I think a lot of us out there were expecting to hear this news quite some years back. Today though Randy “Big Unit” Johnson has called it a career. He had a 22 year career and any pitcher who can pitch until they are 46 deserves to be in the Hall of Fame regardless of what they did on the field. Of course I am sure that I am going to get some people who disagree with that last statement, but what you can’t disagree with is that he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
In 22 seasons he piled up 303 wins and 4875 strikeouts. He is second to only Nolan Ryan in strikeouts. He will go down in history as the second best power pitcher of all time. That is a hell of a compliment when you think about it. For a solid decade from 1992 – 2002 he was absolutely dominant. During that time span he had 5 Cy Young awards and two runners-up. He had over 300 strikeouts in a season five times. In 2002, arguably his best season, he won pitching’s Triple Crown. He is first all-time in strikeouts / 9 innings. Just before he retired, he had the most active player complete games (100), next on the list was Tom Glavine at 56.
All That being said, I hated him. As a Yankee fan to see him and the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in the World Series was awful. To make matters worse, he became a Yankee, which just upped my hatred towards him. The final straw though is when he eventually registered more strikeouts than my childhood hero Roger Clemens. Today I can say without shame, that he was better than Clemens. He had a fantastic career, one that older generations will tell younger generations about.
As far as the hobby goes, Johnson’s cards are still a hot commodity. Sure they don’t sell as high as Jeter or A-Rod or even Nolan Ryan, but trying to find a nice autographed card for under $50 is like hitting the lottery. My favorite signature card of his is pictured below. It’s so simple, yet elegant and it can be yours for the rock bottom price of $150. There are versions with a higher number of issued cards which sell for lower (a /250 version sold for $30 recently). His card is must have in any collection. His rookie cards can be had for pennies on the dollar since they were part of the junk wax generation. Although I don’t like the guy I do have to take my hat off and salute what has been an amazing career.