Following the 2009 season, Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher Randy Johnson retired after pitching for 22 years, primarily for the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks. The 6’10” superstar was later inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and is famous for once accidentally killing a bird with a fastball.
But a photo of Johnson recently went viral for entirely different reasons; It showed him working as a professional photographer at an NFL game. In less than four hours, the original tweet that claimed Johnson is now a professional photographer and worked NFL games had received more than 75,000 likes. ESPN reposted the tweet to its own account, and the image was also going viral on Reddit.
Is retired Hall of Fame baseball player Randy Johnson now a professional photographer?
Press photos from the Associated Press, UPI and Zuma Press
Yes, retired Hall of Fame baseball player Randy Johnson is now a professional photographer. The viral photo is really a picture of him working at an NFL game in 2011.
WHAT WE FOUND
Randy Johnson’s passion for photography has been well-documented since the superstar pitcher retired in 2009. He has his own portfolio website, it’s mentioned on his Diamondbacks front office bio page, the MLB has written at least two separate articles on it and the NFL has posted its own article on Johnson’s second career.
The NFL article was written specifically about Johnson’s work at an NFL game between the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 4, 2011. The viral photo was taken at that game by the Associated Press and is still in their photo library. Other photos taken of Johnson working that game were taken by United Press International (UPI) and Zuma Press. VERIFY could find no examples of NFL games Johnson has done photography work for other than that game from 2011.
An old, defunct Tumblr account for Johnson’s photography also mentions he has shot for at least one NASCAR race and at least one NHRA drag racing event.
But the bulk of his photography is actually from outside of the sports world. On his website, Johnson has galleries for his concert photography, travel photography and wildlife photography. He has toured with bands like Soundgarden as the band’s photographer and shot photos at a metal festival for Rolling Stone. He’s also gone on three United Service Organizations (USO) trips to shoot photos of the U.S. armed service.
Johnson says on his website that he studied photojournalism at the University of Southern California from 1983 to 1985. The bio to his old Tumblr account adds that he shot photos for the school newspaper, the Daily Trojan, and a small rock n’ roll magazine in Los Angeles while in college.
In an April 2022 interview, Johnson noted that there “hasn’t really been a lot going on” in terms of his photography because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And if you were wondering about the logo Johnson uses for his photography work, it’s a dead bird — a reference to that one time a bird took a really unlucky flight path while Johnson was pitching.
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