04/26/08 6:37 PM ET
Best ever? Johnson's grab reverberates
Cubs center fielder's catch no less amazing a day later
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Make sure you watch this one. It was the fifth inning Friday, the game was tied at 2, and there were two outs. Johnson made a full-extension dive to snare Felipe Lopez's fly ball in left-center and slammed headfirst into the bottom of the outfield fence. He came out of it alive.
"What a great play," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "It's as nice a play as you want to see. The way he not only caught the ball and slid almost headfirst into the wall and when his cap came up -- you're not going to see a nicer catch than that."
The brim of Johnson's cap had flipped up from the impact.
"At Wrigley, they might have had to call time out to find his head in the vines," Piniella said.
"That's the best catch I've seen live, in person," said Cubs outfield coach Mike Quade, who was debating the best ever with the other coaches after the game.
Johnson watched a replay once. He's got the scratches on his arm to prove he did it. What may have helped the center fielder avoid serious injury is his athletic background as a gymnast. He was an all-around performer and didn't quit the sport until he was 13-14 years old. He's tumbled more than a few times in his life training for the rings, vault and parallel bars.
When you see a replay, watch how Cubs left fielder Mark DeRosa is standing there watching, and Kerry Wood has a good view from the visitors' bullpen.
"[DeRosa] and Kerry were standing there, staring at each other," Johnson said. "[DeRosa] didn't say anything. I wish I would've hung out a little longer. I was getting up to see if everything was intact first. He said he saw a white streak coming out of nowhere."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.