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Connie Johnson

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Clifford Johnson Jr.

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 4", Weight 200 lb.

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[edit] Biographical Information

An imposing 6' 4" right-hander, Connie Johnson started out in the Negro Leagues at age seventeen in 1940. Jesse Owens, the great Olympic track star, recruited him for the Toledo Crawfords of the Negro League. With the exception of his time in the United States Military with the Army during World War II, Connie spent most of the 1940's pitching for the Kansas City Monarchs. Blessed with a blazing fastball and after the war he was even stronger, he was purchased before the 1952 season by the Chicago White Sox from the St. Hyacinthe Saints of the class C Provincial League where he had gone 15-14 with a 3.24 ERA and led the league with 172 strikeouts, as a free agent in 1951.

The White Sox placed Connie with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox of the class A Western League and the right-hander went 18-9 with a 3.38 ERA and the 29 year old again led the league with 233 strikeouts, pitching 248 innings. The White Sox brought him up in 1953 and Connie brought his heater with him getting his first major league victory with a 10 strike-out shutout of the Washington Senators. But he returned to Triple-A the following year helping lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to the IL pennant with 18 wins. He was 12-2 for the same club in the first half of the '55 season when he was called back to Chicago.

During the 1956 season Connie was traded to the Baltimore Orioles along with George Kell, Bob Nieman and Mike Fornieles for Jim Wilson and Dave Philley. The deal worked out good for Connie as he led all Baltimore pitchers with a 3.43 ERA. In the summer of '56 , Johnson was the losing pitcher in a memorable mound duel against his former team. Connie and George Zuverink combined to one-hit the White Sox only to lose to Jack Harshman 1-0, who also threw a one-hitter.

Connie, who won a career high 14 games for the Orioles in 1957, played one more season going 6-9 with a 3.88 ERA in 1958. Overall the lanky fireballer went 40-39 with a 3.44 ERA, bowing out at the age of 35 with five seasons of major league ball under his belt. Johnson would spend 1959-60 with the Vancouver Mounties going 8-5 and call it a career in the minors after eight seasons down under with a good 76-44 record and a 3.39 ERA. After baseball Johnson would work for the Ford Motor Company in Kansas City, MO, retiring in 1985. He would die on November 28, 2004, at the age of 82.


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Baseball Players of the 1950s
BR Minors Page


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