Note: This page links to 1980s outfielder Ron Johnson. For the 1980s minor league pitcher and 2000 Australian Olympian, click here.
Ronald David Johnson
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 3", Weight 215 lb.
- School Fullerton College, California State University, Fresno
- High School Garden Grove High School
- Debut September 12, 1982
- Final Game June 22, 1984
- Born March 23, 1956 in Long Beach, CA USA
- Died January 26, 2021 in Murfreesboro, TN USA
He went to Garden Grove High School in California where he starred in both baseball and football. He had scholarship offers to play college football at UCLA and Fresno State University but elected to go to Fullerton College after being undrafted in baseball. In the January 1976 amateur draft, he was selected by the California Angels in the 13th round of the regular phase but didn’t sign. He played the next two years with Fresno State. In his senior season, he was named an All-American. In the June 1978 amateur draft, the Kansas City Royals selected him in the 24th round.
Johnson was first sent to the Gulf Coast League with the GCL Royals. After 14 games of hitting .327 with 13 RBIs and 12 walks, he was moved up to the Florida State League and the Fort Myers Royals, where he hit .231 with an OPS of .657 in 29 games.
In 1979, Johnson was Fort Myers' main first baseman. He led the team in most hitting categories, including batting average (.307), OBP (.395), slugging percentage (.430), RBIs (58) and home runs (8). He also played 17 games with the Jacksonville Suns in the Southern League at the end of the season, where his OPS was a respectable .761. He was named on the post-season FSL All-Star team.
He had a breakthrough season in 1980 with Jacksonville. He led the league with 40 doubles and was second in RBIs (104) to Steve Balboni. In 142 games, his line was .270/.365/.482 with 23 home runs.
In 1981 with the Omaha Royals in the American Association, Johnson struggled for the first time in his pro career, with an OPS of .733 in 88 games, just under the team’s .740 mark. His line was .246/.342/.391.
He probably had the best season of his career in 1982, with a line of .336/.405/.470 in 137 games. He earned his first big league call-up in September, getting 4 hits in 14 at-bats plus 4 walks.
He had another strong campaign in 1983 with a line of .317/.399/.466 in 104 games. He had 7 starts at first base with the big league Royals in September, going 7 for 30. It was his last year in the Royals organization. In December, he was traded to the Montreal Expos for Tom Dixon.
There was no room for Johnson with Montreal, who were stacked with Terry Francona expected to play first base on a regular basis and Mike Stenhouse as his substitute. A forty-plus Pete Rose was also around, although he was slated to play the outfield. Johnson began the season with the Indianapolis Indians where he had another solid year with a line of .303/.377/.447 in 109 games. He had a brief call-up with the Expos in June but played only five games – no start – going 1 for 5 in what would be his last stint in the majors.
The Expos let him go after the 1984 season. Johnson signed a minor league contract in February of 1985 with the Detroit Tigers organization. But in May, after barely a month with the Nashville Sounds in the American Association, he was released. Shortly thereafter, he signed with the Chicago White Sox organization and finished the season with the Buffalo Bisons, still in the A.A. In 74 combined games, his batting line was .211/.280/.284.
In 1986, he began his coaching career and was in the Kansas City Royals organization through 1991 as a minor league coach. In 1992, he had his first managing assignment with the Baseball City Royals in the FSL, leading his team to the league final. He remained in the Royals system through 1999 with the Wilmington Blue Rocks (1993, Carolina League), Memphis Chicks (1994, Southern League), Wichita Wranglers (1995-1997 Texas League) and Omaha Royals/Omaha Golden Spikes (1998-1999 Pacific Coast League). He had a winning record in all but one season and reached the playoffs five times. In 1995, he was named the Texas League Manager of the Year. In 2000, he joined the Boston Red Sox organization, managing in the minors for ten seasons with the Sarasota Red Sox (2000-2001, FSL), Trenton Thunder (2002 Eastern League), Portland Sea Dogs (2003 Eastern League) and Pawtucket Red Sox (2004-2009 International League). In 2010, he was promoted to the big league as the Red Sox's first base coach. His stint as a coach with the Red Sox lasted two years. In 2012, he joined the Baltimore Orioles organization and became the Norfolk Tides manager in the International League from 2012 to 2017. In 2015, he was named the International League Manager of the Year.