Old Roomies Reunited
When Randy Johnson shows up in the Giants clubhouse this spring, he’ll be reunited with his roommate from 21 years ago – bullpen coach Mark Gardner.
Mark and his late wife Lori moved into the spare bedroom in Johnson’s apartment when Gardner was called up to Montreal’s Triple A club in Indianapolis halfway through the 1988 season. They already knew each other from college – Johnson pitched for USC, Gardner for Fresno State – and from playing in the summer league in Anchorage and then both signed with the Expos in 1985.
“If I had to bet on him in 1985 winning the Cy Young, I wouldn’t have put a nickel on him,” Gardner said by phone from his home near Fresno.
He threw hard but didn’t know how to pitch, Gardner said. He was easily rattled.
“To his credit, he did what he had to do,” Gardner said. “He worked on his weaknesses, developing all the skills a pitcher needs beyond just throwing hard.”
Johnson was a hard rocker type, Gardner preferred country music. But the two hit it off. They would barbecue and hang out at the pool. Johnson sometimes would go shopping at the mall with Lori if Mark was pitching that day.
Johnson was called up to the majors late in the season then was traded to Seattle the following spring.
“We really were never together again,” Gardner said.
He said he hasn’t talked with Johnson since he signed with the Giants but looks forward to catching up next month when pitchers and catchers report to spring training.
“From when I first saw him, he’s come a long way,” Gardner said. “He’ll be great for our young guys, someone they can look up to. They can watch how he gets batters out even when he doesn’t have his best stuff. Someone like Lincecum can learn a lot about how to pitch, how to control and work his fastball. He can see that if he stays healthy he might pitch until he’s 45.”
Lincecum will be among the Giants players, coaches, broadcasters and alumni at the KNBR 680/Giants Winter FanFest at AT&T Park on Saturday, February 7, from 10:00 to 3:00 p.m.
If you’re down in San Jose, you can catch the Giants on Thursday
February 5, from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m. for a meet and greet at the Britannia Arms before the Sharks vs. Hurricanes game at HP Pavilion at 7:30 p.m. This sounds like fun. Sharks fans will “face off” with some of their favorite Giants at The Downtown Brit, which is located at 173 W. Santa Clara Street in the San Pedro Square district of downtown San Jose.
Giants players and coaches, including Lincecum, new comers Jeremy Affeldt and Bob Howry, Brian Wilson, Barry Zito, Fred Lewis, Emmanuel Burriss, Kevin Frandsen and others will be on hand to sign autographs, pose for photos and meet their South Bay fans. Giants media partners NBC Bay Area and CSN Bay Area will cover the event, and the team’s Single-A affiliate, the San Jose Giants will also be on hand.
Giants players and coaches will attend the Sharks vs. Hurricanes game at 7:30 p.m., where Lincecum will drop the “first puck” immediately prior to the start of the game.
Hope to see you there.