How Randy Johnson became an Arizona Diamondback
The year is 1999.
The Arizona Diamondbacks were heading into their second year as a franchise and looking to pick up a pitcher…or really anybody who could help turn them into a winning team. They won 65 games in their debut season under Buck Showalter.
Randy Johnson was a free agent in high demand, coming off of what he calls the best run of his career at the time, after the Seattle Mariners traded him to the Houston Astros at the end of the 1998 season.
“When you’re a free agent you want to give yourself the best opportunity to win a championship,” Johnson said Thursday in a conference call ahead of his Hall of Fame induction, “and what team is going to do that?”
Johnson interviewed and toured the ballparks of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Angels, Texas Rangers and the D-backs.
“Living [in the Valley] at the time I suppose Jerry Colangelo had a little bit of extra ability to be here and for us to get together more often than the other three owners,” Johnson said.
Still, with his outlook and goals for free agency, the D-backs were ranked fourth out of the four on Johnson’s list going into free agency.
“I was coming off the best two months of my career and you’re only a free agent in sports so often,” Johnson said.
The five-time Cy Young winner credits Colangelo’s vision and persistence with getting him on the D-backs despite being up against more established competition.
You could say it worked out for both of them.
“You just don’t know, Johnson said. “It was a blessing and I bought into his vision. He’s one of the best owners that I played for and I trust him. It was the best run of my baseball career playing in Arizona and that’s why I’m going in as a Diamondback.”