PHILADELPHIA – When he walks into Citi Field as a member of the Atlanta Braves next Tuesday, R.A. Dickey’s memories of New York will begin to flow.
Dickey arguably has his fondest baseball memories of his 22-year career during his three-year stint in the Big Apple where has won 39 career games, 20 when he captured the Cy Young Award in 2012.
At age 42 and with a building Braves club that includes recent former Met Bartolo Colon, Dickey is at the stage where baseball has become surreal. He can cherish the memories and also face the future with a calm state.
It continues to be a rite of passage with roads renewing perspectives.
I have a number of moments in that part of my journey that I hold close to my heart,” Dickey said. “I don’t have any ill will towards the Mets. I had a great relationship with Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins. I absolutely loved playing for him.
“In 2012, it was a magical year for me and I also got a chance to see the Mets’ first no-hitter when Johan (Santana). There was a real connection with the working-class fan base of the Mets. There were so many good people during my time there.
“You can always relate to a number of things when you go back to a former club. I’ll always remember Texas because that’s where I got started and also threw my first knuckleball. But New York is on a much deeper level for me. I truly can’t say anything bad about it.”
Dickey recalled how he gravitated to the suburbs and found the closest resemblance to his Tennessee roots.
“I liked the city, but I had much more proclivity for the suburbs,” Dickey said. “I settled in Manhasset and also got to explore Long Island quite a bit. It was a matter of t getting away from the city. Being from Nashville, I appreciated the yards, streets, and the neighborhoods. It was a place to get away from the field to decompress. I related to it, and it became a sanctuary place for me.”
The right-hander also didn’t allow the media pressure to affect him.
“I just tried to communicate clearly,” said Dickey about dealing with the media. “I learned how to embrace it. I became pretty good friends with many members of the media as we had great conversations about all kinds of things
“I knew I had to have the right perspective. Things are said to print papers and hyperbole was always used, I never had an issue. If you’re thin-skinned, it’s tough there.”
Dickey signed a one-year deal with the Braves and morphed into a starter and mentor. It also has been a memorable rid with the Braves.
“I was brought here to help bring some stability and helped some younger guys further develop in the system so they can be impactful,” he said. “I enjoy being in a leadership role and I know I still have to perform.
“I get to play for a team that I idolized as a kid. I went to my first game in 1984 and remember seeing guy like Dale Murphy, Jeff Blauser, Tommy Glavine and I can list them all. It is fun being here.
“As for the Mets, they have talent, but they will need depth. Some of their guys have history of injuries and they will need a lot of guys in the stable.”
Dickey realizes that most of his accomplishments are in his rear-view mirror, and his future could take a different route .
“I see myself being a full-time father because I have four kids who are 15 and under,” he said. “I have two daughters who are 14 and 15 and I’d like to be there for their high school years. I really don’t know how life will be after baseball.
“Part of me says that I might have something to offer, whether it be broadcasting or coaching. The other part of me says that I should walk away from the game for good, leave my story behind, and enjoy my journey for what it was.”
For Mets’ fans, it was sure worth it.