56 days ago Joe asked the VFTB staff to list the top five sports figures we’d like to just go away. I listed Johnny Callison, I believe as my # 2 player I wanted to go away.
Well, be careful what you ask for I guess. Johnny Callison died yesterday at the age of 67. In that Friday Five post, I commented “He took something away from me when I was just 13 years old that I can never get back my innocence. Before that I considered professional athletes as god-like. By his cursing out a Cubs photographer right in front of me, Callison opened my eyes. I would have preferred to remain in a state of naïveté a bit longer.”
Not wanting to dwell on one myopic isolated moment of my life, let’s pay him the proper respect he deserves. This was written 10 years ago by Don Bostrom. My sympathies with the family.
When it comes to stealing the show in the All-Star Game, the Phillies are batting 1-for-66. But, oh, what a glorious, majestic hit the one was. Johnny Callison’s three-run home run off Boston’s Dick Radatz in the bottom of the ninth inning to win the 1964 All-Star Game at Shea Stadium 7-4 on July 7 is the signature All-Star moment in Phillies history. That swing was also the defining moment in Callison’s often distinguished, sometimes checkered major league career. It was his Andy Warhol moment, except that those 15 minutes of fame had quite a shelf life…32 years, with no signs of fading away.
In fact, that homer off Radatz seems like only yesterday to Callison because not a day goes by that he doesn’t relive it for some adoring fan. Callison, like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day,” repeats the same sequence of events, day after day after day. “I’ve seen that movie and I can relate to it a lot,” Callison chuckled. “Every day someone tells me about it. Good thing, too, because at my age, I’m having trouble remembering what really happened.”