R.A. Dickey to headline Baseball's 3rd Annual First Pitch Dinner
Thursday, December 15, 2016
By Kirk Downs
R.A. Dickey to headline Baseball's 3rd Annual First Pitch Dinner

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With anticipation building for a 2017 season that expects to see the Lipscomb baseball program reach new heights, 11th-year skipper Jeff Forehand is excited to announce the 3rd Annual Lipscomb Baseball First Pitch Dinner on Saturday, January 28 inside Allen Arena, headlined by Atlanta Braves knuckleballer R.A. Dickey as the guest speaker.

The event will also include a silent auction with the doors opening at 5 p.m. before the program gets started at 6.

Along with Dickey, the night’s festivities will feature a formal introduction of the players and staff as well as Coach Forehand speaking to those in attendance about the expectations of the upcoming season.

While no purchase of tickets are required for the dinner, guests are encouraged to make donations to the program. Tables are also available with the player or coach of your choosing for $1,000.

Annual proceeds from the Bullpen Club are used to directly support Lipscomb student-athletes, coaches and staff. Donations help with upgrades to Ken Dugan Field at Marsh Stadium, purchase additional training equipment, supplement the travel budget and acquire additional items that allow the coaches and players to reach their highest potential.   

A Nashville native, Dickey attended Montgomery Bell Academy before enrolling at the University of Tennessee where he helped lead the Volunteers to three Southeastern Conference Championships and a 1995 College Baseball World Series while setting numerous program records and earning All-American honors three straight seasons. He was also a member of the U.S. national baseball team for the 1996 Olympics where he received a bronze medal.

Dickey was then drafted by the Texas Rangers 18th overall in the 1996 MLB Draft. It was only after Dickey’s photo on the cover of Baseball America sparked concerns with the Rangers head trainer that it was discovered Dickey was missing an ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his pitching arm - the essential ligament that needs to be replaced when pitchers require Tommy John surgery.

­Him being born without the ligament led to the Rangers cutting his initial signing bonus offer from $810,000 down to $75,000.

Dickey didn’t let it get him down, instead he used his high-80’s fastball and a forkball he dubbed ‘The Thing’ to rise through the ranks of the minors before debuting with Texas in 2001.

In his fifth and final season with the Rangers, Dickey entered survival mode and turned to his knuckleball as he began to reinvent his career.

In 2006 Dickey made his first big league start featuring the knuckler and proceeded to give up six home runs to the Tigers. It would be his only appearance of the season before returning to the minors, where he spent all of 2007. He then returned to the majors in 2008 with the Seattle Mariners where he went 5-8 before making 35 appearances a year later with the Minnesota Twins.

In 2010 Dickey joined the New York Mets on a minor league deal before being the first player cut in spring training. He was eventually promoted to the majors in May of that season broke out in a big way after throwing 174.1 innings and posting an 11-8 record with a 2.84 ERA, earning him a two-year extension in the “Big Apple”.

The deal paid off in 2012 when he added a National League Cy Young Award to his resume – becoming the first knuckleballer to ever win the honor.

Dickey compiled a 20-6 record with a 2.73 ERA and received 27-of-32 first place votes in balloting.

He led the National League in quality starts (27), strikeouts (230) and innings pitched (233.2) while finishing second in ERA. His three shutouts were the most by a Met since David Cone’s five in 1992 and his 20-win season marked the first for the organization since Frank Viola in 1990.

That season Dickey became the first pitcher in modern baseball history (since 1900) to record consecutive one-hit shutouts while striking out at least 10 in each start.

In December of that year, the Mets traded Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays as part of a blockbuster deal.

Dickey spent four seasons north of the border going 49-52 with a 4.05 ERA and 602 strikeouts in 824.1 innings before signing a one-year deal with the Braves in November.

The move allows the 42-year old to get closer to home, about 250 miles to be exact. Dickey will serve as an innings-eater that the Braves can rely on and will provide veteran leadership in an otherwise youthful staff.

In 14 seasons in the big leagues with five different teams Dickey has posted a 110-108 mark and a 4.01 career ERA and has rung up 1,341 batters in 1,883.2 frames.

For those unable to attend the dinner, but are interested in making a gift to the program, you can make a donation online at http://www.lipscomb.edu/bballgift.

To give by check, please make it payable to Lipscomb Baseball and mail to Lipscomb Athletics c/o Andy Lane at One University Park Drive, Nashville, TN 37204.

For more information regarding the event, please contact Andy Lane at 615-966-5853 or by email: Andy.Lane@Lipscomb.edu.

You can also contact Lipscomb baseball Director of Operations Brian Ryman at 615-966-5868 or by email: Brian.Ryman@Lipscomb.edu.

The Bisons open the 2017 season at Dugan Field on Feb. 17 with a three-game set against Oakland.