Johnson's Bitter Departure Dishearten's Baltimore Fans
By Paul W. Valentine
"I think it's awful; there's more to this than we know," said Jim Stankovic, 55, an owner of the Downtowne Sports Exchange bar near Oriole Park at Camden Yards, where several fans had gathered to grouse.
"It sends a terrible message to the fans," said Stankovic's son, Phil, 34, co-owner of the bar.
"I think it'll be a great loss for Baltimore," said Dwight Dodd, 38, an electrical mechanic. Any disagreements Johnson had with Orioles majority owner Peter G. Angelos "should have been worked out before this."
"With all that pressure on him, I can see [why] he would resign," said John Costello, 29, a security officer at the Baltimore Convention Center. "If they were holding that over me, I'd resign, too."
"I knew he was going to get fired or have to leave ... with all that pressure on him," said Carlos Triplin, 21, a downtown security guard. "It's pretty much the Orioles' loss."
Johnson, who led the Orioles to a 98-64 record and the American League Championship Series, had a sometimes-testy relationship with Angelos. The situation got worse when Johnson insisted Roberto Alomar pay a $10,500 fine to a charity for which Johnson's wife is a fund-raiser.
News of Johnson's resignation, on a day when he was named American League manager of the year, set off a rash of reactions not only on the streets of Baltimore but also on local talk radio.
"Let's not forget something," said one caller to WBAL. "Davey Johnson was not fired. He could have been treated a lot better than he was. But the bottom line [is] you've got somebody who's paying you a six- and seven-figure salary. You've got to concede to their demands and their opinions in some situations."
Johnson had one season remaining on a $2.25 million, three-year contract and offered to forgo his $750,000 salary next year if Angelos permitted him to immediately negotiate with other teams.
Back at the Downtowne Sports Exchange, Phil Stankovic and others reeled off the Johnson's accomplishments — he produced the squad with the most wins in the 1997 AL regular season, boosted team morale and filled Camden Yards with loyal fans almost every game — and now he's leaving. "How can that be?" asked Stankovic.
"The O's were at the top, wire to wire," he said. "They had the highest attendance in the league. What more do you want?"
"It was an awful decision," said Chuck Cherkes, 37, a restaurant manager. The Orioles lost their bid to reach the World Series, "but they should not blame that on the manager," Cherkes said, and added: "I think a lot of the players may leave now that Johnson's leaving. ... Brady Anderson is talking that way." Anderson, an outfielder, became a free agent at the end of the season.
"Angelos has annoyed a lot of people," said Phil Stankovic. Angelos should keep in mind that "he is a majority owner. He is not the sole owner of the Orioles. There are a lot of people in this town that are owners, too."
© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company