Nationals’ Rogue Genius Manager Davey Johnson Sits Down with Tom Verducci

Over the last decade, two of Nationals manager Davey Johnson’s children have died and he almost lost his own life from a ruptured appendix, but today he is the oldest manager in baseball guiding the league’s second-youngest team to its first postseason. Johnson hadn’t managed in the big leagues in more than 10 years when Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo called him in June 2011 to take over the team. Since then, the Nationals have been run the way Davey chooses and his players are thriving (page 60).

Johnson is described by utilityman Mark DeRosa as “Unfiltered”. This demeanor comes out when asked if the Nationals could have handled their situation with Stephen Strasburg the same way the Braves have handled their young ace Kris Medlen. He said, “No! It’s a crock of s— what they’re doing with Medlen. It ain’t anywhere close [to Strasburg]. They’re trying to act like geniuses. Here’s the deal. And their whole life they’re raised to go through a certain process at certain times of the year. And ballplayers go through them in the spring. Now you take Doc Halladay or anybody, and if you start varying that—don’t let him [pitch] for a month? You don’t what’s going to happen.”

Johnson is a man who lives day-by-day, made evident by losing four managerial jobs and most painfully, the burial of two children. He said, “I think about them every day. They’re in my prayers ever day, as well as the people I love and wanted protected. I don’t pray for wins. I pray for health. I try to look on it that I was blessed for as long as I had them. They were joys. But it’s also the way I’ve lived my life. I’m going to enjoy the right now. My energy is about enjoying the moment the best way I can. Losing two kids only reaffirms how precious each moment of your life is. You’re given a gift with every opportunity.”


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