BY: ED COLE
TEMPE, Ariz. — Randy Johnson has his Hall of Fame induction speech ready to go for next weekend. He’s going to try to do two things when he takes the stage at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum next Sunday: keep the speech to 11 minutes, and not be nervous as he’s delivering it to the huge throng that will be there in Cooperstown, N.Y.
“I’ll be extremely nervous,” Johnson said. “The speech is done, and you’ll have to wait to hear it.”
“(I) played 26 years of professional baseball, been playing baseball since I was seven years old, and I got about 10-11 minutes to talk, (which) is not a lot of time to reflect on my life of baseball, but I’ll do the best,” Johnson said. “I made an assertive effort to hit every phase of my career. Not a lot of storytelling, but mostly just thanking people for their support, (and) their help; my teammates, the fans, coaches, ownership, the teams that I played for. I’ll have several teammates (at) different stages of my career there, and I think that’ll be pretty special; and obviously my family and my mom who’s been waiting for this longer than I have.”
Johnson had a chance to visit Cooperstown recently with his son, and they had an absolute blast. It was the first time Johnson had been at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in 25 years. Naturally, things change when you’ve been away from them for a quarter-century, and the Hall of Fame and Museum was no different for Johnson. He really didn’t remember much about it, because of the time gap.
For Johnson, it was all about being there with his son, Tanner, and making it a special experience for him.
“We had an amazing time. We got to go back, and see things, and put our little white gloves on, and touch things like Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth’s baseball bats,” Johnson said. “As my career expanded, and continued to go on and on, is when I really enjoyed understanding more of the history of the game, because I got the opportunity to start meeting some of these people, so I think I have a greater appreciation.”
Johnson and his son had a more laid back approach to their Hall of Fame visit then, but when Johnson and his family go there next weekend, it’ll have a different feel to it, because Johnson will be at the center of attention, along with three other baseball greats – Craig Biggio, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz – who will also be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Johnson being inducted into the Hall of Fame, and he’s going to enjoy every second once he gets there.
“I’m looking forward to taking it in,” Johnson said. “Now I’m relaxed and I’m having fun. My biggest concern is I just want to thank the people that meant so much to me. This isn’t about me; in essence, it’s about the people that got me there, and I’ll make an assertive effort to do that.”
The big controversy surrounding Johnson and the Hall of Fame is which team he would go in representing: would it be the Seattle Mariners or the Arizona Diamondbacks? It was a hard choice to make, because Johnson pitched at such a high level for both teams, but in the end, Johnson said it had to be the Diamondbacks, because of the body of work he put together with them.
Johnson won four straight Cy Young awards, a World Series title and was named to five All-Star teams in his first six years with the Diamondbacks. Johnson had some phenomenal years with the Mariners, winning one Cy Young award and making five All-Star teams, but that pales in comparison to what he did for Arizona.
“It wasn’t easy (choosing Arizona), but looking at the body of work, I hope people (in Seattle) would understand that,” Johnson said. “I wouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame if it wasn’t for my Seattle years. These were intense moments here (with Diamondbacks).”
“I just felt that it was a better choice picking Arizona, because I did so much more here in a shorter time, that’s all,” Johnson said.