That sound you heard Thursday was a gorilla of monster proportions finally getting removed from the back of Randy Johnson.
As it was first mentioned back in April here at The Hall, Johnson achieved the Grand Daddy of all pitching milestones…300 wins. With a 5-1 victory over the Washington Nationals, the five-time Cy Young award winner became the 24th player to notch 300 wins.
Here are ten things you might not have known about Johnson’s 300 victories.
From his first victory (a 9-4 win on September 15, 1988 against Pittsburgh) to his latest…7566 days have passed. In that time, baseball went from having 26 teams to 30. The Angels went from California to Anaheim to Los Angeles (by way of Anaheim) and most notably…the Montreal Expos (Johnson’s first team) packed up and moved to Washington DC (Johnson’s latest victim). Incidentally, DC not only welcomed a baseball in that time, but they also welcomed four different presidents.
Sure, we all know that with 4845 strikeouts, Johnson is second all-time. But did you know, that in his 300 victories, he struck out 2709 batters? All-time, that total alone would rank him 21st all-time…ahead of such notables as Tom Glavine (2607), Warren Spahn (2583), Bob Feller (2581) and Sandy Koufax (2396).
Sure…300 stands for the number of victories thrown by Johnson. 164 of them were home victories, while 136 were achieved on the road. Two victories came out of the bullpen. On July 20, 2001, Johnson stepped in and finished a game that had been postponed from the day before. He chalked up 16 strikeouts in 7 innings, technically setting the record for the most strikeouts in a relief stint. It should be pointed out that in those 300 victories…Johnson has startling 1.84 ERA. By comparison, Greg Maddux has a 1.82 ERA in his 355 wins.
In a July 9, 2004 game against his current team the Giants, Johnson hit 102 miles per hour on the radar gun. For the record…this is the fastest pitch recorded in a regular season baseball game. The fastest pitch recorded by a Major Leaguer (103 mph) was by Mark Wohlers in a 1995 Spring Training contest. Wohlers, coincidentally, is NOT one of 560 players that has shared a clubhouse with Johnson.
At 82 inches tall (or 6’10”), Johnson is the tallest 300 game winner in history. Before him, Steve Carlton, Roger Clemens and Gaylord Perry shared the distinction at 6’4”. During batting practice in 1988, Johnson, then with the Montreal Expos, collided head-first with outfielder Tim Raines. Because of his height, Raines exclaimed, "you're a big unit!" The nickname stuck.
With his first win at Nationals Park, Johnson now has victories in 41 different ballparks against all 30 MLB teams. The only parks he is winless in are Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium (0-1), Memorial Stadium (0-2), New Busch Stadium (0-1) and Citi Field (0-1). With some time, he should be able to knock two off that list. With a time machine…he might be able to get the others.
With the 36th pick overall in the 1985 draft, the Montreal Expos selected Johnson from the University of Southern California. Some notables that were drafted before him…Will Clark (2), Barry Larkin (4), Barry Bonds (6) and Rafael Palmeiro (22).
On May 8, 2001, Johnson became only the third pitcher to record 20 strikeouts in a game when he squared off against the Cincinnati Reds. But because the game went into extra innings, it was not categorized by MLB as an "official" 20-strikeout game.
“The Big Unit” holds the honor of being one of five pitchers (Cy Young, Jim Bunning, Nolan Ryan and Hideo Nomo are the others) to have thrown a no-hitter in both the American and National League. Of his two “no nos”, one is a perfect game…a feat only 16 other pitchers have accomplished. In case you were wondering…Young and Bunning each have a perfect game, whereas Ryan and Nomo do not.
A career .128 hitter, the lanky “Unit” has hit only one home run. It happened September 19, 2003 against the Brewers and came off of future teammate Doug Davis.
In what can only be termed “a freak accident”, Johnson struck and killed a dove in a Spring Training game on March 24, 2001. The unlucky bird swooped across the infield just as Johnson was releasing the ball and ended up dead amid a "sea of feathers". The official call was "no pitch”. Check out the video on YouTube HERE.