Saturday, June 2, 2012

Alex Johnson (#104)

Yikes! I realized a few days ago that I had posted Harvey Kuenn's final card here twice, and with two different sets of copy. (That's an hour of my life I'll never get back.) Anyway, it's been 3 months since we've seen a Phillies' player, so:

This is Alex Johnson's last card as a Phillie, as he was traded in the previous off-season to the Cardinals. A few months later, the Phillies would let go of another of their young outfielders.

Johnson was signed by the Phillies in 1961, and began his pro career in 1962 with the Miami Marlins, the Phillies' class-D team in the Florida State League.

Alex made his major-league debut with the Phillies in late July 1964. He made 33 starts in left field for the remainder of that season, platooning with veteran Wes Covington. That arrangement continued in 1965, except that Tony Gonzalez also made 40 starts in left, which along with Covington's 60 starts, left Johnson with just 56 starts.

In October 1965, Johnson was packed up with pitcher Art Mahaffey and rookie catcher Pat Corrales, and shipped to the Cardinals for 1st baseman Bill White, shortstop Dick Groat, and catcher Bob Uecker, as the Phillies went about acquiring veterans to get them over the hump.

Alex played most of 1966 in the minors, but was with the Cardinals for all of 1967. It was the right season to be there, as the Cards won the World Series, with Johnson serving as Roger Maris' backup in right field. Somewhere along the way, Johnson picked up the label of troublemaker/malcontent, and was shipped out to the Reds for outfielder Dick Simpson.

Johnson finally became a regular in his first season with Cincinnati. He hit .312 and .315 in his 2 seasons there and was the everyday left fielder, before (in what was becoming an every-2-year pattern) he was traded to the Angels after the 1969 season with infielder Chico Ruiz for pitchers Pedro Borbon and Jim McGlothlin.

Alex led the AL in batting with a .329 average in his first season with the Angels, and also made his only all-star appearance. True to form, after 2 years with the Angels, he was off again - this time a one-year stay in Cleveland (1972), followed by 2 seasons with the Rangers, one with the Yankees (where he was a little-used spare part), before wrapping up his career as the Tigers' everyday leftfielder in 1976.

No comments: