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R.A. Dickey
April 02, 2012
R.A. Dickey writes of confronting the darker sides of human nature—and the meeting that turned his baseball career around
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April 02, 2012

Moments That Make The Man

R.A. Dickey writes of confronting the darker sides of human nature—and the meeting that turned his baseball career around

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The condo has a den with a television and stereo equipment. She puts on some country music, and I find a big, bulbous set of headphones and bop around the room to Elvira by the Oak Ridge Boys.

Why don't we go upstairs, the girl tells me. I like it in the den, but O.K., she's the babysitter. She takes me into a bedroom with a four-poster bed and a bunch of pillows and stuffed animals scattered around on top of it. The bedroom is pink and frilly.

What are we doing here? Did she bring me up to play hide and seek or something? I think.

Downstairs in the living room, the babysitter's mother and my mom and a group of friends are having drinks and talking before they go out.

The babysitter chucks the pillows and stuffed animals out of the way. She looks at me and says, Get in the bed.

I am confused and afraid. I am trembling.

The babysitter has her way with me four or five more times that summer, and into the fall, and each time feels more wicked than the time before. Every time that I know I'm going back over there, the sweat starts to come back. I sit in the front seat of the car, next to my mother, anxiety surging. I never tell her why I am so afraid. I never tell anyone until I am 31 years old.

I just keep my terrible secret, keep it all inside, the details of what went on, and the hurt of a little boy who is scared and ashamed and believes he has done something terribly wrong, but doesn't know what that is.

I am in a small space, surrounded by concerned faces. The topic of the day is my lifelong run as a conventional pitcher. It is being decided on a sofa in Buck Showalter's office. The sofa is comfortable, but I am not.

Across from me are Buck, pitching coach Orel Hershiser and bullpen coach Mark (Goose) Connor. It is mid-April 2005, nine years after the Rangers drafted me. I've been a member of Buck's staff for the last two seasons, my first extended time in the big leagues. I am not even as good as marginal. My ERA was 5.09 in 2003 and 5.61 in 2004, and I give up a bunch more hits than innings pitched. I have enough promising moments to convince the front office to keep me around, but as hard as I compete I can't seem to sustain any success.

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