Davey’s All-Star Game Memories

With the All-Star game at Citi Field fast approaching, it felt like a good time to stir the memories of former Mets manager Davey Johnson, who was in town herding his Washington Nationals this weekend. Johnson, a four-time All-Star himself (1968-70, ’73), was, of course, the skipper of the 1986 World Champion Mets when the longtime tradition tabbed him to helm the National League squad in 1987.

Johnson’s NL squad in ’87 found runs hard to come by, but they held firm until they were able to push two scores across the plate in the 13th inning and secured an All-Star shutout, 2-0. In fact, Johnson has always been associated with All-Star victories, as his NL teammates won all four games when he was on the roster in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

“Back then, just like it is now,” Johnson said proudly, “is always a great honor.”

Johnson’s best recollection of that game in ’87 naturally involved his pitchers. “I remember the game was out in Oakland, and the last guy to pitch for us was Sid (Fernandez) at the end of the game (who got the save).

“I had used the great Cubs closer, Lee Smith, for three innings (the longest stint by any NL hurler that night), and I guess I didn’t care about him (picture Davey smiling broadly as he said this). I needed Sid for the second half (of the Mets’ season).”

Hey, a win is a win, no matter how you get it. “We won the game, so that was pretty good.”

Johnson’s memories of his All-Star appearances are a little fuzzy, perhaps purposely, as he collected only one hit in his times at-bat, often filling in for Hall of Famers such as Rod Carew late in the game, and in ’69, he didn’t even make it into the game, which is a fate that befell many All-Stars in the days when sometimes a Willie Mays or a Hank Aaron would play the entire game.

Interestingly, Johnson’s teammates in the ’73 included eight future Hall of Famers. The AL squad placed nine future Hall of Famers onto their boxscore.

It’s always a juggling act for any All-Star manager these days of trying to win and trying to place every player into the boxscore.

“I remember I had Pedro Guerrero, just about the best hitter in the league at the time, and I didn’t start him. I gave him only one pinch-hit. I was trying to do him a favor cause I knew he had a little knee problem. But he was mad at me for a long time after that.”

Guerrero lined out in the tenth against Tom Henke in his only at-bat, pinch-hitting for Steve Bedrosian.

“Managing the game is very difficult cause you’re trying to win the game and trying to get everybody into the game,” Johnson emphasized. “They made the trip, so you want to get everybody in, but at the same time you want to pay service to your league and to the team.”

Putting the roster together is also a way to get yourself into trouble.

“There’s always going to be guys who deserve to be there and who you just couldn’t squeeze onto the team.”

As it turned out, Johnson ended up managing six future Hall of Famers – Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Mike Schmidt, Gary Carter, Ozzie Smith, and Tony Gwynn. The AL team featured six future Hall of Famers as well – Rickey Henderson, Wade Boggs, Dave Winfield, Cal Ripken, Jr., George Brett, and Kirby Puckett.

Johnson, 70, will join Mets manager Terry Collins as the two baseline coaches for this year’s All Star game at Citi Field on July 16.

Both staffs will have a definitive Mets flavor. As is the custom, the managers of the World Series the previous year run the squads, and have choice over selecting two other current managers as coaches. San Francisco’s Bruce Bochy, himself a former Met (1982), went with Collins and Johnson. AL skipper Jim Leyland, chose ex-Mets Robin Ventura and John Gibbons.

“I’m looking forward to just being on the bench and helping out Bochy,” added Johnson, “and watching him squirm trying to win and trying to get everybody in.”

Posted under Andy Esposito, Boxscore, Four Games, Future Hall Of Famers, Lee Smith, New York Mets, Pitchers, Rod Carew, Sid Fernandez, Star Appearances, Teammates, Top Story, Washington Nationals

Davey’s All-Star Game Memories

With the All-Star game at Citi Field fast approaching, it felt like a good time to stir the memories of former Mets manager Davey Johnson, who was in town herding his Washington Nationals this weekend. Johnson, a four-time All-Star himself (1968-70, ’73), was, of course, the skipper of the 1986 World Champion Mets when the longtime tradition tabbed him to helm the National League squad in 1987.

Johnson’s NL squad in ’87 found runs hard to come by, but they held firm until they were able to push two scores across the plate in the 13th inning and secured an All-Star shutout, 2-0. In fact, Johnson has always been associated with All-Star victories, as his NL teammates won all four games when he was on the roster in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

“Back then, just like it is now,” Johnson said proudly, “is always a great honor.”

Johnson’s best recollection of that game in ’87 naturally involved his pitchers. “I remember the game was out in Oakland, and the last guy to pitch for us was Sid (Fernandez) at the end of the game (who got the save).

“I had used the great Cubs closer, Lee Smith, for three innings (the longest stint by any NL hurler that night), and I guess I didn’t care about him (picture Davey smiling broadly as he said this). I needed Sid for the second half (of the Mets’ season).”

Hey, a win is a win, no matter how you get it. “We won the game, so that was pretty good.”

Johnson’s memories of his All-Star appearances are a little fuzzy, perhaps purposely, as he collected only one hit in his times at-bat, often filling in for Hall of Famers such as Rod Carew late in the game, and in ’69, he didn’t even make it into the game, which is a fate that befell many All-Stars in the days when sometimes a Willie Mays or a Hank Aaron would play the entire game.

Interestingly, Johnson’s teammates in the ’73 included eight future Hall of Famers. The AL squad placed nine future Hall of Famers onto their boxscore.

It’s always a juggling act for any All-Star manager these days of trying to win and trying to place every player into the boxscore.

“I remember I had Pedro Guerrero, just about the best hitter in the league at the time, and I didn’t start him. I gave him only one pinch-hit. I was trying to do him a favor cause I knew he had a little knee problem. But he was mad at me for a long time after that.”

Guerrero lined out in the tenth against Tom Henke in his only at-bat, pinch-hitting for Steve Bedrosian.

“Managing the game is very difficult cause you’re trying to win the game and trying to get everybody into the game,” Johnson emphasized. “They made the trip, so you want to get everybody in, but at the same time you want to pay service to your league and to the team.”

Putting the roster together is also a way to get yourself into trouble.

“There’s always going to be guys who deserve to be there and who you just couldn’t squeeze onto the team.”

As it turned out, Johnson ended up managing six future Hall of Famers – Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Mike Schmidt, Gary Carter, Ozzie Smith, and Tony Gwynn. The AL team featured six future Hall of Famers as well – Rickey Henderson, Wade Boggs, Dave Winfield, Cal Ripken, Jr., George Brett, and Kirby Puckett.

Johnson, 70, will join Mets manager Terry Collins as the two baseline coaches for this year’s All Star game at Citi Field on July 16.

Both staffs will have a definitive Mets flavor. As is the custom, the managers of the World Series the previous year run the squads, and have choice over selecting two other current managers as coaches. San Francisco’s Bruce Bochy, himself a former Met (1982), went with Collins and Johnson. AL skipper Jim Leyland, chose ex-Mets Robin Ventura and John Gibbons.

“I’m looking forward to just being on the bench and helping out Bochy,” added Johnson, “and watching him squirm trying to win and trying to get everybody in.”

Posted under Andy Esposito, Boxscore, Four Games, Future Hall Of Famers, Lee Smith, New York Mets, Pitchers, Rod Carew, Sid Fernandez, Star Appearances, Teammates, Top Story, Washington Nationals

Do The Right Thing Mets And Retire No. 8

With all the Madoff talk, lawsuits, minority buyers, and New Yorker article talk surrounding the New York Mets, it would be hard to believe the club could every do the right thing.

But now the opportunity is staring them right in the face.

Officially retire Gary Carter’s No. 8.

With the news coming out today that “The Kid” has malignant tumors in his brain, the best way of showing Carter how much everyone cares during his fight. Carter was a key cog of the 1986 club, who meant so much to Met fans during his five years in Flushing, so an on the field celebration of his career would be a way of giving back.

If Carter starts to feel well enough to get to New York, this would be the ultimate pick me up for the Hall of Fame catcher. Any type of cancer is not easy to deal with, but brain cancer is the worst.  The best way of keeping his spirits up would be keeping his mind off the disease and show him how much he is loved.

Carter was a special player for the Mets. Without him, the young pitchers, like Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, and even Doc Gooden to an extent, don’t develop as quickly. No Carter means no World Series in 1986, even with the stacked lineup for the Mets.

And the club knows that. No. 8 has not been issued since 2002, the year before Carter when into the Hall – when Matt Galante wore it. If Carter was inducted as a Met, then the club would have retired his number, but because he went in as an Expo – and rightfully so – there was no number retirement ceremony that summer, only a ceremony to honor “The Kid.”

But No. 8 stays dormant, much like Mike Piazza’s No. 31 and even Willie Mays’s No. 24. You can probably expect the Mets to retire 31 someday – in fact I was told it is on the eventual agenda for the franchise – and 24 probably will stay dormant as long as Rickey Henderson is away from the club.

Yet, there has been no explanation about No. 8. The Mets should just retire it or reissue it, instead of keeping it in some sort of limbo.

And if they want to retire it, this year is a perfect opportunity. Being the 25th anniversary of the 1986 club, the Mets can bring back the whole team for one last hurrah. They can retire No. 8 for Carter, while giving the whole team a day in their honor. An added bonus for the club would be a sellout crowd at Citi Field, something that’s a rarity these days, helping the Wilpon coffers as they try to pull out of the financial mess.

It would be win-win for the Mets and frankly the right thing to do.

With Mets management acting like the Gang Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight these last few years, this is an opportunity to gets some good baseball related public relations for the club.

More importantly, though, it’s the right thing to do.

Here’s Mookie Wilson’s reaction on Gary Carter.

Posted under Brain Cancer, Cog, Do The Right Thing, Doc Gooden, Hall Of Fame, Joe Mcdonald, Malignant Tumors, Matt Galante, Mike Piazza, New York Mets, Number Retirement, Pitchers, Retirement Ceremony, Rickey Henderson, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, Top Story, Type Of Cancer, Yorker Article

This post was written by Joe McDonald on May 27, 2011

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