In baseball terms, Middle Tennessee pitchers batted 1.000 Wednesday.
David Price and R.A. Dickey won the American League and National League Cy Young Awards, respectively.
The awards, which annually recognize the top pitcher in each league, were determined by a vote of select members of the Baseball Writers Association of America and the winners were revealed live on MLB Network.
“It means a ton,” Price said during the broadcast. “This is very humbling. … My legs are shaking. I’m extremely happy right now. I don’t set individual goals … so if I didn’t have my teammates out there … without those guys none of this was possible.”
Added Dickey: “It’s a great honor, and I am not a self-made man by any stretch of the imagination. There have been countless people who have poured into me into a way that has changed my life.”
To say they got to the top differently is an understatement.
Dickey, 37, became the first knuckleballer ever to win the award and was an overwhelming choice. The New York Mets right-hander was named first on 27 of the 32 ballots cast.
Price, 27, won by the smallest margin in American League history. The Tampa Bay Rays left-hander was named first on 14 of the 28 ballots, second on 13 and third on one for a total of 154 points. Detroit’s Justin Verlander, the 2011 winner, was named first on 13, second on 13 and third on the other two. Voters named five players on ballots and points were awarded as follows: seven for first, four for second then three, two and one.
The only time the vote was closer was 1969, when Mike Cuellar and Denny McLain shared the award.
“I don’t even know what to say right now,” Price said. “I have a lot of emotions going through my body right now. To be on a ballot with guys like Justin Verlander and [third place] Jered Weaver, they’re in this conversation every year. … My hat’s off to those guys. They pitched their tails off all year and I’m very happy.”
Price, a Murfreesboro native and former Vanderbilt All-American, is becoming a regular in his own right. He was the runner-up following the 2010 season.
On the other hand, Dickey, a Nashville native and former University of Tennessee All-American, was nowhere near one of the game’s best pitchers for much of his career. He pointed out that in 2010, for example, he was the first player the Mets cut during spring training.
His switch to, and master of the knuckleball, however, transformed him into what BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O’Connell “one of the feel-good stories of 2012.”
“My hopes always outweighed my doubts, which kept me going,” Dickey said. “… I’ve had a lot of people encourage me through some pretty dark times with the knuckleball and in life. So, this is the culmination of a lot of people. I’m just the piece on the game board, so to speak.”
Dickey topped the National League in strikeouts (230), complete games (five), innings pitched (227.2), shutouts (three) and quality starts (27). He was second in both wins (20) and earned-run average (2.73).
Price led the American League in wins (20) and ERA (2.56) and was sixth with 205 strikeouts.
“I’m pumped right now,” Price said. “My legs are like noodles and I don’t think I could be any happier right now.
“Baseball is forever evolving. If you don’t change with it, you’re going to get left in the dust. That’s something I’m looking forward to. … I’m looking forward to the 2013 season, … but I’m going to enjoy this for now. This is definitely a good part of my offseason.”