Randy Johnson in a DirecTV ad for "Bird Ballparks." Randy Johnson in a DirecTV ad for “Bird Ballparks.” (DirecTV.)

One of the strangest and most-remembered incidents in baseball came in spring training in March 2001, when a fastball from then-Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson hit and killed a mourning dove. That moment has seen a lot of reflections over the years of various types. And now, Johnson is featured in a new DirecTV ad referencing it, playing off the multichannel video programming distributor’s recent “For The Birds” campaign.

That campaign previously saw two pigeons complaining about the lack of a satellite dish on their home and educating consumers on how to watch DirecTV without a satellite. Now, they’ve enlisted Johnson to offer “bird sanctuaries,” designed like a miniature baseball stadium on top of a satellite dish. And they’ll also offer the “Millet Mullet,” a bird treat shaped like Johnson’s famed hairstyle. Here’s the video with Johnson:

“When baseball’s feathered fans try to catch a game, bad things happen. I should know. Birds deserve better, so let’s give them a win, and give those dishes a new purpose, in your backyard. …DirecTV has always been your home for baseball. Now it’s your home for baseball for birds too.”

That’s very clever from Johnson and DirecTV. And customers can enter to win a Bird Ballpark or Millet Mullets here. This also further plays up DirecTV’s shift from satellites.

This feels like a smart marketing play. Even though it took place 21 years ago, the Johnson bird incident still lives on in popular memory. And beyond his Baseball Hall of Fame career (he was a first-ballot inductee in 2015), Johnson has also been known in recent years for sports photography, so he’s definitely a figure it makes some sense to spotlight. And it’s cool to see him bringing up that past moment in a way that’s helpful for other birds.

[DirecTV on YouTube]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.