Nationals honor retiring manager Davey Johnson
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Washington Nationals honored Davey Johnson on Sunday, paying tribute to the retiring 70-year-old manager who last season guided the team to its only playoff appearance.
Johnson was feted during a 15-minute ceremony that featured video tributes and highlights of his playing and managing career.
The team presented Johnson with an engraved Tiffany crystal before a day-night doubleheader against Miami, the Nationals' final home games of the regular season.
"It was really nicely done,'' Johnson said of the ceremony after a 4-2 loss to the Marlins.
The loss dropped the Nationals to 5 1/2 games behind Cincinnati for the final NL wild-card spot.
"Davey, first of all, this is not goodbye. Next season, you and I will continue what we started here, only you'll have a new title. I imagine we'll refer to you as senior adviser to the general manager, with the emphasis on `senior,''' general manager Mike Rizzo said in a video.
Rizzo said that when Johnson took over in 2011, "we were a team in distress.''
"For a variety of reasons our young team, while talented, was suffering a crisis of confidence and needed a steady hand. You were that steady hand, Davey,'' he said.
After the tributes were shown, the Nationals' roster came out in front of the dugout and Johnson worked his way through the line, exchanging hugs with his players and coaches.
"Players coming out and players talking about me,'' Johnson said. "It was moving. Something like that makes you happy and sad at the same time.''
Said third baseman Ryan Zimmerman: "He doesn't like that kind of stuff. He doesn't like being put out there and to be put above everyone else, which is the kind of guy he is. But I think he appreciated it and enjoyed it.''
He then tipped his hat and bowed to the fans, who were giving him a standing ovation.
Johnson, who joined the Nationals' front office in 2006, took over as manager in June 2011 after Jim Riggleman resigned. He had a 221-178 record with Washington going into the doubleheader.
Johnson was picked as NL Manager of the Year in 2012 last season after leading the Nationals to a 98-64 mark and the NL East title. They were beaten by St. Louis in the NL division series.
In the offseason, Johnson and the Nationals jointly announced this would be his final season and he described 2013 as "World Series or bust.''
A combination of injuries and a struggling offense hampered the team over the season's first four months and, after being swept by Atlanta in August, were 54-60.
Since then, however, Washington has posted the best record in baseball (29-11) to climb back into the wild-card race.
After Sunday's games against the Marlins, Washington finishes on the road at St. Louis and Arizona.
Johnson's career record is 1,369-1,067 over 17 seasons with the Mets, Reds, Orioles, Dodgers and Nationals. He won an NL pennant and the 1986 World Series with the Mets and was the AL Manager of the Year in 1997 after guiding the Orioles to a 98-64 mark.
"The guy's a class act. Very stand up,'' Nationals pitcher Dan Haren said. "He's very honest with the players, honest with the media. It'll be sad to see him move on to the next stage of his life, but he definitely left a legacy that won't be forgotten.''
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