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Johnny Callison Dies

I lived through every inning of every game when the Phillies lost ten in a row in 1964 and thus blew a 6 1/2 game lead in the final two weeks of September. But Johnny Callison, known as Johnny Cool, was one of those guys who made that season a little more tolerable.

Philadelphia- Johnny Callison, 67, the rocket-armed right fielder for the Philadelphia Phillies who won the 1964 All-Star game with a two-out homer in the bottom of the ninth inning, died Thursday at a Philadelphia hospital after an illness.

A three-time All-Star during his 16-year career, Callison started with the Chicago White Sox in 1958, then established himself as one of the top players in the National League after being traded to Philadelphia two years later.

“What a wonderful player he was,” baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said Friday. “Strong arm. Hit that home run that won the ’64 All-Star game. I liked watching him play.”

Callison was the most valuable player of the 1964 All-Star game at brand-new Shea Stadium in New York, hitting a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off hard-throwing Boston Red Sox reliever Dick Radatz to give the National League a 7-4 victory.

Years later, Callison recalled that he was surprised he got to play that day, considering that the other outfielders on Manager Walter Alston’s National League All-Star team were future Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente and Billy Williams. But Aaron was sick, so Callison got to play.

Callison was part of the 1964 Phillies team managed by Gene Mauch that infamously wasted a 6 1/2 -game lead with 12 games left in the season by losing 10 straight and finishing behind the St. Louis Cardinals.

During the seventh loss in that streak, Callison played despite a bad case of flu and hit three home runs against Milwaukee.

He played in every game that season, batting .274 with 31 homers and 104 runs batted in and finishing second in the MVP voting behind St. Louis third baseman Ken Boyer.

“Yeah, 1964 was two weeks too long,” Callison recalled later.

He played 10 seasons with the Phillies, then two with the Chicago Cubs and two with the New York Yankees before retiring after the 1973 season at age 34.

The left-handed Callison hit .264 with 226 homers for his career and made the National League All-Star team in 1962, 1964 and 1965. He led the league in assists four straight years.

Born March 12, 1939, in Qualls, Okla., Callison worked as a car salesman and a bartender after leaving baseball; he lived in the Philadelphia suburbs.

He was beset by a string of health problems in recent years: a bleeding ulcer, heart attack, bypass surgery and an aortic aneurysm.

Callison is survived by his wife, Dianne; three daughters; eight grandchildren; and a great-grandson. Funeral arrangements are pending.


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