Randy Johnson

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File:Randy Johnson.jpg
Johnson tossing out a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park

Randall David "Randy" Johnson (born September 10, 1963 in Walnut Creek, California), also known as The Big Unit, is a left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball. He is most noted for his stature (6'10"; 2.08 m) and having one of the most dominant fastballs in the game (he is the second tallest player in the history of MLB; Jon Rauch being the tallest). Randy has won the Cy Young Award five times, second only to Roger Clemens' seven.

Since entering the league, he has been among the most feared pitchers in the game. Opposing hitters have often remarked that, because of his height and release point, it feels as though he's pitching from ten feet closer than he actually is, as John Kruk would attest. Combined with a 95 - 100 mile-per-hour fastball, and a slider that has been compared to that of Hall of Famer Steve Carlton's, many batters find him practically unhittable. In a tongue-in-cheek TV sports ad, he referred to his best pitch as "Mr. Snappy". Some broadcasters such as Steve Stone picked up on that nickname and used it during gamecasts.

Early years

Randy Johnson was born in Walnut Creek, California. By the time he entered Livermore High School, he was a star in baseball, and basketball, and that would continue at the University of Southern California. It is believed that Randy lives a comfortable life in seclusion.

Early career

Randy Johnson was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 2nd round of the 1985 amateur draft and made his debut on September 15, 1988. Despite four solid starts that fall, Johnson struggled with his command early the next season and lost the faith of the Montreal organization. On May 25, 1989 he was traded along with Gene Harris and Brian Holman to the Seattle Mariners for a player to be named later and Mark Langston.

The change of scenery was not an instant remedy for the "Big Unit's" wildness -- he walked over 100 batters in 1990, 1991 and 1992 -- but he worked hard and the organization stuck with him. He posted better-than-average ERA and strikeout numbers those years, prompting many to ask the question of how good he would be if he could just get control of his fastball. The question would be answered over the next decade.

On June 2, 1990, Johnson pitched a 2-0 no-hitter against the Detroit Tigers; the no-hitter was the first of two in the history of the Kingdome. (The other was in 1993 by another Mariner, Chris Bosio.) ok

Best years

Johnson broke out in 1993, combining overwhelming pitching with improved mechanics en route to a 19-8 record, 3.24 ERA and his first of many 300-plus strikeout seasons (308 that year). After pitching well in the strike-shortened 1994, Johnson won the American League Cy Young Award in 1995 with a phenomenal 18-2 record, 2.48 ERA and 294 strikeouts.

Johnson was sidelined throughout much of the 1996 season with a back injury, but he rebounded in 1997 with a 20-4 record, 291 strikeouts, and a 2.28 ERA (his personal best).

1998 was a tale of two seasons for Johnson. He was due to become a free agent at the end of the season but the Mariners' strapped budget prevented them from making any serious offers for a contract extension during the season. Concerns over whether and when he might be traded likely played a role in Johnson's 9-10 record with the Mariners during the early part of that season. His 4.33 ERA during that stretch was highly unusual.

Johnson's season turned around on July 31, 1998 when he was traded at the deadline to the Houston Astros for a player to be named later (John Halama), Freddy García and Carlos Guillén. Houston was in the thick of a pennant race and benefitted from Johnson's strong arm anchoring the rotation. In 11 starts, he went 10-1 with a sparkling 1.28 ERA, leading the Astros to the playoffs. Despite only pitching for a third of a season in the National League, he finished 7th in National League Cy Young Award voting.

Johnson signed one of the largest contracts to that date in the off-season, inking a $53-million, four-year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks; a second-year and relatively inexperienced franchise. The move paid off, however, as Johnson led the team to the playoffs that year on the strength of a 17-9 record and 2.48 ERA, enough to earn him his second Cy Young Award. In 2000, Arizona acquired power-pitcher Curt Schilling from the Philadelphia Phillies, giving Arizona the most feared starting duo in the early 21st century. Johnson and Schilling carried the Diamondbacks to their first franchise World Series appearance and victory in 2001, in only their fifth year of existence. The two pitchers shared the World Series MVP Award and were named Sports Illustrated magazine's 2001 "Sportsmen of the Year". Fittingly, they also shared the final game of that emotional Series, Johnson winning Game 6 and then coming on in relief to help secure Game 7, reminiscent of Grover Alexander in the 1926 Fall Classic against the Yankees.

Johnson spent the majority of the 2003 season on the disabled list and wasn't effective in the few injury-hampered starts he did make. However, even though he is now in his early 40's, Johnson has consistently proven himself to get better with age. Few doubted his ability to produce in 2004, just two years removed from his last Cy Young Award.

On May 18, 2004, Johnson became only the 17th person, and at 40 years of age, the oldest person in Major League Baseball history, to throw a perfect game, with 13 strikeouts on his way to a 2-0 defeat of the Atlanta Braves. The perfect game made him the fifth pitcher in Major League history (after Cy Young, Jim Bunning, Nolan Ryan and Hideo Nomo), and the first left-hander, to pitch a no-hitter in both leagues. It also gave him the longest span of any pitcher between no-hitters–14 years, although the span between Nolan Ryan's first and last no hitters was 18 years. As in the case of Johnson's 1990 no-hitter, the perfect game was also the first no-hitter in the history of the park where he was pitching, in this case Turner Field.

On June 29, 2004, Johnson struck out Jeff Cirillo of the San Diego Padres to become only the 4th person to throw 4000 strikeouts in a career.

On September 15, 2004, Johnson struck out his 4137th batter to move into third place on the career strikeout list, and number one amongst left-handed pitchers, surpassing Steve Carlton.

He finished the 2004 season with a 16-14 record, but had a far better season than his won-lost total indicated. Johnson led the major leagues in strikeouts with 290, and had a 2.60 ERA. Most of his losses could be blamed on horrendous run support; the D-Backs scored two or fewer runs in 17 of his 35 starts that season. In the games where they scored more, he was 13-2. He finished second to Roger Clemens in NL Cy Young Award balloting.

In December of 2004, a three-team trade to send Johnson to the New York Yankees, pitcher Javier Vázquez to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and outfielder Shawn Green to the Arizona Diamondbacks was proposed, but the deal fell through when Los Angeles withdrew from the trade. Finally, in January of 2005, Johnson was sent to the Yankees for Vázquez, pitcher Brad Halsey, catcher Dioner Navarro, and $9 million. The Yankees also signed a two-year contract extension for Johnson, thus securing him through the 2007 season. If he can average 18 or more wins a season during then, he will have achieved his 300th win while a Yankee.

Unusual incidents

Bird beanball

In a freak accident on March 24, 2001 during the 7th inning of a spring training game against the San Francisco Giants, Randy threw a fastball that struck and killed a dove.[1] The bird flew over catcher Rod Barajas' head and landed amid a "sea of feathers.". This was only the second time in recorded history that a thrown baseball had killed a bird (the first time was by New York Yankees outfielder Dave Winfield during a warm-up session in 1983). The Diamondbacks went on to win the game 10-5 without further incident.


Randy Johnson combines a blazing 97 mph fastball with a biting slider that dives down and in at the last second away from lefties and into righties. Due to his height, long arms, and side-arm pitching, the release point of his pitches looks like it is coming from first base, deceiving left-handed hitters especially. Randy is known to dominate lefties with his slider by throwing it away and inducing many strikeouts. He can also throw it inside on right-handed hitters. Sometimes he throws a splitter as a changeup.


  • 11-time All-Star (1990, 1993-95, 1997, 1999, 2000-02, 2004-05)
  • World Series MVP Award (with Curt Schilling, 2001)
  • American League Cy Young Award winner (1995)
  • National League Cy Young Award winner (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002)
  • Finished 6th in American League MVP voting (1995)
  • In 2001, he bacame the first pitcher to record three wins in a single World Series since Mickey Lolich
  • Finished 7th in National League MVP voting (2002)
  • Led the league in ERA four times (1995, 1999, 2001, 2002)
  • Led the league in wins (2002)
  • Led the league in Strikeouts (1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004)
  • Won Triple Crown (led league in wins, ERA and strikeouts) (2002)
  • Struck out 19 batters in a game (June 24, 1997 against Oakland Athletics; August 8, 1997 against Chicago White Sox)
  • Struck out 20 batters in a game (May 8, 2001 against Cincinnati Reds; game went 11 innings, but Johnson recorded all strikeouts in the first nine innings)
  • 4313 career strikeouts (3rd overall)
  • 11.12 strikeouts per 9 innings over career (1st overall)
  • Career 263-136 record
  • Threw no-hitter: June 2, 1990 (Seattle Mariners 2, Detroit Tigers 0)
  • Threw perfect game: May 18, 2004 (Arizona Diamondbacks 2, Atlanta Braves 0)

Annual salaries

  • 1989 Montreal Expos $70,000
  • 1990 Seattle Mariners $150,000
  • 1991 Seattle Mariners $350,000
  • 1992 Seattle Mariners $1,392,500
  • 1993 Seattle Mariners $2,625,000
  • 1994 Seattle Mariners $3,325,000
  • 1995 Seattle Mariners $4,675,000
  • 1996 Seattle Mariners $6,025,000
  • 1997 Seattle Mariners $6,325,000
  • 1998 Seattle Mariners $6,000,000
  • 1999 Arizona Diamondbacks $9,700,000
  • 2000 Arizona Diamondbacks $13,350,000
  • 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks $13,350,000
  • 2002 Arizona Diamondbacks $13,350,000
  • 2003 Arizona Diamondbacks $15,000,000
  • 2004 Arizona Diamondbacks $16,500,000

2005 salary

During the 2005 season, Randy Johnson is the 12th highest paid player at $15,419,815.00.


External links

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