Johnson's Wild Toss Amuses Walker, Fans

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Colorado Rocky outfielder Larry Walker was in over his head against Seattle Mariner pitcher Randy Johnson in Tuesday's All-Star game.

Walker, who declined to face Johnson when the Rockies met the Seattle Mariners on June 12, got a message pitch from Johnson in the second inning.

Johnson sailed the first pitch over Walker's head as a gag.

"It was a muggy night," Walker said. "It must have slipped out of his hand. He must have had some sweat on his hand."

Walker turned his helmet backward and moved over to the right side of the plate for the next pitch as the crowd roared in laughter.

"It was the funniest thing I've ever seen," Dodger catcher Mike Piazza said.

Walker said he was confused.

"I had no idea what I was doing," Walker joked. "I didn't know how to get out of the way. It felt even weirder with the helmet backward.

"I was laughing hysterically inside. The crowd got a chuckle. It may have lightened the time we didn't meet."

If Walker was trying to distract Johnson, it worked. Johnson, who has issued 48 walks in 131 innings, walked Walker.

Are Johnson and Walker friends?

"I don't remember ever getting a Christmas card from him last year," Johnson said.

Johnson, who threw a pitch over John Kruk's head in the 1993 game, maintained that the ball just slipped because it was misty.

"It was kind of humid out there," Johnson said. "The ball just slipped out of my hand. I guess it was kind of apropos that it slipped while Larry Walker was up there."

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