When R.A. Dickey was guest at a David Lipscomb University luncheon in March, there were about 50 people in attendance.
When the New York Mets pitcher was invited back for another guest appearance on Thursday, there were about 500 people there. Because of the size of the crowd, the monthly event had to be moved to the basketball court in Allen Arena.
When you win a Cy Young Award, as Dickey did last month, your life and requests for your time changes dramatically. You get on David Letterman and Larry King shows.
But at the Q&A session, Dickey remained his same, modest, humble self from the time he grew up as a star pitcher at Montgomery Bell Academy.
He began 2012 with a climb to the top of 19,500-foot Mount Kilimanjaro in January, finished writing his book, Wherever I wind up,’’ then, at 37 years old won 20 games for the first time in his career and became the first knuckleballer to win the Cy Young Award.
Some of the topics Dickey addressed included:
• His unbelievable season: “It is miraculous all the things that have happened for me. I couldn’t have scripted everything any better.”
• His 2012 baseball highlight: “Certainly, winning the Cy Young. Also walking off the field in my final home game (Sept. 27) when I got my 20th victory and hearing the cheers of the fans.
“By the way, when you get a pie in the face, it’s always better with whipped cream, rather than shaving cream, because the shaving cream kind of stings your eyes.”
• About contract talks, particularly in view of the Mets opening the bank for third baseman David Wright who Wednesday signed a $138 million, eight-year contract. Dickey is under his final year of contract for next season for $5 million, then becomes a free agent:
“I totally understand the Wright situation, he is a superstar, a great player, I get that. But I think my leverage power has gone up.”
Some reports say Dickey’s name is included in trade talks with the Mets and Texas or Toronto.
When a phone rang, he joked, “that may be Toronto calling.” He added: “If I do get traded, I want to be on a team that is contending rather than one that stinks.”
• About Johan Santana becoming the first pitcher in the 50-year Mets history to throw a no-hitter in June against the Cardinals:
“I was so happy for Johan. It got that whole monkey off our back, the questions of, ‘When are you guys ever going to pitch one’ that we didn’t have to answer any more.”
• Reaction from friends after winning the Cy Young:
“Just after the announcement, I received 178 phone messages and texts. The only two I answered immediately were those of Charlie Hough and Phil Niekro (knuckleball pitchers of the 1980s). They were the ones who were so instrumental in teaching me how to throw it and saving my big league career.”
• About sustaining his motivation after seeing so many setbacks along the way:
“You continue with the question, “Is it worth it? You play162 games in 182 days, can you do this? It was like when I was climbing Kilimanjaro, you’re asking yourself the same question. At the end of the day, you say, yes, it’s definitely worth it. You can do this. Particularly when you have a strong belief in God who has willed this for me. Also having a wonderful, loyal wife who encourages me like I do, as well as people around you who love you and offer so much encouragement.”