TBT: 15 Years Ago, a Poor Bird Got in the Way of Randy Johnson’s Fastball

Bradley Whitaker
(Photo: Getty)

Fifteen years ago today, former Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson ended a bird’s life unexpectedly with that hellacious fastball of his.

The 6-foot-10 Hall of Famer was known for his flame-throwing arm, which often threw fastballs topping 100 mph. So getting hit by a pitch from Johnson is analogous to getting struck by a cannonball.

One bird learned that lesson the hard way.

During a spring training game on March 24, 2001, former San Francisco Giants outfielder Calvin Murray saw a Johnson fastball coming his way during an appearance at the plate. But the baseball suddenly disappeared, as dozens of feathers flew everywhere. That’s when it became clear: Johnson had unintentionally murdered a bird.

Birders hearts were broken all across the country.

The bird was a morning dove that was clearly lost flying around in the afternoon. There’s only one spot in the ballpark where a bird can be hit by a fastball and that dove happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The chances of something like that ever happening again are extremely slim. It’s only fitting that one of the most dangerous pitchers off all time was the culprit.

The bird police put out a warrant for Johnson’s arrest, but weren’t able to accomplish anything because they’re, well, birds.

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