Note: This page discusses 1960s and 1970s slugger Deron Johnson. For the minor league outfielder and scout of the same name, click here.
Deron Roger Johnson
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 209 lb.
- HIgh School San Diego High School
- Debut September 20, 1960
- Final Game May 28, 1976
- Born July 17, 1938 in San Diego, CA USA
- Died April 23, 1992 in Poway, CA USA
Deron "D.J." Johnson played 16 seasons in the majors, leading the National League in RBI in 1965 and finishing fourth in the MVP voting that year. A minor slugger who cranked out over 20 homers 6 times, he compiled 245 during his ML career.
Johnson originally came up with the New York Yankees as a third baseman in 1960. The Yanks already had Clete Boyer at the position and so Johnson was traded to the Kansas City Athletics during 1961. Johnson missed the first part of 1962 due to being on the military list until July 31st. He reached the big leagues to stay with the Cincinnati Reds, for whom he played from 1964 to 1967. He was traded to the Atlanta Braves for 1968; after a mediocre season there, he experienced a resurgence with the Philadelphia Phillies, his employers from 1969 through early 1973. His peak home run total, 34, came in 1971. He played first base and the outfield as well as his original position of third base.
Johnson was one of the first players brought in to be a DH specialist. When the American League adopted the designated hitter for the 1973 season, most league teams did not think it worthwhile to go out and acquire a player who would be strictly a DH. As the season wore on, many teams saw an advantage to using a slugger who was beyond his prime and suspect on defense in that role. In May of 1973, the Oakland A's acquired Johnson from the Phillies to be their DH, a role that Johnson filled for the remainder of the season. He hit 19 HR with the A's (plus one with the Phillies) and drove in 81 runs, but batted only .246. 1973 was the only season in which Johnson saw postseason action as the A's won a World Championship.
The A's shipped Johnson to the Milwaukee Brewers in early 1974. He bounced around for the next couple of years, moving to the Boston Red Sox, the Chicago White Sox and finally the Red Sox again, finishing his career in 1976. Johnson's best years came in 1965 with the Cincinnati Reds when he hit 32 HR with 130 RBI and hit .287, finishing fourth in the MVP voting, and in 1971 with the Phillies, when he slugged 34 HR with 95 RBI and a .265 average. In spite of his success as a hitter, he was never an All-Star.
After his playing career ended, Johnson spent most of the rest of his life as big league coach. He managed the Salt Lake City Gulls in 1978, then began his coaching career with the California Angels in 1979 and 1980. He was a New York Mets coach in 1981 and a member of the Philadelphia Phillies staff from 1982 to 1984. In 1985 and 1986, he was with the Seattle Mariners, and he spent the next year with the Chicago White Sox. He returned to the Angels as hitting coach from 1989 to 1991.
A heavy smoker, Johnson died of lung cancer in 1992 at age 53.
- NL RBI Leader (1965)
- 20 Home Run Seasons: 6 (1964-1966, 1970, 1971 & 1973)
- 30 Home Run Seasons: 2 (1965 & 1971)
- 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (1965)
- Won a World Series with the Oakland Athletics in 1973
- John Vorperian: "Deron Johnson", in Bill Nowlin and Cecilia Tan, ed.: '75:The Red Sox Team that Saved Baseball, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2015, pp. 174-176. ISBN 978-1-933599-97-7
- John Vorperian: "Deron Johnson", in Chip Greene, ed.: Mustaches and Mayhem, Charlie O's Three-Time Champions: The Oakland Athletics 1972-74, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2015, pp. 434-436. ISBN 978-1-943816-07-1