Randy Johnson tried not to make it about him, but it was.
The Arizona Diamondbacks retired the Hall of Fame pitcher’s No. 51 jersey Saturday night, and the Big Unit did everything to deflect the credit. He could have done so using the shiny gold drum set he was gifted with — an exact replica of what Neil Peart played with during Rush’s 30th Anniversary tour.
— #RJ51 (@Dbacks) August 9, 2015
“Welcome to an evening of karaoke at the ballpark,” Johnson began, after walking onto the field from the bullpen.
“When a lot of Hall of Famers came up to me and said this day is all about you,” he added, “I said, it’s about all the people who … looked out for me along the way. And that list is really long.”
Johnson thanked former D-backs general manager Joe Garagiola Jr., listed off a number of long-time club employees, then a number of his Diamondbacks teammates. He thanked Matt Williams, Jay Bell, Craig Counsell, Steve Finley, Luis Gonzalez, Tony Womack, Damian Miller and Mark Grace, among others.
“Matt was probably the closest to my personality on game-day,” Johnson said of their habit of isolation as they readied for competition. “I knew I was going to get 110 percent from Matt.”
Then, Johnson thanked the fans.
“There was a lot of winning going on here and a lot of tradition being made,” he said of his time in Arizona. “Every fan makes it possible to dig down a little deeper, whether it was me or my other teammates, and make me do things I never thought I could ever do.”
But of course, Johnson hadn’t left off the most important man in Valley sports, Jerry Colangelo, the former owner who brought the team — and later Johnson — to Arizona.
“I’m still thankful I met Jerry Colangelo,” Johnson said. “He had a vision for this franchise. He brought successful baseball to Arizona.”
Of course, Johnson had a little something to do with that.