Ronald George Johnson
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 5", Weight 190-243 lb.
- School Los Angeles Pierce College
Ronny Johnson played five seasons in the minor leagues. He later moved to Australia, where he became a star. He appeared on the Australian Olympic team.
Johnson was picked by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2nd round of the 1981 January draft. He made his professional debut in 1982 with the Medicine Hat Blue Jays, going 6-7 with a 4.48 ERA but walked 52 in 74 1/3 IP, putting him third in the Pioneer League in free passes. In '83, the tall right-hander allowed two runs in 10 innings for the Florence Blue Jays.
Johnson was 3-1 with a save and a 4.15 ERA for Florence in 1984, showing much better control with 19 walks in 52 innings. In 1985, he ended his US career with the Daytona Beach Islanders (1-5, 5.64) and Burlington Rangers (2-, Sv, 3.94).
Ronny was a founding owner of the Gold Coast Cougars in the Australian Baseball League in 1989-1990. On the mound, he walked 7 in 10 2/3 IP and allowed 3 runs; he would only make one more pitching appearance in the ABL. He was becoming a hitter instead, batting .212/.388/.414 with 19 walks in 24 games. He was to improve significantly his next year full-time as a batter.
The Cougars became the Daikyo Dolphins in 1990-1991 and Johnson put on a show, hitting .383/.471/.729 with 13 doubles, 11 home runs, 35 runs and 34 RBI in 40 games. He was 5th in the league in average, 4th in slugging (behind Tony Adamson, John Jaha and David Nilsson), 5th in homers, 3rd in extra-base hits, 3rd in OBP and tied for 4th in runs with Brad DeJardin. He teamed with Jaha and Nilsson to form a powerful offense and was named as the All-Star designated hitter.
At age 29, Johnson batted .293/.377/.529 in 1991-1992. His 34 RBI were 4th in the league and he was named second-team All-Star DH after Melvin Wearing. In 1992-1993, Ronny hit .279/.376/.401 for the Brisbane Bandits and he was 5th in the league with 23 walks.
The Californian produced at a .294/.364/.571 rate in the 1993-1994 Australian Baseball League with 14 homers and 41 RBI in 55 games for the championship-winning Bandits. He was 5th in home runs and tied for 5th in RBI. He was named a second-team All-Star at 1B behind Jay Kirkpatrick.
In 1994-1995, Johnson hit .315/.422/.636 for Brisbane with 14 doubles, 15 home runs, 35 walks and 55 RBI in 60 contests. He was 5th in the ABL in OBP, 4th in walks and 3rd in RBI behind Scott Metcalf and Nilsson. He was named the league's All-Star first baseman.
Ronny batted .290/.375/.542 with 41 runs in 42 games in 1995-1996, his last season with Brisbane. He tied for the league lead in runs and was named the second-team All-Star 1B behind Craig Watts. In 1996-1997, he moved back to Gold Coast and hit .332/.406/.658 with 16 home runs and 63 RBI in 59 contests. He was second in homers and extra-base hits (32) behind Brendan Kingman and led in RBI, one ahead of Kingman. He finished third in slugging behind Kingman and former major leaguer Greg Jelks, another American-turned-Australian.
At age 35 in 1997-1998, he kept on slugging, hitting .321/.449/.737 for Gold Coast with a career-high 22 home runs, 52 runs and 66 RBI in 53 games, drawing 43 walks. He again edged Kingman for the RBI lead by one, depriving him of a Triple Crown. Johnson was second to Kingman in homers, led the league in walks, tied Mat Buckley for 4th in extra-base hits (35) and was 5th in runs. He was named the All-Star 1B, his third selection as a first-team All-Star in the first 9 seasons of the ABL.
In 1998, professionals were allowed in international baseball tournaments for the first time and Johnson was put on the Australian national team; he was only Australia's 4th-oldest player after Adrian Meagher, Jelks and Phil Dale. Ronny hit .323/.417/.452 with 9 RBI in 8 games as Australia's main 1B.
Johnson batted .307/.415/.495 in the 1998-1999 ABL with only five home runs, a sign that he was starting his decline. He also managed Gold Coast to a 24-20, second-place finish that season. He was named second-team All-Star as a manager and still finished fifth in the loop in OBP.
Ronny remained with Australia for the 1999 Intercontinental Cup, batting .231/.394/.346 as their first baseman. In the Gold Medal game, he hit cleanup between Nilsson and another American import, Paul Gonzalez. Johnson was 2 for 4 with a double and a run as Australia was tied 3-3 with the Cuban national team 3-3 entering the 11th. In the top of the eleventh, Ronny drew a leadoff walk from Carlos Yánes. Peter Vogler pinch-ran for him and would score the winning run as Australia took the Gold Medal for the first time ever in a major international event in a shocker over Cuba.
In the ABL's decade of play in the 20th Century, Johnson hit .308 (good for 13th). He was among the league's career leaders in games (457, 2nd to Andrew Scott), at-bats (1,489, 3rd), runs (301, 2nd to Scott), hits (459, 3rd behind Scott and Gary White), RBI (375, 1st by 68 over Scott), doubles (100, tied with White for second behind Scott), homers (106, 1st by 11 over Kingman), total bases (879, 1st by 9 over Scott), slugging (.590, 5th behind Nilsson, Jelks, Adam Burton and Adamson), OBP (.429, 6th), walks (247, 1st by 13 over Vogler) and strikeouts (293, 1st).
The IBL was replaced by the International Baseball League of Australia for 1999-2000 and Johnson hit just .186/.250/.300 for the Queensland Rams. He still remained with Australia for the 2000 Olympics, as their third-oldest player behind Meagher and David White, both pitchers. He batted .235/.316/.412 for the Olympic hosts, backing up Brett Roneberg at first base and Nilsson at DH.
Johnson's last season was 2000-2001, when he was 2 for 10 in the IBLA.
In 2005, he was inducted into the Baseball Australia Hall of Fame as part of the initial class.