There hasn't been too much news about former Washington Nationals' manager Davey Johnson since he was "put out to pasture," as he phrased it, at the end of his second full season on the bench with the Nats in 2013. Johnson helped bring postseason baseball back to the nation's capital in 2012, but after a disappointing result in his second full year in D.C., Johnson stepped aside and was replaced by Matt Williams, returning to his role as a consultant with the team for one final year.
Johnson told Washington Post writer James Wagner this past September that he watched every game, "in case they call me," and hadn't quite given up hope that someone would reach out with an offer to return to the bench for an 18th season as a major league skipper. So far it hasn't happened, though there was word, as noted in the WaPost article, that there was at least one informal inquiry about his availablity.
Johnson, who was born on January 30, 1943 in Orlando, Florida turned 72 years old today.
Seemed like as good a time as any to look back on a few of our favorite Davey stories from his time in Washington.
The time that Davey and former Orioles teammate Andy Etchebarren saved Frank Robinson from drowning:
In the leadup to his first series against Baltimore as Washington's manager in 2012, Johnson was asked for some of his favorite memories from his time with the O's he played for from 1965-72 and managed in 1996-97.
Johnson said his teammates from his time with the Orioles were more like a family for him, mentioning the likes of Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Boog Powell, Paul Blair and Jim Palmer, in particular.
"They were characters," Johnson said. "It was more of a family. It was my first big league team. We tried to live close to each other, we did things off the field. We partied a lot, the Hoffbergers [the Orioles owners] believed in partying. Of course we won a lot, so we had a lot to party for. I remember the time when Frank Robinson, after we won in '66, he fell in the swimming pool and Andy Etchebarren and I were looking down on him and he was on the bottom of the pool and we both jumped in and saved him."
"He didn't know how to swim," Johnson laughed. "And he was nothing but rock hard muscle, and we didn't know why he went in the pool, but we damn sure weren't going to let him drown."
Johnson was asked if he ever reminds Robinson that he saved him. Johnson said, "No."
"I don't bring that up. He probably thought I pushed him in. But we had our feet dangling in the water and we heard a splash and Etch and I both looked down there and said, 'Look at Frank. He's swimming. No, he ain't coming up.' So we went after him, but boy that was a scare."
Or how about the time he talked about watching Hank Aaron take BP:
"I used to watch Hank Aaron," Davey Johnson told reporters, recalling his days with the Atlanta Braves he played for from 1973-75.
"He was fascinating to watch take BP. He never hit a ball out of the ballpark in BP. Never.
"And he was just a marvelous thing to watch. He was so relaxed and working on just hitting little line drives and ground balls, two-hopper ground balls through the infield and soft line drives. And he only took batting practice during the year maybe once a week.
"And there's something to be learned from that because I asked him one time, 'Why do you just swing like maybe 50%?' and he said, 'I'm timing a guy throwing 60 [mph], I can always turn the volume up and I said, well that's right."
Aaron also told Johnson why he used to say he always looked for breaking balls on every pitch that was thrown to him.
"I asked him, 'What do you look for up there?'" Johnson recalled, "and he said, 'I always look for a breaking ball.' I said, 'Yeah?' and he said, 'Yeah, because they can't throw the fastball by me.' I said, 'You got that right!'"
Or the time Johnson found out Branch Rickey recommended trying to trade for him:
"I've got breaking news, boys and girls," Davey Johnson told reporters at the start of an April 2013 press conference.
"[Nats' radio announcer] Charlie [Slowes] through [Special Assistant to the Nats' GM Mike Rizzo] Harolyn [Cardozo] gave me a little thing that made my day.
"Branch Rickey liked me and he recommended to the [St. Louis] Cardinals, I guess, that if they had a trade with the Orioles back in  to include me in it."
Charlie Slowes explained that he'd been at the Library of Congress in D.C. where he saw the note as part of an exhibition of Branch Rickey's papers.
"So," Johnson said jokingly, "Me and Jackie [Robinson] had something in common."
Branch Rickey liked them both.
"I'm in high cotton," Johnson said, clearly pleased to learn about this piece of history. A half-century later a scouting report from Branch Rickey made the [then]-70-year-old Nats' manager's day.
No offense to Matt Williams, but I miss Davey.