If you are looking for the NFL player, see Randy Johnson (NFL).
Randall David "Randy" Johnson (born September 10, 1963 in Walnut Creek, California), also known as The Big Unit, is a left-handed starting pitcher for the New York Yankees. 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.
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.
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 Garcia and Carlos Guillen. 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. The perfect game was also the first no-hitter in the history of the pitcher-friendly Turner Field—this despite Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz having called this stadium their home during their careers.
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). 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 three or more runs, he was 13-2. His team only won 51 games that year, his ratio of winning 31.3% of his team's games was the most for any starting pitcher since Steve Carlton in 1972 (who won 27 of the Phillies 59 wins for an all-time record ration of 45.8%). He finished second to Roger Clemens in NL Cy Young Award balloting, even though the popular baseball game, Baseball Mogul, picked Johnson as the most deserving player. Johnson was unhappy with the D-Backs offense and demanded a trade.
On January 6, 2005, Johnson was traded to the New York Yankees for pitcher Javier Vazquez, pitcher Brad Halsey, catcher Dioner Navarro and $9 million. Johnson pitched Opening Day for the Yankees on April 3, 2005 against the Boston Red Sox. Johnson was inconsistent through 2005, and allowed 32 home runs to hitters. Johnson regained his dominance in late 2005, and was 5-0 against the Yankees' arch rival Red Sox. He finished the season 17-8 with a 3.79 ERA, he also was second in the AL with 211 strikeouts. Johnson was a disappointment in the 2005 Division Series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Many hope Johnson could be dominant in his second Yankee season with the pressure off him.
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 clocked in at 116 mph and struck and killed a dove. 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 94-97 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.
- 10-time All-Star (1990, 1993–95, 1997, 1999, 2000–02, 2004)
- 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)
- 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 $16,000,000
- 2005 New York Yankees $16,000,000
- 2006 New York Yankees $15,661,427
- Montreal Expos (1988–1989)
- Seattle Mariners (1989–1998)
- Houston Astros (1998)
- Arizona Diamondbacks (1999–2004)
- New York Yankees (2005–2006)
- Arizona Diamondbacks (2007- )
- Used the pseudonym "Sam Adams" when checking into hotels.