Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio all got elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday afternoon after being four of the best players of the last 25 years. They were all on the ballot for the first time. In order to get inducted into the Hall of Fame one needs 75 percent of the vote and Biggio got 82.7 percent (454 votes), Smoltz got 82.9 percent (455 votes), Martinez got 91.1 percent (500 votes) and Johnson got 97.3 percent (534 votes).
Biggio, a Long Island native, had 3,060 hits, 291 homers and 414 steals in 20 seasons. He was an All-Star seven times, had a solid .281 career average, hit more than 15 homers and had 15 or more steals 12 times and is the only player in baseball history with at least 200 career games as a catcher, middle infielder and outfielder.
Johnson, Martinez and Smoltz combined to win nine Cy Young awards. Johnson, Martinez and Smoltz also became the first trio of pitchers honored by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) in the same election. Those three were on the ballot for the first time and the trio along with Biggio will be inducted July 26 as part of the Hall’s Induction Weekend from July 24-7 in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Smoltz, who is from Detroit, joins longtime teammates Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux in the Hall of Fame as they were inducted on their first year’s of eligibility last year. That Braves rotation during the 90s that included those three pitchers is likely the only one that went on to have three pitchers go to Cooperstown.
Smoltz had remarkable longevity as he pitched for the Braves for 19 seasons and pitched his final season with the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox. His ERA in those 20 seasons was 3.33, and four of those seasons were spent as a dominating relief pitcher/closer with the Braves. He was an All-Star six times as a starter and two times as a closer. “Smoltzie” is the only pitcher with 200 wins (213) and 100 saves (154) in MLB history.
Martinez, who is from the Dominican Republic, pitched in 18 seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Montreal Expos, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies. He is most remembered for his seven seasons with the Red Sox, which included a World Series championship in 2004.
He was an All-Star eight times, won the Cy Young three times and his upper 90s fastball, knee buckling curveball and changeup were almost un-hittable while being possibly the three best pitches during his era. His seven seasons from 1997-03 might be the seven best seasons by one pitcher of all-time as he had a 2.20 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 11.3 strikeouts/9 and only 2.0 walks/9. He owned the Yankees during his time with the Red Sox. He had an outstanding 2.93 ERA even with three seasons of 3.90 or worse, was 219-100 for his career (an unheard of 119 games over .500), and had 3,154 strikeouts while only walking 760 batters.
Johnson, or the Big Unit because he was intimidating at 6-10, is from Walnut Creek, California and went to USC. He was an All-Star in 10 out of his 22 seasons after rebounding from his second season where he had an ERA of 4.82 with the Montreal Expos and Seattle Mariners.
He really came into his own in 1993, his sixth season, since his ERA was 3.24 that season and it would only be higher than that in one full season between then and 2003 when he was 39. His career ERA was 3.29, he had a remarkable 303 and 166 record, pitched 4,135.1 innings, struck out more than 300 batters five times leading to a dominating 4,875 for his career. His 4,875 strikeout total is only behind Nolan Ryan’s 5,714 in MLB history. He won the Cy Young five times, which is second only to Roger Clemens’s seven.
The Big Unit is best known for his years with the Mariners as he was named an All-Star five times in his nine seasons with Seattle, but he also pitched for the Expos, Houston Astros, Arizona Diamondbacks twice, Yankees and finished his career with the San Francisco Giants. He also had remarkable longevity since he was an All-Star during his age 40 season with the Diamondbacks and won 73 games while making 159 starts from when he was 40 until 45.
He will not be most remembered for his two years as a Yankee from 2005-06 when he was 41 and 42, but the Big Unit did win a significant amount of games during that time period. In his first season (2004), he had a solid 3.79 ERA, 17 wins, threw 225.2 innings, and had 211 strikeouts (2nd in the AL) and only 47 walks. His 5.00 ERA in 33 starts the next season was much worse but he still managed to win 17 games. (It was revealed that he was pitching that season with a herniated disc.)
The Yankees lost in the opening round of the playoffs in both of Johnson’s seasons with the team and he didn’t come close to pitching up to his Hall of Fame standards. He came to the team in January of 2005 as the Diamondbacks traded him to the Bronx for Javier Vazquez, Brad Halsey, Dioner Navarro and cash.
Along with finishing second in the AL in strikeouts for the Yankees when he was 41, Johnson’s two-year stint with the team might be most remembered for getting into an altercation with a Daily News photographer. On his way to his physical that would make the trade official, he got physical during a heated argument with a TV cameraman and also the NY Daily News photographer. These two incidents happened on Madison Ave. between 58th and 60th Sts. He didn’t like the increased media presence that he saw in NYC and wanted the press to get away from him.
In 2001 the Big Unit had possibly his best season as he led the National League with a 2.49 ERA, 372 strikeouts and a 1.009 WHIP. However, his blazing fastball hit a bird while approaching home plate during a spring training game that season against the San Francisco Giants. This is a moment that he will always be remembered for and will always be shown on blooper videos. Here is the video of the pitch hitting a bird and smashing it to pieces: