Sunday, December 26, 2010

RA Dickey: The True Meaning Of Christmas

For all those out there in the blogosphere who celebrate, we here at 24 Hours...hope you all had a joyous Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, unfortunately with each passing year, the true meaning of Christmas is lost; lost on selfishness, presents, spending money, and getting "what I want."

Fortunately, this attitude and mentality is not that way with Mets knuckleballer RA Dickey.

In today's
New York Daily News, Roger Rubin has a wonderful article on Dickey and his compassion for people. Dickey, who spends his off-season with his wife and four children in Tennessee, reached out and touched the life of Jennifer Lanzaro, a 33 year old woman that was stricken with sever Cystic Fibrosis.

Lanzaro had, as quoted in the News:

"...reached out to the Mets after the season with a wish to speak on the phone with Dickey. He was thrilled to do it and they chatted about baseball for more than a half hour. Her uncle, James Lanzaro, was in the room and watched her light up."

The sad part is that Ms. Lanzano passed away on November 13th, less than two weeks after Dickey's call. Dickey took the news hard, saying:

"It's terribly unfortunate. I wanted to invite her and her family to come see us at Citi. I'm really feeling for their family."

Jennifer's uncle, James Lanzaro, after witnessing the phone call, added:

"When they spoke it, was like she already knew him. She knew every stat, every player on the team. Watching how happy she was, you would have thought they were best friends."

Nuke LaLoosh had been Jennifer's favorite player, but she was intrigued by Dickey because he was the underdog who won. The one who was among the first cut by the Mets in Spring Training last year and who made it to the big club and went 11-9 with a respectable 2.84 ERA.

Continuing, her uncle said:

"She loved that he was an underdog and a fighter - you could say just like her. He will be remembered by our family for what he did."

Dickey's modesty is apparent. When speaking on his role as a ballplayer, Dickey offered:

"It seems what we do is important, though I don't really feel like I'm more important than anybody else. I guess it's because of the work (baseball players do) and joy people get from watching baseball. ... It was a great honor to just make a difference only if it was for a short time."

"Really it almost seemed like she just wanted to listen to me talk about playing with the Mets. I just let her be excited."

Dickey can only empathize with the Lanzaro loss. Family is of the utmost importance to the Dickey clan, who are expecting their fourth child, a son, around the Opening Day. Dickey is sure not to go two weeks without seeing his wife, Anne, and their three children. If that means on an off day his day might start at 4AM for a 6AM flight out of LaGuardia, just to spend 24 hours with his family.

Each year Anne and RA remove their kids from school a month early:

"We'll talk to the principal and teachers to find out exactly what they'll need to learn and what will be covered in the days they miss and then my wife and I will teach them at home. Baseball and family is an unhealthy dynamic, so we try to do things the way they should be done."

Comparing that to his encounter with Jennifer Lanzaro:

"It meant something to me. I'd hate to say Christmas brings it out more than other time. It shouldn't be more important than anything you do in July. But if there's one thing about this time of year, it fills me with a sense of gratitude.

"This is a time of year that makes you want to spread joy and do things for others."

Is what Dickey did important? Did it mean anything? The answer is a resounding "YES!"

Just ask James Lanzaro, who said:

"(Dickey) should know that everything he did made a difference. He will always be in our hearts for that."

Society, let alone baseball, needs more men like RA Dickey, who proves that just because you are successful, does not mean you are above others. Dickey is a testament to that.

What is the true meaning of Christmas? Just ask the Dickey's and the Lanzaro families.

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