Big Unit, Wilson headed to Mariners Hall

Big Unit, Wilson headed to Mariners Hall

Big Unit, Wilson headed to Mariners Hall
SEATTLE -- Randy Johnson and Dan Wilson, who teamed together in Seattle through much of the 1990s, will be inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame together this summer, the team announced Tuesday.

It's a fitting honor for a pitcher and catcher who teamed together for some of the franchise's biggest moments, including a playoff-clinching win in a one-game tiebreaker over the Angels in 1995 that both reflect on as the brightest memory in their Seattle careers.

Wilson leaped into Johnson's arms after they'd struck out Tim Salmon for the final out of that game and elevated the Mariners into their first postseason series in franchise history. Now they'll advance together into the Mariners Hall of Fame, becoming the fifth and sixth members, with their induction ceremony set for Saturday, July 28, prior to a game against the Royals at Safeco Field.

The current members of the club's Hall of Fame are Alvin Davis (1997), Dave Niehaus (2000), Jay Buhner (2004) and Edgar Martinez (2007).

"I was flattered and honored to be asked by Chuck Armstrong and to be joining the present people in the Hall -- Dave and Jay and Edgar and Alvin," Johnson said in a conference call from his home in Arizona. "I played with all those players and Dave was the only announcer I knew during my time in Seattle in the Kingdome. The memories I have of baseball are great from Seattle."

Wilson, who served as Johnson's catcher for the big left-hander's last five seasons with the Mariners, relished the chance to be connected to his former batterymate again.

"I'm just extremely honored and humbled by the whole thing," Wilson said. "This is really Randy's first stop on the way to Cooperstown, and to go in at same time is quite an honor for me."

Wilson played 12 of his 14 Major League seasons for the Mariners from 1994-2005 and has more games behind the plate than any catcher in franchise history at 1,281. He was an All-Star in 1996 and owns the club's single-season record for RBIs for a catcher with 83 that season and is tied with Miguel Olivo for the team-record for home runs (18 in '96).

He ended his career with a .995 fielding percentage, the sixth highest in Major League history.

Johnson, 48, played 10 of his 22 Major League seasons in Seattle (1989-98) and earned one of his five Cy Young Awards and threw one of his two no-hitters while with the Mariners.

"Seattle meant a great deal to me professionally because they gave me the opportunity to pitch every fifth day," he said. "And from that point on, things started to get better as time when on. As I think about it, I was there during the most important time of that franchise. I was there in '95 when there were a lot of political things going on where the team could have moved. That same year we had the one-game playoff and got into the postseason and that kind of revitalized the franchise. That was a pretty special moment."

Wilson, 42, recalls that game as his favorite memory as well.

"When you boil a whole season down to one game and are able to come out on top, there really isn't any better feeling," he said. "To strike out Tim Salmon on a slider and run out and give Randy a big hug, for me that was fondest moment in my Mariners career. It was the culmination of a lot of team-oriented things."

Johnson retired after the 2009 season with a career win-loss record of 303-166, an ERA of 3.29 and 4,875 strikeouts, second only to Nolan Ryan's 5,714. In addition to his 10 trips to the All-Star Game (1990, 1993-95, 1997, 1999, 2000-02, 2004) and five Cy Young Awards (1995, 1999-2002), Johnson led the league in ERA four times (1995, 1999, 2001, 2002) and strikeouts nine times (1992-1995, 1999-2002, 2004).

He'll be eligible for the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015 and is a certainty to be elected before his eligibility expires, but said he hasn't stated a preference as to what team's cap he'll be wearing in Cooperstown.

"That decision is not really up to me," he said. "The decision will be made for me. I will have a little input, but I believe both teams are deserving. If I'm selected, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it."

Johnson said he's been asked to have his number retired by the Arizona Diamondbacks, but hasn't yet because of his schedule. But he'll work that in, along with his Hall of Fame induction by the Mariners and continuing a post-baseball career that revolves around his four children -- his oldest son is playing high school baseball. Johnson is also filming commercials, traveling and has resumed his photography hobby.

"I think because I was able to end my career on my terms and walked away when I wanted, I haven't looked back," Johnson said. "That's not what everybody can say. A lot of times a player can't find a job or has an injury that shortens their career. I'm thankful that didn't happen.

"Despite three back surgeries, four knee surgeries, a torn rotator cuff and a couple broken bones in my hands, I don't feel too bad," he said with a chuckle. "I'm just waiting for that Advil commercial now."

Players aren't eligible to be inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame until at least two years after their careers end, so Ken Griffey Jr. -- who retired in midseason of 2010 -- won't be eligible for at least another year.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.