With the dog days of summer winding to a close, Toronto Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey took some time to discuss everything from Seinfeld to his most memorable experience on a baseball field in this Q&A with Mike Wilner.
You’re the elder statesman in the room. What’s something some of your younger teammates do that makes you roll your eyes or shake your head?
A lot of the music that’s going on in the clubhouse sometimes makes me roll my eyes. I grew up with ‘80s and early ‘90s music, and the musical culture these days I haven’t yet acquired a palate for, and sometimes I‘ll roll my eyes at some of the stuff they put on in there.
What’s your favourite thing that you’ve discovered about Toronto?
There’s a bunch of different things that I’ve really appreciated about Toronto. My favourite thing that I’ve discovered in the four years of living here is just how diverse the community is, of people.
I spend a lot of time in the city and I like the arts, and I like just walking around the city and to see the different ethnicities that are represented, and hearing four different languages as I walk down the road, I think that’s really neat and I’ve grown to really appreciate that probably more than anything.
I’m a big public transit guy, the GO Train’s pretty good. That’s a good thing because I live out in Mississauga.
I’ve been to Algonquin and I’ve been out west, I’ve sent my family to Banff, we’ve really tried to embrace all that Canada has to offer. But Toronto, in particular for me, because I don’t have a lot of free time to get outside of the city, I’ve got to find my little nooks and crannies all over the city and Toronto has a lot of those.
What’s your comfort food?
I’m a big sweets guy, I love sweets. I have to be careful but, admittedly, I have a sweet tooth. I think my comfort food is really anything chocolate. I’m a big chocolate fan – dark chocolate, milk chocolate, all kinds of chocolate. We have a cook here, her name is Christine, and she makes the best chocolate chip cookies anywhere north of the U.S., at least. They’re delicious and and I’ve fallen in love with those.
Were you shocked about the slight differences when you got here? Stuff we have here that you don’t have in the U.S. and vice versa?
There’s a lot of differences like that, the real minutiae but at the same time differences nonetheless. Even the bagged milk, I know J.A. Happ and I have discussed that a lot. There’s not a lot of brewed sweet tea up here, like in the south you go and you order sweet tea you know it’s been brewed and up here it’s more of a syrup. Little things like that are different.
If you could bring one TV show back from your youth, what would it be?
There’s no question, it’d be Seinfeld for me. I love Seinfeld, I’ve seen every episode. That was an iconic show for me, for a lot of people probably in the ‘90s. I’d bring that back right away.
What’s the greatest thing you’ve ever seen happen on a baseball field?
Inning 7 of Game 5 last year in the 2015 ALDS. That’s something I don’t think we’ll ever see again, maybe. There’s a possibility we will never see an inning like that again, and to be on the good side of an inning like that, you’ll never forget it.
Who’s your best friend in the game?
I’ve got a lot of great friends. I’d say J.A. Happ’s one of them. Kevin Slowey, who is a one-time pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, we hiked Kilimanjaro together.
I’ve got a lot of great relationships in the game, that’s one of the things I’ve really been thankful for.
It’s hard to single out one particular relationship, but those two guys have meant a lot to me in the latter part of my career in particular. Early on there was a guy named Jonathan Johnson who was drafted a year before me with the Texas Rangers – we’re really good buddies. I’ve got a lot of great relationships and glad of it.
“Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” Great song or greatest song ever?
That’s a great song. I don’t think it’s the greatest song ever but if I’m surfing channels and that comes on, I’m not changing it, for sure. Wham!’s good, there’s no doubt about it. George Michael’s (solo stuff is) good, too.
You’re a Star Wars guy – your opinion on Jar Jar Binks?
I could have done without him, I think. But at the same time he had a much more valuable purpose than people give him credit for. I think they got annoyed with him early and kind of discarded him, but his character arc is pretty interesting.
Who’s the best player you ever saw who never made it as a star in the big leagues?
That’s a tough one, there’s a few who come to mind. There’s a guy named Mike Hessman who I really enjoyed playing with. A great power hitter in the minor leagues, he might even have the most home runs in the history of the minor leagues. I played with him, I always thought that he was going to be able to come up and be a 20 home run a year guy, but just never really got an opportunity to do it consistently.
There’s been some arms out there, too. There’s a guy who comes to mind early on in my career who they thought was going to be the next Pedro Martinez. His name was Juan Dominguez, from the Dominican Republic. He ended up kind of just fizzling out. It’s amazing how that can happen, these guys with a seemingly great future in front of them but for whatever reason can’t figure it out at this level.
You’re a big vocabulary guy and I’ve heard you compliment reporters on their lexicon. What’s your favourite word?
Lexicon’s pretty good, I like that one. I don’t know, I like multi-syllable words, I think they make for an interesting conversation. I like the word serendipitous, it’s always been a favourite of mine. I like – big poetry guy, right? – so any consonants in a sentence I kind of pay attention to. It’s something I’ve always been interested in, English was my major in college. It keeps life interesting.