Thursday, February 2, 2012
no. 12 - johnny callison
Who is the man: Johnny Callison had just completed his first season with the Chicago Cubs. He had been traded by the Phillies in exchange for Dick Selma and a young Oscar Gamble. Callison's first season with the Cubs, in 1970, would be his last full-time season. He'd be a platoon player through the end of his career in 1973.
Can ya dig it: Love those camera tricks that make it look like a player is using a two-foot long bat.
Right on: Callison is probably most famous for hitting a walk-off, three-run home run with two out in the bottom of the ninth in the 1964 All-Star Game, giving the National League the victory. He was just the third player to hit a walk-off homer in the All-Star Game. Long after his retirement, Callison said he was asked so often about the home run that he felt like Bill Murray in the movie "Groundhog Day." And, yes, I mentioned that because it's Groundhog Day.
You see this cat Callison is a bad mother: During the Phillies' famous collapse in 1964, Philadelphia trailed by two games on Sept. 29th. Callison was sick with the flu and didn't start. But he pinch-hit and singled. He refused to come out for a pinch-runner, and was so sick that he wore a jacket because of his fever, which was a violation of baseball rules. Callison couldn't even button the jacket himself. He needed teammate Bill White's help.
Shut your mouth: Callison was from Oklahoma and because he could hit, hit for power, run, field and throw, he was compared to Oklahoman Mickey Mantle. Callison didn't like the comparison and struggled with it, especially early in his career.
No one understands him but his woman: Callison hit more than 30 home runs in 1964 and 1965 and hit at least 20 in 1962 and 63. But after 1965, he couldn't hit more than 19 in a season. Callison tried wearing glasses and undergoing a stringent exercise program, but nothing worked. People said Callison had lost his confidence, and the shy, introspective Callison admitted that he was "the biggest worrier around."
(A word about the back): Even Topps goes all the way back to Callison's mid-60's heyday for his bio information. It's as if everyone knew he was washed up.