Davis clearly remembers homer served up to Big Unit
Former Brewers lefty allowed only blast hit by Hall of Famer Johnson in 2003
MILWAUKEE -- Former Brewers pitcher Doug Davis has a good sense of humor about his unique place in Hall of Famer Randy Johnson's career.
"I'm happy I was in a position to help him out, I guess," Davis said.
Johnson pitched 22 seasons in the Major Leagues, won five Cy Young Awards, struck out more batters than any left-handed pitcher in history and hit one home run -- off Davis at Miller Park on Sept. 19, 2003, when Johnson was with the D-backs.
Davis still remembers it clearly.
"I'm proud I was able to pitch against Randy," Davis said by telephone on Wednesday, while Johnson, Craig Biggio, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz were in New York being introduced together as the Hall of Fame's class of 2015. "I don't really know how I feel about [the Johnson home run], but it doesn't bother me. It was a 2-0 cut fastball that went from out to in, pretty much right over the plate. I think he was just as surprised as everybody else."
Davis was surprised that Johnson would swing in a 2-0 count. Johnson appeared surprised that the baseball sailed all the way to the bullpen over the left-field wall, since he sprinted out of the batter's box and around first base before settling into a trot. He'd found the perfect spot to hit a baseball out of hitter-friendly Miller Park.
The D-backs' dugout erupted, but Johnson remained stone-faced.
"When he touched home plate, I could tell he wanted to smile, but he didn't want to show me up out there on the mound," said Davis, who noted that Johnson threw him a diet of sliders in subsequent at-bats, unwilling to give Davis an opportunity to answer.
The smile came later. Davis and Johnson played together in Arizona in 2007-08, and Johnson greeted Davis with a big smile when the two met for the first time in Spring Training. It took only a few days before the home run came up in conversation.
"I was like, 'I knew that stuff was going to come up!'" Davis said. "Randy was dry and sort of quiet, but we joked about it. He never rubbed it in or anything like that. It's part of baseball. I gave up a lot of home runs to hitters, pitchers -- it didn't matter who it was."
How's this for a coincidence: Davis also surrendered the first career home run of Brewers pitcher Yovani Gallardo's career. Gallardo, in turn, is the only pitcher ever to homer off Johnson.
Davis enjoyed a long career of his own that spanned 17 professional seasons, including parts of 13 years in the Major Leagues with five teams. He was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2008 but pitched in the Majors through 2011 and professionally through '12 before retiring.
Davis has remained busy as a father of four and remains golf buddies with a number of former and current Brewers, including Chris Capuano, Manny Parra, Kameron Loe and Kyle Lohse.