Today in Baseball History – Randy Johnson Tribute

On May 18th, 2004, at age 40, Randy Johnson pitched the 17th perfect game in MLB history, becoming the oldest pitcher to toss a perfect game. As a tribute to Johnson, PowerChalk founder and CEO Chaz Henry writes about his experience with The Big Unit.

A Tribute to Randy Johnson

In my collection of signed baseballs I have a Sandy Koufax ball. Koufax is my favorite player of all time. He had a five year window in which he was unhittable. In the summer of 2000 when I got the opportunity to play a round of golf with Randy Johnson, I put the Koufax ball in my golf bag.

Following the round, and presented with the ball, Johnson’s first reaction was that he couldn’t sign it. “You’ll bugger your ball,” he argued, but I insisted. Relenting he said, “Hang on, I’ve got to sit down and put my ‘A’ script on this one.” Everyone’s a bit humbled by the career of Sandy Koufax.

So I have a ball signed by the two greatest left handed pitchers to play the game of baseball. In truth, Johnson was probably the better. He too had an unhittable run but his lasted seven years. From 1993-2000 he struck out 12 batters for every nine innings pitched. He went 117-40 on teams (like Koufax) who often didn’t produce enough runs to win.

He added a sinker to his fastball and slider in that stretch that many players couldn’t have bunted with an ironing board. His willingness to come inside kept any hitter from getting comfortable.

His control kept him from reaching a fastball only count. His 98 mph four seamer made all the pitch guessing a moot point.

Here’s a clip showing his mechanics in slow motion. Wow!