Only one of the 2015 MLB Hall of Fame inductees had a decision to make on his Hall cap. Sorry, Seattle; Randy’s going in as a Diamondback
Two weeks ago, we found out who the newest members of Baseball’s Hall of Fame would be. This week, one final Hall question has been answered: would Randy Johnson become the first Arizona Diamondback inducted, or the first Seattle Mariner? Now we know; Johnson’s Hall of Fame plaque will don a Diamondbacks logo.
While the other three inductees this season were no-brainers in terms of the cap they’ll don, Johnson was a much more difficult decision. Johnson spent a decade with the Seattle Mariners, where he appeared in and won more games than any other stop during his 22-year career. Johnson amassed a 130-74 record in Seattle, where he was named an All-Star five times. Johnson finished in the top-three in Cy Young voting four times during his tenure in the Pacific Northwest, including winning the award in 1995. He also led the American League in strikeouts four times while in Seattle, from 1992-95. Johnson left Seattle via trade in the middle of the 1998 season as the franchise’s leader in strikeouts and shutouts; he is second in team history in wins, trailing only Jamie Moyer’s 145.
While Johnson’s numbers in Seattle would have constituted a successful career on their own, Johnson somehow improved in the second half of his career with the Diamondbacks. While he spent fewer seasons in Arizona and recorded fewer wins and strikeouts, Johnson’s best years came in a Diamondbacks jersey.
Johnson was named an All-Star in five of his six years during his original run with the Diamondbacks (he would return to Arizona for two seasons in 2007-08). Johnson won the National League Cy Young award four consecutive times from 1999-2002, one of only two pitchers to do so (Greg Maddux, 92-95); after being injured for most of 2003, Johnson came in second for the award in 2004. Perhaps just as importantly, Johnson won the only World Series of his career with Arizona in 2001; he shared series-MVP honors with Curt Schilling.
Unsurprisingly, as the Diamondbacks have only been around since 1998, Johnson holds nearly every major pitching record the franchise has: most wins, strikeouts, shutouts, innings, starts, and complete games. He also holds the franchise’s single-season records for wins (24), strikeouts (372), and ERA (2.32), amongst many others.
When he learned of his induction, Johnson had a difficult choice to make when it came to his choice of headgear. He made a name for himself in Seattle, where he had his longest stay. He won more games in Seattle than anywhere else; he won his first Cy Young there. That said, he won more awards in Arizona than he ever did in Seattle, even in two fewer seasons, and won his only World Series there.
While it was unlikely Johnson would pick Seattle for his plaque, given the unprecedented success he had in Arizona, many speculated Johnson could go the Greg Maddux route. Maddux, who split his career between the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves, chose to have neither logo on his Hall of Fame plaque after his induction last year. Johnson, however, felt Arizona made the most sense.
In a statement released by the Hall of Fame on Friday, Johnson said of his decision, “After reflecting the last week and conferring with the Hall of Fame, we’ve come to the decision that the Diamondbacks logo on my Hall of Fame plaque makes the most sense.” Johnson went on to thank all of the teams he spent time with, and the fans who welcomed him in each city.
Three of this year’s Hall of Fame inductees have no decision at all when it comes to their Hall of Fame cap. Craig Biggio played his entire career in Houston, John Smoltz spent all but the tail end of his career in Atlanta, and Pedro Martinez spent the majority of his in Boston. Randy Johnson, however, had a far more difficult choice. Would he go with the city he spent the most time in, put up the highest totals, and made a name for himself? Or would he go with the city he had the most success – both individual and team – despite the shorter stay? In the end, rather than go the Maddux root and go without a logo at all, Johnson chose the latter. Congratulations on your first Hall of Famer, Arizona. And don’t worry, Seattle; you’ll get your first next year when Ken Griffey is voted in.