For the first time in 15 years, Nationals Manager Davey Johnson sat inside a dugout at a major league stadium in Baltimore before a game. He chatted with former Oriole Rick Dempsey before Friday’s game and with Jim Palmer, his onetime teammate in Baltimore, in the visitor’s clubhouse about the days when a player received a $5,000 bonus for winning a Cy Young Award. “Those were the good ol’ days,” he said.
“It’s always good to be back in Baltimore,” Johnson said afterward, sitting in the visitor’s dugout of Camden Yards. “I’ve always had good memories about winning as a player,” he added. “It was more just the town than the ballparks. It was just a good feeling.”
Though he made his fame as a player here, winning two World Series rings, managed here for two seasons and owns homes here, Johnson hasn’t been a frequent visitor the Orioles’ ballpark. He’s been busy, but he also doesn’t have a relationship with owner Peter Angelos. So, of course, he was asked again if they had talked recently.
“Not really,” Johnson said. “We each have pretty busy schedules. The last communication I had from him was some flowers in condolence for the death of my daughter Andrea [in 2005]. It was greatly appreciated.”
Johnson guided the Orioles as manager in 1996 and 1997 to consecutive appearances in the American League Championship Series. But a few hours after receiving the AL manager of the year award in 1997, he resigned because of his dispute with Angelos.
The only time Johnson could recall visiting Camden Yards was for a reunion of the 1970 championship team and seeing Earl Weaver, Billy Hunter, Palmer and others.
Asked if he cared how the fans received him on Friday night, Johnson said: “I love the fans in this area. I grew up here. It doesn’t matter what they do. I’m going to appreciate it. They couldn’t do anything to dampen any kind of love I have for this community.”
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