August 25, 1928|
|Died: May 3, 2004
|April 20, 1952, for the St. Louis Browns|
|Last MLB appearance|
|June 6, 1962, for the Baltimore Orioles|
|Runs batted in||28|
|Career highlights and awards|
Darrell Dean Johnson (August 25, 1928 – May 3, 2004) was an American Major League Baseball catcher, coach, manager and scout. As a manager, he led the 1975 Boston Red Sox to the American League pennant, and was named "Manager of the Year" by both The Sporting News and the Associated Press.
Johnson was born in Horace, Nebraska, and graduated from Harvard, Nebraska, High School in 1944. He was signed by the St. Louis Browns as an amateur free agent in 1949 and made his Major League debut with the Browns on April 20, 1952. A reserve catcher during his six-year Major League career (1952; 1957–58; 1960–62), Johnson also played for the Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds and Baltimore Orioles, who released him on June 12, 1962, ending his playing career. He was listed as 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 m) tall and 180 pounds (82 kg) and threw and batted right-handed. In 134 MLB games played, he batted .234 lifetime, with his 75 hits including six doubles, one triple and two home runs.
Johnson's playing career was interrupted by an eleven-month stint as an MLB coach with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1960–61. After playing in eight games, with three plate appearances, for the 1960 Cardinals, he was released as a player on August 5 and added to the coaching staff of manager Solly Hemus, then reappointed for 1961. When the Redbirds fired Hemus on July 6, 1961, Johnson was released along with him. Three days later, he signed a player's contract with the last-place Philadelphia Phillies and caught 21 games for them in five weeks before being sold to the pennant-contending Cincinnati Reds on August 14.
The Reds were then 2½ games behind the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers, but over the final six weeks of the season they overtook the Dodgers to win the National League championship by four full contests. Johnson appeared in 20 games (including 17 as the club's starting catcher, with the Reds going 8–9). In limited duty, he batted .315 with 17 hits, including his second and last big-league home run, hit off the Dodgers' Johnny Podres on August 16. He appeared in the 1961 World Series against his former team, the Yankees, and had two singles in four at bats (both of them off Baseball Hall of Famer Whitey Ford) as the Reds lost to the slugging Yanks of Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, four games to one. He started Games 1 and 4, both of them Cincinnati defeats.
The Reds released Johnson only a few days into the 1962 season, and he signed with the Orioles as a backup catcher before retiring as a player in June and serving out the year as Baltimore's bullpen coach.
Manager of Red Sox, Mariners and Rangers
He then became a minor league manager in the Oriole system and won championships with the Rochester Red Wings of the Triple-A International League (1964) and Elmira Pioneers of the Double-A Eastern League (1966). After a year scouting for the 1967 Yankees, he was named pitching coach of the defending American League champion Red Sox under Dick Williams for 1968. When Williams was fired in September 1969, Johnson was retained by the Red Sox as a scout in 1970, then managed Boston's Louisville Colonels International League affiliate in 1971–72. In 1973, he became the first manager of the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox, finishing 78–68 and winning his second Governors' Cup, emblematic of the International League's playoff championship, in his only PawSox season. That championship earned him a promotion to the parent club as Red Sox manager.
As a big-league manager, Johnson led three different teams over eight seasons. His biggest success came during his first posting, as manager of the Red Sox from 1974 through 1976, when he compiled a win-loss record of 220–188 for a .539 winning percentage. He guided Boston to a 95–65 (.594) mark in 1975 and a first-place finish in the AL East. The Sox then swept the defending world champion Oakland Athletics in the playoffs, 3–0, to win the American League pennant. But they lost to the Cincinnati "Big Red Machine" in the thrilling 1975 World Series, four games to three.
In 1976, Boston started poorly, losing 15 of its first 21 games, then rallied and finally climbed above the .500 mark on July 6 (38–37). As the incumbent pennant-winning manager, Johnson skippered the 1976 American League All-Star team (with the Junior Circuit losing 7–1 at Veterans Stadium on July 13). But by then the Red Sox were mired in another slump and only five days later, on July 18, Johnson was fired in favor of Don Zimmer after the team had lost eight of its last 11 games. At the time of his dismissal, Boston was out of contention with a 41–45 record, in fifth place and 13 games behind the Yankees.
Johnson then briefly scouted for the Red Sox before he was appointed the first skipper of the expansion Seattle Mariners, where he served from their inception in 1977 to August 3, 1980, and posted a win-loss mark of 226–362 (.384). After his firing in Seattle in 1980, he was the third-base coach for the Texas Rangers, under Zimmer, starting in 1981 before taking over as interim manager on July 30, 1982. Six years earlier, the roles had been reversed when third-base coach Zimmer succeeded Johnson as manager in Boston on July 18, 1976. In his final managerial role, Johnson's Rangers went 26–40 (.394) in the 1982 season's final two months. He finished with a 472–590 record for a .444 career percentage as an American League skipper.
He then moved to the New York Mets as minor league coordinator of instruction and a longtime scout. He also served as the Mets' bench coach on the staff of Dallas Green from May 20, 1993, through the end of that season.
|Team||From||To||Regular season record||Post–season record|
|W||L||Win %||W||L||Win %|
|Boston Red Sox||1974||1976||220||188||.539||6||4||.600|
- Sarasota Herald-Tribune, October 8, 1975
- The Associated Press, October 28, 1975
- 1961 regular season fielding log from Retrosheet
- 1961-8-16 box score from Retrosheet
- Baseball Reference
- Darrell Johnson to stay with Boston
- Don Zimmer replaced by Darrell Johnson
- "Darrell Johnson". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
- Sexton, Joe, "It's Lights Out for Torborg ..." The New York Times, May 20, 1993
- Nobles, Charlie, "Season is History, So is Stottlemyre." The New York Times, October 4, 1993
- Former Red Sox Manager Darrell Johnson dies
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference
- Baseball-Reference.com – career managing record
- Darrell Johnson at Find-A-Grave
- New York Times Obituary
|Rochester Red Wings manager
|Elmira Pioneers manager
|Boston Red Sox pitching coach
|Louisville Colonels manager
AAA franchise established
|Pawtucket Red Sox manager
|Texas Rangers third-base coach