10 CAREER-DEFINING RANDY JOHNSON CARDS
With so many di erent base cards, subsets, parallels, memorabilia cards and autographs, building out a collection for a single player can be overwhelming.
Luckily, the 10-Card Instant PC article series is here to help. There are more than 13,000 Randy Johnson cards, according to the Beckett database.
So where does one begin putting together a Randy Johnson PC?
These 10 cards serve as an excellent representation of his playing career and footprint on the hobby, making them a great place to start.
1986 ProCards West Palm Beach Expos #21 Randy Johnson
Originally drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the fourth round of the 1982 draft, Johnson instead honored his commitment to USC. Three years later, he was taken No. 36 overall in the second round of the 1985 draft by the Montreal Expos.
His first licensed card was part of the 1986 ProCards set as a member of the Single-A West Palm Beach Expos.
1989 Topps #647 Randy Johnson RC
Johnson made his MLB debut with the Expos as a September call-up in 1988, going 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 25 strikeouts in 26 innings. He threw a complete game in his second start, allowing six hits and one earned runs while racking up 11 strikeouts.
That strong debut was enough for him to earn a spot in most 1989 flagship releases, with Rookie Cards in the 1989 Donruss, Fleer, Score, Topps and Upper Deck base sets.
1989 Topps Traded #57T Randy Johnson
Despite showing intriguing early upside, Johnson was traded to the Seattle Mariners along with Gene Harris and Brian Holman in exchange for left-hander Mark Langston and a player to be named on May 25, 1989.
As a result, his 1989 Donruss, Fleer, Score and Topps rookies which picture him as a member of the Expos are accompanied by cards in those company’s annual Traded and Update sets showing him in his new Mariners uniform.
1995 Pacific Prisms #127 Randy Johnson
After leading the AL in walks in 1990, 1991 and 1992, Johnson turned a corner in 1993. He quickly emerged as an ace from there, ultimately building up to the first of five Cy Young Awards in 1995. That year, he went 18-2 with an ALbest 2.48 ERA and 294 strikeouts in 214.1 innings.
There are not many better looking cards than the 1990s Pacific Prisms sets, and the 1995 version is the perfect card to mark his unofficial rise from hard-throwing All-Star to bona fide ace and eventually all-time great.
1996 Leaf Signature Extended Autographs #91 Randy Johnson
A year after winning his first Cy Young Award, Johnson suffered the first significant injury of his career, missing time with a back injury that ultimately required surgery. He was 32-years old at the time, and few could have guessed he would go on to play another 13 years. Like many 1990s stars, Johnson had his first certified autograph included in the 1996 Leaf Signature set. He was not part of the original checklist, but was included in the extended series with a print run of just 1,000. Unlike the main release, the extended series does not have any parallels.
1996 Zenith Mozaics #5 Ken GriffeyJr./ Randy Johnson/Alex Rodriguez
It’s still hard to believe that the Seattle Mariners never won a title with three of the greatest players of all-time–Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Johnson–all playing together on the same roster. That’s to make no mention of Hall of Famer Edgar Martinez, slugger Jay Buhner and a young Tino Martinez.
The legendary trio was featured on a handful of different cards, with my favorite of the bunch being the 1996 Zenith Mozaics insert. These Dufex beauties were found in 1:10 packs and there is a 25-card checklist.
1999 Topps Opening Day #120 Randy Johnson
In his tenth season with the Mariners and the final year of his contract, Johnson was traded to the Houston Astros on July 31, 1998, in exchange for Freddy Garcia, Carlos Guillen and John Halama. Johnson went 10-1 with a 1.28 ERA in 11 starts following the trade, tossing four shutouts to help the Astros capture the NL Central title.
His 1999 Topps Opening Day card is actually his only Topps card in an Astros uniform. The company pivoted to a picture in his new Arizona Diamondbacks digs for the Topps flagship release.
1999 Topps #418 Randy Johnson
On Dec. 10, 1998, Johnson signed a fouryear, $52 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks that would go down as one of the greatest free-agent signings in MLB history. He went 81-27 with a 2.48 ERA and 1,417 strikeouts in 1,030 innings during that initial deal, winning NL Cy Young and leading the league in strikeouts every year while also capturing three ERA titles.
His first Topps flagship card in a Diamondbacks uniform also comes in a Chrome and Chrome Refractor version, and all three are worth adding to a Johnson PC.
2001 SPx Winning Materials Update Duos #CSRJ Curt Schilling/Randy Johnson
In just their fourth year as a franchise, the duo of Johnson and Curt Schilling helped lead the D-backs to a World Series title, capturing World Series co-MVP honors in the process. Two of the greatest pitchers of their era, they were the face of that championship team along with slugger Luis Gonzalez.
The pair share a number of cards, but this dual patch offers a clean look and an affordable price point. There is also a gold version of the card that is numbered to 25.
2010 Topps #220 Randy Johnson
In his final MLB season, Johnson went 8-6 with a 4.88 ERA in 96 innings, earning his 300th win as a member of the San Francisco Giants.
He wrapped up his Hall of Fame career with 303 wins to go along with a 3.29 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 4,135.1 innings. His 4,875 strikeouts rank second on the all-time list, and his 103.5 WAR is good for ninth among all pitchers.
His final Topps flagship card in 2010 offers a full career stats back, making it the perfect bookend to his playing career.