Washington Nationals' manager Davey Johnson was 54 when he won his first BBWAA Manager of the Year Award after leading the 1997 Baltimore Orioles to a 98-64 record and a first-place finish in the American League East. In his second year in Baltimore, the skipper took the O's to the ALDS where they were beaten by the Seattle Mariners in four games. A little more than a month after the '97 season ended, a dispute with Orioles' owner Peter Angelos led to Johnson resigning.
As Washington Post writer Mark Maske wrote at the time, the veteran of 12 major league seasons at that point, was awarded his first Manager of the Year Award, "... a little more than two hours after Angelos accepted his resignation." Johnson joked about the situation this past summer as he led the Washington Nationals to a division title and an identical 98-64 record, telling a reporter who asked about the now-69-year-old skipper possibly winning his second Manager of the Year Award this season, "I just have bad thoughts about that."
"Last time I got the award," Johnson said with a laugh, "[was] the same time I got my pink slip." Plus, the Nats' skipper added, echoing the sentiments 2012 NL Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper expressed yesterday when talking about wanting to win a World Series rather than a post season accolade, "I'm not big on individual awards."
"It's always been, 'What's the team doing as a group?' Being in the playoffs, that's step one," Johnson said, "Winning the division is step two and winning the World Series is step three. As far as individual awards? That's nice. I guess it's fun to be considered by your peers as [having] a decent year, but it's not a big deal to me."
When Johnson was named the Sporting News' Manager of the Year last month after leading the Nationals to a 98-64 record and a NL East title, Johnson said he was grateful to be recognized by his peers. The Nats' manager thanked D.C. GM Mike Rizzo and the Lerner Family for giving him the opportunity to manage the team and said that, "To put on the uniform every day and compete is an honor I never take for granted."
Tonight it was the Baseball Writers' Association of America rather than Johnson's fellow managers, who awarded Johnson the BBWAA NL Manager of the Year Award. There's no danger of the Nats' skipper losing his job this time. The Nationals signed the veteran of 16 MLB seasons to a contract for the 2013 season last week, after which he'll move into a consultant's role with the team.
In an interview posted by CSNWashington.com's Chase Hughes this afternoon, Johnson tells reporters he's ready for one last run after winning the NL East and his second Manager of the Year Award this season.
"I felt like we had a championship club," Johnson says in the video, "I mean, we came together, we did some things last year that a lot of veteran clubs couldn't do. I mean, we suffered through injuries to the middle of our lineup, to my closer, and we won the most games in baseball. I felt like we should go further, and I think a little inexperience caught up with us, but I'm looking for the challenge of trying to go further."
"This is my last shot," Johnson said, "And I hopefully [can] be like Tony LaRussa, and go out a champion."
NL Manager of the Year: Davey Johnson. Story on full voting results. ow.ly/fgAaU— BBWAA (@officialBBWAA) November 13, 2012