Dan Johnson (baseball)
Johnson during his tenure with the Yokohama BayStars in 2009
Houston Astros – No. 26
August 10, 1979 |
Coon Rapids, Minnesota
|May 27, 2005 for the Oakland Athletics|
(through July 27, 2014)
|Runs batted in||201|
Daniel Ryan Johnson (born August 10, 1979) is an American professional baseball first baseman in the Houston Astros organization. He has played in all or part of ten seasons in Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball, but has never held a Major League starting job for an entire season. He is perhaps best known for hitting a dramatic two-out, two-strike home run for the Tampa Bay Rays in the bottom of the 9th inning of the last game of the 2011 season, also known as Wild Card Wednesday, tying a game that the Rays would eventually win, sending them to the playoffs. His clutch hitting for the Rays, along with his red hair and beard, earned him the nickname "The Great Pumpkin".
High school and college
Johnson graduated from Blaine High School, in Blaine, Minnesota in 1997. He then attended Butler University for his freshman year, when he was named All-Conference in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference. He transferred to a junior college, and finally ended up at the University of Nebraska, where he helped the Cornhuskers make a College World Series appearance, and earned All-American honors.
Johnson played his rookie season with the Athletics in 2005, batting .275 with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs. He struggled early in 2006, batting .237 before being demoted to the A's Triple-A Pacific Coast League affiliate, the Sacramento River Cats, in July. He returned to the A's roster on August 31, and finished the season with a .234 batting average, 9 home runs, and 37 RBIs. It was later discovered that he suffered from double vision due to getting suntan lotion in his eyes, and he was able to clear up the problem for the 2007 season.
Johnson was expected to be the A's starting first baseman in 2007, but suffered a torn labrum in his hip late in spring training and missed the first three weeks of the season. He returned April 25 and proceeded to get a hit in 16 of his first 18 games. He was named American League co-Player of the Week with teammate Jack Cust for the week of May 7–13. After the hot start, Johnson fell into a slump that lasted the rest of the season and plummeted his batting average to .236. His worst month was July, in which he batted just .156 (10-for-64 in 19 games) with two home runs and eight runs batted in. On April 9, 2008, Johnson was designated for assignment.
Tampa Bay Rays
On April 18, 2008, he was claimed off waivers by the Tampa Bay Rays. However, five days later he was again designated for assignment. He was subsequently outrighted to Triple-A Durham three days later. On September 9, Johnson was called up by the Rays from Durham. He entered the game as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning, and hit a home run against the Boston Red Sox, tying the game. The game was viewed as pivotal in the AL East Division race, as the Rays would go on to win in extra innings, keeping the Red Sox from claiming the division lead that night. The Rays would not relinquish first place for the remainder of the season, and went on to win their first division title in franchise history en route to the World Series.
He batted .192 with a .276 on-base percentage for the 2008 season.
Back to Tampa Bay
On January 11, 2010, Johnson signed a 1-year $500,000 major league deal with the Tampa Bay Rays. Johnson was called up from Durham to the Rays in August 2010. On August 28, he hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning against the Boston Red Sox. He batted just below the Mendoza line for the 2010 season, with a .198 batting average. He had 23 RBIs, 22 hits in 111 at bats, 3 doubles, and 7 home runs.
On April 8, 2011, with the Rays trailing 7-6 against the Chicago White Sox and two men on, Johnson hit the first pitch from Matt Thornton off the top of the Miller Lite Bullpen Sports Bar fence for a three-run home run, which would later prove to be the game-winner as Tampa Bay beat Chicago 9-7.
On May 20, 2011, Johnson was designated for assignment, and then recalled on September 14, 2011.
On September 28, 2011, with the Rays tied with the Boston Red Sox in the American League wild card race in the final game of the season, Johnson hit a pinch-hit home run with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the game against the New York Yankees. It was the first hit for Johnson since April 27. The Rays went on to win the game in extra innings, and coupled with a loss by the Red Sox, clinched the AL Wild Card.
Johnson was honored by MLB for his Game 162 home run with the GIBBY (Greatness in Baseball Yearly) 2011 Moment of the Year Award This Year in Baseball Awards. Bill Chastain wrote, "Many baseball experts have called the final night of the 2011 season the best in baseball history."  The seat at Tropicana Field in the right field corner where the home run ball landed (Section 140, Row T, Seat 10) is now colored white and known as the Dan Johnson seat.
Chicago White Sox
On February 1, 2012, Johnson signed a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox. He also received an invitation to spring training. He played for the Charlotte Knights, Triple-A affiliate of the White Sox. Johnson represented the Knights in the Triple-A All-Star Game in Buffalo, N.Y., and finished second in the home-run derby. His contract was purchased by the Chicago White Sox on September 1, 2012. As background to this move Chicago sports writers recalled Johnson's home run in game 162 for the Tampa Bay Rays. A season ago, Johnson changed baseball's landscape wrote Chicago Tribune writer, Phil Rogers 
New York Yankees
On January 24, 2013, Johnson signed a minor league contract with the New York Yankees. He also received an invitation to spring training. He was released from the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on August 30, 2013.
On August 30, 2013, he signed a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles. He played in five games for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides. His contract was selected by the Orioles on September 13. He was outrighted to Norfolk on October 31, and he elected free agency on November 1.
Toronto Blue Jays
On November 15, 2013, the Toronto Blue Jays announced that they had signed Johnson to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. His contract was selected from the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons on July 11, 2014, to replace Adam Lind who had been placed on the disabled list. In his Blue Jays debut that night, he walked in all 4 of his plate appearances and scored 3 runs. On July 26, Johnson recorded 4 RBI to help the Blue Jays end a 17-game losing streak at Yankee Stadium. He was placed on the 15-day DL on July 31 and was activated on September 1 when the rosters expanded. In 2014, Johnson batted .211 with 1 home run and 7 RBI. Johnson was sent outright to Buffalo on October 1, but elected to become a free agent.
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- MLB MOMENT OF THE YEAR http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/awards/y2011/gibbys/#
- Bill Chastain, "Rays' final-night heroics net two GIBBYs" RAYS Official Website. 12/16/11
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- Scott, David (July 14, 2012). "Dan (bleeping) Johnson's wild ride. Johnson hit 3 home runs in a 9-0 win over the Cleveland Indians on October 3.". NewsObserver.Com. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
- Van Schouwen, Daryl (September 1, 2012). "White Sox add Johnson, Hudson, 3 pitchers.". Retrieved January 2, 2015.
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- Encina, Eduardo A. (September 13, 2013). "Dan Johnson called up and Steve Clevenger gets first start with Orioles". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved September 13, 2013.
- "Blue Jays sign Dan Johnson to minor league deal, invite him to spring training". Buffalo Bisons. November 15, 2013. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
- "Bisons All-Star Johnson gets Jays' call". Buffalo Bisons. July 11, 2014. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
- Chisholm, Gregor (July 26, 2014). "Blue Jays halt 17-game Yankee Stadium losing streak". MLB.com. Retrieved July 26, 2014.
- Davidi, Shi (September 1, 2014). "Pompey, Norris among 9 called up by Blue Jays". Sportsnet. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
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- Dakers, Tom (October 3, 2014). "Blue Jays Outright George Kottaras". bluebirdbanter.com. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- Davidi, Shi (December 15, 2014). "Astros sign 1B Johnson to minor league contract". Sportsnet. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)