Fans can't manage much cheer at news Most liked Johnson

some question why he gave up

Davey Johnson Resignation

November 06, 1997|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

It was difficult to find a smiling Orioles fan in the vicinity of Camden Yards last night. As word spread that manager Davey Johnson had submitted his resignation and team owner Peter Angelos had accepted it, fans were at once shocked and saddened.

Asking area residents if they were Orioles fans was asking for a cynical reply. "I try to be," said Thomas Maczka, 21. "I felt like bawling when I heard the news. I think Davey's the best manager we've had except for Earl Weaver."

A moment later, Terry Chambers, 26 and the night manager of a local eatery, said, "I used to be. Davey said he wasn't a quitter, but he quit today. It's part of his job to be under pressure. He had a tiff with his boss. So what? I really couldn't believe it. I expected him to get fired before he resigned."

All along the neighborhood streets outside the ballpark, pubs were beginning to fill up with fans lamenting the loss of Johnson. The now former manager took a little heat for desertion, but most of the blame was heaped on Angelos.

"I don't think they know what they're doing," said Baltimorean James Blake, 42. "To take a winning manager in any sport and [create a situation in which he resigns]? I think even if we'd gone to the World Series, this still would be happening.

"What it comes down to is robbing us of something that works. Johnson was helping Baltimore get back on its feet. We once had success in everything -- baseball, football, basketball and hockey. Most of that's gone, but now we had a chance to really create something and get back on the map. But the owner doesn't think about us fans anymore."

Sherman Reed, a Baltimore businessman and a seven-year season-ticket holder, is so angry he has announced he is holding a rally on Nov. 15 at the corner of Eutaw and Pratt streets to let Angelos know how the fans feel.

"I think, like most fans, we were very proud that a local businessman with long ties to Baltimore would purchase the team," said Reed, who said he will not renew his tickets. "But the decisions he's made -- getting rid of John Lowenstein at HTS, of Jon Miller last year and now Davey Johnson -- Angelos doesn't seem to understand that as season-ticket holders we have a vested interest, just as stockholders would have in a corporation. At some point we should be heard."

At one end of a local bar, about a dozen fans were arguing over why it happened and agreeing on nothing except that, in the words of Sam Hoffman, 39, Johnson got a "raunchy" deal that was "unfair and unfaithful."

At the other end, Laura Gentry lamented Johnson's "giving up."

"We're annoyed," she said, as two friends nodded. "He should have stayed with us. The fans loved him. He should have put up a fight."

Tommy Fisher, who has been an Orioles fan throughout his 40 years, blamed the whole thing on a battle of egos.

"It was Angelos wanting a yes man for a manager," said Fisher. "He wants everyone to be rank and file. But he's a lawyer, not a baseball manager. Here he had a guy who takes us to two American League [Championship Series] in the first two years he's here, and he gets forced out over a charity donation -- it's a schoolyard spat."

Stacey Duvall wasn't as pessimistic as some.

"It's true I would have paid any amount of dollars to see any game at the stadium this year, and it was because Johnson had the team playing so well," she said. "But it's like an orchestra. The flute is only part of the whole. I think they can stand on their own no matter who is managing."

Pub Date: 11/06/97

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