Have you ever seen a bird getting killed in an MLB game?

In 2001, a training game became memorable for all the wrong reasons as Arizona Diamondbacks’ pitcher, Randy Johnson killed a bird.

Rarely does a spring training game go down as one of the most iconic moments in Major League Baseball history, but Randy Johnson created one of the most notorious moments in 2001 when his pitch failed to reach home plate. Rather, it struck a bird. Pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks in a spring training game against the San Francisco Giants in Tucson, Arizona, on March 24, 2001, was Hall of Famer Randy Johnson. A bird flew in as left-handed pitcher Johnson was ready to throw a pitch in the seventh inning. As the bird flew in front of home plate, the ball struck it. Read the full article to find out more about the pitch.

Randy Johnson strikes a bird

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Randy Johnson was renowned for his ability to throw fastballs that could top the speed of 100 mph. The pitcher had thrown a fastball at a similar when unfortunately a bird flew in the ball’s path and died on the spot. The catcher, Rod Barajas, said “All you see is an explosion.” The pitch whose speed was never officially calculated as the ball did not reach the home plate was said to be in the vicinity of the 100 mph speed according to news outlets in Arizona.

Was it a strike or a ball?

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The pitch was not a ball nor a strike. The umpires decided to call it a no-pitch because the animal didn’t reach the plate, effectively meaning the pitch never happened statistically. No rule specifies what happens if an animal happens to get in the way of a pitch. The batter for the pitch was the Giants’ batter, Calvin Murray, uncle of Arizona Cardinals’ quarterback, Kyler Murray.

What was done with the bird?

Giants second baseman Jeff Kent went out onto the field, picked up the bird with his bare hands and grinned as he pointed it towards Johnson once the players realised what had happened. What happened after he took it back to the dugout is a mystery. The feathers that were on the pitch were then picked up and cleaned up by a member of the grounds crew. 

Johnson while talking about the incident said, “It’s just hard to really put that into perspective. It happened so quick.”

Johnson appears to have become less serious about the incident over time. Following the 2009 season, Johnson announced his retirement from baseball and started his own photography company. A dead bird with feathers in the air serves as his logo.

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