Yesterday, the Tampa Bay Rays signed Dan Johnson, who many know as one of the heroes of Game 162 in 2011, to a minor league deal as a knuckle ball pitcher. Here are his most memorable moments with the Rays so far.
In 2008, Johnson was claimed off waivers and played the majority of the 2008 season in Triple-A Durham. When he was called up to Tampa in September, he pinched hit in his first game. His pinch hit ended up being a home run off of Jonathan Papelbon of the Red Sox, which tied the game and in turn gave the Rays a chance at postseason as the Rays were only two games ahead of the Red Sox that September. Johnson was also apart of the Rays World Series roster that year.
Johnson’s next big thing for the Rays came in Game 162 in 2011. During this game, the Rays were tied with the Red Sox for the American League Wildcard spot. The Rays placed him in during the 9th inning where there was two outs. When he got up to bat, many Rays fans lost hope as he fell below the Mendoza line in the previous year and had two strikes on the count. Amazingly, Johnson had a game tying home run which helped the Rays clinch the wildcard spot as the Red Sox lost their game against the Baltimore Orioles. He won a GIBBY (Greatest in baseball yearly award) for his remarkable hit.
Now with the Tampa Bay Rays for the third time, Johnson has come back in hopes of becoming a knuckle ball pitcher, one of the hardest pitches in baseball. Similarly, pitcher R.A. Dickey converted to throwing that special pitch when he realized that was his best bet to staying in the majors. By throwing knuckle balls, Dickey won the Cy Young Award with the New York Mets in 2012. Will Dan Johnson be as successful as R.A. Dickey in throwing the infamous knuckle ball? So far in Rays history, Johnson has significantly helped the team make it into postseason. Will he do it again by throwing the knuckle ball? We will just have to wait and see.
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