NEW YORK — The last missing piece from this fairy-tale run — a crown to pair with his glass slipper — wormed its way into his wardrobe a few minutes before 7 p.m. Wednesday. R.A. Dickey, the 38-year-old Mets knuckleballer who spent so many seasons toiling along baseball's fringes, completed his pauper-to-prince transformation by winning the 2012 National League Cy Young Award.
Dickey was chosen over Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw and Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez. He received 27 of the 32 first-place votes. All 32 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America who voted on the award had Dickey either first or second on their ballots.
He finished with 209 points. Kershaw was second with 96 and Gonzalez third with 93.
"It just shows you that there's not just one way to do it," Dickey said. "And it gives hope to a lot of people, because they see … you don't have to take the conventional way to get to a certain place or a certain height or to reach a certain goal. With imagination, hard work, people who love you, you can do it."
He did it by escaping the horrors of sexual abuse from his Tennessee childhood. He did it by turning to a pitch no player had ridden this masterfully. He did it by convincing an organization that his right arm still had shelf life.
His persistence culminated in a magical summer. Dickey went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA. He led the league in strikeouts (230), innings pitched (2332/3), shutouts (three) and complete games (five). In June, he threw back-to-back one-hitters against the Orioles and Rays.
Dickey became the third Mets pitcher to capture the award, joining franchise legends Dwight Gooden (1985) and Tom Seaver (1969, 1973, 1975). He also is the first knuckleballer to win.
Dickey said his victory "brings a real legitimacy to the knuckleball fraternity."
"(The voters) didn't see the knuckleball as a trick pitch," Dickey said. "They saw it as a legitimate weapon that has one purpose and that's to get big-league hitters out consistently."
Kershaw (14-9, 2.53) and Gonzalez (21-8, 2.89 ERA) are a pair of hard throwers who put together compelling cases of their own.
Voters decided that neither held a candle to Dickey, who opened the season 13-1 for a Mets team that lost its footing after the All-Star break. He finished 14 games above .500 on a team that finished 14 games below .500.
HUNTER TO TIGERS: OF Torii Hunter agreed to a two-year, $26 million deal with Detroit, pending a physical. Hunter, 37, a four-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glove winner, hit a career-best .313 last season for the Angels, along with compiling a .365 on-base percentage and a .451 slugging percentage in 140 games.
FUENTES DONE: Left-hander Brian Fuentes will retire after a 12-year career, the Merced Sun-Star of California reported. Fuentes, 37, had a 3.62 career ERA and 204 saves.
EYEING U.S.: Right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa of the Hanshin Tigers, one of the Japan League's top closers, was one of four Japanese professional players who became unrestricted free agents in hopes of moving to Major League Baseball. The other players were Seibu Lions shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, Nippon Ham Fighters infielder Kensuke Tanaka and Orix Buffaloes catcher Takeshi Hidaka.
A'S: Right-hander Bartolo Colon will be welcomed back by manager Bob Melvin, who said he is happy Colon will return after his 2012 season ended with a 50-game suspension Aug. 22 for testing positive for testosterone.
GIANTS: Left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt and the club completed an $18 million, three-year contract.