Book Reviews

“Davey Johnson: My Wild Ride in Baseball and Beyond” by Davey Johnson, Erik Sherman

Book review at Knup Sports

Tom looks at Davey Johnson from player to manager and his success everywhere he goes.

The beginning of the book may have led to deeper reasons that that book was written than just to share his time in baseball. It states that many believe Davey Johnson belongs in the baseball Hall of Fame. He is not currently in the Hall. The book slowly and methodically takes us on a journey on that quest to get him in the Hall.

One thing was certain in the baseball life of Davey Johnson after his playing days were over and that is if you wanted a team to get better soon, you needed to hire Johnson as your manager. That fact is evidenced by taking three teams (New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, and Baltimore Orioles) and getting them to their league championships. The hiring of Davey for the New York Mets managerial position started as a head scratcher and concluded with the city of New York paying homage to the skipper of the Mets.

He explains several of the high and low points in his life and professional career. Each chapter in the book is titled with a date that corresponds to some event in his life. One such high point comes on April 13, 1965, when he makes his major league debut. He was just plain excited to be in the same dugout with players like Paul Blair, Jim Palmer, Boog Powell, and Dave McNally. He couldn’t believe he was with some of the all-time greats such as Brooks Robinson, Luis Aparicio, Harvey Haddix and Robin Roberts. He struck out in his first major league at-bat.

He takes us to the next season for another high point which was October 9, 1966. The season started on a high note in Spring Training when Davey got to meet and talk to the great Negro League pitcher Satchell Paige. He asked him many questions and pick his brain. Another great addition to the team came with the acquisition of a middle of the order outfielder Frank Robinson. The season went very smoothly for the most part and now they have won the American League pennant and must go to the World Series. The outcome came down to 20-year old Jim Palmer facing Dodgers ace Sandy Koufax. The Orioles prevailed and Davey Johnson is a member of a World Series team and along with that, he garners a check for $12,794 which he uses to buy and sell property in Florida.

The Mets win the World Series on October 15, 1986, with Davey Johnson as their manager. This all came after he left the game in the United States and went to Japan to play and on to Mexico for awhile and then out of the game for a year. That was followed by minor league managing and his fondness for his greatest pitcher Doc Gooden. Davey Johnson was the toast of the town and will always be part of their history.

But what happened next was the lowest point of his managerial career. It all started at the beginning of the 1987 season. Just one year from winning it all. His star pitcher came into Johnson’s office and announced to him that he had to go to drug rehab. Johnson was dumbfounded. He didn’t see it coming and never had an inkling throughout the minor leagues are majors. He would be without his star pitcher for a year. Johnson states, “ Having Doc come to my office and tell me what he did was the most devastating thing that ever happened to me in my managing career.”

Another low time for Johnson happened almost 20 years later and was in his personal life. After managing other teams and quitting the Dodgers after winning Manager of the Year, he wanted to be home. His youngest daughter, Andrea, was diagnosed with a combination of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. This began years of medication and hospitalization. Her condition worsened over time and eventually went on life support for four hours until he gave permission to pull the plug. She died five minutes later.

This book is packed with stories that involved some of the best in baseball and Johnson’s respect for Earl Weaver is paramount to his life story. Davey Johnson did it all in baseball. He played a solid defense, hit home runs, drove in runners and managed games that resulted in the pinnacle of baseball success.

As far as getting into the Hall of Fame. I believe the book is worth reading to make your own judgments on his baseball career. It is worth the read.

Thanks to Triumph Books for the opportunity to read and review this book.

About the Author:

Davey Johnson was a four-time AllStar and two-time world champion second baseman with the Baltimore Orioles. As a manager, he retired with an astounding .588 winning percentage over more than 15 seasons, including a heralded Mets world championship in 1986.

Erik Sherman is the co-author of three highly acclaimed baseball autobiographies: Out at Home (with Glenn Burke), A Pirate for Life (with Steve Blass), and the New York Times bestseller Mookie: Life, Baseball and the ‘86 Mets (with Mookie Wilson). Sherman is also the author of the bestseller King of Queens: Life Beyond Baseball with the 1986 Mets.

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