While in college at the University of Tennessee, he was named Academic All-American and Academic All-SEC. He is also a member of the 1996 US Olympic Baseball team that won a bronze medal. He is a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves and one of only two active players in the majors who is skilled at throwing a knuckleball as a primary pitch. He has also played for the Texas Rangers, New York Mets, and Toronto Blue Jays among other teams. In 2012, he played in his first All-Star Game, became the first knuckleball pitcher to win the Cy Young Award, and in 2013 received an honorary doctor of sacred letters degree from Wycliffe College in Toronto.
He describes his life and salvation experience in a 2015 article for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. In June of 2007, his life, professional baseball career, and marriage were falling apart. Under the intense pain of being sexually abused by a 13-year-old female babysitter at the age of 8 and being molested by an older teenager in that same year, he felt the best way out was through suicide. At 32, he jumped into the Missouri River but it wasn’t God’s time for him to go. One of his teammates tracked him along the riverbank and reached in to pull him out of the river’s darkness.
God mercifully saved his life. He said, “I felt like He had a strong pull on my heart from then on. Whether I always pursued that was something else, but He always pursued me. Only God’s imagination can script a story like mine….I am amazed—and I’m not. I know that sounds funny. I feel loved, sure, and His grace is abundant in my life, but I also feel a responsibility. He’s given me things to do. It makes me feel like a tool in a good sense of the word, like he’s using me to make a difference this side of eternity. I feel a real purpose in that. That’s just His way. It also helps me to believe in a God that big. I’m never hopeless.”
He wrote in his 2012 memoir, “Wherever I Wind Up”: “The Missouri may not be holy water and people may not go there to be baptized and seek absolution of their sins, but nobody can tell me that God didn’t use it to humble me and help me and recharge my faith and reset my focus. I jumped in to prove my worth and failed spectacularly, but wound up with one of the greatest gifts of my life. What a deal. What a day—the day God’s grace showed me how to stop clinging … and start living.”
His name is Robert Allen Dickey.