Randy Johnson, Dan Wilson named to Mariners Hall of Fame
Pitcher Randy Johnson, catcher Dan Wilson will be inducted into the Mariners' Hall of Fame in a ceremony at Safeco Field on July 28.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Randy Johnson is headed to a first-ballot resting spot in Cooperstown in 2015. But first, the Big Unit will have a Hall of Fame warmup in Seattle this summer.
Fittingly, he'll be joined by his longtime batterymate, Dan Wilson, when the two are inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame on July 28 at Safeco Field, before a game against the Kansas City Royals.
"This is Randy's first stop on the way to Cooperstown," Wilson said Tuesday in a joint conference call with his former teammate. "To go into the (Mariners) Hall of Fame with him is a real honor."
Johnson, who won the first of his five Cy Young Awards with the Mariners in 1995, saluted Wilson, who along with Arizona's Damian Miller caught him more than anyone.
"To this day, those catchers, because they caught me so much, understood what I was about when I was on the mound and knew how to get the best out of me," he said. "Dan had a major impact on my career in Seattle and when I left as well. ... It couldn't be more fitting he's going into the Hall of Fame the same time I am."
Johnson and Wilson will become the fifth and sixth members of the Mariners Hall of Fame, following Alvin Davis (inducted in 1997), Dave Niehaus (2000), Jay Buhner (2004) and Edgar Martinez (2007).
Both Johnson and Wilson picked the same game as the highlight of their Seattle careers — the sudden-death playoff win over the Angels at the Kingdome in 1995 that wrapped up the franchise's first playoff berth. Johnson went the distance on a three-hitter in the Mariners' 9-1 win, striking out 12. Wilson, naturally, was behind the plate.
"To strike out Tim Salmon on a slider and run out and give Randy a big hug, to me that was the fondest moment when I look back on my Mariner career," Wilson said.
Johnson noted that not only did the game culminate the Mariners' comeback from a 13 ½-game deficit to the Angels, but his win came over the pitcher for whom he was traded to Seattle, from the Montreal Expos, in 1989 — Mark Langston.
"Things really came full circle," he said. "There's no greater pressure than a one-game playoff. I look at those things now and kind of smile. Now I'm able to reflect more, now that my career is over, and open up more about those kinds of things."
Wilson appeared in more games as a catcher (1,237) than any player in Mariners history, and ranks in the club's top 10 in hits (1,071, sixth), extra-base hits (308, ninth), total bases (1,568, eighth), doubles (207, sixth), runs batted in (508, ninth), at-bats (4,085, seventh) and runs (433, 10th).
He was an All-Star in 1996 and is tied with Joe Mauer and A.J. Pierzynski for the highest fielding percentage by a catcher (.995) in American League history (a distinction he held alone when he retired).
"He had a great career, and more important, he and his wife are great people," Johnson said. "They do a tremendous amount off the field, charitable work. This honor is richly deserved."
During his 22-year-career, Johnson won 303 games.
Said Wilson: "Randy could dominate a game like no pitcher I've ever seen. You should have heard the stuff (hitters) would say. To see Rex Hudler tip his cap because Randy made him look so silly. You didn't see that from an ordinary pitcher. Randy was extraordinary."
M's avoid arbitration
The Mariners reached agreements on one-year contracts with all three of their arbitration-eligible players Tuesday, the day on which teams and players were to have exchanged salary figures.
Starter Jason Vargas agreed to a one-year deal for $4.85 million, a raise from the $2.45 million he earned last year, when he went 10-13 with a 4.25 earned-run average.
Brandon League, who saved 37 games, third most in the American League, and made the All-Star team, came to terms for $5 million, up from $2.25 million.
Shawn Kelley, who was injured much of last year but didn't give up a run in 10 games after his return, will earn $600,000 in 2012, with $50,000 in possible incentives. He earned $420,000 last year. The Mariners have not had a player go to an arbitration hearing since Freddy Garcia in 2003, when he won his $6.875 million salary request. The club had offered $5.9 million.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @StoneLarry.