Dickey addresses childhood abuse in book
Mets righty reveals personal past in memoir soon to be released
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Seven years ago, Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey first began writing down the stories of sexual abuse that appear in his autobiography, slated for release on Thursday. The process ultimately proved too painful for Dickey, who temporarily abandoned the project.
Now, those stories are public information. Dickey's book includes revelations of childhood sexual abuse, details of suicidal thoughts as an adult and a description of finding a syringe on the bathroom floor of the Rangers' clubhouse.
"One of the hopes I had for the book ... is that people will be able to draw something from it that might help them," Dickey said Tuesday afternoon, "whether it's to talk about it more, not to be afraid to be open with what's happened, that there are people available that will love you no matter what. I kind of grew up in a place where I didn't necessarily feel that, and a lot of that's on me."
Entitled "Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball," and written with Daily News sportswriter Wayne Coffey, Dickey's book is mostly a narrative of his journey from Minor League anonymity to Major League success. The most shocking revelations first appeared Tuesday in a 1,394-word excerpt on Sports Illustrated's website. The Daily News simultaneously published additional details, including Dickey's thoughts of suicide after having an affair.
In the book, Dickey details being sexually abused by his female babysitter as an eight-year-old in Tennessee, with his mother and the babysitter's mother in the home, unaware. He describes not only being abused "four or five more times that summer and into the fall," but also later that summer in a separate episode perpetrated by a 17-year-old boy.
"They were both situations where they could have happened to the most protected child in the world," Dickey said. "Both cases were just unfortunate incidents. And I had a lot to do with it in that I was silent about it. I didn't talk about it. I simply filed things away in the hopes that I would be able to deal with them as I got older. I wasn't very well-equipped to do that."
Now 37 years old, Dickey did not tell anyone about the abuse until he was 31.
"It doesn't ever really go away, so to speak," said Dickey, whose trek up Mount Kilimanjaro in January raised funds and awareness to combat human trafficking in India. "But you certainly can live with it in a way that you're not ashamed. Shame and fear and loneliness -- those are the sensations that you feel when something like that happens to you, and those are the sensations that I carried with me for a long, long time. So part of the effort of the book is to try to convey that a lot of good can come from sharing it.
"I hope sexual abuse is never looked at in the same way, as far as something that's taboo to talk about or something that's tough to openly discuss. We all have our issues and all have had our adversities in our lives, and that was one in particular for me that I feel like if I could have handled differently early on, things might have ended up differently. And that's part of the story."
Dickey also describes harboring suicidal thoughts several years before joining the Mets, following an episode of marital infidelity.
"Anytime you put yourself out there and you're transparent with things that are difficult, you run a risk," Dickey said. "I knew that when I wrote the book. ... I never wanted to manipulate what the reader would take away from it, but I'm sure there will be people that will ask, 'Why in the world did you do this?' There will be people that are glad that I did it and there will be people that aren't glad that I did it. You've got to kind of hold that and walk forward with your decision. I had to get to the place where I was OK with whatever reaction was going to come."
Those words were partly in reference to some of Dickey's friends, family and teammates -- anyone not in the "inner circle" of people previously familiar with his more sensational memoirs. In describing the syringe he found in the Rangers' clubhouse in 2001, for example, Dickey knows he ran the risk of alienating fellow players. But he believes Major League Baseball's clubhouse culture has evolved enough to support him.
"In this era ... there's a lot of people who have a real distaste for steroids and for being able to counterfeitly enhance yourself," Dickey said. "I think there's a lot more people who are willing to say, 'You know what, I would rather there be a great testing system in place.' And I think that speaks volumes for Major League Baseball."