Book Review: Wherever I Wind Up by R.A. Dickey
by R.A. Dickey, with Wayne Coffey
Blue Rider Press, 2012
We know of the successes: marriage to a beautiful woman, four healthy children, the 2012 National League Cy Young Award, and big league contracts. From a distance, R.A. Dickey leads a utopian life of the kind we all dream about.
His book lays out the challenges we didn’t know about: childhood heartbreak, struggles with the vagaries of baseball life, damaged self-confidence, and, of course, the elusive knuckleball. Zoomed in close, R.A. Dickey grapples with a life that just doesn’t seem to give him a break.
A cover blurb from Sports Illustrated reads: “The finest piece of non-fiction baseball writing since Ball Four.” Like Ball Four by Jim Bouten, this book gives us behind-the-scenes insights into minor and major league baseball—some cringe worthy—and Dickey shares his views on teams, teamwork and team building. But Wherever I Wind Up differs from Bouten’s book in significant ways. Dickey is kinder, first of all. He writes about other people, even those who dumped the most significant obstacles onto his path, with compassionate fairness. This is a book about baseball, true, but the baseball is almost incidental to what’s really going on here. This book is really about R.A. Dickey evolving a troubled relationship with an alcoholic mother into a loving one, delving into the effects of childhood sexual abuse on his life, and persevering to succeed against physical, financial and emotional odds.
In other words, it’s a book many people will relate to on a non-baseball level.
And it’s about faith. Dickey relies on his Christian faith to guide him through the challenges. He refers to biblical quotes: “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope . . . ” (Romans 5: 3-4). He includes written prayers.
God is a touchstone for Dickey.
The book concludes with R.A. Dickey reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, and then later that year receiving the Cy Young Award. It ends on a high note. Since then, Dickey has signed with the Toronto Blue Jays and has seen life dump some more of those obstacles in his path. Dickey grapples with a life that just doesn’t seem to give him a break. The team struggles, and while he’s had some successful outings, more than once batters have feasted on his knuckleballs. I don’t know what the rest of 2013 holds for him or his team, but one thing I do know for sure, R.A. Dickey is praying.
Posted on May 8, 2013, in Book reviews, Books I bought, Memoir, Non-fiction and tagged Ball Four, baseball, Cy Young Award, major league baseball, Mount Kilimanjaro, overcoming child sexual abuse, R.A. Dickey, Sports Illustrated, Toronto Blue Jays, wayne coffey. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.