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.

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7 responses »

  1. deal says:

    He is your disagreer on the longevity statement.

    If Jamie Moyer throws another pitch he will pitch till he is 47 and into his 24th season. Alas he is not a Hall of Fame pitcher.

    But he is at a minimum a Phils HOF player.

    Hats off to the Unit. I was always a fan. And just think of the awards he would of racked up had Clemens not been part of the game.

  2. Teddy says:

    His years in NY soured me on him…he was a dick from day one, when he pushed the cameraman on a NYC street. He just didn’t seem to have that killer instinct for NY that he had in Arizona. Regardless, he was the most dominating lefty of his generation, and possibly any generation. Kinda sad to think that his legacy for the youtube generation will be the day he killed that bird with a fastball

  3. Jeff says:

    I didn’t realize that he announced his retirement. Barring any major injury I thought he would have continued pitching for another year or two. From the little I heard about the Giants during last season, he seemed to accept the role of #3 or #4 pitcher in the rotation, and be a mentor to the young Giants pitchers. I guess once he won #300 he knew it was time to retire.
    One interesting fact about Johnson’s career – he had more wins in his 40’s than he had in his 20’s. It shows it took him a while to learn how to harness his fastball effectively.
    One last comment: I wouldn’t call Randy Johnson the second best power pitcher of all time. I’d say he’s in the top ten, but I’d say that pitchers such as Walter Johnson, Koufax, Gibson, Seaver, Clemens, Ryan were better than him.

  4. David says:

    It turns out I got to see him in his last game. I went to the final Padres game this year which happened to be against the Giants. He made a relief appearance in the game for what turned out to be his last time on the mound. I was sitting right behind home plate and it was great to see him one last time. Seeing his last strikeout (against Adrian Gonzalez) will be a great memory. I’ve seen him in person since his early Mariners days and I have always been amazed.

    To make the story even better, before that final game, his son was with him and they were playing catch on the sidelines. After playing catch, he came over to the dugout and started signing for people. I ended up getting him on a baseball (in sharpie unfortunately, but it was his full signature instead of the shorter scribble). It is one of my highlights as an autograph collector and is proudly on display in my house.

  5. Garrett says:

    LOL @ my childhood hero, Roger Clemens…

    Wow, in the same breath – I’m a Yankees fan and my childhood hero is Roger Clemens. As a member of Yankee nation, I must say that’s some irony for you.

  6. Dave H says:

    Sad to see an amazing career come to an end. He was phenomenal and for a while it seemed he just got better with age. Randy is an example of someone who was blessed with many gifts and even though a lot of his physical skills started to decline (with each passing surgery), he developed an even better mind that more than made up for what he was losing in velocity. Randy will be a first ballot HOF and I hope he continues with baseball in another capacity!

  7. Coachie says:

    I was hoping for a blog about the HOF today. No love for Andre Dawson???

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