Dan Johnson’s career stats with the Rays are the stuff of a classic four-A player*. In 81 career games with the Rays, Johnson is hitting .168 with 11 home runs.

But sometimes, you just have to look beyond the numbers. And The Great Pumpkin’s resume may be as impressive as anybody that has every worn a Rays uniform.

  • September, 2008— The Rays improbable run appeared to be losing steam having lost three in a row. And with the lead down to a half-game, Johnson was called up from triple-A. He was originally supposed to start that game, but missed his flight. He arrived at Fenway Park mid-game, and was called as a pinch-hitter to lead off the 9th inning with the Rays trailing by one and Jonathon Papelbon on the mound. Johnson homered off of Papelbon, the Rays held their lead and went on to win their first division title.
  • August, 2010— After being called up earlier that month, Johnson hit a walk-off home run off the Red Sox in the tenth inning to keep the Rays tied for first place.
  • September, 2010— With the Rays trailing the Yankees by a half-game, Johnson went deep twice, including the go-ahead 2-run home run in the seventh inning.
  • September, 2011 — And of course, the Great Pumpkin rose again last night with his game-tying home run with two strikes and two outs in the ninth inning.

That is four games and five home runs of epic importance.

We tend to think teams honor too many players and retire too many numbers. But there is something special about what Johnson has done for this franchise to help bring a level of respect to the team.

A statue for Johnson seems extreme. But should the Rays retire his number when his career is over? Should the Rays created a monument dedicated to great moments in franchise history? We don’t know what the answer is. But it seems like he should be honored in some way.

* A player too good for triple-A but not good enough for the majors

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10 Comments

  1. Michael says:

    Yeah I think his number should be retired.

    No question. The hits he's made are massive, and clutch, and he's part of the fabric of the history of the franchise.

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  2. billy says:

    I am guessing that Dan the Man would be happy to just get a front-office job with the Rays. Dan would get a paycheck, and the legacy would live on one meeting/conversation with the public at a time.

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  3. Sledge says:

    In the Rays news stadium (whereever and whenever that is), have a special place dedicated to Golden Moments in Rays History. Boggs 3,000th hit, Garza no-no, Price's save against Sox, Pumpkin's clutch HRs. You really can't honor a 4A player, but you can start a Rays history museum and make him a central figure for all time.

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  4. Hal says:

    We did give him a million bucks to play this year, so there's always that. I think that some small event at some time in the future is in order and I think that we should all agree as Rays fans to never let Pumpkin pay for a meal or a drink anytime that he is out on the town for the rest of his life.

    How about this as a reward - post-season roster spot. I know he's technically not eligible, but when has that stopped the Rays before. Doesn't our post-season roster come down to the following:

    1. Lobaton v. Jaso
    2. Davis v. Niemann
    3. Johnson v. Johnson

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  5. Mike Rollins says:

    There are a lot of mediocre players out there who are remembered for huge things, both good and bad. He left his mark on the greatest night in regular season baseball history, but depending on how far the Rays go in the post season, he could approach sainthood territory with Longoria.

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  6. Gus says:

    The section on the foul pole where his ball hit shoud be painted bright "Dan Johnson Orange" in honor of the great pumpkin (would go with the Tropicana orange right behind it anyway). Like the Frank Howard seat at RFK. A nice piece of stadium lore. People can take their kids and get a picture at the Pumpkin Pole as it is now known.

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  7. defdans says:

    He should definitely be honored in some way. Dude has come up huge for this franchise.

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  8. Pinto says:

    You forgot about the HR he hit in Chicago this year to help them win their first game after starting 0-6. That was pretty important too.

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    • Gus says:

      The Friday night game in Chicago, the home game in August against Toronto and last night were they only 3 dramatic comebacks of the season that stick out in my mind, but man were they some kind of comebacks. Johnson having a key role in 2 of them is something.

      I was going to go with "Johnson's Pole" but figured that could go in the wrong direction, so "Pumpkin's Pole" is the Trop's answer to Pesky's Pole. Paint it orange for the playoffs.

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