By Roger Hoover / Jacksonville Suns
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Suns are proud to announce that John Shoemaker, the all-time winningest manager in Suns history, will return to Jacksonville on Saturday April 18 when the Suns unveil the 2015 class of the “Legends of Jacksonville Baseball.”
Shoemaker is one of three members of the 2015 class that includes pitcher Randy Johnson and outfielder Larry Walker.
Fans can watch the unveiling of the legends inside the home plate gate just down the third base line at approximately 6:20 p.m., and fans will have a chance to meet Shoemaker at that time. The first 3,000 fans through the gates will receive a “Legends of Jacksonville Baseball” card set.
Shoemaker was manager of the Suns in 2001 where he led to the Suns to a Southern League championship, before returning to manage at the Baseball Grounds from 2005-08, and the Suns again won a title under his leadership in 2005, a team that was named the Baseball America “Minor League Team of the Year.” He was twice named the Southern League manager of the Year in 2001 and 2006, and he led the Suns to winning seasons in four of his five seasons.
Being named a “Legend of Jacksonville Baseball” is only one of many recent honors for Randy Johnson, who was elected for induction to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., in January, and in March was elected to the 2015 class of the Southern League Hall of Fame.
Johnson was originally drafted by the Montreal Expos from the University of Southern California in the second round of the 1985 draft. Two years later, Johnson made his Southern League debut pitching with the Jaxpos.
Johnson went 11-8 with a 3.73 ERA in 24 starts for the 1987 Jacksonville Expos. Johnson led the league in strikeouts, walks, hit batsmen and wild pitches! The rotation included Brian Holman, John Trautwein and Mark Gardner, all of whom were successful at the major league level.
Johnson never returned to Jacksonville after 1987, and did see his first major league time with the Expos in 1988. He would go on to pitch in 22 major league seasons, going 303-166 with a 3.29 ERA. His long major league tenure where he was a 10-time All-Star included pitching for the: Expos (1988-89), Seattle Mariners (1989-1998), Houston Astros (1998), Arizona Diamondbacks (1999-2004, 2007-08), New York Yankees (2005-06), and San Francisco Giants (2009).
He won the Cy Young Award five times (1995, 1999-2002), and was shared the World Series Most Valuable Player Award with rotation mate Curt Schilling as their pitching helped the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in the seven-game 2001 World Series. Johnson ended his career with 4,875 strikeouts which is second-most all-time behind Nolan Ryan, and his 303 wins are the fifth-most by a left-handed pitcher.
Johnson’s teammate on the 1987 Jacksonville Expos Larry Walker is the third member of the 2015 “Legends of Jacksonville Baseball” class. Walker in 1987 hit .287 with 26 homers and 83 RBI in 128 games and he was a Southern League Postseason All-Star that season.
Walker went on to play 17 years in the major leagues with the Montreal Expos (1989-94), Colorado Rockies (1995-2004), and St. Louis Cardinals (2004-05). He finished his career with a .313 batting average to go along with 383 home runs, 1311 RBI, and 230 stolen bases. Walker was a five-time National League All-Star, a seven-time Gold Glove award winner, a three-time Silver Slugger award winner, and a three-time National League batting champion in 1998, 1999, and 2001. He also led the National League in home runs with 49 home runs, and he was the National League Most Valuable Player that year with his .366 average, 139 RBI, and 33 stolen bases as he became the first Canadian player to win the award.
The 2015 season of Suns baseball is presented by EverBank, the official banking partner of the Jacksonville Suns. Sponsorships, group outings, and season / individual game tickets are currently available by calling the Suns front office at (904) 358-2846.