The Big Unit Delivers

It’s been a long road for Randy Johnson, but tonight’s 5-1 victory by the San Francisco Giants over the hapless Washington Nationals cements Johnson’s place in history.

The “Big Unit” is now the 24th pitcher in Major League Baseball history to reach the 300 win club.  At 45 years and 267 days old, he also becomes the second-oldest pitcher to reach the 300 mark – behind only knuckleballer Phil Niekro, who achieved the feat in 1985 when he was 46 years and 188 days old.

Randy Johnson

Randy Johnson

Johnson can still be dominant at times, as he was in tonight’s performance, allowing only 2 hits in 6 innings, but it was not always evident that his career would follow the trajectory of one of the all-time greats. 

The San Jose Mercury News ran a nice feature on Johnson this week that balances the first signs of that domination, often on display in his Bay Area high school years of 1981-82, with the struggles that he encountered as a minor league pitcher in the Montreal Expos’ farm system following his three years of collegiate ball at USC.

The fact that Johnson didn’t even debut until the age of 25 (in 1988) and then didn’t really find his stride until he was nearly 30 (after Nolan Ryan and Texas Rangers pitching coach Tom House offered Johnson some career-altering advice on his mechanics) makes tonight’s milestone all the more amazing.

MLB.com continues to set the pace on coverage of major events in the game of baseball and has produced a great guide to the feat with the link to “Randy Johnson: Countdown to 300”.  Lots of pertinent stats, features, and interactive media available to access there for additional perspective.

And, amazing as the 300 victories, 5 Cy Young Awards, and certain Hall of Fame nomination is, somehow Johnson will never quite escape the aura of this unbelievable pitch, delivered during a Spring Training game in 2001 that still makes bird-lovers queasy.

But tonight the focus is on the remarkable achievements of the latest 300-game winner.  It will be a long time before we witness the next one.

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~ by acm213 on June 4, 2009.

One Response to “The Big Unit Delivers”

  1. Reaction from the Pacific NW:
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/larrystone/2009302013_stone05.html

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