Back on June 13, 2012, I would have the opportunity to watch New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey throw one of the best games of his career at Tropicana Field.
Growing up in Tampa, Florida I picked up my New York Mets fandom from my father who is a die-hard Mets fan from Brooklyn, New York. We would make trips every spring traveling the state of Florida to catch Mets Spring Training games. During the regular season, we would catch the Mets in Miami against the Marlins, or when they would make their rare visits to Tropicana Field in Tampa.
June 13, 2012, is one night at the ballpark that is forever engrained in my mind and that I will never forget. On this night, right-hander R.A. Dickey would throw a remarkable one-hit shutout of the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
My father and I had purchased tickets for the entire series but we knew we were in for something special the night that the knuckleball virtuoso would take the mound. Dickey had been the talk of the league during the 2012 season as he was one of the best pitchers in baseball while doing it primarily with a knuckleball.
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Arriving at the ballpark a couple of hours early we were able to catch the Mets have batting practice and watch Dickey warm up in the bullpen.
While Tropicana Field is not the best stadium to watch a Major League Baseball game in, just having the opportunity to watch my favorite team up close and personal was more than enough for me.
My father and I made our way to our air-conditioned seats in section 211 in a half-filled stadium with mostly Mets fans, and we had a great view of the entire field.
Seated on the third-base side of the stadium we also had a better view of Captain David Wright playing third base as well as the controversial awarded hit in question.
The first inning started quietly with New York not scoring in the top of the inning. The team was up against Rays ace David Price and we figured we were in for a pitcher’s duel. After Price’s scoreless inning, Dickey would emerge from the Mets dugout to work his magic.
Dickey struck out the first two batters he faced in Desmond Jennings and Carlos Pena. Watching the ball come off his hand, and watching the first two batter have zero shot at making contact was a thing of beauty.
The speedy Melvin Upton Jr. would come up to the plate next and would be awarded an infield hit on a ball that David Wright could not field cleanly with his bare hand. I remember being up in arms about Upton being awarded a hit with many Mets fans in our section. Even the usher in our section believed that the ruling should’ve been scored an error.
Little did we know that play would change the complete dynamic of the game. The Mets offense would eventually pour it on David Price and the Rays with nine runs on 14 hits with the likes of Daniel Murphy, David Wright, and Omar Quintanilla each having a pair of RBI’s. But the spotlight on this air-conditioned summer night in St. Petersburg, Florida was solely on Dickey.
Dickey would absolutely mow through the Rays lineup and throw a complete-game shutout while striking out 12. The lone hit he would allow would be the controversial Melvin Upton awarded infield hit that to this day we all know should’ve been ruled an error.
The energy throughout the game in the stands was fantastic by Mets fans despite the low capacity crowd. We celebrated every strikeout and out as if Dickey was on his way to throwing a no-hitter, and we would fill the stadium with constant, “Let’s Go Mets” chants.
While all of us were disappointed we did not get to see the second no-hitter in Mets history, we did get to witness some history, as Dickey set the record for the longest streak of scoreless innings in franchise history. All of us in Tropicana Field that night also were able to have a ticket to Dickey’s historic Cy Young award-winning season.
All of us Mets fans made sure to make our way after the game to the seats behind the Mets dugout to give Dickey a standing ovation on his way off the field after wrapping up his SNY postgame interview. Dickey wasn’t a man of many words but you could see the appreciation he had for all of us Mets fans with the simple tip of his cap and smile he displayed as he walked off the field.
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But on a smaller scale, that evening while my father and I were walking back to the humid parking lot discussing the game I realized I was just happy to see the Mets win. We discussed Dickey’s remarkable game and how he could continue his extraordinary season that nobody could’ve predicted. It was the simple pleasures of baseball, and I was ready to do it all over again tomorrow afternoon and bring my broom to the ballpark to complete the sweep of the Rays.