How About a Knuckle Sandwich

Only a few knuckleballers come around per generation, so I was pleased to learn the Mets were on the verge of signing one Tuesday. R.A. (Remarkable Athlete) Dickey has kicked around several organizations since first surfacing with Texas in 2001 and like many knuckleballers, developed the pitch only after his other stuff (including elbow ligaments) abandoned him.

Dennis Springer in '00: Get a Grip!The Mets’ have employed but two pure knuckleballers in their history. The first was righthanded reliever Bob Moorhead, who developed the delivery while on the road back to New York following a string of injuries (including, ironically, breaking two knuckles by punching a Sportsmans Park dugout door in frustration after a 1962 outing). Moorhead’s other distiction was having been the first relief pitcher ever called on in a Mets game. Moorhead wore 22 as a knuckleball dabbler in 1962 and 21 as a specialist in ’65. The Mets’ last pure knuckler, Dennis Springer, was released shortly after taking a pounding from the Reds on a frigid, wet, windy April evening at Shea in 2000. He wore No. 34.

Other Mets have included a knuckler as part of their repetoire, including relievers Jeff Innis (who threw his sidearm); Dave RobertsTom SturdivantFrank LaryWarren SpahnBob McClure and Todd Zeile, whose whole pitching career was something of a stunt. Dave Mlicki threw a knuckle curve.

The Mets for a time were developing potential knuckleball throwers in the minors. One, Zac Clements, was a converted catcher who appears to have topped out at AA Binghamton in 2006.Charlie Hough, a longtime knucleball hurler, was the Mets pitching coach in 2001 and 2002.

Dickey in the meantime only signed a minor league contract, and has had only sporadic success in the majors to recommend him, but I’l be rooting for him just the same. Knucklers of recent vintage including Tim Wakefield and Tom Candiotti wear No. 49 so as to honor Hoyt Wilhelm, one of the giants of the craft. The Mets’ current tenant of 49 is lefty Jon Niese.

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One comment

  1. Jon Springer says:

    Dickey

    Submitted by gored82 on Wed, 12/23/2009 – 9:04pm.
    So what numbers did he wear in Texas, Seattle, and Minnesota?

    I was going to get to that

    Submitted by Jon Springer on Wed, 12/23/2009 – 11:14pm.
    Really. The whole post was supposed to be about Wakefield and Candiotti and stuff, and whether Dickey could join them, but I got more into finding out about the Met knucklers and sort of forgot.

    Dickey’s one of those guys whose never been enough of a regular to gain any kind of equity in a number. I have him wearing 51 with Texas in 2001 and then 45 from 2003. He was a 41 in Seattle and most recently a 39 with the Twins. Though 39 belongs to Bobby Parnell with the Mets it was also once the uni of Dicky Gonzalez.

    report to Mollom
    44 again…

    Submitted by gored82 on Thu, 12/24/2009 – 7:49pm.
    The averaage of those is 44, so maybe if they don’t sign Bay, Dickey can wear that number…

    Christmas Morning Surprise

    Submitted by Gordon Handler (not verified) on Fri, 12/25/2009 – 9:58am.
    How nice to wake up this morning and find Kelvim Escobar under the tree. I guess the plan for 2010 is to dazzle them with middle relief. Maybe we can lead the league in holds. It looks like Pedro’s 45 won’t be in the moth balls for long. BTW, that’s our first Kelvim – not to be confused with Kelvin (Chapman and Torve).

    Escobar

    Submitted by gored82 on Fri, 12/25/2009 – 11:08am.
    If healthy, Kelvim can be a starter…

    If Healthy

    Submitted by Gordon Handler (not verified) on Fri, 12/25/2009 – 1:21pm.
    They should use that as their 2010 slogan. Has a ring to it. Sort of like ‘The Magic Is Back’.

    Jason “Flushing” Bay

    Submitted by gored82 on Tue, 12/29/2009 – 2:38pm.
    So I guess Bay will wear 44…

    I’m with Gordon

    Submitted by 9th String Catcher (not verified) on Thu, 12/31/2009 – 9:34am.
    Love the new catch phrase: “Mets 2010: If Healthy”

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