18 Years Ago, Randy Johnson Killed a Bird with a Baseball

Randy Johnson

One of baseball’s oddest moments occurred eighteen years ago today, when Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson totally obliterated a bird in midair while pitching to San Francisco Giants outfielder Calvin Murray.

The bird met its fate on March 24, 2001, as Hall of Famer Randy Johnson did his wind up and let loose a typically blistering fastball toward home plate where Murray waited to take his swing. But a split second after Johnson let loose, the ball hit the bird in mid-flight resulting in a puff of feathers that had the whole stadium slack jawed in shock.

The left-hander commonly threw pitches that clocked in at 100 mile per hour, so it isn’t any surprise that even a bird was unable to shift its flight pattern to avoid the ball.

The one-in-a-million pitch is such an odd occurrence that MLB didn’t even have a rule for what to do if a ball hit a bird in midair.

Johnson later reported that not everyone was amused by the incident. Apparently animal rights extremist group PETA threatened to file charges against Johnson for killing the bird.

“I was considered a bird killer,” Jonson said, “and they were actually considering filing charges on the bird’s behalf.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.


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