Randy Johnson is a Hall of Fame pitcher, all-time great flamethrower, one of the tallest to ever play the game and a World Series champion. But perhaps what he’s best known for is tragically killing a bird.
On Wednesday, baseball fans remembered the incident 20 years later, and Johnson’s name began to trend on social media.
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Videos showed the then-Arizona Diamondbacks lefty throw a ball toward the catcher during a spring training game on March 24, 2001. The unsuspecting bird flies across the field just at the precise moment the ball is coming its way – then, a puff of feathers.
Fans reacted to the videos and some still can’t believe it happened.
Calvin Murray, who played for the San Francisco Giants at the time of the incident, told The Athletic on Tuesday he thought it was a prank.
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“My initial reaction was the ball had exploded. I thought it was a practical joke or something, that he threw some tricked-up exploding baseball. It just took a minute for it to process,” he said.
Johnson now uses the dead bird as the logo of his photography company.
He said at the time in 2001, “I didn’t think it was all that funny.”
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Then-Diamondbacks catcher Rod Barajas added: “I’m sitting there waiting for it, and I’m expecting to catch the thing, and all you see is an explosion.”