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Recently in this space, some controversy arose regarding the identity of two persons: Randy “Other Randy Johnson” Johnson, active in major league baseball from 1980 to 1982, and Randy “Other Other Randy Johnson” Johnson, active from 1982 to 1984. A philosophical question was also raised, regarding the direction of causality between a) players named Randy Johnson (also including Randy “Randy Johnson” Johnson, active from 1988 to 2009) and b) the facial hair thereupon. As there is obviously considerable confusion surrounding these closely related issues, I decided it was well worth setting aside an entire column for the purposes of sorting it all out.

Firstly, let me state in no uncertain terms that Other Randy Johnson, more properly known as Randall Stuart Johnson of Miami, Florida, the left-handed designated hitter, was not and is not the same person as Randall Glenn Johnson of Escondido, California, the right-handed infielder. Though a forensic analysis of their baseball card portraits proved inconclusive, I have obtained evidence that they were present, accounted for, and involved in on-field action in separate stadiums in separate cities on multiple dates in the summer of 1982.

This does not mean, however, that suspicion is unwarranted as to the identity of either Randall; for (as alluded to by an astute commenter) an independent body of forensic evidence does strongly suggest that Other Randy Johnson is in fact one and the same as noted thespian Nicolas Cage.

As for the matter of the facial hair. My understanding is that bestowal of the proud title of Randall confers upon a child permanent citizenship in a nation without borders, a nation without government, but a nation, nonetheless, with its own unwritten rules. In this realm, shall we say, of Random, one edict takes precedence over all others: that every member must, at some point in his natural life, cultivate a mustache. Each Randall knows this intuitively; each Randall awaits his call. For some, like Randall Quaid, the call comes late in life. Some, like Randall Wolf, or Randall Jackson, choose to conceal their birthright by pairing the mustache with a goatee. (Notably clean-shaven Randy Travis, who was born Randy and not Randall, is the exception that proves the rule.) But those most worthy of the name — and certainly this would include those illustrious Randalls who have served in the ranks of major league ballplayers — have long flown their colors, so to speak, with a proud defiance.