The passing of former Major Leaguer, Alex Johnson on February 28th is just the latest reminder that players from Baseball's "Golden Age" will not be around forever. Johnson, who spent 13 seasons in the Majors - breaking in with the Phillies during the star-crossed 1964 season and winning the A.L. Batting Crown in 1970, is the latest player from the era to pass.
As a member of the 1964 team, Johnson was brought up to provide right-handed power to the lineup. In 43 games during the season he batted .303 with 4 HRs and 18 RBIs while platooning in Left Field with Wes Covington. He was traded to the Cardinals in 1965 with Art Mahaffey for Dick Groat and Bill White.
Though talented, he never spent more than two seasons with the same team. Stories from his past include self-induced alienation from teammates and lack of focus on the field. Unfortunately I missed him at a local appearance for the Poppel's a few years ago - but, when I asked Mr. Poppel (Eric and Adam's dad) about how it went he only spoke of about how polite and pleasant Mr. Johnson was at the show.
While in conflict with the tales of his playing days, the story reflected his interactions with collectors in retirement. With a 79% success rate (including many non-responses over the past few months while he was presumably ill), Johnson was regularly listed in recent TTM success listings. I personally had two requests fulfilled in recent years - each time my cash donation was returned. Phillies collectors, and the hobby will miss him.