By John Boyle Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Randy Johnson and Dan Wilson will go into the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame this summer, and as two players whose careers were so closely intertwined, they will, fittingly, be inducted together.
Johnson, one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, and Wilson, who caught more games than any player in Mariners history, will join Alvin Davis, Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner and Dave Niehaus in the Mariners Hall of Fame when they are inducted prior to the July 28 home game against Kansas City.
“To go in with Randy is an honor,” Wilson said on a conference call. “This is Randy’s first stop on the way to Cooperstown, and to go in at the same time as him is quite an honor for me.”
Johnson, acquired in a trade with Montreal, came to Seattle in 1989 as a hard-throwing but unpolished lefty who had not yet realized his potential. He was hitting his stride around the same time Wilson came to Seattle in 1994 in a trade with Cincinnati. Together they were part of some of the Mariners most memorable moments, most notably the 1995 season that saw Seattle make the playoffs for the first time. Both players called the one-game playoff with Anaheim that season the highlight of their careers in Seattle.
“When you boil (a season) down to one and you’re able to come out on top in that game, there really isn’t any better feeling for a baseball player than that,” Wilson said. “To strike out Tim Salmon on a slider and to run out and give Randy a big hug, that was for me the fondest moment I look back on in my Mariners career. What a great season. It was the culmination of a lot of team-oriented things. … That was definitely my favorite memory.”
Johnson, nicknamed the Big Unit because he stood 6-feet, 10-inches tall, won the first of his five Cy Young Awards as a Mariner and was the bigger star of the two players. While in Seattle, he was an All-Star five times, won 130 games and struck out 2,162 batters in 1,838.1 innings pitched, laying the foundation for what will surely be a Hall of Fame career when he becomes eligible.
Although Johnson had the higher profile, Wilson is equally deserving of this honor, the Big Unit said.
“For Dan to be inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame is something that is greatly deserved,” Johnson said. “He had a major impact on my career while I was in Seattle and when I left as well.
“He had a great career, and more importantly he and his wife are great people who do a tremendous amount of charitable work off the field. It couldn’t be more fitting that he is going in at the same time I am considering he caught the majority of my games in Seattle.”
Wilson, who spent 12 of his 14 seasons in Seattle, was an All-Star in 1996 and retired with a .995 fielding percentage, which at the time was the highest ever for an American League catcher. Few players he came across in his career stood out like Johnson.
“Randy could dominate a baseball game like I’ve never seen a pitcher dominate,” Wilson said. “… To hear the things guys would say when they stepped to the plate, Rex Hudler tipping his cap after striking out one time because he looked so silly, you don’t get that from an average pitcher.
“Randy was extraordinary and a pleasure to catch every time we took the field.”
And this won’t be Johnson’s last enshrinement. With 303 wins, 4,875 strikeouts, five Cy Young Awards, 10 All-Star appearances, two no-hitters and a World Series MVP on his resume, he’s a near lock to make the baseball Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible in 2015. Whether he goes into the Hall of Fame as a Mariner or Arizona Diamondback has not yet been decided, he said.
“That decision is not really up to me; the decision will be made for me,” he said. “I will have a little input, but I believe both teams are deserving. If I am selected, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. … That’s still several years down the road.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.