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Queens Chronicle

Big April for R.A. Dickey

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Posted: Thursday, April 19, 2012 12:00 pm

April is shaping up to be a big month for Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey, and not just because he won his first two starts of the season. Dickey is one of the subjects of the baseball documentary “Knuckleball,” which will make its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival this Saturday evening. R.A. will speak to the audience after the screening.

This Sunday at 6 p.m. he will be signing copies of his autobiography, “Wherever I Wind Up” (Blue Rider Press), at the Barnes & Noble in Fresh Meadows. The Mets are partnering with Dickey as well, as they are offering a package on Wednesday, April 25 in which, for $100, one can take part in a pre-game Q&A with him, get an autographed copy of his book, and watch the Mets take on Jose Reyes and the Miami Marlins in the Champions Club, where one can enjoy food and soft drinks.

Dickey’s revelations about the sexual abuse he endured as a youngster have generated a lot of buzz, but that is only a tiny part of his story. What really sticks out in the narrative is his struggle to economically provide for his family by toiling away in the minor leagues after continually being released by major league teams.

Belying his placid nature, R.A. has always had a daredevil side to him, as evidenced by his climbing Mount Kilimanjaro this past winter. Dickey details how he nearly drowned trying to swim across the Missouri River from Council Bluffs, Iowa to Omaha, Neb. after being egged on by some of his minor league teammates.

The Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, an organization that was started by the late tennis great to help fund careers in the health sciences for those who otherwise couldn’t afford it, as well as educating everyone about important medical issues, celebrated its 20th anniversary with a gala at Chelsea Piers last Thursday.

There was definitely a Queens feel to the event as the AAIUH chief exec is Jamaica obstetrician Dr. Edgar Mandeville. Tennis commentator and Douglaston native Patrick McEnroe and Mike Weisman, the Emmy-winning veteran sports television producer who grew up in Flushing, were also on hand.

Gail Marquis, a member of the 1976 silver medal-winning U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team who played at Queens College, was one of the honorees. The event was co-emceed by New York Times sports columnist William Rhoden and NY1 news anchor Cheryl Wills, who grew up in Queens.

It wasn’t a happy homecoming last Friday night for Washington Wizards general manager and former Forest Hills High School hoops star Ernie Grunfeld, whose team was destroyed by the Knicks.

Ernie was surprised to learn that 2012 Big East Rookie of the Year and former St. John’s star Moe Harkless played at Forest Hills High School. He smiled when I told him that his scoring records at FHHS are still intact because Moe spent his senior year at a Connecticut prep school.

The arrival of warmer weather is a great time to hit a boardwalk with your bicycle. Cannondale, the bicycle manufacturer favored by LeBron James, has introduced the Hooligan, a compact bike that is perfect for apartment dwellers who are painfully aware that every inch of space is precious. Think of the Hooligan as the Mini Cooper of bikes.

Uncle Milton, a maker of children’s toys, has teamed up with National Geographic, for a product called Shoe Lights. This is a smart accessory to have on top of your shoes if you are riding your bicycle at night.

While on the subject of technology, a new kind of pedometer, Striiv, measures the calories you burn and the steps you take in a given day even you are not consciously thinking about exercise. This is a good product to have if you enjoy long walks in parks or on boardwalks as I do.

Speaking of walking, Neat Feat Zori is a flip-flop style sandal that has a thick sole and an orthotic arch for better foot support.

The Atlantic City Alliance, a new consortium of the famous New Jersey shore town’s hotels, held an introductory press event in Manhattan last week, where director Liza Cartmell conceded that the number of visitors has dropped and that AC is going to have to reinvent itself as something more than a gaming destination since there are casinos nearly everywhere in the Northeast, including Resorts World here in South Ozone Park.

Atlantic City should try to bring in a minor league team to help draw families and sports fans. In the 1990s the Atlantic City Surf of the Atlantic League (the same league in which play the very successful Long Island Ducks, owned by former Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson) played at beautiful Sand Castle Stadium. But the team folded because the casinos did nothing to support it, as they selfishly wanted tourists to spend every waking second in AC gambling. Apparently now the casinos are recognizing the errors of their past ways.

Welcome to the discussion.