If you follow baseball you know that R.A. Dickey, MLB”s lone knuckleballer, is absolutely lighting it up the first half of the 2012 season. Yet it has not always been this way for Dickey. In fact many that are beginning to hear his name will be surprised to learn that he is 37 years old. He has spent much of his career as a 4A pitcher—which to those that are not familiar with baseball terminology means that he was not quite good enough for the major leagues but a little too good for the minor leagues. Most of his career has been spent bounced around from club to club between the major league and the minor league.
Yet this story is not solely about baseball. And that is what makes it one of the best biographies on baseball that I have ever read. Most sports biographies, though interesting at times, are really more akin to the interviews you hear after games. “What were you thinking on the 2-2 fastball, Jim?” “Well, I was sitting fastball and I couldn’t believe that I hit it over the outfield wall. This one really goes to the team. Oh, and a big thanks to Jesus who continues to make me awesome”, replies an out of breath Jim.
Wherever I Wind Up goes much deeper. Dickey opens up the depths of his soul. He discusses his childhood sexual abuse and the shaming effects that it had on him for the rest of his life. Dickey also talks about his redemption. And though the book closes before his breakout 2012 season the reader is given the idea that Dickey’s pitching career is about to finally take off.
Dickey is also a strong Christian. Usually when you hear that and read a sports biography by a “strong Christian” it’s really nothing more than Jesus being a genie in a bottle that gives athletic success and deserves all the props and praise. You don’t get that idea with R.A. Dickey. He’s gut honest about his struggles, his doubts, and his hypocrisy. He’s openness with his feelings of shame and worthlessness are helpful to fellow strugglers. Dickey’s memoir at times feels like reading one of the Psalms.
Personally, I loved the book. I read a ton and sometimes I have a stack of books that are on my desk simply because I agreed to review them. It is rare that a book will almost call out to me and demand to be read. For some reason this book did just that. I had assumed that it was because of my love for Jesus and baseball (in non-comparable order). Little did I know that the Lord would use this book to open up deep wells in my heart.
Minus the fame, money, and ability to pitch a knuckleball much of R.A. Dickey’s story is my story. As he talked about some of his struggles and feelings it hit my heart like a piercing arrow. I could see myself in Dickey. My only feelings of shame and inadequacy. Even down to the inability to handle applause and successes. I felt like I was reading my own story just glossed over with a few different details.
One particular quote from Dickey’s counselor, Stephen James, that struck me and is motivating me to begin anew facing some of the demons from my past.
If you aren’t willing to face your demons—if you can’t find the courage to take on your fear and hurt and anger—you might as well wrap them up with a bow and give them to your children. Because they will be carrying the same thing…unless you are willing to do the work.
Thank you R.A. Dickey for being honest in your story. Thank you for pointing to Jesus and his redemption. Thank you for showing at least a part of the process. Thank you for encouraging me to “do the work”.
Should You Buy It?
Though this book opened up wounds and tore off a few scabs it was still a pleasurable read. No, wait. It wasn’t pleasurable. I think it could be for some people but for me it was more needed than it was pleasurable. Nonetheless, I would recommend the book to almost anyone. (You might not want to give it to younger kids as Dickey is pretty graphic in some parts about things in his past).
This is a super book if you like baseball and/or stories of redemption.