Connie Johnson (baseball)
|Born: December 27, 1922|
Stone Mountain, Georgia
|Died: November 28, 2004 (aged 81)|
Kansas City, Missouri
|April 17, 1953, for the Chicago White Sox|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 14, 1958, for the Baltimore Orioles|
|Earned run average||3.44|
Connie Johnson (December 27, 1922 – November 28, 2004) was an African American professional baseball pitcher who played in the Negro Leagues and Major League Baseball. He was born Clifford Johnson Jr. in Stone Mountain, Georgia.
Johnson played in his first game for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues at the age of 17. After a solid season, he was selected to the East-West All-Star Game, being the youngest player ever to achieve that distinction.
Afterwards, Johnson played a key role in the 1941 and 1942 Negro League World Series titles won by the Monarchs, a team that included future Hall of Famers Satchel Paige and Hilton Smith. Johnson posted league ledgers of 2-2 and 3-0, respectively, before joining military service during World War II in a span of three years.
Following his discharge in 1946, Johnson returned to the Monarchs and went 9-3 with a 3.46 earned run average, helping his team win another pennant, even though he did not pitch in the Series. He went 4-1 in the next two seasons, but rebounded in 1950 with an 11-2 mark and a 2.17 ERA while appearing in his second All-Star Game.
Canadian Provincial League
In 1951, Johnson played for the St. Hyacinthe Saints club based in the Canadian Provincial League, where he posted a 15-14 record with a 3.24 ERA and a league-high 172 strikeouts. At the end of the season, his contract was purchased by the Chicago White Sox.
Major League Baseball
Chicago White Sox
In 1952, Johnson was assigned to Class A Colorado Springs, where he finished 18-9 with a 3.38 ERA and set a Western League record with 233 strikeouts. He then was promoted to the White Sox, and made his major league debut at the age of 30 on April 17, 1953.
During his rookie season at Chicago Johnson pitched in 14 games, starting ten of them, going 4–4 with a 3.56 ERA and 44 strikeouts. After spending the entire 1954 season in the minors with Triple A Charleston Senators, Johnson started 16 games for Chicago in 1955. He finished the season 7–4 with a 3.45 ERA and 72 strikeouts.
In his first two years Johnson sandwiched between Triple A Toronto Maple Leafs and the Sox. As a result, in 1956 he pitched in five games with Chicago and went 0–1 with six strikeouts and a 3.65 ERA.
Overall, Johnson went 11–9 with a 3.51 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 36 games (28 starts) with the White Sox, starting 28 of them, and going 11–9 with 122 strikeouts. During the midseason, Johnson was traded by Chicago along with Mike Fornieles, George Kell and Bob Nieman to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Jim Wilson and Dave Philley.
His most productive season came in 1957, when he finished 14–11 with a 3.20 ERA for a lousy team that finished in fifth place in the then eight team American League. Besides, Johnson posted career numbers in starts (30), complete games (14), shutouts (3) and innings (242.0).
During his final season in 1958, Johnson was the Opening Day starter for the Orioles and defeated the Washington Senators, 6–1, at Memorial Stadium. Overall, he went 6–9 with a 3.88 ERA and 68 strikeouts.
In a five-year major league career, Johnson finished with a 40-39 record and .344 ERA in 123 pitching appearances (100 starts), including 34 complete games and eight shutouts, while striking out 497 and walking 257 in 716.0 innings of work
Johnson then returned to the minors to play for the Vancouver Mounties of the Pacific Coast League from 1959 to 1960. He finished his career in 1961, while pitching with the Pericos de Puebla in the Mexican League. In 182 minor league games, he went 76-44 with a 3.34 ERA in 1034.0 innings.
In between, Johnson played winter ball with the Spur Cola Colonites club of the Panamanian League, who won the 1950-51 pennant and represented Panama in the 1951 Caribbean Series. The team's only victory in the series came behind a strong pitching effort from Johnson, who pitched a two-run, eight-hit complete game over the highly favored Leones del Habana Cuban team.
Afterwards, Johnson pitched for the Tigres de Marianao in the 1954-55 Cuban League season, and was a bright spot for the last-place Marianao, going 12-11 with a 3.29 ERA while leading the league in strikeouts (123), shutouts (5) and innings pitched (174⅔).
- Biography. Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Retrieved on November 25, 2018.
- Negro and Minor Leagues statistics. Baseball Reference. Retrieved on November 25, 2018.
- Major League statistics. Baseball Reference. Retrieved on November 25, 2018.
- Nuñez, José Antero (1994). Serie del Caribe de la Habana a Puerto La Cruz. JAN Editor. ISBN 980-07-2389-7
- Liga Cubana de Béisbol Profesional : Temporada 1954-55. Desde mi Palco de Fanático website. Retrieved on November 25, 2018.