Grief Strengthens His Game
Johnson's mother convinced him not to leave baseball. To remind him of his father, he drew a cross and the word "Dad" on the palm of his glove. When troubled by feelings of weakness on the pitcher's mound, he would glance at these symbols. "My heart got bigger," Johnson told Sports Illustrated. "After my dad died, I was convinced I could get through anything. I don't use the word 'pressure' anymore. That's for what he [his father] went through. Life or death. I use the word 'challenge.' And I'll never again say, 'I can't handle it.' I just dig down deeper."
Johnson got help in overcoming his control problem from ace pitcher Nolan Ryan and Tom House, the pitching coach of the Texas Rangers. As a young pitcher, Ryan had experienced similar problems, and he saw a lot of himself in Johnson. The help from Ryan and House worked wonders, and in 1993 Johnson enjoyed his best season ever, going 19-8 with an ERA of 3.24. He tied an American record for left-handed pitchers when he struck out eighteen batters in a single game. The following year Johnson compiled an enviable 13-6 record with an ERA of 3.19 before a players' strike ended the season in August.
Famous Sports StarsBaseballRandy Johnson Biography - Born In Walnut Creek, California, Drafted By Montreal Expos In 1985, Chronology, Grief Strengthens His Game - CONTACT INFORMATION, SELECTED WRITINGS BY JOHNSON: