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Former Tennessee star R. A. Dickey joined an elite group today with his Major League leading 20th victory.

6:48 PM, Sep 27, 2012   |    comments
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Former Tennessee star R. A. Dickey joined an elite group today.

The New York Mets knuckleballer became the third Vol to win 20 games, and the first in 76 years.

Dickey struck out 13 and gave up three runs in seven and two-thirds innings in a 6-5 Mets win over Pittsburgh.

Here is more on Dickey's accomplishment from the University of Tennessee:

New York Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey recorded his 20th win of the season on Thursday, becoming the first former Vol in 76 years and just the third Tennessee player ever to hit that single-season benchmark.

Dickey tied his career high with 13 strikeouts and scattered three runs on eight hits over 7.2 strong innings as the Mets defeated Pittsburgh, 6-5. 

Just three years removed from being the Mets' first cut in spring training, Dickey was awash with emotion on the field after the game.

"Only God can script a narrative like that," Dickey said. "I'm just so humbled by it, I don't know what to say. It is so overwhelming. It's a nice round number. It's the culmination of a lot of hard work and a lot of people who have loved me well. It's just so fun to celebrate it with other people. That's a gift for me."

Dickey, who was coached by current UT head coach Dave Serrano and assistant coach Bill Mosiello during his time as a Vol, joins Ben Cantwell and Tommy Bridges as the only Tennessee players to win 20 games in the Major Leagues. The trio gives the Vols the most of any school in the SEC as he becomes the ninth pitcher from a current SEC program to accomplish the feat. No other school has more than one 20-game winner.

Cantwell was the first Vol to hit the 20-win mark, doing so in 1933. Bridges then won 22 games in 1934, 21 in 1935 and 23 in 1936.

The third-oldest player in MLB history to record 20 wins in a season, Dickey is also the first knuckleball pitcher to hit the threshold since Joe Niekro went 20-11 in 1980 with the Houston Astros. Dickey is the first Mets pitcher with 20 wins since Frank Viola in 1990.

A leading candidate for the National League Cy Young Award, Dickey improved to 20-6 on the season, joining Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals as the only 20-game winners in the Major Leagues. He currently leads all of Major League Baseball with 235 strikeouts, is tops in the National League with 227.2 innings pitched and ranks second in the NL with a 2.69 ERA.

Dickey, who was inducted into the Tennessee Baseball Hall of Fame in January, is the only three-time First Team All-American in Tennessee baseball history earning the honors each year from 1994-96. He was also a two-time first team All-SEC selection and an academic All-American following his junior year. In addition, he was a member of the bronze-medal winning 1996 Team USA Olympic team in Atlanta.

During his time at Rocky Top, the Nashville native wrote his name in the UT record book as the career leader in wins, appearances, games started, innings pitched and strikeouts. Dickey also holds the school single-season records for wins and innings pitched and ranks third for strikeouts.

20-GAME WINNERS FROM SEC PROGRAMS
Player                 School             Wins    Year
Doc McJames      South Carolina  27         1898
Ben Cantwell       Tennessee        20         1933
Tommy Bridges  Tennessee        22         1934
Tommy Bridges  Tennessee        21         1935
Tommy Bridges  Tennessee        23         1936
Spud Chandler     Georgia            20         1943
Rip Sewell            Vanderbilt         21         1943
Rip Sewell            Vanderbilt         21         1944
Spud Chandler     Georgia            20         1946
Frank Lary            Alabama           21         1956
Tim Hudson         Auburn              20         2000
Cliff Lee*             Arkansas          22         2008
R.A. Dickey^       Tennessee        20         2012

* - Won Cy Young Award
^ - One start remaining

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