Brian Johnson’s late-season injury suddenly seemed so minor.
Johnson’s 2015 campaign ended early because of nerve discomfort in his left elbow, depriving the southpaw of the opportunity to audition for the Boston Red Sox’s 2016 rotation. For roughly 30 seconds in late October, however, Johnson was more concerned about staying alive, as the left-handed pitching prospect was a victim of a carjacking near his home in Cocoa Beach, Fla.
“A guy pulled up behind us, started screaming belligerent things. I had no idea what he was talking about,” Johnson said Saturday at the Red Sox’s Baseball Winter Weekend event at Foxwoods Resort Casino. “At this point in time, I didn’t know he had a gun. I stepped towards him. He starts waving a gun around, I stepped back and that’s when kind of everything stops.
“He’s screaming some more, goes around the side, he’s talking to my buddy who is driving the car, and tells him to get out and leave the car running,” Johnson added. “My buddy got nervous, and naturally when you get out of a car you turn the car off. I guess the way the guy perceived it was that my buddy was challenging it maybe. He shot the gun into the ground, I saw the bullet, you saw sparks hit the ground. I just went inside, started yelling, ‘Call 911. We’ve got something going on.’ ”
Terrified by the story? Imagine actually being Johnson, his brother or his best friend. The three guys went from filling up at a local gas station to fearing for their lives in a matter of seconds. It was unlike anything Johnson had ever gone through growing up in the Sunshine State.
“It’s crazy. I was right in my hometown,” Johnson said. “I’d never had one problem, never even got a detention in high school, never any of that stuff. Never had anything like that happen in my life. It was scary.
“When I called my mom, my mom was in tears. My dad, typical dad, but my dad was in tears. Scary moment.”
The dangerous situation wasn’t without a positive ending. According to Johnson, the culprit ran out of gas following a police chase because the men never had a chance to fill the car’s tank. Johnson and Co. probably won’t forget those wild moments anytime soon, though.
The pitcher also probably won’t overreact to whatever baseball hiccups he encounters throughout his career, knowing everything — not just baseball — almost went away in an instant.
Thumbnail photo via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Red Sox pitching prospect Brian Johnson