In the last year, New York Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, released a memoir ("Wherever I Wind Up"), became the first pitcher in 24 years to throw consecutive one-hitters, was the focus of an acclaimed documentary, and, just last week, won the 2012 National League Cy Young award. The 38-year-old shows no signs of slowing down either: In 2013, Dickey will release a children's book, likely sign a lucrative contract (either with the Mets or another team), and possibly see his story honored by the Academy Awards. "Knuckleball!," the aforementioned documentary about Dickey and fellow knuckleballer and former Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield, is a potential Oscar contender in the Best Documentary category. Not bad for a pitcher who just two years ago was a roster filler for the Mets AAA affiliate in Buffalo.
HuffPost Sports spoke to Dickey about his banner year, why he doesn't really care if people like "Knuckleball" and whether or not he wants to stay with the New York Mets.
What were you feeling before the Cy Young award announcement?
I know it's an epic thing, but I also have four kids running around and my wife was out of town, so I didn't have much time to devote a lot of anxiety toward it. Which was great. I'm thankful it ended up the way that it did, but I didn't have too much stress over it.
This has been such a whirlwind year for you, for Mets fans and for the city. Have you gotten the chance to fully appreciate everything that has happened?
It's an incredible story. To be perfectly frank with you, it's just much bigger than me. This story itself is really, really epic. I'm a player or character in this story. That I walked off the mound tying the modern-day Major League record for the most home runs given up in a game in 2006 to being the 2012 Cy Young award winner is just incredible.
When you were approached for the film, were you worried at all about overexposure?
That's an interesting question. I have a certain apathy about that in some regard, in that you can't live your life trying to be all things to all people. You hope to be authentic and honorable and honest, and if people don't like it, they don't like you. That's just the way that it is, and that's OK. But I've tried to do a good job of telling the truth and being vulnerable and transparent and people make their own judgements. Whatever judgement they make is OK. You keep living your story and try to be as honest as you can. I made a commitment to be like that a while ago and whatever was going to come from that was going to come from it.
What did your teammates think of "Knuckleball"?
A few guys came to the Tribeca Film Festival premiere back in April. They all really appreciated it. They liked it. It's a story about much more than baseball. It's a real narrative. That's why I was interested in lending my time and energy for it. If you were to come to me and said, "I want to make a knuckleball film about people striking out and how goofy it is and tricky it is," I would have told you that I'm not interested. But Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg made it in way that was very narrative driven. I was awed.
As the film details, you had a long road to Major League success. How does what you've been through affect your view of the next year, when you'll either sign an extension with the Mets, get traded or become a free agent?
The way it helps me is that I've been on both sides of the coin. I've had to hold what's great, fantastic and joyful about the game alongside what's hard and sad and disheartening and cruel about the game. Because of that, I feel like whatever is going to come up, I'm going to have the tools to be able to process it in the way it needs to be handled. Being in the minor leagues, going through a lot of adversity -- that helps shape you. So, the contract talks and trade talks are part of the story of what God is going to do with my life. I'm willing to open my arms to that and give up my control of that.
Do you want to stay with the Mets?
Yeah. I feel a very deep sense of loyalty to this team, which gave me an opportunity when other teams didn't. If I finished my career as a Met, I would be glad. At the same time, you don't want to be taken advantage of, and you want to be treated fairly. We're trying to work it out, and we'll see where we end up.
You mentioned in the film how hard it can be for players to stay focused when the team is out of contention. Do you think the push for your Cy Young helped motivate the team to play harder in the games you pitched?
Openly, nobody is going to say that they tried to perform better in games that I pitched. I don't think that is the case at all. But I think when I took the mound, the team believed we had a chance to win. Because of that, maybe just for a pitch or a single at-bat, they were checked in a little bit more. I would say for professional baseball players, you don't get to where you are by just trying hard for one guy and not the other. We're all playing for something, regardless of the record. You're playing for contracts, playing for the opportunity to play next year, playing for arbitration; you're always playing for something. This year, to be able to play for a milestone like the Cy Young, was really great.
Josh Hamilton's life story is being turned into a feature film with Casey Affleck writing and directing. Would something like that interest you?
Yeah! You know, I think the sharing of my story could be pertinent and relevant for a lot of people, because of some of the darkness I walked through and was able to get over. But I wouldn't be willing to relinquish complete creative control; I would want to be involved in some capacity. I really don't want a production company to sensationalize my story and make it Hollywood. I think it's inspirational enough on its own and the tendency is to use hyperbole to create drama, and I feel like my life has been dramatic enough. I'm entertaining those ideas and we'll see where it leads.
You've got some experience with writing; would you want to write the screenplay?
I think I could contribute. I wouldn't feel comfortable in that particular literary medium. I would certainly help proofread it and make adjustments here and there, but I don't think I have the energy to devote to it full-time. It was hard enough trying to write the manuscript for the other book.
I know you're a big "Star Wars" fan. What do you want to see from the recently announced "Star Wars: Episode VII"?
Man, I don't know where to begin. I think I'd like to see a little bit of the backstory of Luke and Leia; how they got where they were on Alderaan and Tatooine. I'd like to see some of that. But I'm willing to hope that whoever they put in charge of directing will want to add to the epic the way that it should be. That's a big deal. There's enough people here as far as the fan base that you don't want to mess that up.
"Knuckleball!" is available now via VOD. To pre-order the film on DVD, head over to the "Knuckleball!" website.