PHOENIX -- When he was an Olympic athlete in 1996, R.A. Dickey attended every event that he could. He was "front and center" when injured gymnast Kerri Strug stuck the landing on her final vault, helping the American women win gold in Atlanta. He was there when sprinter Michael Johnson set an Olympic record in the 400 meters. He attended the Opening Ceremonies alongside the men's basketball Dream Team.
"I went to water-polo events, track-and-field events," Dickey said Friday, with the 2012 Opening Ceremonies in London airing on a clubhouse television behind him, "I just really tried to experience that part of it, and it was awesome."
Dickey is one of four Mets with Olympic ties, joining pitcher Jon Rauch (Sydney, 2000), first-base coach Tom Goodwin (Seoul, 1988) and general manager Sandy Alderson, who helped assemble the roster for the 2000 United States baseball team. The knuckleballer's bronze medal sits at home in Nashville, in what he considers one of the top three highlights of his baseball career.
The Olympics meant just as much to Rauch, whose gold medal from the 2000 Games spends most of its days locked away in a safe. Rauch said he continues to keep in touch with as many of his Olympic teammates as he can, though most are long retired from their playing days.
"Being around the whole environment of the Opening Ceremonies, winning a gold medal -- pick something," said Rauch, who has an image of the Olympic rings tattooed on his left arm. "When you're involved in something like that, especially when it's your first time, your only time, you just remember all of it."
The Mets have one other tie to the Olympic Games this year; Brittany Viola, the daughter of former Mets pitcher and current Class A Brooklyn pitching coach Frank Viola, will compete for the U.S. diving team in London.