Randy Johnson is widely known as one of the great pitchers of his generation. He’s a five-time Cy Young award winner, a 10-time MLB All-Star, a first-ballot Hall of Famer and a World Series champion. All impressive accomplishments.
But, his most impressive, impossible and unfortunate accomplishment might be the one that he’s actually most commonly remembered for.
15 years ago today, in the seventh inning of a spring training game in Florida against the San Francisco Giants, Johnson – then with the Arizona Diamondbacks – reached back and uncorked one of his trademark 100 mph fastballs.
However, as you can see, the ball never reached home plate. Somehow, as the ball made its way from Johnson’s hand to the catcher’s mitt, a bird flew directly across the ball’s path and collided with the fastball. The bird was killed instantly and video of the unbelievable play now lives in infamy.
For his part, Johnson has embraced his role in the extremely unlikely incident.
He’s now a highly-regarded photographer in retirement and his logo for his photography company is of a dead bird, seemingly an homage to the incident.
Johnson has also been quoted as saying that he gets asked more about the incident with the bird than he does about any of his other aforementioned baseball accomplishments.
One scientist who spoke to Newsweek about the incident put the odds on this happening at an astonishing 12 million-1, meaning this is in all likelihood the most improbable accomplishment of Johnson’s amazing career.
Bryan Altman is, for some reason, an unabashed fan of the Rangers, Jets and Mets. If he absolutely had to pick a basketball team it would be the Knicks, but he’d gladly trade them for just one championship for any of his other three teams.
Questions or comments? Feel free to follow Bryan on Twitter or send him an email.