BALTIMORE - With manager Davey Johnson making his final run through major league ballparks in his final season at the helm of the Nationals, Baltimore is certainly a place that holds a special place in his heart. Johnson broke into the majors with the Orioles and was also their manager, with a great deal of success at each stop.
Johnson played for the Orioles from 1965-72. He was their manager from 1996-97. In 1997, he was named American League Manager of the Year and guided the Orioles to a 98-64 record, falling to Cleveland in the AL Championship Series.
Before the Nationals begin a two-game set against the Orioles, Johnson was asked, as he has been at a few of the parks he has managed in on the road this season, if he thinks this will be the last time he manages games at Camden Yards.
"I hope it is not," Johnson said. "I hope we come back here and beat the pants off of them in the playoffs."
But a good part of his baseball history was right here in the city of Baltimore, and Johnson remembers his time here as a player and a manager, whether it was winning the 1966 and 1970 World Series or managing in back-to-back Championship Series.
"I always loved coming to Baltimore," Johnson said. "My kids were born here. I learned to play baseball here with the likes of Brooks Robinson, Boog Powell and Frank Robinson. I played under Earl Weaver. I got a lot of fond memories going back all the way back to 33rd Street and coming here (to Camden Yards). It was a lot of fun in the playoffs.
"We had some things go against us in the playoffs. A check swing one time and a 12-year-old kid another time, but other than that, I love coming to Baltimore and I hope it is not my last time."
Whenever he arrives in Charm City, Johnson also remembers learning under his manager in Baltimore, the late, great Weaver.
"I always think about Earl, whether I am thinking about golf and how many shots I had to give him or the way he used to yell at rookies or kick dirt on umpires," Johnson said. "I tried to use all the things I learned from him. I remember getting kicked out my first game really early (when they said,) 'That Earl Weaver stuff isn't going to work in the National League.'
"He was a great a manager and good friend, and he is sadly missed."