Johnson returns to Baltimore in first trip as visitor

Johnson returns to Baltimore in first trip as visitor

Johnson returns to Baltimore in first trip as visitor
BALTIMORE -- After spending eight years with the Orioles as a player and two more as a manager, Nationals skipper Davey Johnson made his first appearance in Baltimore as a visitor on Friday.

Returning to the area where he grew up, Johnson reflected.

"It feels really good," Johnson said. "It's a beautiful ballpark. I always loved coming here. I love the fans in this area."

Johnson played second base for the Orioles as a member of their World Series championship teams in 1966 and 1970. Back then, the team played at Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street, a site Johnson visited a few weeks prior to Friday's game.

Twenty-four years after he took his final swing as an Oriole, Johnson returned to Baltimore as manager in 1996.

"I've always had good memories about winning and as a player, just the town more than the ballparks," Johnson said. "All of my memories in Baltimore and with baseball are great memories."

Although he was named American League Manager of the Year in 1997 for leading the last Orioles team to make the playoffs, Johnson was dismissed following the season and after a spat with owner Peter Angelos.

Johnson said he and Angelos don't stay in touch, last speaking in 2005, when Angelos sent flowers and offered condolences after Johnson's daughter, Andrea, died of septic shock at age 32.

"That was greatly appreciated," Johnson said, adding that he has no hard feelings toward Angelos. "Managers are hired to get fired. All of the times that I was here were fun times for me."

Since leaving the organization, the only time Johnson returned to Camden Yards was in June 2010, as part of a 40th anniversary celebration for the 1970 championship.

Johnson said he relished the experience to be able to catch up and chat with Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer, Boog Powell and other members of the 1970 team.

Although his favorite Orioles experience was leading the AL East wire to wire in 1997, Johnson vividly recalled the slider Armando Benitez hung to Tony Fernandez for the home run that eliminated Baltimore in the 11th inning of Game 6 of that year's ALCS.

Johnson got to relive some of his Baltimore days by chatting with Palmer, now an Orioles broadcaster, prior to Friday's game.

"It was just a good feeling," Johnson said. "We were just talking about the good old days."