Giants honor R. Johnson for 300th win
AP Sports Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Tom Seaver brought a bottle of his wine label to congratulate Randy Johnson for his recent 300th win. Gaylord Perry and Nolan Ryan, two more Hall of Fame members of the elite 300 club, also showed up to celebrate the Big Unit’s milestone victory.
The Giants honored the left-hander before Saturday night’s game against Texas for becoming the 24th pitcher to reach 300. The 45-year-old Johnson won at Washington on June 4 for No. 300. A video tribute played on the main center-field scoreboard with highlights from the pitcher’s decorated 22-year career, then Johnson was joined by his family for an on-field tribute. He received a warm ovation from the crowd, tipping his hat in every direction.
“I’d like to thank all the teams that I played for – Montreal, Seattle, Houston, New York, Arizona and of course San Francisco – and all the fans,” Johnson said. “And all my teammates on all those teams that I’ve learned a lot from and hopefully I taught a little bit to some of them as well. I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank all the team doctors and trainers.
The 6-foot-10 Johnson, in his first season with the Giants after battling back injuries during his last two years with Arizona, is 6-5 with a 5.00 ERA. He has a World Series ring and co-MVP honors, five Cy Young awards and is a 10-time All-Star selection. He’s thrown two no-hitters, including a perfect game, and ranks second on the career strikeout list only to Ryan.
“You can put a blanket over all the individuals: dedication, concentration and focus,” said Seaver, who chose a 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon with a special greeting for Johnson. “I think it’s a focus of physical and mental energy. Excellence over a long period of time, it’s not easy.”
The handwritten message on the wine for Johnson read, “R.J., welcome to the club.” Seaver compared the process of winemaking to the “journey” of reaching 300 wins.
Tom Glavine – who was the most recent to win 300 before Johnson, on Aug. 5, 2007 – and Phil Niekro each sent written messages for Johnson that were read and shown on the big screen.
Johnson appreciates Ryan for giving him some kind words years ago when the Unit was with Seattle.
“Randy was right at the threshold of putting it all together,” Ryan said. “I really think he gives me credit for helping him, but he was right there on the verge of doing it.”
Perry, once a Mariner himself, believes Johnson saved the Seattle franchise.
Johnson pitched his first no-hitter in 1990, won 19 games with 308 strikeouts in 1993, and then led the Mariners to their first playoff berth with an 18-2 record in 1995. He finished his 10-year stint in Seattle with a 130-74 record, before being traded to Houston in 1998.
“He’s been a great pitcher,” Perry said. “I never threw that hard. If I did, I might have won 400. That’s quite a feat he did. I’m just very proud I got invited by the Giants to be here.”
Johnson donated his cap from the 300-win game, the ball, the pitching rubber and scorecard to the Hall of Fame.
“He’s been really generous,” Hall president Jeff Idelson said. “He’s been incredible. He’s certainly cognizant of his place in history.”
Idelson also brought lifetime Hall of Fame passes for Johnson’s kids and presented the pitcher with a book of all the 300-game winners.
“It’s likely we will never again witness a career like yours,” said Giants owner Bill Neukom, who announced plans for a Junior Giants league and field in Johnson’s honor in his nearby hometown of Livermore.