Soon-to-turn-70-year-old Washington Nationals' skipper Davey Johnson has spent over 51 years in baseball as he reminded reporters this weekend while receiving the BBWAA NL Manager of the Year award. The Nats' manager, in his second year on the bench in D.C. after an 11-year layoff between major league gigs, led the Nationals to a 98-64 record a year after they finished 80-81 and brought postseason baseball back to the nation's capital after a 79-year absence. Toward the end of the season, however, he joked that he wasn't comfortable with the idea of winning the Manager of the Year award.
"I just have bad thoughts about that," Johnson said, noting that the last time he won the award was in Baltimore after he led the 1997 Orioles to an identical 98-64 record only to get fired after the season. "Last time I got the award, the same time I got my pink slip," Johnson joked, and besides, he said, "I'm not big on individual awards. It's always been, 'What's the team doing as a group?'" The Nationals' manager brought this bit back to the stage this past weekend in accepting the BBWAA's award for NL MOY.
"I was really worried about getting this award," Johnson joked, "because the last time I got it I got fired."
"It's amazing," Johnson said later in his speech. "I've been in this game, professionally, I guess most of you know, I'm the oldest manager in baseball. You can tell that by looking at me. But, I've been in it for 51 years this year and what's really amazing about this is... As a player, I was traded twice. I was sold once. Released twice. And I couldn't stick anywhere very long. I guess they got tired of me. And then when I went into a managing career, one league folded, the first one I managed and then I got fired four times."
"And so this is my last year, Mr. Rizzo," Johnson said with a laugh, talking to the Nationals' GM in the audience, "I promise you. I'm not going to give you a chance to fire me." The Nats' skipper said last year that a pennant was the goal, but this year, having won the division and made it to the postseason, he's set his sights higher, telling reporters it's, "World Series or bust," this time around. The baseball world and the nation's capital should enjoy having Johnson around for one last run, and you can be sure the Nationals are going to do all they can to send their skipper out on top.
• Watch Davey Johnson receive the BBWAA NL Manager of the Year Award:
• Watch Bryce Harper accept the NL Rookie of the Year Award: