In one of the rarest scenes ever to occur on a baseball field, 19 years ago today Arizona Diamondbacks LHP Randy Johnson killed a dove with just one pitch.
19 years ago, on March 24, 2001, Randy Johnson took the mound for the Arizona Diamondbacks in a Spring Training match against the San Francisco Giants. Though spring starts don’t have much allure to them, this one, in particular, will never be forgotten.
That’s because while facing Giants outfielder Calvin Murray, “The Unit” did something no other pitcher has ever done before. Johnson, who threw 100 mph fastball with regularity, hurled a fastball that never quite made it to home plate. Instead, a dove interfered with the pitch causing “an explosion of feathers,” as then-Diamondbacks manager Bob Brently would describe it.
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Now, this was at a time when Johnson was at his absolute peak, coming off of a third consecutive NL Cy Young award and on his way to a fourth. So you can only imagine what that poor bird went through in those precious moments before the ball met his body.
According to NBC Sports, if it wasn’t for Diamondbacks’ video coordinator Jim Currigan, we would never have ever seen the astonishing incident. This was a time before Spring Training games were televised, so Currigan was tasked with recording every Spring at-bat.
Heck, when it occurred, even he didn’t know what had happened. Quite frankly, neither did Randy Johnson. In fact, in an interview conducted by Fox Sports Arizona, Johnson describes the incident by saying that he saw “a blur going across home plate, the ball simultaneously hitting that blur.”
It took clubhouse attendants requesting to see the video that made him aware that he had captured something truly… unique.
Just imagine what a video like this would generate in this day and age. It would easily go viral and trend at the top of the list on all social media platforms.
Fortunately for us, in a time like this, it’s video’s like these that keep our baseball hopes alive.