Saturday night, before the Washington Nationals play their penultimate home game of the regular season, the team will gather on the field and the organization will honor Davey Johnson.
According to the team, the ceremony will be “in honor of his commitment to the Washington Nationals and his stellar managerial career.” They’ll play a video on the scoreboard in tribute to him, and general manager Mike Rizzo will present Johnson with an award on behalf of the organization.
For Johnson, who often pushes away nostalgia, the only manager to ever guide a Nationals team to a winning season may be forced to partake in at least a little of it on Saturday.
“I’m thinking about checking into the hospital, is what I’m thinking about,” Johnson quipped on Thursday. “I heard they’re giving me a little something on the [video] screen, that’s what I hear.
“I told (them) if it’s anything more than five minutes, my back may go out. We’ve got a ballgame to win.”
Johnson has known since last November that this year would be his last in the Nationals’ dugout. He famously termed the campaign “World Series or bust,” but he’s backed off that bravado of late, pointing out on a number of occasions that he meant it more in regard to how he would view it. As in: “I’m going to be out of here one way or another,” he said.
Still, while Johnson is not retiring this does mark an ending for the manager.
But he won’t get emotional about things just yet.
The Nationals opened Thursday 5.5 games back of a wild card spot, but the numbers still say they could make it, so Johnson hasn’t given up hope.
“Probably when we’re mathematically eliminated,” Johnson said, asked when he might allow himself to soak in his final few days in the dugout.
“Then it’ll probably hit me. But until that point, I ain’t taking anything for granted. Never have, never will.”