For Johnson, the 6-foot-10 left-hander who was originally drafted by the Expos in 1985, it was a fleeting experience, encompassing only 10 starts in the 1988 and '89 seasons. He totalled three victories for Montreal.
Johnson was then traded to Seattle for established starter Mark Langston before developing into the feared Big Unit who starred for 10 years with the Mariners for whom he won 130 games. He was then traded to the Houston Astros for part of the 1998 season. After that, Johnson signed as a free agent with the Arizona Diamondbacks, ringing up four consecutive Cy Young Awards and collecting 118 wins in eight seasons.
He later pitched for the New York Yankees, the Diamondbacks again, and the San Francisco Giants before calling it a career after 22 big-league campaigns with 303 victories.
Another imposing pitcher
Martinez, a right-hander, was nearly a foot shorter than Johnson but just as imposing on the mound.
Originally drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988, Martinez, the second pitcher from the Dominican Republic to enter the Hall of Fame after Juan Marichal. entered the Major Leagues in 1992, making one start in two appearances. He got into 65 games with the Dodgers the following season, but only two were starts. Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda feared that the slight Martinez, who weighed only about 175 pounds, wouldn't have the stamina to be a starter.
Traded for infielder Delino DeShields to the Expos in November 1993, Montreal felt otherwise and immediately placed him into the rotation. In four years with the Expos Martinez went 55-33 and won the 1997 Cy Young award when he was 17-8 with a 1.90 earned run average. He would go on to lead his league in ERA five times.
Martinez's salary had jumped from $315,000 US to over $3 million for the 1997 season and it was apparent the Expos could no longer afford him, so he was traded to the Boston Red Sox where he compiled a phenomenal 117-37 record in seven years. Along the way he was the face of the ball club as it finally won a World Series after 86 years of frustration in 2004.
After winning a second World Series with Boston in 2007, Martinez pitched four seasons with the New York Mets and spent one final year with the Philadelphia. He finished his career with a record of 219-100.