Opening Day is just 20 days away, I thought a good way to countdown these days would be to profile someone with that number each day until the big day. With twenty days remaining, the #20 that first comes to mind is former 3rd baseman and current hitting coach Howard “HoJo” “Haji” Johnson.
HoJo was credited with turning around Jeff Francoeur’s season last year. He is also considered a second father to David Wright which makes me feel despite rumor’s last season it would take something huge for “Haji” to get fired. We also have heard that Murph and Wright spent time with HoJo over the winter to work on hitting and for some good ole’ male bonding time.
I think sometimes we forget about how great of a player HoJo was. This guy was Mr. 30-30 and before David Wright was easily the best third baseman in Met history. I think a lot of people including myself focus their memories of the 80’s/90’s Mets on Doc, Darryl, Mex and the kid but HoJo was the one guy that stayed after those 80’s teams and was the heart and soul of this team until his departure after the 1993 season.
HoJo’s top two seasons were his 30-30 years in 1987 and 1989. In 1987, his first full time year, he hit 36 homers, with 99 RBI’s and 32 steals. In 1989, HoJo hit 36 bombs with 101 RBI’s and 41 steals. HoJo was a two-time all star, two-time Silver Slugger and two-time World Series champ.
It is great that HoJo is still in the Mets organization and to know how he feels about the Mets, one go no further then the Shea Goodbye Ceremony, where a distraught HoJo was crying on the field after the Mets loss to the Fish.
There you go my all-favorite number 20, Howard Johnson, let the countdown to Opening Day continue!!!