Sunday, August 12, 2012

Johnny Callison (#133)

This is the last card for Johnny Callison as a member of the Phillies. The team's long-time right fielder was traded to the Cubs after the season for pitcher Dick Selma and outfield prospect Oscar Gamble. The Phillies later sent minor-league pitcher Larry Colton to the Cubs to complete the deal. Callison was one of my favorite Phillies' players in the 1960s (although I missed out on his 1964-65 exploits).

Johnny was signed by the White Sox in June 1957. He played the remainder of that season at class-C Bakersfield, then jumped to AAA Indianapolis in 1958. Recalled by the White Sox in September, he started the final 18 games in left field for the Sox.

Callison began the 1959 season as Chicago's starting left fielder, starting 10 of the first 12 games there. For the month of May, he was replaced by former Phillie Del Ennis, but returned to the starting lineup on May 27th and started 14 of the next 21 games in left. Johnny was sent back to triple-A at the end of June, but returned for a few games with the Sox at the end of September.

After the 1959 season, Callison was traded to the Phillies for 3rd baseman Gene Freese. Johnny spent the next 10 full seasons in the Phillies outfield. He played all 3 positions in 1960, logging the 3rd-most innings among Phillies' outfielders. The next year he played more than any other Phillies outfielder, while splitting time 70/30 between left and right.

In 1962, he became a fixture in right field, starting 146 games there, with only 1 start in left field. Johnny's big years were 1962-1965, as he made 3 all-star appearances during that time (winning the '64 game with a walk-off homer), and led the league in triples in 1962 and 1965. Callison finished 2nd in the 1964 MVP voting to the Cardinals' Ken Boyer.

His production (but not playing time) began to slip in 1966, with his home runs dropping from 32 to 11, although he led the NL with 40 doubles. His game tailed off in the 2nd half of 1968, as he was platooned in right field with Don Lock for the month of July, and only made 11 starts after August 7th. Callison missed 3 weeks in July 1969, but managed to play 134 games in right field, putting up similar numbers to 1968, although he raised his batting average 20 points to .265.

After the season he was shipped to the Cubs, and was their regular right fielder for 1 1/2 seasons. By mid-1971, he was sharing the position with Jim Hickman. Johnny was traded to the Yankees in January 1972, and shared the Yankees' right field job with Rusty Torres (1972) and Matty Alou (1973) until he was released on August 18th.

Callison played 1886 games over 16 years, never making it to the post-season. After baseball, he ran a bowling alley in suburban Philadelphia for many years. He passed away on October 12, 2006.

1 comment:

Commishbob said...

Callison was a favorite of mine, too. And I can't remember why. Likely because the Phils were my favorite NL team back then and Callison was their best player.