Davey Johnson had a lengthy baseball
career as a player and a manager
. He was born in Orlando
, in 1943, and first appeared at the big-league level with the Baltimore Orioles
In his second season, 1966, he became the Orioles' starting second baseman. He was known mostly as a defensive player, and won three Gold Gloves in 1969, 1970, and 1971. Johnson was also a four-time All-Star.
Johnson was a member of the 1966 and 1970 Baltimore Oriole championship squads. He didn't begin to hit until the 1969 season. In 1971, he posted one of his best seasons, batting .282 with 18 home runs, while winning his third Gold Glove.
Johnson slumped badly in 1972 and was dealt to the Atlanta Braves. In 1973, Johnson, who had 64 home runs in 8 major league seasons previously, smacked an unbelievable 43 home runs for his new team and drove in 99 runs.
Johnson returned to earth in 1974, homering only 15 times. His defense also had begun to slip, and he was moved to first base. Johnson signed with the Yomiuri Giants of Japan for the 1975 and 1976 seasons. He was the only man to be a teammate of American home run king Hank Aaron and Japanese home run king Sadaharu Oh. Johnson hit 26 home runs for Yomiuri in 1976 and returned to the States, where he played the 1977 and 1978 seasons as a bench player for the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs.
Johnson retired after the 1978 season and joined the New York Mets organization, managing in the minor leagues. In 1984, he was promoted to the managerial position with the major-league club, replacing 6-foot-7 interim manager Frank "Hondo" Howard.
Johnson's Mets were a young team on the rise, winning 90 and 98 games in his first two seasons. The 1986 New York Mets won 108 games, and narrowly defeated the Boston Red Sox in a seven-game World Series. Johnson was a laid-back manager in the style of his mentor Earl Weaver, who preferred to wait for the big hit instead of trying to scratch out runs, but was capable of brilliant strategical moves when the situation called for it.
However, Johnson's other Met teams were a disappointment. The 1988 squad won 100 games but lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS. Johnson was fired seven weeks into the 1990 season, with the Mets struggling to a 20-22 mark.
Johnson re-emerged in 1993 managing the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds were respectable in the strike-shortened 1994 season, and won the NL Central in 1995 before Johnson was lured away to manage the Baltimore Orioles. Johnson's 1997 Orioles won 98 games and the AL East title, but were a playoff disappointment. Johnson departed Baltimore under something of a cloud, as his All-Star second baseman Roberto Alomar was involved in an altercation with an umpire. Alomar then made some unfortunate comments to the press afterwards, and received a fine and a suspension. Johnson only exacerbated the situation by suggesting that Alomar's fine be donated to a charity run by Johnson's wife.
Johnson took a year off, and then returned to manage the 1999 and 2000 Los Angeles Dodgers. Johnson's Dodgers posted respectable finishes in both seasons, but with high expectations and an extremely high payroll, it wasn't enough. Due to his laid-back demeanor, Johnson was perceived to have lost control of this clubhouse as well, and was fired after the 2000 season.
As a player, Johnson played thirteen seasons, compiling a .261 batting average and 136 home runs. As a manager, Johnson won 1148 games while only losing 888, and guided the 1986 New York Mets to a championship.
Thanks to Gorgonzola for the facts on Johnson's departure from Baltimore.