Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Davey Johnson, 1991 Swell Baseball Greats #46

Happy 75th birthday to Davey Johnson, who excelled as both a Gold Glove second baseman and a manager for the Orioles. If you're wondering how he performed in the 1975 season, well, he had an incredible slash line of 1.000/2.000/3.000 (710 OPS+) for the Atlanta Braves! Yep, Davey rapped a pinch hit double in his one and only plate appearance in his 11th season in the majors. He then jumped to Japan to play for the mighty Yomiuri Giants, becoming the first foreign player on the club in nearly two decades. The culture shock was significant, and Johnson batted just .197/.275/.356 in 91 games while facing scorn from the media and fans. He even lost 25 pounds.

But a renewed determination allowed him to bounce back in 1976, batting .268 with 26 homers for the pennant-winning Giants and earning recognition as an All-Star and the Japanese league's top-fielding second baseman. However, Davey clashed with manager Shigeo Nagashima, a former great player in his own right who had recruited Johnson as his on-field replacement. The skipper belittled Johnson over a midseason arm injury and a late-season illness, casting doubt on the veracity of his player's ailments. So Davey returned to MLB in 1977, finishing his playing career in a reserve role with the Phillies and the Cubs, and then jumping right into managing in the minor leagues in 1979.

Incidentally, I picked up this card at the Orioles FanFest last Saturday. We had a good time as usual, though it was even more exhausting with a fully mobile toddler to chase. I'll post details and pictures soon...ish.

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