Questions and answers with Randy Glenn Johnson (pictured above) a former Major League Baseball infielder, scout and coach. Johnson has played baseball in professional leagues all over the world including the Australian Baseball League.
1. (NH) Having played Major League Baseball, coached and scouted for clubs what do you consider to be your top five career highlights?
(RJ) Top five:
1. Just making it to the Major Leagues was the biggest highlight for me having been a lower draft and not being a high profile prospect in the Minor Leagues
2. Playing with two time (Back to Back) National League MVP Dale Murphy was a highlight
3. Winning the NL West in my first year with the Braves in 1982
4. Winning 13 games in a row to start the 1982 season which is still a ML record
5. Hitting a game winning HR at Los Angeles vs the Dodgers in the top of the 18th inning in 1984
2. (NH) Since the late 1980s you have seen baseball go through many stages in Australia and what are some examples of progress you have noticed over the years?
1. The overall talent pool is bigger than it ever has been with all the Aussie players who have made it to the ML's and have had sustained success. I think more and more athletes over there realize it's a pretty fair way to make a living
2. With the MLB Academy I think the elite players in Australia have a better opportunity to hone their skills and learn from guys that have been there and know what it takes to get to the ML's and stay there for a while
3. Overall I think there is more of an opportunity than there has ever been to continue your career after High School whether it be as a pro (especially with all the Independent Leagues in the US) or as a College player in the US
3. (NH) As you have experienced baseball in elite and developing markets what initiatives could MLB carry out to help further cultivate the sport in newer markets such as Europe, Australia and New Zealand?
(RJ) I'm not sure there is anything else they can do to further market the game in the places you mentioned. Europe is a developing baseball country that has seen more and more kids signed to professional contracts the last couple years as has Australia. I'm guessing the problem you might have in New Zealand is the popularity of Fast Pitch Softball over Baseball. It's not a sport that is easy to translate skills back and forth. There are a lot of very good softball players that would really struggle to hit a smaller ball that does different things than a pitched softball does. Conversely there are a lot of ML players who would have no chance hitting an elite softball pitcher as well. Some of the skills such as picking up a ground ball and throwing are obviously the same but we look for different athletes to play baseball than you would to play softball.
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