Johnson thanks fans, many others, as D-Backs retire No. 51
PHOENIX (AP) Saying ''there were a lot of special moments created here,'' Randy Johnson thanked fans, teammates, front office personnel, even the clubhouse guys, when the Arizona Diamondbacks retired his No. 51 on Saturday night.
Johnson won four consecutive NL Cy Young Awards and a World Series championship, threw a perfect game at age 40, and as he noted, killed a bird with a pitch during his eight seasons - over two stints - with the Diamondbacks.
The honor came two weeks after Johnson's induction as a first-ballot selection to baseball's Hall of Fame.
He joins former teammate Luis Gonzalez as the only Arizona players to have their number retired by the franchise.
Johnson strode to the infield from the bullpen, the same walk he took in the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.
When the ceremony was over, he stood on the mound he had so dominated and waved to the big crowd.
The Diamondbacks presented Johnson with an exact replica of the drum set used by the rock group Rush. Johnson is friends with members of the band, particularly bass player and lead singer Geddy Lee.
Johnson bent over in surprise and threw his hands in the air.
He took the microphone and spoke to the crowd, listing thanks by name, including many players from his World Series championship team. He said his third baseman at the time, now manager of the Washington Nationals' Matt Williams, ''was the closest to my personality'' on game day than anyone he had known. He thanked fans that rooted for him and against him.
Johnson recalled the intensity building every time he drove to the ballpark on the day he pitched, ''morphing into something I didn't know I was becoming.''
''When I stepped between the lines, I gave it everything I had,'' he said.
In eight seasons over two stints with Arizona, Johnson was 118-62 with a 2.83 ERA. He struck out 2,077 with the Diamondbacks and had 416 walks.
Johnson had the best ERA in the National League three times when he was with Arizona. He was 21-6 with a 2.49 ERA in Arizona's 2001 World Series championship season.
His best statistical season with the Diamondbacks was 2002. He led the NL in wins, going 24-5 with a career-best 2.32 ERA. In each of his four Cy Young seasons in Arizona, he never pitched fewer than 248 innings.
The Diamondbacks were the surprise franchise that Johnson chose as a free agent after Arizona's inaugural 1998 season.
Jerry Colangelo, the managing partner of the Diamondbacks at the time Johnson came to the team, got a big ovation when introduced at the ceremony on the Chase Field infield.
''I'm so thankful that I met Jerry Colangelo,'' Johnson said. ''He had a vision for this franchise. He brought successful baseball to Arizona, something that all of you can be proud of. We won a World Series faster than any other franchise in history, and I thank you Jerry.''
Five years after his retirement, after his following his 303rd career win, Johnson's temperament has noticeably softened. He explained after his Hall of Fame selection that he simply had to be the person he was as a pitcher to have the success that he did.
Johnson, in what he said was an extremely tough decision, chose to enter the Hall of Fame as a Diamondback. He has been hired by the franchise as special assistant to club president Derrick Hall.
On Wednesday, Johnson will travel to Japan with Hall, managing partner Ken Kendrick and Gonzalez as part of a Diamondbacks goodwill tour.