Baseball's Big Unit Is Now A Paparazzi
Known fondly as the Big Unit, or possibly derisively as the Big Mullet if your team happened to be facing him, Johnson was recently spotted doing photography at the the Lollapalooza Festival in Chicago last week. At a lanky, 6-foot-10 with at least a foot or so worth of party in the back, Johnson kind of stands out like a sore thumb, even when tucked behind a large Canon.
Johnson, a fan of both music and photography was quoted by NoiseCreep as stating: "This is my first summer available to go to shows, since I spent the last 26 years playing baseball, so my time was limited. I have four kids and there is usually there is a concert in Arizona I can go to! I've enjoyed music forever, and photography, so one plus one! I envy these photographers that shoot for the bands, taking great pictures, having total access and getting them published."
Johnson went on to describe how his baseball career and love of music were intertwined. He pitched in Seattle from 1989 until 1998, right in the chronological epicenter of the grunge explosion, and got to see bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden rise up to stardom. And being one of the most famous, skilled pitchers in baseball (Johnson's career highlights include 303 wins, five Cy Young awards and 4,785 strikeouts) has a way of getting you a little access to the stars. Johnson explained that he's made many musician friends over the years and even spent time touring with Geddy Lee and Rush several years ago.
The idea of Johnson being a music photographer is kind of ironic. In 2005, on the eve of being traded to the New York Yankees, Johnson got into a scuffle with a CBS cameraman on his way to a physical. During the incident, Johnson shoved the camera away from him (with his right, non-pitching hand) as he walked to the hospital.
He exclaimed at the time: "I don't care who you are, don't get in my face! Don't get in my face, and don't talk back to me, all right?"
Wouldn't it just be full circle if Johnson--who had a reputation for being aloof and surly to media that went beyond the one incident alone--ended up getting shoved around by the musicians who's face he's getting in?
Given his lofty place in MLB history and his 6-foot-10 stature, I reckon he won't have to worry about that much.