With the Mariners sitting in last place in the American League West, it is hard to find a good reason to go see a game. That changes this Saturday, July 28, when Randy Johnson and Dan Wilson will be inducted into the Mariner's Hall of Fame.
The Mariners never had a dominating pitcher until they traded for Randy Johnson. They've had good pitchers like Mark Langston, Mike Moore and Erik Hanson but never has there been a pitcher that could intimidate and put fear into batters like Randy could. With his 6'10 frame, mullet, piercing glare and a commanding fastball, who would want to face him in the batters box.
Randy was well known for his fastball but he could also throw a wicked slider dubbed, "Mr. Snappy". What I loved best about Randy was when he pitched he was afraid of no one. If an opposing pitcher hit a Mariner then you knew Randy would be throwing at one of their players by games end. Randy wasn't afraid to brush someone back off the plate. He is like the John Wayne of pitching, you just didn't mess with him and he was going to do things his way.
Johnson spent nine and a half seasons with the Mariners until he was traded during the 1998 season. Mariner's President Chuck Armstrong claimed money issues and Johnson's back problems as the reason for not extending his contract. Reports behind the seen were that Chuck and Randy had been feuding for a few seasons. Armstrong let his ego get in the way and at the trade deadline traded away the most dominant pitcher in Mariners history (This is why Chuck Armstrong should have been fired a long time ago, but that is a subject for another blog).
Randy would go on to pitch 11 more seasons, win 170 games and make the All-Star team 5 more times. He would reach the 300 wins mark with a career total of 303 wins. He accomplished all this with his supposed bad back.
Randy Johnson's top Mariner moments:
* 1990 Randy pitched a no-hitter against the Detroit Tigers.
* 1993 Randy's famous All-Star appearance where he threw a fastball over John Kruk's head. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SH715tr6ek
* 1995 Randy pitches a 3-hitter against the Angels in a one game playoff to advance the Mariners into the playoffs for the first time in team history.
* 1995 Randy enters game 5 of the American League Divisional Series as a relief pitcher against the New York Yankees. He pitches the 9th, 10th and 11th to get the win and the Mariners go on to the American League Championship Series.
* 1995 Randy won his first Cy Young Award.
Fun facts about The Big Unit:
* Tim Raines in 1988 gave Randy his nickname after colliding with him in the outfield during batting practice he stated," You're a big unit" and it stuck.
* After being traded from the Mariners he went on to win 4 more Cy Young Awards, pitched a perfect game, win a World Series and was named co-MVP of the World Series.
* While pitching during Spring Training a bird got in the way of one of Randy's fastballs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxEUW3pQX6A&feature=related
* Randy is co-owner with rocker Alice Cooper of a restaurant called Cooperstown in Phoenix which offers The Big Unit Hot Dog that is 22-inches long.
Randy deserved better from the Mariners and should have been inducted into the Mariner's Hall of Fame years ago. With Randy's numbers he is a shoe-in to be a first time ballot Hall of Famer when he is eligible in 2015. I will be at the game this Saturday with my kleenex in hand and enjoying all the good memories Randy has given me. Thank you Randy Johnson for all you gave to the Mariners, it is sad to think of what could have been if you would have stayed a Mariner.