WASHINGTON -- Davey Johnson wasn't exactly looking forward to Sunday's pregame ceremony at Nationals Park, which the club put on to celebrate its retiring manager's career.
"If it's anything more than five minutes, my back may go out," Johnson said on Thursday. "We've got a ballgame to win."
But toward the end, when a line of Nationals players and coaches came by to share hugs and a few words, center fielder Denard Span could tell Johnson was feeling some emotion.
"Yeah, he did, he did," Span said. "As a matter of fact, I asked him, he had his shades on, I was like, 'You not crying behind those shades, are you?' And he told me, 'Bleep no.' But yeah, you could definitely tell that he appreciated just the whole ceremony and us just saluting him off."
Johnson called the festivities "real moving," if perhaps a little uncomfortable.
"I like to stay away from those emotions," he said. "It got to me."
The ceremony began about a half-hour before the Nationals' 4-2 loss to the Marlins. Johnson, in his 17th year as a big league manager and his third with Washington, ambled out of the home dugout and stood next to general manager Mike Rizzo.
They watched on the stadium jumbotron as the team played a montage of highlights of Johnson's career, which will end at the conclusion of the season. Johnson played and managed more than 3,800 Major League games, not to mention more in Japan and other places.
Johnson tipped his cap to the crowd and shook hands with managing principal owner Ted Lerner and other owners, who presented him with a customized crystal in recognition of his contributions to the franchise.
The 70-year-old skipper then looked back to the jumbotron, where Nationals players and coaches thanked Johnson and said their public goodbyes. The video also featured some of Johnson's former teammates and players, including Jim Palmer and Boog Powell, as well as Cal Ripken Jr.
"Really nicely done, it brought back a lot of old memories," Johnson said. "It was fun seeing me in a Japanese uniform again. It was really sweet. I was really moved by it."
As the video came to an end, most of the team lined up in front of the home dugout and greeted Johnson one by one as the crowd at Nationals Park gave him a standing ovation.
"He has so many accomplishments. I didn't even think of the stuff that he had done and how long he's been in the game," said starting pitcher Dan Haren. "It was sad. If I was him, I cry easy, so I would've been choked up. So many people saying so many really nice things about him."
There were no tears from Johnson, just a tip of the cap, a bow and a hasty retreat back to the dugout.
"He doesn't like being put out there and being put above everybody else," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "That's the kind of guy he is. But I think he appreciated it and enjoyed it."
Said Johnson: "The guys were great. I felt like when it was over I should take off my uniform and go crawl in a hole somewhere. It was nice."
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.