Anticipating the new skipper

Went to the Orioles-Reds game at Camden Yards tonight, and had an interesting exchange with a fan outside while walking to the entrance.

Guy jogs over to me and asks “Is it true that Davey Johnson is going to manage the Nationals?” I replied that, yes, that seemed to be the case.

“Then count me in as a Nats’ fan. How do I get to their ballpark from here?”

I paused for a minute, and said “Wait a minute. You’re saying that Davey Johnson managing the Nationals is enough to get you to switch sides? Really?”

“Well, not completely,” he said. “But the Orioles haven’t been the same since he left, and I was a huge fan of his here when they went to the playoffs.”

“Frank Robinson wasn’t good enough for you in oh-five?”

“He was too much before my time,” he said. “I never really saw him play or even manage the Orioles.”

The whole exchange took about 60 seconds and I went on into OPACY. I can’t imagine there will be a stampede of Baltimore fans at Nats Park when the club comes home, but I guess this guy will find his way down the Parkway.

One more thing about Johnson: His very first managerial gig was as player-manager for the Miami Amigos of the ill-fated Inter-American League that lasted only three months in 1979. The Amigos were the league’s juggernaut, in first place by 10 games over Caracas when the league folded in June. Their opening game starter that year was one Mr. Mike Wallace, my Saturday morning cohort on Nats Talk. Wally pitched into the eighth inning and assumed he’d go all the way when Johnson called time and walked out to the mound, signaling for a reliever on his way out. He reached the mound and the agitated southpaw looked at him and asked “What are you doing?” Dave (he was still just Dave then; the “Davey” thing started with the Mets) calmly took the ball and replied “I’ve been waiting all my life to do this.”

That’s right, Mike, somebody had to be first.