As a guy who has been around baseball for 50 years, Davey Johnson’s always good for a story.
Today, he shared a hilarious one.
Johnson - who resigned as Orioles manager after the 1997 season - is set to face the O’s for the first time in a regular season game, and opened up about his time in Baltimore, both as a player and a skipper.
Asked to recount his favorite story from his Orioles days, Johnson chose one that involved one of his former teammates, Frank Robinson.
“It was my first big league team, and we tried to live close to each other,” said Johnson, who referred to the 1966 O’s team as a family. “We did things off the field. We partied a lot. Of course, we won a lot so we had a lot to party for. But I remember the time that Frank Robinson, after we won in ‘66, fell in the swimming pool, and Andy Etchebarren and I were looking down at him, and he was in the bottom of the pool. And we both jumped in and saved him.
“He didn’t know how to swim, and he was nothing but rock-hard muscle. We didn’t know why he went in the pool, but we dang sure weren’t going to let him drown.”
Asked if he reminds Robinson of the time that he helped save his life, Johnson laughed.
“No, I don’t bring that up. He probably thought I pushed him in,” he said. “But we had our feet dangling in the water and heard a splash, and Etch and I both looked down there. ‘Look at Frank! He’s swimming! No, he ain’t coming up!’ So we went after him, but boy, that was a scare.
“But those were great times. It’s funny, I remember those more than sweeping the Dodgers four-straight and all the times I used to kick Weaver’s ass on the golf course. It was just a fun time.”
Johnson said he still pulls for the Orioles even today and is happy to see the team get off to such a strong start this season under Buck Showalter.
“Any time you’ve ever played for a club or managed a club, they become your favorites, and you want to see them do well,” Johnson said. “I thought they were going to do well right after I left, I really liked the ballclub I had. I thought they were going to do well in ‘98, and they didn’t do so hot and then it’s been kind of slim pickings ever since then.
“But I’ve seen them jump out and play good, break out of the gate good. That was always an Oriole trademark. So I’m happy for them.”