Wakefield, Dickey share a unique relationship
SEATTLE -- One is almost 42 years old; the other is 33. One has won 174 games in the major leagues; the other, 18. One has been with the same team since 1995, while the other has been with four organizations since the end of 2006.But where it counts -- on the pitcher's mound -- Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey are more alike than not. Both belong to an exclusive club, which has a membership of two: themselves. Like some sort of endangered species, they are the only two current major league pitchers who throw a knuckleball. As such, they share a unique kinship. Across baseball, there are approximately 370 pitchers. Select almost any two at random, and the pair could compare notes and share common experiences. Not Wakefield or Dickey, though. Nobody knows the troubles they've seen. Or felt. Or faced. Except themselves, of course. "I don't mean this as any disrespect to conventional pitchers," Dickey said, "but it takes a special amount of fortitude to throw a 65 mph pitch to Vladimir Guerrero." Knuckleballers were never exactly rampant, but in the modern era, the game has had its share. Some -- such as Phil Niekro and Hoyt Wilhelm -- were good enough to earn induction into the Hall of Fame. Some were good enough some of the time to win 20 games multiple times (Wilbur Wood, each season from 1971 to '74) or consistently win in double figures (Charlie Hough, nine straight seasons from 1982 to 1990). Most pitched well into their 40s before retiring. But now Wakefield and Dickey stand alone, as if threatened by extinction. If they're not the last of their breed, they are, for now, the only links to the game's most unique pitch. And though they pitch for different American League teams -- Wakefield for the Boston Red Sox and Dickey for the Seattle Mariners -- and their teams face off nine times this season, they're in this together.
It's such a small fraternity. When I was coming up, it was nice to talk to guys. I remember when I worked with Charlie [Hough] for the first time, I watched him throw and carried a tape recorder with me. I can remember Phil [Niekro] standing behind the screen, watching me throw and giving me direction -- 'Take a little off this one; throw this one a little harder.' I can still hear him.
-- Tim Wakefield on knuckleball pitchers
It's lonely sometimes. You almost feel like a place-kicker on a football team. Lots of guys throw a slider or a sinker or a changeup. But only we throw knuckleballs. That's a bond that Wake and I share.
-- R.A. Dickey
MORE MLB HEADLINES
- Cubs not sure when ailing Castro will return
- Garza goal: Kick Cubs' 'teeth in every time'
- Twins lock up closer Perkins on 4-year deal
- Boras: Morales, Drew willing to wait for deals
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
- Extended Sizes - Majestic Men's Replica Seattle Mariners Robinson Cano #22 Home White Jersey