Mets' R.A. Dickey explains his famous knuckleball

The Mets' R.A. Dickey explained his famous knuckleball pitch on "CBS This Morning."

He said, "I just take my fingernails and dig in right behind the horseshoe (on the ball). ... If a conventional pitcher uses spin to manipulate the break of a ball, a knuckleballer is trained to take spin completely off. So that the break is very chaotic and unpredictable. A good knuckleball has about zero to a half revolution from the time it leaves your hand until the time it gets to the plate.

"I learned (the knuckleball) from my grandfather early on. But I was always a hard thrower so I didn't really need it. As I got older, if I wanted to keep chasing the dream of being a big league player, I had to come up with a weapon I could use and this was my ticket."

Dickey is Major League Baseball's only active knuckleballer. At 38 years old, he dominated the National League this year in strikeouts, complete games, and shutouts en route to a 20-win season and the league's Cy Young Award.

Dickey said "it was an organic thing" when he began throwing knuckleballs. "I started in 2006, and as I grew as a human being, I also grew as a pitcher, and was able to throw this thing with some consistency and that's what you have to have as a knuckleballer. You've got to be able to throw for strikes."

Asked about the characterization of his throw as "angry," Dickey said, "I think it has to do with the velocity in which I throw it. A regular knuckleball is thrown at 65 miles an hour, 70 miles an hour at the height. I throw mine between 75 and 80, so the break is a little more violent.

As for the pitch generally, Dickey credits it for lengthening his career. "It's a little bit less stress on your body. You're operating at about 60 or 70 percent capacity all the time instead of as a conventional pitcher, you're full go for 120 pitches, so it's less wear-and-tear on the body, which enables you to prolong your career a little bit."

For more with Dickey on his throw and his career with the Mets, as well as his involvement in a literacy program for kids, watch his full interview in the video above.

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