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This is how I’ll remember Randy Johnson – snarling, defiant, dominant. His long hair a tangle, his facial hair prickly, his fastball hurtling menacingly toward the plate from that lanky 6′ 11″ frame.
I’ll remember him most in a Mariners’ cap as above, for it was in Seattle that I first got to follow him closely. In fact, RJ and I each came over to Seattle at mid-season in 1989, a fact that no one but myself has ever noted heretofore. (He left the Montreal Expos for the Ms, and The Associated Press transferred me to Seattle from Omaha.)
When Johnson arrived in Seattle, he was not quite the Hall of Fame pitcher he would become. But without question he had the stuff to make it big in a career of 22 seasons in the big leagues. He announced his retirement today in a conference call with reporters, and a formal announcement is scheduled tomorrow.
Besides our coincidental moves to Seattle in ’89, I have another trivial connection to The Big Unit. One of his nieces played on the same Little League team as my son in the mid-90s. For mere mortals such as I, even such a tenuous connection to a baseball immortal is still a thrill.