Johnny Callison (1960s)

John Wesley Callison (March 12 1939October 12 2006) was an American right fielder in Major League Baseball, best known for his years with the Philadelphia Phillies from 1960 to 1969. He led the National League in triples twice and doubles once, and gained his greatest prominence in a 1964 season in which he was runnerup for the Most Valuable Player Award and was named MVP of the All-Star Game. He also led the NL in outfield assists four consecutive times and in double plays once, and ended his career among the top five Phillies in home runs (185) and triples (84).

Born in Park Hill, Oklahoma, Callison batted left-handed and threw right-handed. He was signed by the Chicago White Sox out of high school in 1957, being assigned to the Class-C Bakersfield Bears in the California League, where he batted .340 with 17 home runs and 31 stolen bases. The next season, he was advanced to the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians, where he led the American Association in home runs. In September 1958 he was recalled by Chicago, and hit .297 in 18 games.

The next season, Callison split time between Chicago and Indianapolis. He was not on the World Series roster when the White Sox lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and in December he was traded to the Phillies for third baseman Gene Freese, who would spend just one year in Chicago and last played regularly in 1961.

Callison became a fan favorite in Philadelphia. Over the next decade, he would be named an All-Star three times (1962, 64-65). In 1962 he batted an even .300, the only time he would reach that mark, and led the NL with 10 triples. On June 7, 1963 he hit for the cycle against the Pittsburgh Pirates. In the 1964 All-Star Game at Shea Stadium in New York, he hit a game-winning walk-off home run off Boston Red Sox pitcher Dick Radatz with two out in the ninth inning, a three-run shot to right field to give the NL a 7-4 victory; it was only the third walk-off HR in All-Star history, with Callison joining legends Ted Williams and Stan Musial in baseball annals. The 1964 season became best remembered, however, for the Phillies' late-season collapse; despite a 6 1/2-game lead with 12 games to play, the Phillies lost ten in a row and finished one game behind the St. Louis Cardinals. Manager Gene Mauch was criticized for his handling of the pitching staff over the final two weeks, but players such as slugging rookie third baseman Richie Allen also drew harsh treatment. Callison was 12-for-48 during the last twelve games, including a 3-homer game on September 27 against the Milwaukee Braves which the Phillies still lost 14-8, dropping them out of first place for the first time since July. The team recovered only to beat the Cincinnati Reds in the last two games, leaving them tied for second place. Despite the disappointing finish, Callison ended the year third in the league in HRs (31) and fifth in runs batted in (104). He earned two first-place votes for the MVP Award, won by Ken Boyer of the champion Cardinals; Allen finished seventh.


Johnny Callison (1970s)

Callison returned by again leading the NL with a career-high 16 triples in 1965, once more topping 30 HRs and 100 RBI. In late July, he briefly was tied with Willie Mays for the home run lead with 23 - the first Phillie to lead the league that late in the season since Chuck Klein in 1933. Callison paced the league with 40 doubles in 1966. On June 6, 1965, he again hit three home runs against the Chicago Cubs for a 10-9 win. He is also remembered for being an excellent outfielder with an above-average throwing arm; his throwing accuracy helped him lead the NL in outfield assists (24) and double plays (7) in 1962, and he topped the league in assists the next three years with totals of 26, 19, and 21. But his power production fell off sharply, and he failed to collect 20 homers or 65 RBI in any of his last four Phillies seasons. After the 1969 season, he was traded to the Cubs, and he posted 1970 totals of 19 HRs and 68 RBI before hitting only .210 in 1971 with just 8 home runs. In January 1972 he was traded to the New York Yankees, and he found limited playing time over two years, closing his career with a .176 average, one HR and 10 RBI in 45 games in 1973.

Callison was a career .264 hitter with 226 home runs, 926 runs, 840 RBI, 1757 hits, 321 doubles, 89 triples, and 74 stolen bases in 1886 games. Following his retirement, Callison remained in Philadelphia where he made frequent appearances and had several business ventures.

In 1997 he was named to the Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame. A resident of Glenside, a northern suburb of Philadelphia, Callison died at age 67 in Abington, Pennsylvania [1].

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Preceded by:
Willie Mays
Major League Baseball All-Star Game
Most Valuable Player

Succeeded by:
Juan Marichal
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