NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Another season of baseball is all Ron Johnson is asking for. Among other things, the Norfolk Tides manager calls himself a baseball “lifer” and a “ballpark rat,” all for a love of the game.
“I don’t care what year it is or where you’re at, opening day is always exciting,” said Johnson, who’s headed into his third season as the Tides’ skipper. This will also be his 36th season in the professional ranks. “R-J” made it to the majors as a first base coach in 2009, when he coached alongside then-Boston manager Terry Francona.
Though he hasn’t returned to major league baseball since he left the Red Sox in 2011, he’s gained the respect of managers all over, including from his parent team, the Baltimore Orioles.
“I’ve spent a lot of time on the phone with him,” said Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who keeps a good working relationship with Johnson. “He goes, ‘What do you need?’ I say, ‘We need this for this,’ and he’ll say, ‘Here’s the guy.’ He’ll also say, ‘We don’t have him,’ and I like that.”
Johnson’s Tides went 74-70 over his first season in 2012, and then improved that mark to 77-67 last year. Norfolk missed the playoffs in a tie-breaker with the Rochester Red Wings.
Johnson would love to make a return to major league baseball, but added “if this is what it is, this is fantastic.”