I went to my first Giants’ game of the year to see the Giants take on the Rockies in Game 1 last Friday. I was invited to go with my mom who won ridiculous seats about 20 rows up behind home plate. We were having fun eating garlic fries and I was enjoying sharing little bits of Giants knowledge that had stuck in my brain from being around BASG so much:
“Here comes Sandoval. They call him “Pandaval” because he’s big like a Panda.”
“That’s Aaron Rowand. Check out his thighs. Yes, he always squats like that when he’s at bat.”
“No mom, you don’t get to pick a new game to go to for free if this game is rained out.”
“It’s called a mull-hawk – part mullet part mohawk. And he’s the one who got in trouble from tweeting.”
“Randy Winn’s wife’s name is Blessings.”
“Those orange K’s are not free. They cost $5.”
“The pitcher is Randy Johnson. He’s really tall and pretty old for a baseball player at 45.”
And that’s all I really knew about Randy Johnson going into this game. Tall and old and probably headed toward the Hall of Fame one day. To be honest, when I heard he was pitching I was a little disappointed. Why can’t Timmeh pitch this Friday? It was raining and cold and I was thinking to myself that this was going to be a hard game for any pitcher, let alone a 45-year-old. I mentally prepared myself for an ugly game. Then Randy started to pitch and one by one batters were striking out. It was really exciting and very impressive and I started to feel bad about judging this talented pitcher.
It was Randy Johnson’s turn to hit and he hit the ball hard, sending it back behind me to the club level where the foul ball bounced off the facade and started to fall down to where I was sitting. Luckily, my mom had gone on a hot dog run and the ball landed right in her seat. Men from all around were ready to pounce but I quickly snapped up the ball and they backed away. They golf clapped my pickup and one guy said sadly to me, “Wow, I’ve been waiting all my life to get a foul ball.” Tough luck buddy – you had no chance since you were two rows ahead of me! Even tougher luck trying to guilt trip me into giving you my ball!
I called BASG immediately who was very proud of me and my catch and posted about it right away, not forgetting to mention that he had already caught TWO baseballs himself. I put my ball on our bookshelf and we later got his two baseballs out of a storage box to display as well. I guess it’s only fair.
After catching Randy Johnson’s foul ball, I decided that I needed to know a little bit more about him other than that he was tall and 45. Here are the most interesting facts I found:
-Born in Walnut Creek (aka The Dub-C)
-Won the Cy Young five times (Step it up Timmeh and Barry!)
-Spring training 2001 against the SF Giants Johnson’s fastball struck and killed a dove (Yes Prince, the dove did cry)
-Only one career home run to date – Sept 19, 2003 (and an amazing foul on May 1, 2009!)
-Starting in 1988, Johnson’s played for the Expos, Mariners, Astros, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Diamondbacks and Giants — on a map this is what his career looks like:
-Big Unit Nickname Story: During batting practice in 1988, Johnson collided head-first with outfielder Tim “Rock” Raines, prompting his teammate to exclaim, “You’re a big unit!” (Glad this name was not given to him in the locker room)
-Johnson was once the tallest player in MLB history. He is currently the second-tallest along with Chris Young of the San Diego Padres and Andrew Sisco of the Oakland Athletics. The tallest is 6’11” pitcher, and Johnson’s former Diamondback teammate, Jon Rauch. (Being so tall, I wonder how many times Randy has been hit with a line drive?)
My favorite fun fact that I discovered is that Randy is now three games away from reaching the magic 300 career wins. Being at win #297 was exciting. With BASG’s luck, maybe we have a chance to catch a ball at #300 too. I’ll definitely be bringing my glove next time.