With four legends inducted yesterday into the 2015 class of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, one stood significantly taller.
In the same way he physically towered over hitters from the pitcher’s mound during his storied career, the imposing frame of former MLB hurler Randy Johnson mounted over fellow inductees Pedro Martinez, John Schmolz and Craig Biggio during the ceremony.
However, the stoic and once easily agitated Johnson with the bad mullet haircut that we knew from his playing days also stood much taller in a much different way.
The 6’10 lefty who received 97.3 percent of the vote comported himself differently during the Hall of Fame weekend.
Gone were his glower and guarded demeanor much to the delight of the 45,000 fans in attendance and the scores watching at home on the MLB Network.
Though not as long-winded as John Smoltz, entertaining as Pedro Martinez or tepid as Craig Biggio, Johnson exhibited a never before seen public display of gratefulness and humor when delivering his acceptance speech.
A softer, more approachable Johnson stood in stark contrast to the surly ace which dominated hitters during his playing days and personified the Big Unit nickname given him by teammate Tim Raines during his rookie season in Montreal.
During his 21-year career with the Mariners, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Giants and Expos, Johnson’s physical size and on field performance towered above all other Major League Baseball pitchers.
MLB hitters facing Johnson feared his blazing 100 mph fastball and hard, wicked slider. Both pitches were instrumental in his leading the majors in strikeouts nine times and overall ERA four times.
A ten-time MLB all-star and five-time Cy Young Award winner, the dominating lefty retired in 2009 as one of the most decorated pitchers in baseball history. In addition to winning a World Series in 2001 with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Big Unit was named Co-MVP of the series with his Diamondbacks’ teammate Curt Schilling.
Other significant career accomplishments include the perfect game Johnson tossed on May 18, 2004 against the Atlanta Braves. He also claims a no-hitter he pitched on June 2, 1990 versus the Detroit Tigers.
Johnson’s fabulous pitching career became even more impressive. This non-performance enhanced fire-baller dominated from the mound during the infamous Major League Baseball era which was sullied by widespread steroid usage.
This big time baseball talent finished his pitching days with 308 career wins. He ranks second in career strikeouts with 4,875 and holds the record for baseball’s best ever strikeouts per innings pitched.
Cooperstown voters didn’t come close to whiffing when electing Randy Johnson as a first time Hall of Fame ballot selection in 2015.
Yesterday in Cooperstown the Big Unit was a really big hit!
MIKE on Sports!