Nicknamed the Big Unit, Randy Johnson won 303 major league games while striking out 4,875, second all-time behind Nolan Ryan. Johnson won the Cy Young Award five times and threw two no hitters in his career. While he played mostly with the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks, Johnson also spent time with the Expos, Astros, Yankees, and Giants. His speech transcript is show below:
Thank you. I’m so honored and privileged to be here. I’ll forever be linked to the 2015 inductee class with John, Craig and Pedro. Thank you.
There’s a lot of people on this journey that I’ve had for 20 years in the Major Leagues. That’s what it’s about for me today. Giving the recognition that they so readily deserve.
First I’d like to thank all the sportswriters for voting me into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Thank you.
Secondly I’d like to thank the Hall of Fame executives and staff. Jane, you have brought hospitality to a new level for my family, guests and me. Thank you.
I never thought I would be on this stage, baseball’s greatest fraternity. It’s humbling to look behind me and see the best who have ever played this game. I had the honor of playing against many of these gentlemen, some I watched on TV. But it would have been really fun to face you, Reggie.
My journey in baseball lasted 44 years. I started when I was seven years old playing little league baseball in Livermore, California, a small little town. Went from little league to Babe Ruth to high school.
I’d like to say thank you to Steve Fallon and his mom Betty for coming all the way from Livermore, California, to be here. Thank you.
After my time in Livermore, California was over, it was a decision I had to make. I got drafted by the Atlanta Braves, and I also had an opportunity to go to college. I chose to go to college and further my education. I played for the legendary baseball Coach Rod Dedeaux at USC. A few of my teammates are here. Thanks for being here, Albee, Phil, Randy. You traveled a long ways. Thank you.
I didn’t learn how to throw a lot of strikes there, but I did learn how to take a few pitchers. That’s my passion today, always has been and always will be.
After USC, I was drafted in 1985 by the Montréal Expos. The first team that gave me an opportunity to play in the Major Leagues. I’m forever indebted to them. As you know, my minor league was not stellar. It took me four years in the minor leagues to finally get a call-up, a September call-up. I relished that moment to get to pitch in Montréal against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The following year, 1989, didn’t go so well. I got sent back down to the minor leagues. Then I was part of a trade from Montréal to Seattle that would bring Mark Langston from Seattle to Montréal, and myself, Brian Holman and Gene Harris to Seattle. Brian is here with his wife. Thank you for traveling so far on this important day for me.
The trade to Seattle set my career in motion. It was my apprenticeship. 10 years there. I played with Ken Griffey, Jr., Edgar Martinez, Omar Vizquel, Dan Wilson, and so many more. Ken Griffey, Jr., will for sure be here next year.
There were some lean years there in Seattle as we were learning how to play our game. Lou Piniella came into place and ‘Refuse to lose’ became our motto in 1995. With his leadership and his guidance, we came down in ’95 to a one-game playoff. Ironically enough I would pitch against the same guy I got traded for to Montréal, Mark Langston, for the AL West. Very magical moment for Seattle. Very proud to have played there for 10 years. Thank you, Seattle.
I’d also like to thank ownership for being here on this important day to me. Howard Lincoln, Chris Larson, Kevin Martinez, and one of only a few catchers that could handle me over my 22-year career, and understand me, Dan Wilson and his wife Annie.
As my time finished up in Seattle, I went to Houston for two months. It would inevitably be the two best months of my career, pitching 11 starts and going 10-1. The Houston Astrodome wasn’t bad to pitch in either, was it, Nolan?
Then I became a free agent, going back home to Arizona, meeting Jerry Colangelo. He had a vision for that baseball team in Arizona. I bought into it. He believed in me.
I played there. The ball started in motion there. Individual accomplishments are great, but in 2001, we had a team that in spring training we were all on the same page and we never deviated or wavered from that. It led us to the World Series against the greatest team of all time, the New York Yankees.
Those are some very memorable moments there in Arizona. I’m so grateful for everybody that I played with, and the franchise. I moved on from Arizona and then I went on to New York. I still remember getting a phone call from George Steinbrenner welcoming me to play for the New York Yankees. I also enjoyed playing for Joe Torre.
After two years in New York, I came back to Arizona, 2007, 2008. Recovering from back surgery, I thank Derrick Hall and Ken Kendrick for having me come back to Arizona.
In 2009, I finished my career in SanFrancisco. There’s so many memorable moments when I was growing up as a young boy watching the Vida Blue pitch in Oakland, and watching Willie Mays also play before that when I was even younger for San Francisco.
My career in baseball didn’t go without being injured. Having four knee surgeries, three back surgeries, and I tore my rotator cuff the last year of my career and still tried to pitch through it.
I’ll be forever in debt for all the doctors and trainers that worked with me. Brett Fischer, a very good friend, my physical therapist that lasted 22 years, getting me through my career, these knee surgeries, back surgeries, a torn rotator cuff. I’ll be forever indebted to you, Brett. Thank you for traveling out here for my important day.
As I said, there was a lot of catchers in my career over 22 years. I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to pitch to so many. Dan Wilson, Damian Miller. The game in Atlanta wouldn’t have been perfect without Robby Hammock. Thank you.
Then there’s you, the fans. I’ve had a chance to play for six different teams, never really having a place I could call home like Craig, to play my entire career there. I got to know a lot of ball players, played with some of the greatest of my era. Played for wonderful fans every stop along the way.
If I was a visiting player coming in to pitch against your team, you motivated me by screaming at me. If you were rooting for me, I would run through a brick wall for you and throw as many pitches as I needed to throw to get that game and us a victory.
Now that my baseball career is over, I have the opportunity to support our USO, our troops all around the world. In six years of retirement, I’ve been on seven USO tours, Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, South Korea, Cuba. It means a lot for me to see our men and women doing what they do for all of us.
We wouldn’t be here without the sacrifices of our men and women that protect our country. At this time I would like to point out and recognize two of my friends from the Wounded Warrior Project in Arizona that traveled all the way to be with me. Roy Halvorgen and Specialist Kenji Knee-ha-Poll. Thank you. Without your service to this country, nothing would be possible. I’m so grateful for you. Thank you very much for being here.
Now to my family. My dad passed away in 1992, on Christmas Day. He saw three years of my career. Not a lot to brag about. But there was that one game where I threw a no-hitter. I gave him a call, but he said it was far from perfect, I had walked seven batters. 13, 14 years later, I was perfect, dad, that one game.
As I said, I grew up in the Bay Area. I emulated Vida Blue. He was the local left-handed pitcher I could watch on a daily basis pitching for the Oakland A’s. I would be out in the front yard throwing a tennis ball against our garage door, a wooden garage door. My dad would come out after about half an hour with a hammer, put the hammer down and say, When you’re done playing catch against the wall, make sure you pound all those nails in.
He also took the time as a police officer when his shift was over to come in his police uniform and watch me pitch in high school. I never forgot those moments.
Then there’s my mom, the backbone to our family, working 25 years for General Electric as a secretary. I’m one of six children. She raised six children, still had a full-time job, and came home and fed us, took care of all of us. Thank you, mom. You’re the Hall of Famer.
I can remember when I was seven years old going to my first little league practice. She and my dad were both at work. It was the way we were raised. We were kind of tough as young ones. You kind of did things on your own. I took myself to where practice was being held. I came home confused because there were so many people there. By the time she got home, I was walking through the door having never made the little league practice. She took me by the hand, took me to my first little league practice, making sure that baseball would start for me on that day.
I love you, mom. I love you so much. You’re the most important person in my life.
Then there’s my siblings. My brother Jeff, my brother Greg who passed away, my sisters Sue, Cathy and Debbie. You’re all the oldest, I’m the youngest, and I’m so grateful that you looked out for your little brother along the way.
As Craig and John said, baseball is a long sport. You’re not home much. Someone has to run the household. I’ll be forever in debt to Lisa for looking out for our children and raising them. Thank you.
Three daughters and a son. Samantha, Willow, Lexie and Tanner. There’s no accomplishments I achieved that would ever outweigh anything that you could ever do in life. I’m so blessed and happy that I’m watching you guys grow up and become young adults. I’m so proud of you.
When I won my 300th game, it was supposed to be a special moment, and it was. But my son was the batboy that day. I had pitched six innings, was watching the game in the dugout. I was watching his every move in a SanFrancisco Giants uniform. We were getting closer to the finish of the game. He was standing on the top step. As soon as the last out was made, I watched his emotions. That’s what I took from that game that day. Winning the 300th game was great, but watching how emotional my son was was even better.
So many of the reasons that I’ve been inducted in the Hall of Fame are long gone now. I no longer have a fastball. I no longer have a bad mullet. And my scowl is long gone. I’m so happy to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and be in the greatest fraternity of all time. And you the fans to share this great moment with me.
In closing, I would just like to thank everybody for being here, and my special friends the Wounded Warriors, and also Zach Farmer who I don’t know personally, but I called him two days ago. He’s dying with leukemia. I was reached by two different people to give him a call. He was an All-American at Ohio State, left-handed pitcher, wanted to talk to me. I called him a couple days ago. He doesn’t have long to live.
Zach, I love you. I’ve never met you before, but hang in there.
Thank you once again. I appreciate it.