Baltimore Orioles v Tampa Bay RaysThe Great Pumpkin is back!

Pending a physical, the Rays will sign Dan Johnson to a minor league contract, the team announced on Saturday.

Johnson is best remembered for hitting several clutch home runs for the Rays from 2008 through 2011, including the game-tying home run with two outs and two strikes in the ninth inning of Game 162 in 2011.

However, this time, Johnson won’t be swinging a bat for the Rays. He is being signed as a 36-year-old knuckleball pitcher.

Johnson only played in 81 games with the Rays over parts of three seasons, but he made the most his time. Here are his biggest moments:

  • 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. Not bad.

Here is the home run from Game 162:

Here is the home run off of Papelbon in 2008:

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3 Comments

  1. DRR says:

    I love this. I don't care if he is terrible or never throws a decent pitch. I still love it.

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  2. Jay says:

    The Great Pumpkin shall forever rise. Cool news...

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  3. Political_Man says:

    Of course Dan Johnson is coming back as a knuckle ball pitcher. You know he was coming back and you knew he was going to come back in the most bizarre and loveable way possible.

    Long live the Great Pumpkin!

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