Another Phillebrity Passes
• Johnny Callison's career statistics
PHILADELPHIA -- Three-time All-Star Johnny Callison, a man admired for his powerful right arm and more powerful bat, passed away Thursday night at age 67, of heart-related problems.
Callison, an outfielder who played for the Phillies for 10 seasons, died at Abington Hospital.
"I had some of the greatest times of my life and my career with Johnny," said Ruben Amaro Sr., Callison's teammate for six seasons. "We grew up in baseball together. We were part of the Phillies that couldn't win a game in 1961 and he was really one of our big guns in 1964, when we should have won. My heart goes out to his wife and his daughters."
Born in Oklahoma, the lefty swinger reached the Major Leagues in 1958 at 19 years old, the fifth-youngest player at that time. After playing parts of two seasons with the White Sox, he was dealt to the Phillies for third baseman Gene Freese in the winter of 1959.
Callison emerged with Philadelphia, hitting .300 and swatting 23 homers in 1962. He became a fan favorite in Philadelphia and was named to three All Star teams. In the 1964 game, he smacked a two-out, walk-off three-run homer off Dick Radatz to earn All-Star MVP honors. He's the only Phillie to be named All-Star MVP.
"Johnny was a great player with all-around talent," said Ruly Carpenter, the Phillies president during Callison's era. "He could run, hit, hit with power and play a great right field. My family extends our deepest condolences to Dianne and her family."
Callison's All-Star moment turned out to to be the highlight of his season. Despite smacking 31 homers and driving in 104 runs in 1964, Callison was part of one of baseball's historic collapses. He combined with Richie Allen to bring the Phillies to the brink of the World Series until a 10-game losing streak with 12 games to play cost the Phillies their 6 1/2-game lead. In the seventh of those losses, Callison, playing with the flu, homered three times and drove in four runs in a 14-8 loss.
He played in every game that season.
"He was a tremendous ballplayer who could do everything on the field," said Art Mahaffey, a Phillies pitcher from 1960-65. "I'll always remember the big game he had in the losing streak. Johnny always seemed to come through in the clutch. He was a very popular player with the fans."
Callison finished second to St. Louis third baseman Ken Boyer in the NL MVP race and likely would have won the award had the Phillies won the pennant.
"I was truly blessed to have known and played with the great Johnny Callison," said Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), a Hall of Famer. "Johnny was a star who had all the marks of a great ball player. He could run, hit, field, throw and hit for power. He could do it all. I roomed with Johnny and we suffered through the 1964 season together. He was a good friend and a great teammate and I am very saddened to learn of Johnny's death. My thoughts and prayers are with Diane and the rest of Johnny's family."
In 1965, Callison hit a career-high 32 homers, scored 101 runs and drove in 93, and led the league in triples (16). He also had his second three-home run game in 1965.
Philadelphia sent him to the Cubs after the 1969 season. He spent two years there, then finished his career with the Yankees.
Callison remained in Philadelphia after retiring, working at times as a car salesman and a bartender.
Callison batted .264, while belting 226 homers and collecting 1,757 hits. The Phillies' regular right fielder for eight seasons, he ranks fourth on the franchise's all-time list for games played in the outfield, with 1,379. Among the Phillies' career batting categories, Callison ranks fifth in triples (84), seventh in extra-base hits (534), ninth in homers (185) and total bases (2,426) and 10th in at-bats (5,306) and doubles (265).
"As a Phillies fan in the '60s, Johnny was a key member of those teams," team president David Montgomery said. "I remember watching the Phillies take infield. I never ceased to be amazed with the strength and accuracy of his arm from right field. It was a thrill to later get to know someone that I rooted for. He's a member of the Phillies' Wall of Fame, an honor that reflects his talents as a player. The Phillies family extends our deepest sympathy to Diane and her family."
Callison is survived by his wife, Dianne, three daughters, and eight grandchildren, and a great-grandson. He will be cremated and a private memorial service will be held Monday.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.