"He uses his size to intimidate batters. He also has that scowl. Randy (Johnson) is more confident on the mound now, too. You can tell by his body language. He used to come apart when guys started doing a lot of bench jockeying. Then he'd let the game get away from him. But not anymore." - Assistant General Manager Dan O'Dowd 1
Randall David Johnson was born on September 10, 1963 in Walnut Creek, California. Randy was always tall for his age, and that height gave him an advantage in the sports he played. He grew up playing baseball and basketball for Livermore High School. In his final game in his senior year, Randy pitched a perfect game, no hits, no runs, no men on base. While Randy would be drafted by the Atlanta Braves, he decided to attend USC instead. At USC, Randy would play alongside soon-to-be super slugger Mark McGwire. In his sophomore year of college, Randy stopped playing basketball so he could focus more on his baseball.
After college, Randy would find himself playing for the Montreal Expos. Everyone could see the potential in the tall rookie. On September 15th, 1988, 5 days after his 25th birthday, Randy scored his first of many Major League Baseball victories. However, Randy would struggle with his control throughout the season. The following season the Expos, thick in a pennant race, would trade Johnson to the Seattle Mariners for Mark Langston on May 25, 1993. In his first game as a Mariner, Randy and the team would go on to beat the New York Yankees. It would be in Seattle that Randy would find success on the pitchers mound.
The change of location would not bring sudden success to the Big Unit, as the 6'10 hurler is sometimes called, but he would come to mature into the sensational pitcher that he currently is. On June 2, 1990 Randy threw his first no-hitter for not only
himself, but the first in Seattle Mariners history. Even though Randy was pitching well he still lacked the control that he needed. In 1991 and 92, Randy threw back to back 200+ strike out seasons, yet only finished with a record of 25-24. Randy stepped out in 1993 and wowed the American League. He pitched 308 strikeouts with a record of 19-8; and he did it with less than a hundred walks. Randy would lead the American League in strikeouts from 92-95.
in 1998, minutes before the trading deadline at midnight, a deal was inked between the Mariners and the Houston Astros which sent the Big Unit to Houston for infielder Carlos Guillen, pitching prospect Freddy Garcia as well as a player to be named later. This would cause much relief for hitters in the American League. Randy was being courted by the New York Yankees and almost went to the Yankee pinstripes, as if they needed to buy any more talent
Randy would finish out the year in the 'Stros uniform, but come the summer, things would be different. Randy was a free agent, and began talks with the Arizona Diamondbacks, bringing more pitching power to the fledgling team. Randy would continue to pitch well for the DBacks, and would culminate in his third season with the club.
2001 would be a sensational year in the life of Randy Johnson. In May, Randy would strike out 20 batters in a game, putting him in company with Roger Clemens, who did it twice, and Kerry Wood. Randy would win his third straight Cy Young award, the fourth of his career. His teammate and 1 to the 2 of the Diamondbacks 1-2 punch, Curt Schilling, finished 2nd in the voting, making the pair the third pair of teammates to finish in the top two spots since Mike Marshall and Andy Messersmith of the 1974 Los Angeles Dodgers and Don Newcombe and Sal Maglie of the 1956 Brooklyn Dodgers. The pair also had a combined 665 strikeouts, surpassing the previous mark set by teammates Nolan Ryan and Bill Singer, who combined for 624 with the Angels in 1973.
March 26, 2001 would be an interesting day in Randy Johnson's life. Nothing real special here, but on this day in the seventh inning of the DBacks vs the San Francisco Giants Randy Johnson let loose one of his fastballs, at the same time a dove flew overhead. Unfortunately the dove flew over the head of the catcher, and it wasn't very high off the ground. Needless to say the end result was not pretty. Unlike Yankees outfielder Dave Winfield, who accidentally killed a seagull with a warm-up throw, no charges of animal cruelty were brought up, even though catcher Rod Barajas said, "I'm sitting there waiting for it, and I'm expecting to catch the thing, and all you see is an explosion."
In the post season that year, Randy was on fire. He became the first pitcher to win 5 games in the same postseason, and the first pitcher to get the win in 3 world series games since the Detroit Tigers' Mickey Lolich, who accomplished the feat back in 1968. His strike out to 9 innings pitched ratio is 13.4, .2 better than the previous record set by Pedro Martinez in 1999. His 372 strikeouts were third highest in a season ever. The category is led by Nolan Ryan, who had 383 in a season. Randy also won his 200th win in the 01 season, making him the 98th pitcher overall to do so. Randy, alongside Curt Schilling, would lead the Arizona Diamondbacks to their first World Series championship. This was of course a very good thing because they beat the Yankees :^)
Randy continued his dominance in the 2002 season. Randy, along with fellow ace Curt Schilling, helped the Arizona Diamondbacks become the first team since the 1919 Boston Red Sox to win their first two games of a season by shutout, following a World Series victory. Randy went on to win 23 more games, marking the third time he's won 20+ games in a season. On September 9, Randy struck out his 300th batter on the season, extending his record to 5 straight seasons of 300+ K's. He and Schilling became the first teammates with 300+ strikeouts on the season when Curt got his 300th a week later. Randy Johnson would again win the Cy Young award, his 5th. Also, Randy became the first pitcher since the New York Mets' Dwight Gooden to win the pitching triple crown (record, era and strikeouts).
Despite such a stellar performance during the 2002 season, the 2003 season was much different for Randy Johnson. Plagued by injuries throughout the season, The Big Unit only made half his usual starts and ended the season with a dismal 6-4 record with an era over 4 for the first time in 5 years. After such a bad season, and not getting any younger at the age of 39, many thought somethings may change. Instead of Randy leaving the D-backs, a trade was worked out that sent Curt Schilling to the Boston Red Sox for pitchers Casey Fossum, Brandon Lyon and Jorge De La Rosa.
The Unit knew that he had to pitch very well for the restructured Arizona Diamondbacks. Many players from their World Series team had been lost to trades or free agency. The now 40 year old Johnson was now the sole ace of the team, and had to pitch like it. Which is exactly what he did. After a good start to the season, Randy Johnson went bonkers. On May 18, 2004, Randy pitched a 117 pitch perfect game against the Atlanta Braves. The Unit struck out 13 Braves, including pinch-hitter Eddie Perez, with heat in the upper 90's. The first perfect game in 5 years, Randy became the oldest pitcher to throw perfect at 40 years of age. While it was Randy's first perfect game, it marked the second no-hitter of his career, as he no-hit the Detroit Tigers on June 2, 1990.
With the Seattle Mariners, Randy was as active off the field as he was on. Randy was co-chair, alongside Jay Buhner for the Mariners' annual Cystic Fibrosis Golf Tournament and Auction, which usually raises over $100,000 annually. Randy also supported ChildHaven, a group which provides services for victims of child abuse and neglect. Randy was also chair of the "K for Kids" program which benefited local Boys and Girls clubs in the Seattle area. His charity work continues even though Randy's been moved around a bit. With the Diamondbacks, Randy's been working on and donating to several charities including strikeout Homelessness as well as still working for various cystic fibrosis charities. Randy recorded a public service announcement which was shown in movie theatres that raised awareness about the homeless.
In 2002, the Big Unit declined to play at this year's botched All-Star game. In his place, the San Francisco Giants' Robb Nen was selected. This would mark the 9th time Randy was voted to an All-Star game.
Randy Johnson is also an avid photographer, and in 1990 he had some of his pictures displayed at an art expo in Los Angeles.
Randy Johnson retired from baseball in 2009, after a stint with the San Francisco Giants, at the age of 46. His final win-loss record is 303-166.
Awards and Milestones:
All-Star - 1990, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004
Strikeout Leader - 1993, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004
AL Cy Young
Award Winner - 1995
Cy Young Award Winner - 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002
May 22, 2002
Randy passes 3,500 strikeouts
2001 World Series Champion
Position: Starting Pitcher
- ESPN.com: Randy Johnson - http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/players/stats?statsId=4288
- Randy Johnson - http://www.infoplease.com/ipsa/A0193841.html
- Randy Johnson - http://alumni.imsa.edu/~mozart/people/randy.html
- Gumby's Randy Johnson Online - http://msgtgumby.tripod.com/johnson/
- Baseball Almanac - Seattle Mariners Menu - http://www.baseball-almanac.com/teams/mari.shtml
- CNN/SI - Baseball MLB - Mariners ship Randy Johnson to Houston - Saturday August 01, 1998 08:12 AM - http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/baseball/mlb/news/1998/07/31/johnson_astros_final/