Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

20 years ago, we lost a bird to Randy Johnson’s cannon

Groundscrew member picks up remains of ex-bird, conked by Randy Johnson 
 (bottom r) with cackling weirdo Jeff Kent holding remains.
Groundscrew member picks up remains of ex-bird, conked by Randy Johnson (bottom r) with cackling weirdo Jeff Kent holding remains.
Illustration: AP

There aren’t too many things that startle you while watching a baseball game. Comebacks can take innings to complete, rain delays are in the forecast, home runs carry for a few seconds, and errors happen once or twice a game.

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But there are a few moments on the diamond that are genuinely startling. Randy Johnson gave us one twenty years ago.

On March 24, 2001, a dove flew across our TV screens… and into Johnson’s pitching path. Let’s just say it was not a good day for that bird.

RIP.

You can’t hear it in the clip, but the Spring Training crowd of a couple thousand sounded like a full MLB stadium.

But Johnson’s bird wasn’t the first to meet their avian maker in a ballpark. In 1983, Dave Winfield hit and killed a seagull in Toronto trying to throw a ball to the bat boy.

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A few years later, in 1987, Dion Jones hit a fly ball into a flying bird.

I remember how great Johnson’s fastball was in the early 2000’s. But that day, it was literally deadly.