From R. A. Dickey’s Wherever I Wind Up “I understand why you are doing this, but I just want to tell you one thing: that outing last night will not define me a big-league baseball player.” I got up and shook their hands and went to my locker and put my stuff in a bag. I looked around the room and wondered if I’d ever be in a big-league clubhouse again, if I’d blown everything I’d dreamed of since I was a little kid. Two days later, the news got even worse. Daniels called to tell me the Rangers were taking me off the forty-man roster, which meant that they really had no plans for me at all. When I hung up the phone, I felt dazed and cold and hopeless. In the span of eighteen batters and sixty-one pitches, the Detroit Tigers hadn’t just thrashed me; they had sent me to a new baseball low. I wanted to believe God was looking out for me, but the truth is that I felt discarded. Why would God allow this to happen? Why would He let me get to this place, have me so close, and then rip it away from me? I was thirteen years old when I fell to my knees and accepted God as my Lord and Savior, with Anne’s brother, Bo, and her mother, Vicki, on either side of me. I was in an upstairs bedroom in their home in Nashville. I’d been talking to Bo a lot about his faith, and the Scriptures. He and I had gone together to Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings at Montgomery Bell Academy, where we went to high school together. I wanted what Bo had, and what those other athletes had. When I got up from my knees that day, I felt as if a big weight had been lifted from me. I felt the grace and mercy and lightness of God, and I wanted more of it, wanted to fast-forward through whatever steps I had to climb to get it. I talk to God every day of my life; those conversations are as real and important to me as anything in this world, but as I sat with the prospect of my seventh season as an Oklahoma City RedHawk, I admit my faith was wobbling in a big way. I already owned all of the RedHawk pitching records – not exactly what I had in mind for a career ambition. Was that going to be the top line of my resume – a RedHawk immortal? I felt angry and uncared for, under the mistaken impression that my Christian beliefs were supposed to be an insurance policy against adversity. I had a lot of growing up to do as a Christian, and as a knuckleball pitcher, and maybe even more work to do as husband to Anne and a father to my children. Was I going to be a loving and kind and faithful partner to my wife? Was I going to be a present, nurturing, loving father, so my children wouldn’t grow up the way I did? Was I going to be anything more than a career minor-leaguer, another forgotten prospect destined to play out the string on the prairie, before four hundred fans and a mascot? As I headed north out of Texas and the big leagues on Interstate 35, it was hot and quiet and the red earth just went on and on. I crossed into Oklahoma and passed through towns named Lone Grove and Springer and Joy. I passed a sign for Crazy Horse Municipal Airport and a place called Slaughterville. I was lost and confused, and in desperation, I said one more prayer. The prayer was answered.
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