The Phillies Nation Top 100: #19 Johnny Callison – Phillies Nation

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.



  1. Puke out the B

    February 13, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    You’re articles make me sick

    • Puke out the B

      February 13, 2014 at 1:30 pm


      • Ian Riccaboni

        February 13, 2014 at 1:39 pm

        You should stop reading them then so that your condition doesn’t worsen!

      • wbramh

        February 14, 2014 at 1:24 pm

        Well, his first name is “Puke” so maybe everything makes him sick.

  2. mudmin

    February 13, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    I love reading these, Ian. Great job again. Thanks for the video too.

    I forgot how awful those P’s were on the hats in the 60s. What the heck was that?

  3. Freyday17

    February 13, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Gene Freese was a 3rd baseman. But I do like your historic review. Most fans don’t seem to know anything before their own time.

    • Ian Riccaboni

      February 13, 2014 at 3:03 pm

      Thank you! Updated Gene Freese’s info. Had a brain fart, there.

  4. Freyday17

    February 13, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    BTW, Gene Freese was a 3rd baseman. But I do like your historic review. Most fans don’t seem to know anything before their own time. Callison was great. This was the decade of Gibson’s 13 shutouts in a season and inflated pitching stats.

  5. davehist

    February 13, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    Johnny Callison should have been MVP in 1964 and would have been if the Phillies had not had that awful skid that cost them the pennant. A great ballplayer, and a very fine person for those of us who had the good fortune to get to know him.

    • schmenkman

      February 13, 2014 at 8:02 pm

      Callison had a very good year, but there were several that looked more deserving that year, including one on his own team:

      Callison: 31 HR, 104 RBI, .274/.316/.492 (.808 OPS)
      R. Allen: 29 HR, 125 RBI, .318/.382/.557 (.939 OPS)

      • c. schreiber

        February 13, 2014 at 8:18 pm

        Only one reason Callison got more votes than Allen. Can you guess what it is?

  6. Jay (another one)

    February 13, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    “packed a big punch in with whatever he did”? Huh? I suppose grammar not a top priority at NYU.


    • Ian Riccaboni

      February 13, 2014 at 9:07 pm


      Your posts help drive the algorithm that helps this page appear in Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc. searches. Because you took the time to comment, this page may get more views and we may just be able to find that editor for which you have been advertising. For that, I thank you.

  7. Craig

    February 13, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    I believe Johnny Callison is the greatest Phillie of all time. Statistics aside, this man was no gambler, no womanizer, no bull. He played right field in Connie Mack like no other ball player with such instincts when balls were played into the angled corner, off the lower light stand or down the narrow line toward right field stands. After a stellar career he became an honest businessman and continued until his death to be the finest husband, father and friend to everyone.

  8. Ryne Duren

    February 14, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Callison was my favorite along with Richie (call me Dick) Allen. I distinctly remember that all star game. It was the first time I ever watched anything on a color TV. And to see one of my team guys win it with a HR off Radatz. My little brother idolized Callison and does so to this day. Good article Ian. love reading this stuff. Despite the moaning and groaning of the grammar police. Nobody’s perfect. 99% of the people here get what you’re writing without the need to go into a grammar spasm.

  9. Ryne Duren

    February 14, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Ian I once had a person tell me on another site that my syntax was bad! Truthfully I don’t know or do I care if I even spelled the word right for one. Two, I don’t even know or care what that is. All I do know is if it ends in tax? I’m opposed to it.

    • George

      February 14, 2014 at 9:40 am

      I believe it was Dizzy Dean, who when criticized about syntax, replied, “You mean they have a tax on that, too?”

      • Ryne Duren

        February 15, 2014 at 2:36 pm

        he he I think you’re right about that George. Most likely that’s where I got the thought. Somewhere in my old feeble brain an electrode bounced off a turd hidden in my head and I remembered that.

  10. whizkidfanatic

    February 14, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    John Callison was a very talented player who deserves all the respect and recognition he gets. An inveterate worrier and introvert, he was never given the respect he deserved by John Quinn and the organization. Quinn as was his style, continually belittled him and refused to pay him what he was worth as a ballplayer.

    I do take issue however with rating him ahead of Del Ennis. As good as Callison was and conceding that the high right field wall at Connie Mack probably cost him 30 or so homers, Callison basically had 5 above average seasons with the Phillies before injuries, leg problems and worry turned him into a good but average player.

    One of the best alltime Phillie outfielders but not better than Ennis.

  11. wbramh

    February 15, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    I always sat along the 3rd baseline when I had a choice. For some reason (maybe my left-handed brain) it just felt more natural.

    Then Johnny Callison came along and he immediately became my favorite player. Throughout his tenure on the team I found myself buying tickets down the right field line just to watch him play, up close.

    When the day came that Johnny was no longer in a Phillies’ uniform I immediately reverted back to my left field comfort zone – and there I’ve stayed, ever since.

    Shades of his walk-off heroics at Shea, I remember watching an NL v AL charity bowling event on TV. Each frame featured a different player. Johnny ‘s 3 strikes in the final frame won it for the NL.

    A magical guy.

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