Tonight, ESPN will air Judd Apatow’s new documentary, Doc & Darryl, which brings together two former MLB stars, Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, whose careers were wounded by addictive habits. Former Mets manager, Davey Jonson, will appear on tonight’s documentary, and discuss the pivotal role the Mets played in his career and life.
Read on to learn more about Davey Johnson.
1. His Daughter Was a Professional Surfer Who Died From Septic Shock and Complications from Schizophrenia
In 2005, Davey’s daughter, Andrea, died from complications from schizophrenia at age 32. Andrea was an avid surfer. As a little girl, her family would travel to the beach from their home in Florida, and Andrea would practice her skills on the waves. After perfecting her talents, she became a professional surfer, and won four Eastern Surfing Association titles over the course of her career.
Davey admitted to the New York Post that he was always worried about her surfing somewhere with sharks. But his daughter showed no signs of fear. “It didn’t faze her. It fazed me. She’d just kick them away.” At the peak of her surfing career, Andrea was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Her father told the New York post that “her sickness was similar to what was portrayed in the movie, ‘A Beautiful Mind'”.
On June 8, 2005, Andrea was rushed to the hospital after a “particularly rough night.” Doctors tried to save her life, but Andrea’s organs began to shut down. “The way I look at it is God didn’t want her to suffer anymore so he took her”, her father said shortly after her passing.
2. He Received a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics
Johnson was born in Orlando, Florida. His father, Frederick, was a World War II Tank commander, who spent time in an Italian prisoner-of-war camp. Sabr writes, “The stories of his [father’s] wartime life were never discussed in the Johnson home— Dave did not learn of them until he was an adult himself. All he knew was that his father was deeply respected by other military men the family associated with.”
When Davey’s family settled in San Antonio, he began to attract a host of baseball scouts. At Texas A&M, Johnson studied to be a veterinarian, but his baseball career forced him to end up taking some classes at Trinity College, where he received received a bachelor’s degree in math.
Johnson’s interests and talents didn’t end with baseball– after graduating, he became a pilot, a talented fisherman, and a scuba instructor. The retired manager also took classes at John Hopkins University while playing with the Orioles.
3. He Was the Starting Second Baseman for the Orioles During Their World Series Wins
Over the course of his illustrious career, Johnson played baseball for the Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves, Yumiuri Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, and Chicago Cubs. He was the starting second baseman for the Orioles during their two World Series wins in 1965 and 1972, and when they won four AL pennants. A talented player, Johnson also received the Rawlings Gold Glove Award, given to those who exhibit superior fielding performances, three times.
4. He Managed the Mets When They Won the 1986 World Series
As a manager, Johnson worked with the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Orioles, LA Dodgers, and Washington Nationals. He won the League’s Manager of the Year Award in 1997, and again in 2012.
Johnson began his managing career in the minor leagues, where he won three league championships. His last minor-league season was in 1983 with Tidewater, the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate, after which he was, “promoted to manage the parent club”, according to Sabr. One of his first acts as a manager was to persuade his boss, Frank Cashen, to promote Dwight Gooden, who he managed in the minors. Under Johnson’s management, the Mets won 90 games in 1984, 98 in 1985, and the World Series in 1986.
5. He’s Had Two Surgeries for Stomach Pains
In the years following his daughter’s death, Johnson dealt with medical complications of his own. In 2004, he began experiencing terrible stomach pains. Doctors removed half of his stomach before declaring that Davey had suffered from a burst appendix. According to the New York Post, “He was bed-ridden for a time and shrunk to 145 pounds.”
After another surgery, Davey began to closely monitor his diet and exercise frequently, which helped him jump back up to a healthy weight. In September 2013, the former MLB star announced his retirement. A year later, The Washington Post wrote an article chronicling what life looked like for the now-retired manager.
Instead of relentless travel and baseball, Johnson fills his time with his grandchildren, his wife, golf, real estate, chores and fishing. He makes breakfast for Susan every morning and packs her lunch before she leaves to manage her women’s clothing boutique in downtown Winter Park.
In 2014, Davey Johnson became a consultant.