R.A. Dickey is the epitome of someone who has overcome adversity. From his struggles off the field, to the those on it, he's never given up hope.
He is the master of the knuckleball, a pitch that so infuriates hitters, they are beaten before the at-bat begins.
Dickey, the 2012 National League CY Young award winner and current member of the AL East leading Toronto Blue Jays, goes above and beyond what's expected. He's partnered up with Dickies, the clothing line known for its durability, hard work, and dedication, to recognize people just like him. People who've overcome struggles in life and have refused to give up.
The GM’s Perspective: Mr. Dickey, the main theme of the partnership with Dickies is perseverance and having a never die attitude. Why was this partnership so important for you to make a reality?
R.A. Dickey: The guys at Dickies came up with a way to relate everyday…I am trying to figure out a perfect way to put this because, I think this is a really a brilliant idea. I think that Dickies cares about people’s stories, to be frank. They also want to recognize people who have faced hard times and have refused to quit. The story that I have is fairly unique and I think that the partnership that we have together makes sense for us to invite people to share their own narratives with us. Precisely, their narrative of being able to overcome something in their own life that may have been difficult, and I think that serves two purposes. It’s a great platform to be able to impact other people with their stories of overcoming their tribulations or adversity. It also gives them a cathartic way to talk about the things they have done in their own lives. It’s a real neat partnership I have with Dickies, and I think we came up with it together.
GMs: With the purpose of this collaboration, you’re going to see and hear hundreds and thousands of stories of people who have overcome struggles in their life. And with the struggles that you’ve had and the adversity that you’ve battled through, like you said, it’s a perfect partnership. I think people will really enjoy it and you’ll find that there are genuine people in this world that now have a platform to tell their story.
RAD: That’s the hope. At the end of the day, our hope is that people will be vulnerable with their stories and that in-turn, will really impact people for the positive, not to mention, it might do something for themselves. My baseball career has been all about working harder than the next guy and persevering when my back was against the wall. Dickies shares that commitment to hard work and dedication.
GMs: I would like to think this "Throw Us Your Knuckleball" contest, a contest that will give one lucky winner an ultimate outdoor adventure, will generate thousands of awe inspiring stories. Do you plan on continuing this partnership after this year?
RAD: This is my second year working hand-in-hand with Dickies and we both hear life messaging that we hope to promote. I enjoy the company, it’s an American company, it’s a company I really believe in and have worn their stuff for a number of years. My hope is that it will be an ongoing partnership at least while I’m a competitive baseball player.
GMs: I watched the video of you surprising the rec-league team with an in-game "clinic" so to speak (Click here to view). What was that experience like for you and how did the players respond after?
RAD: It was great, man. All the planning that those guys did was fantastic. I rolled up and they were playing in the middle of their game. Of course the pitching coach goes out to make a pitching change and I come in to be the relief pitcher, and people were looking on in disbelief.
I went into it wanting to have some fun with it, but I came away with a real appreciation for these men who have regular 9-5 jobs, but they’re so passionate about the game that on their free time, they’re out there playing, and enjoying it with their families. It was just a great opportunity to spend time with people and get to hear a little bit about their own lives.
GMs: You don’t see a lot of high profile athletes do things like this. For you to go out there and take time out of your busy schedule, it shows the type of person you are. You’re willing to give back and hangout with anybody.
RAD: I appreciate that, thank you.
GMs: I played college and professional baseball, but nowhere near the heights that you have reached, and I battled the stigma of "you are not big/good enough to play professionally". How does Dickies share that commitment to hard work and dedication? What can you say to an athlete striving to reach the next level, or someone going through a difficult time in their life?
RAD: That’s a great question. There’s so many things I like to say, I kind of have to put it in a nutshell. The thing I would try to impart upon anybody, regardless of athletics or wanting to become a doctor, a musician, or whatever they endeavour to do in life, understand that anything worth doing is probably not going to be easy. It does require a good amount of hard work. There are no shortcuts in life. I tell my kids (I’m married and have four kids), all the time that there’s no replacement for hard work. The knuckleball has become a symbol of the challenges that Dickies fans face each day. They have a never-give-up attitude whether they’re on or off the job. Beyond that, we should all hang-on to hope. Continue to dream big, continue to hope for things, and even if they seem beyond your stars continue to hope for them. Strive everyday with dedication and hard work to achieve those things. You may not reach them, but you will reach heights that you never thought that you could.
GMs: You have battled through adversity at many points in your life, not just on the field, but off of it. Your story, along with Dickies participation, will inspire many people out there, probably more than you know. What do you hope people realize or understand after the contest has concluded?
RAD: My hope is that people feel very valid. One of the things that haunt people, I know it haunted me, is the idea that I’m not valid. My adversity has been fairly dark, but there are other people who are out there who’ve had similar experiences. Most of the time, through those experiences, we all have this feeling that we are not valuable. The hope is that if people share their stories, and see that there’s real validity in sharing their stories because it impacts other people and gives them a voice, and they come away feeling valuable.
That’s my hope. I hope that all this, people that risk sharing their story about overcoming adversity, from the smallest to the greatest story, I feel some sense of value in that.
That’s our gift. Our gift is our journey. It’s our narrative. Sometimes it doesn’t look pretty, but at the end of the day, it can really be of help to people.