Randy Johnson, Newborns and Dead Birds

It finally happened.  That’s right, the baby finally escaped from the comfy confines of my wife’s womb.  I am overjoyed, ecstatic and exhausted.  

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I know, I’m lucky and I should be happy, but I just want to SLEEP!

I forgot that newborns really lack consideration.  I need my rest, and he does not care.  He’s lucky he’s adorable.  Anyway, after staring at my beautiful progeny, I started thinking – what are the odds of one sperm fertilizing an egg?  Apparently, not good.  The average amount of sperm found in the male ejaculate is around 200 million.  Yeah, that’s a lot.  So there is a 1 in 200,000,000 chance.  Actually, the odds may be much worse, seeing as my wife and I tried unsuccessfully several times.  Lets just say we tried 10 times a month for six months.  I will not do the math, but that’s a hell of a lot. You know what else has terrible odds? Striking a flying bird with a baseball.

It takes less than half a second for a pitch going 100 mph to reach home plate.  According to Michael Wunder, an associate professor at the University of Colorado, “there is a one 50 million” chance of a thrown baseball striking a bird.  What does this all mean?

It was a lazy spring day in 2001.  Randy Johnson was on the mound in the seventh inning in what was a meaningless spring training game for the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Johnson, also known as “The Big Unit,” had a reputation of taking down (and terrifying) batters with his overpowering fastball.  He was a power pitcher who routinely hit 100 miles per hour on the radar gun.

What happened next would cement Johnson’s legacy as one of the most intimidating hurlers to ever take the mound.

Just as Johnson released a fastball, a mourning dove (zenaida macroura) streaked into the ball’s path.  

The video speaks volumes.  What transpired could be defined as a kill shot.  Even though it was unintentional, the result was the same.  Needless to say, after the feathers settled, the bird didn’t make it.  On a slightly more positive note, the dove is a game bird.  Unfortunately, hunting season in Arizona did and does not begin until early September.  

There have been other instances of a bird being struck by a ball during baseball games, but none were as impressive or as improbable.  Randy Johnson, upon ending his storied hall of fame career, started a new business venture.  His post playing endeavor is that of a professional photographer.  He paid homage to his fallen winged victim with the logo for his company.  It features a dead bird.

“One-in-a-million.” Now you have some fun imagery to accompany that saying.


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