Tuesday, February 17, 2009

An Amazing Tale

Something I need to know more about: a commercial Randy Johnson and Bengie Molina shot in Japan almost 10 years ago. As Molina tells it, the two were on an All-Star tour of Japan and were hired to hype a product Molina can no longer remember.

What he can remember is the setup: Molina sitting in a parked car and Johnson attempting to hum fastballs through an open window so Molina could catch them.

Not the first time a catcher has been enlisted in a stunt with dubious safety standards: Washington Senators catcher Gabby Street, whose day job involved handling Walter "Big Train" Johnson's heater, took 13 attempts before catching a ball dropped from atop the Washington Monument.

Street was quoted thusly at the time: "The ball I caught hit my mitt with terrific force, much greater than any pitched ball I have ever caught, and I have caught some pitchers who are given credit for having wonderful speed. Though my mitt is three or four inches thick, the force of the ball benumbed my hand."

In the case of Molina and the Big Unit, not surprisingly, control was the issue. As Molina recalls it, Johnson's first throw slammed into the car door. The second clipped the door frame and nearly beheaded Molina. The third pitch was on target, and Molina recalls shutting down the operation at that point before somebody got killed.

I can't find this commercial anywhere. I can find video of Johnson abusing onetime Giant Tsuyoshi Shinjo in a Tokyo Dome at-bat (see it here).

Anyone know where that Johnson-to-Molina through-the-window video might be found?

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