As Randy Johnson closes in on his 300th victory, here is a look back at The Big Unit's career.
Johnson was born in Walnut Creek, Calif. and grew up idolizing A's lefthander Vida Blue. Despite being offered a $50,000 signing bonus by the Braves, who drafted the lefty in the fourth round of the 1982 Amateur Draft, Johnson opted to attend college at USC.
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Johnson showed promise during his first two seasons at Southern Cal and expectations were high going into his junior year. Unfortunately, Johnson led the nation in walks with 104 in 118 innings and won only six games as the Trojans finished with the Pac-10's worst record.
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Johnson planned to return for his senior season, but the Expos surprised everyone when they took him with their second pick (34th overall). He was sent to the minor leagues, where he worked with Felipe Alou and Joe Kerrigan. Johnson made his major league debut in Sept. 1988 and made four starts, winning three.
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Johnson was traded to Seattle in May 1989 with pitchers Brian Holman and Gene Harris for Mark Langston. On the advice of Nolan Ryan, RJ tweaked his delivery and saw immediate results, going 5-2 with a 2.65 ERA over his final 11 starts.
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With his 6-foot-10 frame, wild long hair and dominant fastball, Johnson soon became one of Seattle's most popular sports figures. In this photo for a 1992 SI profile, The Big Unit showed off his musical talent.
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In 1995, Johnson broke out in a big way, finishing 18-2, striking out 294 batters in 214 innings of a strike-shortened season. He was awarded the Cy Young Award and made his fourth All-Star team along with Mariner teammates Ken Griffey Jr., Tino Martinez and Edgar Martinez.
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By 1998, the Mariners were struggling and Johnson was facing free agency. On July 31, he was traded to Houston for Carlos Garcia, Freddy Garcia and John Halama. The Big Unit was reborn with the Astros, winning 10 of 11 decisions and hurling four straight shutouts in the AstroDome.
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Johnson led the Astros to the playoffs, where they faced San Diego in the first round. Despite a 1.93 ERA in Johnson's two starts, the Astros only provided one run of support in both games and Houston was bounced from the playoffs.
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Johnson entered the offseason as one of baseball's most sought-after free agents and was signed to a $53-million, four-year deal in November with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
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Johnson hugs his mother, Carol, after signing his $54 million deal with the D-Backs.
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Johnson was a big hit in Arizona, especially standing next to Arizona's batting practice pitcher Tony Dello.
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In 2001, Johnson teamed with Schilling to create the most potent 1-2 punch in baseball. The Big Unit captured his third Cy Young after finishing the season with a 21-6 record, a 2.49 ERA and an amazing 372 strikeouts in 250 innings. The season was highlighted by Arizona's remarkable World Series victory over New York in which Johnson and Schilling shared MVP honors.
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After winning the World Series, Johnson made the talk show rounds, including an appearance on 'The Tonight Show' with Jay Leno.
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By 2004, most experts thought Johnson was on the decline, but he proved his critics wrong in May when he became the oldest pitcher (40 years) to throw a perfect game. The 2-0 victory over the Braves also made him the fifth pitcher in MLB history (after Cy Young, Jim Bunning, Nolan Ryan and Hideo Nomo) to pitch a no-hitter in both leagues.
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In January 2005, Johnson was traded to the Yankees in exchange for pitchers Javier Vazquez and Brad Halsey, catcher Dioner Navarro and $9 million. New York gave him a two-year, $32 million extension.
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The Big Unit was inconsistent in his first year in pinstripes, but finished the season with a 17--8 record and a 3.79 ERA. He won 17 games again in 2006, but his ERA was a mediocre 5.00 and his playoff performance (five earned runs in 5 2/3 innings) left him on the outs in New York.
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In early January 2007, he was traded back to the Diamondbacks. Unfortunately, the trade did little to buoy his performance. By early July, Johnson was 4-3 with a 3.81 ERA. He also was dealing with the same herniated disc injury that plagued him in New York. Doctors decided The Big Unit needed surgery and his season was finished.
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In December 2008, Johnson signed a one-year deal with the San Francisco Giants for a reported $8 million. He currently stands at 299 career victories.
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