March 24th in baseball history: Don't cross Randy Johnson

Dove guessed curve

TUCSON, ARIZONA - Many hitters thought Randy Johnson's fastballs were deadly. On this date in 2001 one of them truly was - for a bird. During an exhibition game against the San Francisco Giants, the Arizona Diamondbacks' 6-ft 10-in pitcher wound up and threw a fastball to a Giants hitter at precisely the moment a dove flew in front of home plate. The ball hit the bird. The result was a cloud of feathers and an ex-bird.

According to the Associated Press (AP), Diamondbacks catcher Rod Barajas said, "I'm sitting there waiting for it, and I'm expecting to catch the thing and all you see is an explosion." The home plate umpire called it a "no pitch."

Sportswriters and columnists had a field day with the unfortunate demise of the bird, which ended up in "fowl" territory. Johnson said he didn't think it was all that funny.

When wildlife wasn't getting in the way of Randy Johnson's pitches he was pretty good. He won 5 Cy Young awards, had a record of 303 wins and 166 losses. He was on 10 all-star teams, and was a member of the 2001 World Series Champion Diamondbacks.

Randy Johnson retired before the 2010 season. Doves and major league hitters breathed a little easier.

Contributing sources:
The Associated Press (AP), Tucson, Arizona, March 25, 2001

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