Big Unit honored with renamed street

Block-long span near Chase Field now called Randy Johnson Way

May 13th, 2016

Randy Johnson's Hall of Fame achievements inside Chase Field were so dominant that they spilled outside Thursday to the newly renamed Randy Johnson Way.

The once-intimidating left-hander seemed far more relaxed at Thursday's dedication ceremonies, listening as D-backs radio play-by-play announcer Greg Schulte described how Johnson won Cy Young Awards in four consecutive years, won three out of the four games for the World Series champion D-backs in 2001 and was co-Most Valuable Player in that Series with Curt Schilling.

Johnson also won a Cy Young Award with Seattle before he came to Arizona, where he went 118-62 with a 2.83 ERA. He won 303 games during his 22-year career and struck out 4,875 hitters, which ranks second all-time to Nolan Ryan's 5,714.

Under a baking sun on a 100-degree day, Johnson joked that everyone in attendance would get a free parking ticket on the block-or-so-long street, which used to be Fourth Street before it was redubbed Randy Johnson Way. The road passes the stadium and a parking garage.

The honor continues a string of accolades that started when Johnson became the first player inducted as a D-back into the Hall of Fame last year. His number, 51, was retired and emblazoned on the facing of the upper deck in right field.

Johnson said he was merely trying to become the best player possible when he was rehabilitating after back and knee surgeries, and he never worked to win awards. He has no reservations, however, about accepting them.

"It was a great ride. I couldn't have had better ownership or better teammates than I had. The fan base was pretty incredible,'' Johnson said. "I surely didn't know after leaving Seattle that my best years were still ahead of me, at the age I was pitching at.''

Johnson posed in front of the street sign as fans clamored for his autograph. Some fans wore vintage purple pinstriped replica jerseys from Johnson's era with the D-backs or shirts with his number 51 printed on the front.

"I think it's really a blur. So many wonderful things happened throughout my career. ... This is something in Arizona that hasn't stopped since the moment I retired,'' Johnson said. "I'm very honored, very privileged, and very humbled to be affiliated with this organization.''

Johnson capped his honorary festivities by throwing out the first pitch of Thursday night's game against the Giants, with retired D-backs infielder Junior Spivey serving as catcher.