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The Phillies Nation Top 100: #19 Johnny Callison

The Phillies Nation Top 100 continues today with #19. Our mission is to assess the Top 100 Phillies players of all time using impact to the Phillies, individual achievement, team achievement, traditional stats, and analytics as our criteria. The list was compiled by Ian Riccaboni and Pat Gallen with input from the rest of the Phillies Nation staff. 

From this point forward, each weekday, we will reveal two Phillies from the PN Top 100 in separate posts. To view the players listed thus far, please click here. To view the 2008 iteration of the list of Greatest Phillies of All Time as compiled by Tim Malcolm, please click here.

Please check back tomorrow morning for #18.

#19 Johnny Callison

Years: 1960-1969

.271/.338/.457 with 185 HR, 60 SB in 4237 PA

Previous Rank: 19 (+1)

fWAR Phillies Rank: 11th among position players, 17th among Phillies

Signature Season: Hit .274/.316/.492 with 30 2B, 10 3B, and 31 HR in 1964 to finish second in NL MVP voting

Signature Moment: Hit a three-run, walk-off homer in the 1964 All-Star Game off of Dick Radatz to earn MVP honors

Three-time All-Star (1962, 1964-1965)

Standing just 5’10”, Johnny Callison packed power into everything he did. Whether it was his rocket arm (led the NL in assists by a right fielder from 1962 through 1965) or his powerful bat (his 185 homers from 1960 through 1969 ranked fourth in the NL among right fielders, only behind Hank Aaron, Billy Williams, and Frank Robinson), Callison packed a big punch in whatever he did. Callison had among the game’s greatest arms of all-time. Callison currently ranks 23rd in putouts by a right fielder, 11th in assists, and 22nd in double plays. Callison also produced particular speed and cunning, leading the NL in triples twice.

Callison was acquired from the Chicago White Sox in a December 9, 1959 deal for third baseman Gene Freese. It would be a fortuitous trade for the Phillies: Callison would win the starting right field job in 1960 and not relinquish it for ten seasons while Freese would only last in the Majors until 1966, hitting .253/.299/.416 after the trade. Callison’s addition in 1960 was one of the big steps in turning the cellar-dwelling Philies into a contender during the mid-60’s.

Callison would earn All-Star appearances in 1962, 1964, and 1965, as well as MVP votes in every season from 1962-1965. The star of the 1964 squad that squeaked away a 6.5 game lead with 12 to play, Callison was one of the few Phillies that did not collapse down the stretch of that infamous season. Callison would hit .277/.317/.508 in September with 8 HR including a three-homer game on September 27, 1964 against the Braves that the Phillies would lose 14-8. Despite having a statistically-better season in 1963, Callison would finish in second place to St. Louis’ Ken Boyer in the MVP voting in 1964, a 13-place increase from his position in MVP voting in 1963. Callison managed to play every single game in 1964 despite battling the flu during the latter stages of the season. The durable Callison ranks 23rd in games played in right field in MLB history.

Callison’s most famous moment, perhaps, is his walk-off homer to end the 1964 All-Star game:

Callison would fall short of having a Hall of Fame career after being traded from the Phillies to the Cubs for Oscar Gamble and Dick Selma in November 1969 and later to the Yankees in 1972 but he was one heck of a ball player. Callison was, however, inducted on to the Phillies Wall of Fame in 1997.

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