Dan Johnson, Former Big Leaguer Makes Long Island His New Home

“The Great Pumpkin” has landed with the Long Island Ducks.

Yes, “The Great Pumpkin.”

It’s on the internet so it must be true, right? Thanks Wikipedia! Dan Johnson did not deny the fact that this was at one time his nickname, as embarrassing as it may be.

“Oh man, wow, it stems back from the early days in Oakland” explained Johnson. “It was a nickname that was given to me and the guys just kept it going. It obviously has something to do with my red hair of course.”

Dan Johnson, a career MLB journeyman, has landed a spot in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. Throughout his career thus far, he found himself in the minors more times than not. However, he earned himself two MVP awards while spending time beneath the majors. After playing 10 seasons in this bigs, Johnson was signed by the Bridgeport Bluefish and then traded to the Long Island Ducks this past Monday for a player to be named.

“We’re very excited to have him here with our club” stated Ducks manager Kevin Baez. “He brings a ton of experience and as a veteran he knows how to handle himself and prepare in order to help our club.”

Johnson made a name for himself upon his immediate arrival in the first of three games against the New Britain Bees. He hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth to give the Ducks a 4-3 lead over the Bees. Although his first hit as a Duck was the go ahead run, he had hoped for more.

“I mean, I would have liked to of hit four home runs but I’ll take whatever I can get to help the team win” joked Johnson.

All within 10 years in the majors, he found himself playing with six different teams, along with some time with the Yokohama Baystars of the Nippon Professional Baseball, formerly known as the Japanese Central League. Oakland and Tampa Bay was where he spent the majority of his time. He is most known for his game tying two out home run in 2011 on “Wild Card Wednesday” while playing with the Rays.

“All the turmoil I went through that season to get to that point with getting hit in the hand after signing a contract, it was a tough time for me” Johnson added. “It was crazy because I was told I was going to bat fifth in that inning and I was just stretching in the batting cage tunnel. The security guard came running down and told me they wanted me now. So I ran to the hitting coach and asked what the pitcher had and it was a change up. I waited and waited and didn’t see it until the eighth pitch or so and just got a hold of it. It’s the type of pitch I would have normally fouled off, but not that time.”

To say Johnson had a productive opening series with the Ducks would be a pure understatement. After going 1-for-2 with two walks and an RBI on the solo shot, he followed up with a 1-for-4 performance in the second game vs the Bees with another RBI. But the final game of the set saw Johnson go 1-for-2 again but this time with two RBI and two walks to go along with another blast out to right field.

Baez, who also acts as the teams third base coach is loving every minute of Johnson’s success. I mean, who wouldn’t? When you have half your team battling injuries, including your main stars and two first basemen, you could only wish to have someone fill the void in such a successful way.

“What’s not to like?” stated Baez. “He’s been around this game along time, he gets it, he understands it, comes ready to go, and he’s just a great teammate. The ball just jumps off his bat and I pitch to him in batting practice so I see it first hand and it’s incredible.”

The Ducks swept the Bees in the opening series of their six game home stand and it was closer Todd Coffey who brought his A-game to the mound. Coffey struck out all three batters he faced as he earned his ninth save in as many attempts.

So yes Charlie Brown, the Great Pumpkin does exist.

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