The Baltimore Orioles clinched a postseason berth on Sunday night for the first time since 1997, the last season Davey Johnson was at the helm. Johnson, who broke into the major leagues with them in the 1960s and returned to manage them for two seasons, is still an Oriole at heart.
Throughout this unexpectedly successful season for the Orioles, Johnson has often mentioned offhand how thrilled he is to see Baltimore winning like he remembers they used to. Asked about the Orioles first postseason berth in 15 years, Johnson was obviously pleased.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “Beat the Yankees. Finish ahead of the Yankees. That’ll get you fired.”
Johnson, of course, was referring to the 1997 season when the Orioles won 98 games and the American League East, finished two games ahead of the Yankees, reached the ALCS and won the AL Manager of Year award but departed hours later following a dispute with owner Peter Angelos.
The Orioles were the first team Johnson signed with in 1962. He made his major league debut with them in 1965. He won two World Series with them. And, he led them to two American League Championship Series as a manager. Baltimore is also where all of his children were born and own homes.
Given his success with a young Nationals team and the historic heights achieved this season, Johnson is often mentioned as a leading candidate for the NL manager of the year award. But he humorously again brushed off the idea on Monday.
“I just have bad thoughts about that,” he said. “Last time I got the award the same time I got my pink slip. I’m not big on individual awards. It’s always been what’s the team doing as a group. … As far as individual awards, that’s nice . I guess it’s fun to be considered by your peers that you had a decent year. But it’s not a big deal to me.”