Randy Johnson Completes Illustrious Career

January 6, 2010 will be a day many fans will remember as when a legend of the game said his final good-byes to an illustrious career. In a conference call with reporters left-handed pitcher Randy Johnson announced his retirement from baseball.

At the age of 46, Randy Johnson decided it was time to close one chapter in his life and open another. He leaves the game after 22 big league seasons after playing for the Montreal Expos, Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, and of course the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“I just feel like there’s not a lot more for me to do in this game, eventually you have to say it’s time.”

-Randy Johnson

Perhaps the greatest left-handed pitcher to ever play the game, Johnson leaves a legacy larger than his 6 foot 10 inch stature. He ends his career with a record of 303-166 becoming the 24th pitcher in baseball history to record at least 300 victories.

The victories only tell part of the story. Johnson recorded 4,875 strike outs in 4,135.1 innings including a performance in 1999 when he struck out 20 Cincinnati Reds but got no decision.

During his prime Johnson was the most dominating pitcher in baseball earning four consecutive Cy Young Awards from 1999-2002. Add the Cy Young Award he won with Seattle and he leaves the game second all-time to Roger Clemens in earning that award.

To see Johnson pitch you stood in awe at the intensity he brought to the game and the sheer will to win. He was the most competitive pitcher ever to put on a uniform. Opposing players cringed whenever they saw his name penciled in to pitch.

Even teammates knew to steer clear of the Big Unit on days he pitched. He walked to the mound with contempt toward anyone who walked to the plate. That intensity was matched by a scorching fastball and a deadly slider he named “Mr. Snappy”.

But for all of the rough exterior, Johnson was humbled by the history of the game. He admired those who came before him and as his career began winding down he worked with several pitchers to pass along the lessons he had learned.

As a Diamondbacks fan I had the pleasure of watching him during both of his stints with Arizona. Every game he pitched was a lesson on how the game should be played and what it meant to be the best in the game.

Despite all of the bad press he received as being unapproachable I found him to be very willing to help a fan. When my daughter was young, she had a friend whose hero was Randy Johnson. My daughter took a baseball to Bank One Ballpark to try and get his signature.

Unfortunately she could not get his attention. Instead of giving up, she came home and wrote a nice letter to Mr. Johnson and enclosed a baseball hoping to get his signature. Within a week the box was returned with a personalized ball and a note that thanked my daughter. The ball has become an heirloom for that boy and perhaps the greatest birthday gift he will ever get.

With the end of his playing career, Johnson plans to spend some quality time with his family before embarking on a new career path. He has expressed a desire to work with players perhaps as a coach. I can think of nothing better than having someone like Randy Johnson work with the game’s young pitchers.

As the book closes on his career, a clock begins towards January 2015 when Randy Johnson becomes eligible for baseball’s Hall of Fame. There is perhaps no one who is more of a lock for first ballot election to the Hall of Fame. Like many other Arizona Diamondbacks fans I am hopeful he will go into Cooperstown wearing an Arizona Diamondbacks hat. He is truly the greatest Diamondbacks player that has ever worn a jersey and it would be fitting for him to represent Arizona.


  1. Could you name some of the names of the many other Arizona Diamondbacks you referring to in second to last sentence.

    • My bad, that should have read, “like many other Arizona Diamondbacks fans”, I have fixed the omission of “fans” thanks for catching that.


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