Former Met Johnson would be logical successor if O's Robinson steps down


Word has trickled down that if the Orioles do decide to make a managerial change, the club would be interested in a familiar name -- Dave Johnson.

Not Dave Johnson, the pitcher who's now on the disabled list, but Davey Johnson who was the second baseman here during the O's glory years and went on to manage the Mets to a World Series championship in 1986.

Johnson was fired by the Mets last year, but some of the New York writers who were here for the Preakness last week said the Mets were better managed by Johnson.

* Frank Robinson, the Orioles' present manager, has no bigger fan than Jerry Hoffberger, who owned the Orioles from 1966 through 1979.

Hoffberger brought Robinson to Baltimore in 1966 and developed a friendship with the man who would go in the Hall of Fame in 1982. When asked yesterday if he thought the O's might replace Robinson, Hoffberger said, "Knowing the kind of man Frank is, I think he'd take himself out before the club would do it."

* Look for Preakness winner Hansel, who is not yet entered, to be in the Belmont Stakes June 8 even though he runs on Lasix and the drug is banned in New York.

"He's not a bad bleeder," says his trainer, Frank Brothers. "He might be the kind of horse who can get by without it once."

An attraction to Hansel's owners is the Chrysler $1 million Triple Crown bonus that goes to "the owner of the horse with the best, most consistent finish" in the three races -- the Derby, Preakness and Belmont. To collect, a horse must run in all three. Only three Belmont entrants to date -- Strike the Gold, Corporate Report and Mane Minister -- are eligible for the bonus.

This year's Preakness will not go down as one of the more memorable runnings of the classic. Hansel didn't enter until mid-week, then won by seven lengths going away. The top three picks -- Strike the Gold, Olympio and Best Pal -- turned in poor performances. My favorite Preakness was the 114th in 1989 when Sunday Silence beat Easy Goer by a nose in a great race.

* At the recent Towson State football fund-raising banquet, there was this exchange between ex-Colt Art Donovan and Sean Landeta, the TSU grad who's now the star punter for the Super Bowl champion New York Giants:

Donovan: "If we had a punter like you when I played for the Colts, we wouldn't have lost a game in four years."

Landeta: "Who punted for you guys?"

Donovan: "Everybody! L.G. Dupre. Avetus Stone. Weeb Ewbank even brought back Horace Gillom. L.G. kicked one that the other team recovered behind our line of scrimmage. Don't you remember?"

Note: Landeta wasn't born when the Colts won NFL titles in 1958 and '59.

Landeta hardly could have been shocked when his coach, Bill Parcells, resigned last week. At the Towson banquet, when Parcells' departure was rumored, Landeta said: "He's tired. A long Super Bowl season wears you down."

Insiders will tell you there are some other things that made Parcells walk away at age 50 after coaching the team for eight years.

The Giants have 21 players up for contract renewal. After winning a Super Bowl, every player thinks he's worth a million dollars. Settling all those contracts can be rough and divisive. After the last Giant Super Bowl victory a dozen players also wrote books, which caused other problems, and the team had a bad year. Parcells remembered all that. He wanted to go out on top. He was right when he said this was a good time to go.

* St. Paul's beating St. Mary's, 9-8, last weekend and winning the MSA A Conference lacrosse championship seemed like old times. Though the Crusaders hadn't won a title since '82, the school has the richest of all lacrosse traditions among Baltimore high schools.

Since taking up the sport in 1933, St. Paul's has won more than 500 games and 21 MSA titles. More than 100 of its graduates became college All-Americans. Coach Mitch Whiteley and his present team have added to the tradition.

* Lacrosse is on the upswing at College Park. The Maryland men are in the Final Four next weekend (with Towson State, Syracuse and North Carolina) and the women finished as runner-up to Virginia Sunday in the NCAA tourney.

For Maryland's women, that was a remarkable showing. The Terps lost seven starters (including three All-Americans) from last year's team that finished No. 2 to Harvard, and the new Maryland coach, Cindy Timchal, didn't take over until a week before this season. The Terps men should do so well.

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