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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Celebrating a Knuckleballer's Otherness

CONTEST UPDATE: WE HAVE OUR WINNERS.

Knuckleball is classified as a documentary, but that’s not quite right. At the very least, it should be cross-referenced as a romance. When you watch the DVD — three copies of which we’re happy to offer those who win our contest below — you’ll fall in love with R.A. Dickey all over again.

This may be a dangerous time to remember how fond you were of Dickey, in case you’ve somehow forgotten. R.A.’s in Toronto, and all we have left of him are our memories and what stand now as two welcome memorials to his time here.

Dickey’s book, Wherever I Wind Up, is out in paperback. It includes a new epilogue covering 2012: his climb up Kilimanjaro; the reaction to his published revelations of the child abuse he suffered; his experience on the bench watching Johan Santana throw the Mets’ first no-hitter — wherein somebody sadly/sloppily attributed Lucas Duda’s home run to Kirk Nieuwenhuis; and his Cy Young season (he loved us appreciating his 20th win as much as we loved appreciating it). Nothing about the trade or the contract-extension negotiations that went awry in advance of it. As if to remind us a year has gone by since Dickey’s journey was literally and figuratively elevated to dizzying heights, the cover of the paperback edition features R.A. in no immediately discernible uniform, whereas the front of the hardcover version, discussed here last summer, portrayed him as a Met.

As does Knuckleball, the movie released to festivals and art houses in 2012, when it was impossible to imagine R.A. Dickey as anything but a Met. Even if you read Wherever I Wind Up and soaked up every iota of Dickeyana that came along as he was regularly befuddling opposing batters (it’s hard to say they were hitters), you’ll want Knuckleball anyway. You’ll want R.A. Dickey as a Met, lovingly and gorgeously preserved in action. You’ll want R.A. talking the knuckler and being the knuckleballer. You’ll want to hear him address and evince that certain “otherness” that made him so attractive to us. That’s the heart of the movie, that this is a pitch almost nobody throws (even if, as R.A. says with the tiniest speck of resentment, almost everybody thinks they can) and, ergo, nobody can really understand what it means to throw.

R.A. and his fellow knucklers get the pitch and they get each other. It’s what binds the fellowship among Dickey, Tim Wakefield, Charlie Hough and Phil Niekro. We meet them, too, though there’s no doubt who we’re most interested in. Those guys are important to the story nonetheless. Anybody with enough strength can throw a fastball. It takes a village to deliver a knuckleball.

But all it will take to get a copy of Knuckleball delivered to you is to win our contest, sponsored by MPI/FilmBuff, which is graciously providing three DVDs for Faith and Fear readers. The package includes not just the movie but a couple of hours of absorbing extras: a lot of Jim Bouton, a helping of Tom Candiotti, a visit to R.A.’s high school, some chat from some managers and so forth. Yes, you will want to win one of these.

And how can you do that? By answering a not terribly long, not terribly difficult (if reasonably challenging) Faith and Fear quiz, presented here:

CONTEST UPDATE: WE HAVE OUR WINNERS

1. R.A. Dickey pitched three one-hitters as a Met. Who were the culprits who broke up each potential no-hitter in those respective games?

2. In R.A. Dickey’s first season on the Mets, he led all starters on the staff in ERA. Who led the team in wins and strikeouts, respectively?

3. Which two longtime Mets broadcasters of yore hailed from R.A. Dickey’s home state?

4. In the only game R.A. Dickey pitched at Shea Stadium, who was the one player to register three hits off him?

5. Who joined Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez in the SNY booth the night R.A. Dickey beat the Detroit Tigers at Citi Field in 2010? (Hint: the answer is not Ron Darling.)

6. Two future Mets besides R.A. Dickey were selected in the first round of the 1996 amateur draft — who were they?

7. What name did Gary Cohen assign the series in which R.A. Dickey won his first game as a New York Met as soon as that series was over?

8. R.A. Dickey pitched a minor league one-hitter that facilitated his getting called up to the Mets. Who got that one hit against him?

9. Who were the respective first and last batters R.A. Dickey struck out as a Met?

10. What did you love most about R.A. Dickey’s tenure as a New York Met? (No correct answer — I’m just curious.)

The first three sets of correct answers (do not leave No. 10 blank) to be sent to faithandfear@gmail.com by Thursday, March 28, 11:59 PM EDT will win the DVD from MPI/FilmBuff. And if you don’t win, or you want to take the easy way out, you can purchase Knuckleball here.

And if you’re looking for the revised edition of Wherever I Wind Up, you can check it out here; it’s worthwhile despite that Nieuwenhuis/Duda mixup.

Thanks to Knuckleball,  you can still have a little Dickey now…and, presumably, a lot of d’Arnaud later.

CONTEST UPDATE: WE HAVE OUR WINNERS

3 comments to Celebrating a Knuckleballer’s Otherness