Randy Johnson’s Hall of Fame Debut
Do you want to know how fickle Baseball can be? RANDY JOHNSON IS GOING TO THE HALL OF FAME WEARING A DIAMONDBACKS CAP.
I take you now in the way-back machine, back to September 20, 1986, Seattle, in the accursed Kingdome. To celebrate my 23rd birthday, myself and a group of friends attended the (once again last place) Mariners game that night, against the defending champs, the Kansas City Royals. Pitching for the Mariners that night was one of some young pitchers obtained in a trade earlier in the season by the name of… wait for it…
Brett Saberhagen was going for the Royals.
The trade had sent the Mariners beloved lefty Mark Langston to the Expos for the three prospects, including Randy Johnson, who at the time was a VERY tall fireballer with no control whatsoever. He scared the living daylights out of hitters because he was throwing so hard and so wildly. He was Nuke LaLoosh a couple of years before there was a Nuke LaLoosh.
The Mariners, as usual, had a terrible year, finishing a mere 25 games back of the Angels and four back of the 6th Place Minnesota Twins. If you were looking for a high point, it was the night of September 20th, when a new, young Mariners arm took the mound against Brett Saberhagen and the Champion Royals.
In the top of the 1st, Jamie Quirk, the Royals quirky catcher line a two out single to single to left, but failed to score when Kingery flied out.
In the bottom of the 1st, Phil Bradley was doubled home by Jim Presley, followed by Ken “The $800,000 Ground Out” Phelps hitting a dribbler to the mound on which Alvin Davis and then Presley scoring on an error by, of all people, Saberagen himself. At the end of the 1st, the M’s led 3-0. You just knew it wouldn’t last.
But, inning after inning the Mariners newest pitcher mowed down the Royals. Inning after inning, the Royals went, three up, three down. In the 6th, Kevin Seitzer reached on an error by Jimbo Presley, but again, failed to score. By the 7th, we knew that we had something special in this young pitcher obtained by trading our beloved Langston to the Expos. And in the 9th, despite a walk to Lonnie Smith, the final out went 5-3, Presley to Davis and Mike Trujillo, who came over in the Langston trade, had the Mariners first ever 1 hitter and a 3-0 complete game shutout of the world Champion Royals.
Mariner fans were thrilled, I had a happy birthday, and it looked like the trade would work out after all as something more than the M’s dumping players and salary for nameless prospects that never panned out. Yep, Mike Trujillo and the M’s were going places! Trujillo finished the year 3-2 with a 2.40 ERA over 11 games. Two years later he was in Detroit, and by 1989 he was out of baseball.
The other Pitcher in the trade? Well, he didn’t make the Majors until 1989, where he helped save baseball in Seattle. He even pitched the teams first no-hitter, before decamping for Houston in a trade for three nobody’s and then he went on to glory – and the Hall of Fame – with the Diamondbacks Cap on his head.
And you’ve never heard of Mike Trujillo.
Fickle Basbeball… fickle…