The knuckleball has a rich, quirky history, but New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey is the first knuckleballer to win the Cy Young Award. (Kathy Willens/AP)

New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey has been named the 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner. He’s the first knuckleball pitcher to earn the honor.

This season, Dickey posted a 20-6 record with a 2.73 ERA and led the N.L. in strikeouts. He received 27 of the 32 first-place votes.

The fraternity of knuckleballers is a small one. After bouncing in and out the big leagues for years, Dickey eventually adopted the quirky, slow-moving pitch that’s deadly when it’s working and dead when it isn’t. According to the Los Angeles Times, he got help from three guys who know the knuckleball well: Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, Charlie Hough and Tim Wakefield, who was still pitching for the Boston Red Sox when Dickey started throwing it.

In 2011, Bill Littlefield interviewed Wakefield about his autobiography, Knuckler, at Fenway Park. Wakefield told Bill that knuckeballers “have to have the mind of a Zen Buddhist and the fingertips of a safe cracker.”

Hear our complete interview with knuckleball pitcher Tim Wakefield and see Bill’s notes on Knuckler.