“It hasn’t quite sunk in yet. It really hasn’t,” Johnson said Saturday after taking his pre-induction tour of baseball’s shine. “I’m honored and humbled. I didn’t play the game for the money or the prestige. I didn’t know I was going to be half as good as I turned out to be. I just enjoyed playing the game when I was seven years old and worked extremely hard and things kind of clicked as I got a little bit older.”
The 6-foot-10 Johnson was an intimidating figure standing atop a pitching mound for more than two decades. But on Saturday it was all smiles as “The Big Unit” made the customary tour to prepare for the induction ceremony in July.
During Johnson’s 22-year career, spent mostly with the Mariners and Diamondbacks, the left-hander won 303 games and five Cy Young Awards, including four in row from 1999-2002. A 10-time All-Star, Johnson led his league in strikeouts nine times with a career total of 4,875, second only to Nolan Ryan. In 2001, he was 3-0 in the World Series to help Arizona to the title.
Johnson was elected in January along with fellow pitchers Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz, and second baseman Craig Biggio.
“It took a lot longer for me because I was so tall,” said Johnson, who received 97.3 percent of the BBWAA vote in his first year on the ballot, the eighth-best in history. “I surely never thought that this is where I would end up. And I’m excited to go in with three other players.”
Hall of Famers Warren Spahn (363), Steve Carlton (329), Eddie Plank (326) and Tom Glavine (305) are the only left-handed pitchers who have won more career games than Johnson’s 303.