“[When my father died] I made a promise then that nothing would get in my way, that I”d become the best pitcher I could be.’
From Sports Illustrated’s The Power of Two(12/17/01):
Randy Johnson’s father, Bud, was a police officer…who almost never missed Randy’s Little League games. Randy would practice pitching against his garage door, pretending he was another lefty, Oakland Athletics star Vida Blue. The kid threw so hard he’d loosen nails in the wood siding. When Randy was done, Bud would hand him a hammer and say proudly, “Pound them back in, son.” “When I threw a no-hitter [for the Mariners] in 1990, I called him up, and he said, ‘How come you walked six guys?’ ” Johnson says.
“That’s how he molded me. I tell people I want to have a better season next year, and they’ll say, ‘How? At your age?’ Well, why can’t it be better?” On Christmas Day 1992 Bud Johnson suffered an aortic aneurysm while Randy was flying from Seattle to spend the holiday with his parents. Bud was dead by the time Randy reached the hospital. “I saw him in his pajamas and just hugged him and cried,” Johnson says. “I talked to him. Everything spilled out. Mostly it was, ‘Why? Why did you have to leave?’ I made a promise then that nothing would get in my way, that I’d become the best pitcher I could be.” Since then Johnson has squatted behind the back of the mound before each start, bowing his head and saying a prayer in his father’s memory. He is 151-53, a .740 winning percentage, since Bud’s passing.
After Johnson made his promise to his dying father in December, 1992, he had his first big year in 1993, going from being an average pitcher who walked way too many batters to being perhaps the best in the game. Over the next five years he went an incredible 75-20. Since this article was written in 2001, Johnson has gone on to win over 300 games in the major leagues, and after his retirement will be a first ballot Hall of Famer.