Thursday, June 3, 2010

#218 - Jerry Johnson

Card fact: Johnson returns to the Topps set with this card, after not being featured in the 1974 set, despite appearing in 39 games for Cleveland in 1973.

What I thought about this card then: Never saw it.

What I think of this card now: This is another one of those Astros cards that shows the seemingly desolate spring training site they had back then. Apparently, it never rained there.

Other stuff: Johnson is another one of those players who had a fairly long career, but ended it just as I was beginning to pay attention to baseball. So it took me awhile to figure out who he was. My first card memory of him is the 1978 Topps card in which he is with the Blue Jays. It's an action card that I thought was relatively cool. I remember turning the card over to look at the stats and being amazed that he had played for so long and that I had never heard of him.

Johnson had his best seasons for the Giants and received Cy Young Award votes for his performance as a reliever in 1971, when the Giants won the National League West.

Back facts: Every player with the last name "Gordon" gets nicknamed "Flash," don't they?

Also, the text notes that Johnson began his pro career as a third baseman. He was drafted by the Mets. Apparently he could hit, but his fielding wasn't good and he was converted to pitcher.

Other blog stuff: The yellow light-blue combination has been absent for 80 cards until now. That could be a record gap. Maybe when I get bored I'll figure that out.


Play at the Plate said...

It looks like that was taken at the same field my kid played on this Spring.

MCT said...

According to, Houston released Johnson shortly after the end of the 1974 season. In light of that, I'm surprised he was included in the '75 set. Maybe they were trying to make up for the slight in the '74 set. He did end up playing some in the majors in 1975, with the Padres.

Johnson's minor league record is interesting. In 1962, his first pro season, it looks like he was used exclusively as a position player; then some attempt was made to convert him into a pitcher in 1963 (out of 34 games he appeared in that year, 11 were as a pitcher); then for the next couple of years he was used mainly as a position player, but would pitch occasionally (5 games as a pitcher in both '64 and '65); then in '66, he became exclusively a pitcher. Two years later, he was in the majors.

It's sometimes had to tell exactly what Johnson's role was, though, because did not play in very many games during most of the above seasons. I don't know if he had injury issues, or if it had something to do with indecision over whether to use him as a position player or as a pitcher, or what. He played in just 34 games in 1963, 22 games in 1964, 15 in 1965, and 14 in 1966. In his first pro season in 1962, he appeared in 32 games, but that's not as surprising (he may not have signed until after the school year ended, and it was probably a short-season league).

Kinky Paprika said...

I find this curious:
Although the Astros' spring field looks like some heat-blasted wasteland, almost all the Astros players we've seen so far are wearing long-sleeved undershirts.
Maybe, instead of being barren and infernal, it was barren and freezing.

tvgator1 said...

The facility is in Cocoa, Florida. I know, because I spent many a spring there as a kid chasing down autographs and broken bats. It was basically "Stalag 13 in comparison to the Taj-Mahal like Dogertown just barley an hour down the road in Vero Beach. I later worked in the minor league clubhouse for two springs for the Astros. It was a wonderful experience, even though the place was basically just a bunch of army barracks on a grass field....

night owl said...

Thank you for answering a question that has been hanging over this blog for awhile. You confirmed my suspicions.