A life pretty typical… Parents divorced when he was young. He loved sports. He dreamed of playing in the Major Leagues someday.
R.A. Dickey had his dreams come true, but with many low points along the way. And when you reach your dream and have it taken away, it probably hurts even more than never reached your dream at all.
In college, R.A. Dickey was a normal fastball, curveball pitcher (I’m going to tell you about the knuckleball and what it has to do with your marketing in a second).
In college, R.A. was an Academic All-American and won the College World Series with the Tennessee Vols.
This led him to pitching for the US Olympic team and won a bronze medal. Not bad.
Then in 1996 he was drafted by the Texas Rangers and offered a $810,000 signing bonus!!!
Dream coming true!!!
But nightmare soon followed…
A team doctor noticed in one of the Olympic photos that R.A. was holding his arm “funny.” They did tests and xrays to make sure they were protecting their investment
What they found was R.A. was missing his ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow joint. They withdrew their original offer and dropped it to $75,000.
R.A. took the offer to keep his dream alive.
R.A. bounced around the minor leagues until eventually making it up to the Majors in 2001.
He did OK, but not great during his Major League career and eventually got sent back down to the minors.
This is when R.A. reinvented himself. He became a knuckleball pitcher. A knuckleball is a pitch that has little to no rotation on the ball causing it to “dance” and “float” making it very difficult for batters to hit. (A bit more on the science in a moment)
R.A. eventually mastered the pitch and found his way back into the major leagues after a few more years in the minors.
He found his place with the New York Mets. In 2012, Dickey became the first major leaguer in 24 years to throw consecutive one-hitters. He was also selected to the All-Star team and he won the Cy Young award.
At the age of 38, R.A. is finally, truly living his dream, after many ups and downs, setbacks and struggles.
He now plays for the Toronto Bluejays where he signed a two-year, $25-million extension with a club option for a third year in 2016 at $12 million.
The knuckleball is a mystery. It’s a mystery to the pitcher, they don’t know where it’s going to go.
It’s a mystery to the catcher, they’re not sure how to catch it.
It’s a mystery to the batter, they swing and look like fools.
Pete Rose said about the knuckleball, “Trying to hit that thing is a miserable way to make a living.”
But scientists aren’t convinced.
For example, Professor Alan M. Nathan did an extensive study on the knuckleball. Studied video, researched data and compared knuckleball pitches against normal pitches and said the knuckleball flies on the same trajectory as any other pitch. The difference is so slight, 0.3 inches, that it’s hardly worth noting.
Now you have the science that tells you that a knuckleball doesn’t “dance” or “zig zag”.
And then you have the batters trying to hit the ball that tell you that it bounces all over the place.
Who is right?
Two thoughts On This…
1. Who cares about the science? Perception is reality. The person trying to hit the ball says it’s “dancing” then it means it is dancing.
This is what you have to realize with your marketing. The science, the data, the ideas, don’t mean jack.
What matters is your target market and their feelings and emotions and their perception.
2. Maybe the science is right. And that a small change, even 0.3 inches can have a drastic impact on things.
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— Darin “I can make a whiffle ball dance all over the place” Persinger