Randy Johnson Retires After 22 Seasons


January 5, 2010

Randy Johnson Retires After 22 Seasons SAN FRANCISCO — Randy Johnson is retiring after 22 major league seasons.

The Big Unit, an overpowering lefty who last
June became the 24th pitcher to win 300 games, made the expected
announcement Tuesday on a conference call.

“I really wanted to go out on my terms,”
Johnson said. “I just feel like there’s not a lot more for me to do in
this game. I just think it’s a natural progression when you play this
long. Eventually you have to say it’s time.”

A five-time Cy Young Award winner, the
46-year-old Johnson accomplished just about everything in his
remarkable career that a player hopes for in baseball.

He owns a World Series ring and co-MVP honors,
and was a 10-time All-Star. He threw two no-hitters, including a
perfect game, and ranks second on the career strikeout list.

The 6-foot-10 Johnson finishes with a career
record of 303-166 and 4,875 strikeouts in 4,135 1/3 innings for
Montreal, Seattle, Houston, Arizona, the New York Yankees and San
Francisco. His strikeouts are the most by a left-hander and second to
Nolan Ryan‘s 5,714.

Johnson overcame several injuries to keep
pitching at a high level into his mid-40s. He said before last season
ended that he looked forward to going home to Arizona and spending time
with his family before making a decision about his future.

“It’s taken this long into January because I
definitely wanted to just kind of relax from the season being over and
make sure I had a clear head when I made this decision, and that I
would be making it wholeheartedly and would be sticking to it,” he said.

Johnson went 8-6 with a 4.88 ERA in 17 starts
and five relief appearances for San Francisco last season despite
missing more than two months with a strained left shoulder that also
had a tear in the rotator cuff. He returned in late September as a
reliever, a role he couldn’t see himself embracing in order to keep

Johnson had said part of his decision would
be based on whether he thought he could be durable enough to be a
starter again. As he was working his way back last year, he
acknowledged that pitching more than five innings and being effective
would be tough at this stage.

He came out of a game July 5 against Houston
with an injury, the first serious shoulder problem of his career. He
felt something in his arm on a swing during that start but initially
tried to pitch through it. He then left the game after committing a
throwing error in the fourth inning.

He was on the disabled list from July 6 to
Sept. 16, marking the 10th DL stint of Johnson’s career. He had four
knee operations and three back surgeries, but worked his way back each

Johnson signed with the Giants to try to help
them reach the playoffs, but they missed the postseason for a sixth
straight year. San Francisco stayed in the NL wild-card chase well into

Pitching in San Francisco, Johnson was only about 40 miles west of where he grew up in Livermore.

He largely stayed to himself in his final
season, insisting the 300-win milestone wasn’t his top priority. Then
on June 4 at Washington, he became the 24th pitcher in big league
history to accomplish the feat.

Johnson pitched his first no-hitter in 1990,
won 19 games with 308 strikeouts in 1993 and 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 signed as a free agent with the
Diamondbacks before the following season, beginning one of the most
dominating runs a pitcher has ever had. Johnson won the Cy Young in
each of his first four seasons with Arizona, capturing the coveted
pitcher’s triple crown in 2002 with a 24-5 record, 2.32 ERA and 334

His most memorable moments were in 2001, when
he came out of the bullpen to beat the Yankees in Game 7 of the World
Series to give the Diamondbacks the title. He went 3-0 in the Series,
sharing the MVP award with Curt Schilling.

Johnson pitched a perfect game at age 40
against Atlanta. Rickey Henderson certainly felt the heat before that.
The Hall of Famer struck out in 30 of 59 at-bats against Johnson,
making him the Unit’s top victim.

Johnson didn’t have as much success after
leaving Arizona for the first time following the 2004 season. He won 34
games in two seasons with the Yankees, although the tenure was marred
by a run-in with a camera man and postseason struggles.

He returned to Arizona in ’07 and won just 15 games in two years while struggling with back problems.

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