Split identity

Ex-O's pitcher victim of name mix-ups

On Dave Johnson

June 26, 2008|By PETER SCHMUCK

There's one big advantage to having a ridiculous name: It isn't often you get confused with somebody else.

Not that there haven't been a few other Peter Schmucks in the world, including a well-known New York jurist during the first half of the 20th century and a present-day German psychologist/author of great European renown, but nobody walks up to my kids and asks them if their dad is that famous European shrink or a long-dead state Supreme Court judge.

This is where I have an advantage over Orioles pre-game and post-game analyst Dave Johnson, whose name is so common that even his kids are starting to wonder whether he's really their father.

Dave's oldest son, Steve, was a big star at St. Paul's and now pitches in the Dodgers organization. Recently, he was one of the starters in the Midwest League All-Star Game, and he just got rewarded for his 9-2 record and 2.34 ERA with a promotion to the Dodgers' high Class-A team in San Bernardino, Calif.

This is all good, and Dave has every right to be a proud, beaming father, but it takes a little joy out of it each time he clicks on an article about Steve on one of the Dodgers-related Web sites or picks up a media guide and reads that Steve is the son of former Orioles player and manager Davey Johnson, or the son of the other Orioles pitcher named Dave Johnson, who made 17 relief appearances in the 1970s.

"I don't want to make a big deal about it, because it's about Steve and not about me," Johnson said, "but my kids are the best thing I've ever done in my life, so it's hard to see somebody else get credit for them."

The confusion stems from honest mistakes. Somebody listed Davey Johnson as Steve's dad in the minor league section of last year's Dodgers media guide. The reference has been deleted, but the publications that picked up the mistake have proliferated it with the help of the Internet. The other mix-up is easier to understand, because both Dave Johnsons were Orioles pitchers, but it's still irritating because this Dave pitched more recently and with more distinction.

He's probably best remembered for filling in for the injured Pete Harnisch in the biggest game of the surprising 1989 season and pitching wonderfully in what turned out to be a devastating loss for the "Why Not?" Orioles, but he also led the 1990 team in victories in spite of missing several starts with an injury.

Dave has had to deal with the Davey Johnson misidentification for years, but it was easier to laugh off when it was just some guy at a golf tournament accusing him of being an impostor. When it involves your kids, it's a little more personal.

If this isn't confusing enough, a young pitcher coming up through the Milwaukee Brewers minor league system has a chance to be the fourth major leaguer with David Johnson on his birth certificate. Of course, he also goes by Dave, which means he might have an identity crisis of his own someday.

They can't be serious

The beer industry magazine Draft rated Oriole Park No. 6 among the top 10 major league parks in its July/August edition. I've got no problem with putting Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium ahead of Camden Yards, but Pittsburgh's PNC Park and the new Nationals Park also were in the top five.

I love the downtown view at PNC and rate it close to Oriole Park. I'm also impressed with the new Washington park, but it isn't distinctive enough to be considered on par with the park that inspired the wave of throwback stadium architecture.

Fore-bitten fruit

Food prices really are skyrocketing. The apple Tiger Woods munched on during the second round of the U.S. Open was scooped up by a fan on the 12th fairway and reportedly fetched a bid of $30,100 on eBay.

I'm not surprised that people pay ridiculous prices for sports memorabilia, but what would you do with something like that? For that price, I'm guessing somebody is going to scrape off some DNA and try to create the 2030 Masters champion.

Parting thought

It's not my money, but I think it's time the Orioles lock up manager Dave Trembley through the 2009 season. I just hope this time the club announces his extension on an open date instead of letting some opposing team extend its congratulations with a 30-run salute.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

Listen to Peter Schmuck on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon most Saturdays and Sundays.

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