at Rocky Top, the Nashville native wrote his name in the UT record book as the career leader in wins, appearances, games started, innings pitched and strikeouts. Dickey also holds the school single-season records for wins and innings pitched and ranks third for strikeouts.
Since being selected as with the 18th overall pick in the first round of the 1996 MLB Draft by the Texas Rangers, Dickey has embarked on a nine-year career in the big leagues. In addition to the Rangers, he has also spent time with the Seattle Mariners and Minnesota Twins before joining his current team, the New York Mets in 2010.
A hard-throwing righty at Tennessee and in the first few years of his MLB career, Dickey has reestablished himself as a successful knuckleball pitcher. In his two seasons with the Mets, Dickey has posted a 19-22 record and a 3.08 ERA in 383.0 innings on the mound. During that stretch, he has struck out 238 hitters while walking just 96.
Overall, Dickey is 41-50 with a 4.34 ERA in 204 Major League appearances, including 106 starts over nine seasons. In 825.2 total innings, he has struck out 509 hitters.
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TENNESSEE BASEBALL HALL OF FAME
1995 – B.B. Hopkins, Phil Garner
1996 – Rick Honeycutt, Bill Wright (coach)
1997 – Jimmy Lee
1998 – Sam Ewing
1999 – Joe O’Brien
2000 – Condredge Holloway
2001 – Steve Searcy
2002 – Ed Bailey
2003 – Alan Cockrell
2004 – Tommy Bridges, Mike Smithson
2005 – Greg McMichael
2006 – Mike Keith (broadcaster)
2007 – Mike DeFelice
2008 – Todd Helton
2012 – R.A. Dickey