The one time I saw Hall-of-Famer Randy Johnson pitch in-person, my friend turned to me and said, “Is Randy Johnson’s name a joke?”
It was the first time I realized that Randy Johnson was both an intimidating, dominant pitcher and a sophomoric dick joke waiting to happen.
He was 6’10” tall, threw 100 mph helmet-seeking-sidearm missiles, and had a moustache/mullet combo that only the most frightening and confident man in the world could pull off.
His nickname was, appropriately, “The Big Unit.” And 18 years before rapper Latto put the concept of “Big D Energy” to song, Randy Johnson was living it on a baseball diamond in Atlanta.
On May 18th, 2004, the big lefty dialed up his patented “Big Unit Energy” en route to completing a perfect game against the Atlanta Braves.
A pitcher earns a “perfect game” if he completes the game without any opposing hitter reaching base (by hit, walk, hit-by-pitch, or error). It’s an extremely rare feat that has only been completed 23 times in baseball history.
At age 40, Randy Johnson became the oldest player to ever do so. He struck out Hall-of-Famer Chipper Jones three times on his way to 13 strikeouts, 27 outs, and an unforgettable moment.
It was a random Tuesday night game in Atlanta (Johnson pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks), in what would eventually become a forgettable, 111-loss season for the Diamondbacks. But moments like a perfect game are what draw people to sports, and especially to baseball. Any night of the week, even in meaningless games, you have a chance to see something historic happen.
Randy Johnson, one of the most dominant, fearsome, hilariously-named pitchers ever, gave us all one of those moments back in 2004 and reminded us why we tune in to watch our favorite teams on random Tuesday nights.
In case you want to channel some Randy Johnson-style “Big Unit Energy” on this random Wednesday, here’s a video showing all 27 outs from that historic night.