Home / Spotlight / What It Was Like to Manage a Rookie Doc Gooden, a Gritty Wally Backman and a New York Mets

What It Was Like to Manage a Rookie Doc Gooden, a Gritty Wally Backman and a New York Mets

The following is excerpted from Davey Johnson: My Wild Ride in Baseball and Beyond by Davey Johnson with Erik Sherman is printed with a accede of Triumph Books. For some-more information and to sequence a copy, please click here.


“I have a list of 10 skills we demeanour for in a manager,” Cashen pronounced to me during my speak in an Atlanta Fulton County Airport lounge. “Fearless, intelligent, good communicator, energetic, tough, dedicated to actor development, patient, hardworking, cooperative, and positive.”

“Yeah, we got all those,” we told him. “Anything else?”

Frank, my GM when we played in Baltimore, gave a slight laugh during my cockiness, that he knew all too well, afterwards changed a speak to salary.

“We can compensate we $50,000 a year.”

I kind of laughed and said, “Frank, we can’t take that pursuit for reduction than a hundred grand. It’s New York City!”

After removing tighten adequate to a figure we wanted, we had a two-year deal, yet we told Cashen, “I’m customarily going to understanding with one ubiquitous manager. Not we and Lou Gorman. I’m customarily going to understanding with you, Frank. we don’t wish dual opposite opinions removing filtered into a organization.”

At a time, Gorman was a Mets’ VP of actor personnel, yet some-more critical to me, he was like a arch emissary to Cashen.

Frank concluded that we customarily indispensable to news to him.

Of course, it all became a indecisive indicate when Gorman left a Mets to accept a Red Sox’s ubiquitous manager pursuit usually before to open training. Another group clamp president, Al Harazin, and McIlvaine, who was now executive of scouting, would catch Gorman’s duties.

If we seemed approach or even ardent during my speak with Cashen, it’s since we was assured he was going to offer me a job. In fact, we believed he didn’t have a choice. There was a lot of immature talent in a teen joining complement and nobody had a improved believe of it than we did.


Davey Johnson: My Wild Ride in Baseball and Beyond

by Davey Johnson

Davey Johnson reflects on his furious and conspicuous journey, from his All-Star personification days to years of managerial success in New York, Cincinnati, and Baltimore, and many more.


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I have prolonged believed that, ideally, a exigency to apropos a first-time manager should be to conduct in a team’s teen joining complement and see how a classification reacts to your judgments and how they understanding with we so you’ll get constructive feedback from them before going to a big-league level. we felt like that was what we did and it done it easy for me to transition to a vital leagues.

The proclamation of my employing was done in Philadelphia during a press discussion during a ’83 World Series.

“I’m unequivocally happy to be here,” we told a reporters. “I like operative for intelligent group and Frank Cashen is a intelligent male for employing me.”

In an radical move, we announced a employing of Frank Howard, a manager we had usually replaced, as one of my coaches. Although we didn’t determine with him on some of a ways he managed a ballclub, we suspicion he was an superb coach. He would relentlessly work with a outfielders—who customarily never got adequate practice.

A few days after a press conference, we done another sinecure that could be viewed as uncommon. we brought on a immature information estimate manager named Russ Richardson. we wanted descent information on how each one of my players strike opposite each National League pitcher and information on how each Mets pitcher did opposite each hitter in a Senior Circuit.

I would learn so many from this data. For example, we schooled that a switch-hitting Backman had a harder time overhanging right-handed than he did left-handed.

I also wanted Russ to get me information on all a other National League clubs—like on what depends they like to take or hit-and-run on. Richardson would spend a subsequent several months over a winter scheming this information for me and enter it into what we called my “manager’s book.” All of that information was going to be many improved than perplexing to use my memory all a time.

I also had Russ prepared a “pitchers’ manual,” that would tell me things like who my several pitchers’ unchanging catcher was, how many pitches they typically threw, and how distant into games they went. All of that information was important. we was fundamentally a systems researcher during that point.

I was going to be baseball’s initial big-league manager to welcome sabermetrics.


One of a primary ways we wanted to change a enlightenment of a Mets and their moribund trail was to highlight operative on fundamentals—something a last-place bar hadn’t emphasized in prior years.

During my initial open training as Mets manager, we worked on some bunt plays we picked off from a Cardinals, a circle play, and all kinds of defensive alignments. we cruise a parsimonious structure set adult during open training allows additional work time for a guys who don’t do things really well. The instruction and use they accept are usually partial of a training routine that helps them turn vital league–level ready.

I leaned heavily on margin coordinators, that enabled me to be during opposite stations during open training. Even yet we had interviewed all my coaches and knew them well, we wanted to see how they were interacting with players and, conversely, how my players took to that interaction. That’s how we benefit congruity on a ballclub.

One of my pet projects that open was with one of a second basemen, Wally Backman, who had bounced behind and onward between a majors and minors, yet excelled for me during Tidewater. He was a small guy, so low to a belligerent that we used to fun that when he crouched into his fielding position and farted, mud would flog adult off a infield dirt.

I would evangelise to him, “Wally, there’s no ‘hands up.’ You should be a good fielder since your hands are so tighten to a ground.”

He worked intensely tough to get “softer” hands and eventually became one of a many sure-handed guys in baseball.

I indeed saw a lot of myself in him. Backman was a gamer—always removing his uniform dirty—and was driven by perplexing to find ways to flog you.

We had another second baseman in camp, Brian Giles, who had twice a talent—good speed, good power, good arm, smooth—but his makeup wasn’t half as good as Backman’s. Wally would be a starting second baseman entrance out of open training. It was an easy preference for me.

I didn’t cruise Backman would go into managing, yet when he did, we suspicion he would be flattering successful since of a approach he played a game. we feel for him that some of his off-the-field issues from many years ago have apparently kept him from removing a big-league job.

One of my other missions that spring, of course, was to conduct north with Doc on a big-league roster. we knew how good he was—he had such good command. If we had to be picky, maybe his customarily obstacle was how he was a small delayed to a image since of his high leg flog and extensive follow-through. This done it easier to take bases off him.

Still, we would think, Those bottom runners could take all day prolonged if they wanted, yet they ain’t gonna score. Nobody’s hidden home!

Early in camp, we brought a ghost of compelling Gooden to Cashen.

“He’s ready, Frank,” we told him. “At slightest keep an open mind.”

But Cashen was neutral and we knew accurately why. One of his large bugaboos was what happened with another one of a gifted immature arms 3 years earlier. At usually 21 years old, Tim Leary was lighting it adult during Double A Jackson, going 15–8 with a 2.71 ERA. Then, early in a ’81 season, Frank brought him adult to start a third diversion of a year on a wintry day in Chicago. Leary lasted usually dual innings, withdrawal a diversion with a bad shoulder since of a frozen weather. Tim would skip a rest of a season.

So Cashen clearly remembered that, and thought, Oh, we took a immature child out of Double A ball, we brought him adult to a large leagues, and he harm himself perplexing to do too much.

Frank didn’t wish to make a same mistake twice.

By a finish of open training, notwithstanding a unbending back, Doc showed everybody his things was some-more than vital joining ready.

I most pleaded with Frank.

“I’ll take caring of him,” we told Cashen. “Trust me. we won’t abuse him.”

I simply never had a doubt that Gooden could hoop a large stage—even as a teenager. we had him as immature as seventeen in a minors. Dwight was a immature male who desired a game—that was apparent early. He was always happy, came from a good family, and pitched for a good high propagandize coach. we didn’t see any function out of a typical that would lead me to cruise he would cruise any other trail than to take caring of himself.

Frank finally acquiesced—but underneath one condition.

“I don’t wish him attack left-handed,” Cashen told me. “I don’t wish to display that good right arm of his.”

I was indeed a small dissapoint about Frank’s order, since Doc was a good switch-hitter.

“Nobody is going to strike him,” we countered. “He can strike them behind anywhere he wants—and with a many harder fastball.”

But that’s a approach Cashen wanted it and we couldn’t overrule him on that.

Still, we got my ultimate wish.

Doc was entrance to Flushing.

Article source: https://www.si.com/mlb/2018/06/01/davey-johnson-book-excerpt-new-york-mets-manager-dwight-gooden

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