By Jay Horwitz
During my time with the Mets, I worked with 13 different managers. No one had a more bold or confident press conference than Davey Johnson when he became the Mets leader 37 years ago this week in the middle of the Phillies-Orioles, World Series.
Davey walked to the microphone and told GM Frank Cashen “I would like to thank Frank for being smart enough to hire me. My only question is why did it take him so long.”
That was Davey. He never lacked belief in himself. He was a great player with the Orioles and the Braves. He was a winner his entire career.
Davey more than backed up his words when three years later he led the Mets to the 1986 World Championship.
It didn’t take Davey long to turn the Mets around. In 1984, his club won 90 games, then followed that up with a 98 win season in 1985 and 108 regular season wins in 1986.
Money never drove Davey. He just wanted to be the best. In reality, he really didn’t need the job. Davey was already a successful real estate man, he had a math degree from Texas A&M and was a licensed pilot.
He was able to mold all the different personalities of our 1986 team into one. The guys fed up his sometimes audacious predictions.
In Spring Training, 1986 in St. Petersburg he told the players in a team meeting “Not only are we are we going to win everything, we are going to dominate.”
That year we got off to a 2–3 start and yet when he addressed our Welcome Home Dinner he said, “Don’t worry folks we are not going to lose many more the rest of the way.” The Mets would only lose 51 more regular season games in 1986.
Davey Johnson wound up his Mets career with 595 victories, still the most ever by a manger. His winning percentage was a gaudy .588. He also was one of the first managers to rely on analytics to plan his strategy.
In short, he was the perfect man to lead the Mets to their most consistent period of winning in team history.