Tag Archives: Johnny Callison

Philography: Tony Taylor

My Philography series of mini-bios highlighting the careers of the most interesting and important individuals throughout Philadelphia Phillies history continues with this 23rd entry.

Links to the previous 22 entries, which include such notables as Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Richie AshburnDick AllenJim BunningLarry BowaDarren Daulton and many more can be found below.

In 2002, Tony Taylor became the 24th person overall and the first-ever Hispanic player to be honored with a place on the Phillies Wall of Fame. He has since been joined by Juan Samuel (2008) and Bobby Abreu (2019) as Hispanic players honored among the franchise immortals.

Sports columnist Milton Richman, who became the sports editor at UPI and was honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame with the Taylor Spink Award in 1981, said of Taylor back in 1975: “Tony Taylor has a special way with people. It doesn’t matter who they are, other ballplayers, fans, or the press. He’s to the Phillies what Ernie Banks was to the Cubs.

That “special way” – his friendliness, positive personality, and willingness to share a knowledge of and passion for the game that he loves – is what has always endeared Taylor to Phillies fans, especially those who got to enjoy his years as a player with the team during two stints and a long-time association with the club as a coach and goodwill ambassador.

Taylor played for 19 seasons in Major League Baseball, 15 of those in a Phillies uniform from 1960-71 and then from 1974-76. Though his career ended more than four decades ago, Taylor is still 12th on the Phillies all-time hits, 16th in steals, and 17th in runs scored on the franchise leader boards. Only four men – Schmidt, Ashburn, Bowa, and Jimmy Rollins – have played more games in a Phillies uniform.

Born Antonio Nemesio Taylor Sánchez on December 19, 1935 in Central Alava in the Matanzas province on the island of Cuba, Taylor was raised there and began playing baseball as a young boy. He would eventually get to enjoy the game alongside his younger brother, Jorge.

Central Alava was “a quiet place,” Taylor said in 1970 per a more detailed bio piece on him by Rory Costello and Jose Ramirez for SABR. “Nothing to do but play ball or swim in the river. As a boy I went to school and worked in my cousin’s butcher shop. I liked chemistry. If I didn’t go into baseball, I would have become a chemist for a sugar company.

During the mid-late 1950’s, Taylor turned professional. He was officially a member of the San Francisco Giants beginning in 1954, and played the next few years in both the Cuban professional league and in the U.S. minor leagues, building a reputation as a slick-fielding shortstop.

After playing with Dallas in the Texas League during the 1957 season, the Chicago Cubs selected Taylor from the Giants in the December Rule 5 minor league draft. He was then immediately installed as the Cub’s starting second baseman and leadoff hitter at just age 22.

Taylor’s glove proved far more advanced than his bat during his rookie 1958 season in the Windy City. But that glove was good enough to keep him in the starting lineup. The following year, Taylor’s offensive production took a step forward. His average jumped 55 points to the .280 mark and his slugging percentage rose nearly 80 points, with Taylor nearly doubling his number of extra-base hits.

He opened the 1960 season still as the starter at second base with the Cubs, but that wouldn’t last long. On May 13, 1960, Taylor was dealt to the Phillies along with catcher Cal Neeman, with the Phils sending their starting first baseman, Ed Bouchee and young starting pitcher Don Cardwell to Chicago.

Taylor quickly became a fan favorite at Connie Mack Stadium. He hit .310 over his first 56 games as new manager Gene Mauch‘s starting second baseman with 16 extra-base hits , 17 RBIs, 31 runs scored, and a dozen stolen bases. That performance earned Taylor his lone career National League All-Star nod.

The young Phillies won just 59 games in that 1960 season, finishing in last place in the National League. But over the next few seasons they slowly built a contender under Mauch.

A core group of players that included outfielders Johnny Callison, Tony Gonzalez, and Wes Covington, catcher Clay Dalrymple, shortstop Bobby Wine, and pitchers Chris Short and Art Mahaffey all grew up together during the early 1960’s with the Phillies.

In 1962 the club finished 81-80, their first winning season in nearly a decade. The following year they upped it to 87 wins and a fourth-place finish. Then two big moves set the Phillies up to become legitimate contenders.

A big trade with Detroit in December 1963 brought in the veteran ace starting pitcher that the team needed in right-hander Jim Bunning. And a 22-year-old Dick Allen was handed the starting third base job as a rookie.

The addition of that big arm and bat to the maturing, talented, tight-knit core proved to be an exciting and winning mix and they led the National League for much of that summer. On Father’s Day, Bunning tossed the first Perfect Game in Phillies history as the Phillies downed the Mets by 6-0. An incredible play at second base by Taylor with one out in the bottom of the 8th inning helped make that historic gem at Shea Stadium possible.

Holding a 6 1/2 game lead with just a dozen left on the schedule, the Phillies organization printed up tickets for their first World Series appearance since 1950.

As even Phillies fans who weren’t around to experience the disaster are well aware, that Fall Classic appearance wasn’t meant to be. The team suffered through an infamous collapse, losing 10 straight games and 13 of 15. Though they won their final two games, the 1964 Phillies would finish a tantalizing one game out, in second place.

That group would never win a pennant, but they were a winning ball club. The Phillies enjoyed a winning record for six consecutive seasons from 1962 through 1967. Taylor was a starter during that entire period. As the 1960’s came to a close, that winning core began to age and was traded away, the club’s performance deteriorated on the field, and Taylor slid over to third base. In 1969 the Phillies would win just 69 games.

During spring training in 1970, the SABR bio describes what Taylor called “the biggest moment in my whole life.” His mother and sister, and his sister’s husband and children, arrived in Miami from Cuba. Taylor had been trying to get them out since 1962. “They led a difficult life. They did not believe in the Communists and were not given food and clothing. They had to buy things in the black market.

In that 1970 season the Phillies played their final year at old Connie Mack Stadium. The former Shibe Park had been the club’s home since 1938, and had been the home of the American League’s Philadelphia Athletics from 1909-54. But the brand new Veteran’s Stadium was being built in South Philadelphia and would become the Phillies new home for the 1971 season.

Taylor spent that final year at Connie Mack serving as a utility player at age 34 on a rebuilding Phillies ball club, with youngsters Denny Doyle and Bowa taking over the starting roles in the middle infield.

On a Sunday afternoon in that final summer at the old ballpark, Taylor enjoyed a moment that would live on in Phillies history. It was August 2 and there were just over 10,000 fans at the start. Most were no longer there as the Phillies came to bat in the bottom of the 9th inning, trailing the San Francisco Giants by 6-3.

Larry Hisle led off with a double off Giants starter Ron Bryant and Doc Edwards followed with a base hit, moving Hisle to third base. When pinch-hitter Terry Harmon worked Bryant for a walk, the bases were suddenly loaded.

Giants skipper Charlie Fox went to his bullpen, calling in southpaw Mike Davison as Taylor stepped to the plate. In his 13th big-league season, Taylor had just 60 career home runs at that point. This moment would produce number 61 as Taylor blasted the first-ever walkoff grand slam in Philadelphia Phillies franchise history.

Taylor would open the first 1971 season at The Vet still with the Phillies, but would not finish the year with the team. On June 12 he was dealt to the contending Detroit Tigers for a pair of minor league prospects, neither of whom would ever reach the big-leagues. He would serve as the backup to Dick McAuliffe at second base with Detroit over the next three years.

It was with those Tigers where he would make his lone playoff appearances, starting and playing the full Games 2-5 in Detroit’s heartbreaking loss to the eventual World Series champion Oakland A’s. Taylor was just 2-15 in that 1972 ALCS, and went 0-4, striking out twice, in the decisive 2-1 victory for Oakland. In fact, he flew out to center field against Vida Blue for the final out with the tying run on base in the bottom of the 9th inning for the final game at Tiger Stadium.

In December 1973, Taylor returned to the Phillies, signing as a free agent at age 38. He would close out his playing career as a utility player and pinch-hitter over three final seasons in Philadelphia as the club finally returned to contending status in the mid-1970’s. This was when I saw Taylor play in person, in that twilight of his career.

Per the SABR bio, a July 1974 AP account included the following: “All Tony Taylor has to do is stick his head out of the Phillies’ dugout and the fans go wild.” This feeling too was mutual. “I love those people,” said Taylor of the Veterans Stadium fans. “If a guy gives one hundred per cent they cheer for you. They know baseball, and they know whether a player is playing hard or not.”

During an early 1976 slugfest at Wrigley Field, Schmidt drilled home runs in four consecutive at-bats during an 18-16 victory for the Phillies over the host Cubs. Per Larry Shenk, the Phillies Hall of Famer and all-time greatest player used one of Taylor’s bats to blast what proved to the the final game-winner in the top of the 10th inning.

As the 1976 Phillies captured the club’s first National League East Division crown, Taylor missed much of the season’s first three months injured, returning for the stretch run. Between games of a doubleheader in Montreal after the Phillies had clinched the division, Allen gave manager Danny Ozark an ultimatum – include Taylor on the postseason roster or Allen wouldn’t play. The skipper forged a compromise, naming Taylor as a coach for the NLCS in which the Phillies were swept out by Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine.

Following that season, Taylor formally retired as a player and became the Phillies first base coach from 1977 through 1979. Over the winter in 1978-79, Taylor managed the Águilas del Zulia club to a spot in the Venezuelan Winter League finals.

During the 1980 and 1981 seasons, Taylor served as a roving infield instructor. He won the first of three career World Series rings as a member of the organization when the Phillies captured the first championship in franchise history in that 1980 season.

Through most of the 1980’s he bounced around the organization, serving as a minor league manager and a roving instructor. Per the SABR bio, his personal life suffered a setback during this period when Taylor went through a divorce from wife Nilda during this period. He then returned to the big club in the role of first base coach with the 1988 and 1989 Phillies.

Taylor moved on to become a coach with the San Francisco Giants and the expansion Florida Marlins during the 1990’s. In 1999, the Marlins brought him back to the big-leagues where he served in the role of first base and infield coach. During this period he earned a second World Series ring when the Marlins captured the 1997 title. He would get a third when the Fish again won the championship in 2003.

In April 2004, Taylor was inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame. Following one final season as the Marlins bullpen coach in 2004, Taylor officially and finally retired from baseball. Since that time he has enjoyed his retirement living in Miami, a home for many in the Cuban-American community.

This past August, Taylor attended the Phillies Wall of Fame ceremony at Citizens Bank Park when his friend Abreu was inducted. While in Philly for those Alumni Weekend celebrations, Taylor suffered a series of strokes.

Per a report by Matt Breen in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the 83-year-old Taylor wanted to return to Miami, and was transported from Jefferson Hospital to the airport. The Phillies paid for a team of nurses to accompany him and his second wife, Clara, on a private flight home.

The Phillies have done great,” Clara said per Breen. “They were wonderful. He’s doing therapy and progressing really slow but hopefully well.” Numerous former Phillies teammates and club officials, including owner John Middleton, stayed in close touch on his return home. “It was overwhelming…He’s aware of everyone who has been calling,” said Clara per Breen.

That caring and concern from the Phillies organization and fan base is a reflection on the decades of good will built up between themselves and Tony Taylor. Here is to hoping that he is able to recover and continue to enjoy life, again returning one day to walk out onto the field in Philadelphia and continue this long-time genuine love affair.

 

PHILOGRAPHY SERIES

Click on the “date” in order to read the Philography piece. Click on the individual name to view their stats page at Baseball Reference

10.17.2014 – Greg Luzinski

10.24.2014 – Mitch Williams

10.31.2014 – Chris Short

11.07.2014 – Von Hayes

11.14.2014 – Placido Polanco

11.21.2014 – Jim Konstanty

11.28.2014 – Dick Allen

12.06.2014 – Dick Ruthven

12.12.2014 – Grover Cleveland  Alexander

12.20.2014 – Darren Daulton

12.13.2015 – Larry Bowa

1.09.2016 – Sherry Magee

1.26.2016 – Kevin Stocker

2.10.2016 – Granny Hamner

2.15.2016 – Edith Houghton

12.27.2016 – Bob Boone

1.19.2017 – Mike Lieberthal

2.02.2017 – Red Dooin

11.29.2018 – Richie Ashburn

2.03.2019 – Jim Bunning

2.10.2019 – Mike Schmidt

12.09.19Steve Carlton

Join Phillies Nation in fan polling for Wall of Fame ‘March Madness’

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Manuel, Thome, Carlton (L-R) are part of March Madness

The calendar showing that it is the third week in March can mean only one thing. Okay, two. Alright, alright, at least three things. The first thing is that Spring has arrived! It was a long, cold winter. But now it’s finally over. Soon flowers will begin to bloom and grass will start to grow again.

The other two big things about this time of year involve the sports world. For baseball fans, spring training is winding to a close. The Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues have just days remaining in their schedules.
For fans of college basketball and many sports fans who barely follow the game at any other time of year this is “March Madness” time. The excitement and drama of the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament is unfolding.
Here at Phillies Nation we decided to run our own “March Madness” involving our favorite ball club. As subject matter we chose the Wall of Famers, those 40 individuals who have been honored to this point with a plaque at Citizens Bank Park.

Our tournament is being run at our Twitter feed: @PhilliesNation. If you aren’t following, fix that right away. If you are, head on over and be sure to follow regularly over the next week as we poll followers for their selections.
Phillies Nation “March Madness” began with a Play-in showdown between 1960’s-70’s infielder and later a coach with the team, Tony Taylor, facing off against 1950’s ‘Whiz Kids’ shortstop Granny Hamner. The popular Taylor took an early lead in voting and coasted to victory by 61%-39% of the 157 followers who cast a vote.

PHILLIES NATION * WALL OF FAME * MARCH MADNESS
Okay, with time running out Tony Taylor holds a comfortable Play-In Poll lead on Granny Hamner and will advance to our Opening Round. Two four-player polls. Winners later today battle to enter the Round of 32. Vote now!

See Phillies Nation’s other Tweets

That moved Taylor into one of two four-man Opening Round match-ups. Taylor was placed in a tough grouping: Sam Thompson, a Baseball Hall of Famer and 19th century star; 1920’s star outfielder Cy Williams; 1950’s ‘Whiz Kids’ third baseman Willie Jones.
The other four-man Opening Round grouping included 1960’s all-star Johnny Callison; star outfielder Gavvy Cravath of the 1915 NL pennant-winners and runner-up for the 1913 NL MVP; 1950’s star pitcher Curt Simmons who won 193 big-league games including 17 with the ‘Whiz Kids’ in 1950; Pat Gillick, the general manager of the 2008 World Series champions.

Taylor emerged victorious once again, winning his group with 42% of the 130 votes cast. Williams (28%), Thompson (18%) and Jones (12%) rounded out the group. Gillick was a somewhat surprising easy winner of his group, drawing 59% of 199 votes cast. Callison (24%), Simmons (15%) and Cravath (2%) rounded out that group.
Those results have moved Gillick and Taylor into a mano-a-mano Opening Round Finals vote which will conclude at 10am on Thursday morning. The winner of that vote will move into a Round-of-32 in which each of the others has already been ranked 1-31.
Head over to our Twitter feed and vote in the Gillick-Taylor Opening Round Finals poll now. While there you can enjoy numerous informative articles on the ball club. Look for the polling results on Thursday morning, which will be followed in the afternoon by the announcement of those Round-of-32 matches. Keep coming back to vote each round.

Congratulations to Bobby Abreu, who was named today as the 2019 Phillies Wall of Fame honoree. That announcement came after our tournament had been seeded and gotten underway, so Bobby is not part of the voting. Stop by the Phillies Nation feed at Twitter and join in our Wall of Fame March Madness today.

Philadelphia Phillies Top 25 Players of All-Time: #15 – Johnny Callison

Johnny Callison was born into a poor family in rural Oklahoma in 1939 during the Great Depression. He was then raised as a small child mostly by his mother while his father, who was part Cherokee Indian, was off fighting with the United States Army in World War II.
While his father was away, his mother packed up he and his brother and two sisters and moved the clan out to California, settling in Bakersfield. 
Per an outstanding bio on Callison written by Steve Wulf for ESPN back in 2013, Callison befriended a group of Mexican kids who nicknamed him “Okie” due to his former home. Wulf’s bio of Callison is a must-read for any fan of the player.
Callison found during his youth in California that he had tremendous athletic ability. According to his bio at SABR by John Rossi, one of Callison’s teachers “noted that he could run faster backward than most of his classmates could run forward.
Joining his local little league team, Callison learned the game of baseball from his coach, Jim Boone. The former Negro Leaguer tutored Callison in all facets of the sport before the coach was tragically shot to death by his wife. It was one more rough chapter in the life of young Callison, who at home was caught between his churchgoing mother and alcoholic father.

Callison battled through his rough home life by immersing himself in sports, particularly baseball. He became a star at East Bakersfield High, came to the attention of scouts, and was ultimately signed by the Chicago White Sox.
A natural power-speed combination as a ballplayer, Callison rocketed through the White Sox minor league system over three seasons from 1957-59. Callison received his first promotion to the big leagues in September of 1958, and made the big league roster out of spring training the following year.

Despite appearing in 49 games as a 20-year old in that 1959 season, Callison would not make the White Sox roster for the World Series after the team won the American League pennant. The Sox would drop that Fall Classic in six games to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and as it would turn out, Callison would never play postseason baseball.
On December 9, 1959 he finally got what would turn out to be his biggest break when Callison was dealt by the White Sox to a young, losing Philadelphia Phillies team in exchange for infielder Gene Freese.
In Philly, Callison appeared in 99 games in the 1960 season, and then won a full-time starting job by 1961. At age 23 in the 1962 season, Callison became an NL All-Star for the first of what would be three times in his career. 
Hitting for a .300 average with 23 homers, 83 RBI, and 107 runs scored, Callison also received MVP votes for that 1962 season, the first of four consecutive years that he would be considered.
With Callison as part of a young lineup core that included slugging third baseman Don Demeter, talented center fielder Tony Gonzalez, rugged catcher Clay Dalrymple, and slick-fielding shortstop Bobby Wine, the Phillies recorded a winning season in 1963. That year’s club finished at 81-80, the first winning campaign for the franchise in a decade.
In 1964 the Phillies welcomed their top minor league prospect to the lineup, and Dick Allen immediately became a star and impacted the lineup with an NL Rookie of the Year campaign. Allen and Callison became a strong combination in the middle of the Phils’ lineup, with Callison enjoying his best season.
That 1964 team led the National League for much of the summer, building a 7.5 game lead by late August. Callison would finish as the NL MVP runner-up after a season in which he would produce 31 homers, 30 doubles, 10 triples, 104 RBI, and 101 runs scored.
Famously, the 1964 team would collapse down the stretch. Holding a 6.5 game lead on the morning of September 21st, the Phillies would lose 10 straight to finish a game behind the Saint Louis Cardinals.
During those early-mid 1960’s peak years, Callison was often compared to a far more high-profile ballplayer in the other league, New York Yankees superstar Mickey Mantle.
While the Phillies would continue as a winning team for the next three seasons, they would never again come close to a National League pennant with that group. Callison had one more big season in 1965, leading the league in triples, and would lead the league in doubles in the 1966 season.
But his results steadily declined as he began feuding with manager Gene Mauch. At the end of the 1969 season in which he turned 30 years old, Callison was dealt to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Oscar Gamble and pitcher Dick Selma.
Callison had one final good season in 1970, slamming 19 homers with the Cubs, and that would be his last as a full-time starter. He hung on for one more year in Chicago before being dealt to the Yankees in January of 1972. He would wind down his career coming off the bench in the Bronx for 45 games in 1973 before retiring after his release at age 34.
After retiring, Callison was a part of a number of business ventures, and took part regularly in the Phillies fantasy camps. As he aged, his health deteriorated. Battling ulcers and having suffered a heart attack, Callison would eventually die of cancer in October of 2006 at age 67. He left behind his high school sweetheart wife, Dianne, and three daughters.
In 1997, Callison had been voted into the Phillies Wall of Fame. The 19th player selected at that point, he joined 1964 teammates Allen, Jim Bunning, and Chris Short to be so honored. They have since been joined by two further teammates, Tony Taylor and Dallas Green. In 2012, Callison was posthumously inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame.


STP Top 25 Phillies of All-Time (to date)


Career Accomplishments

Callison played parts of 10 seasons with the Phillies, and aside from Hall of Famer Chuck Klein may have been the best right fielder in the history of the ball club.
He led the National League in triples in 1965 and doubles in 1966, tying for the NL lead in triples in 1962. He registered double-digit figures in that triples category for five consecutive seasons from 1961-65. On June 6th of 1965, Callison powered to a three-homer game at Wrigley Field.
A tremendous defender, Callison led the National League in fielding average among right fielders in both 1963 and 1964. He led the National League in outfield assists and double plays in 1962, and in assists again over each of the next three seasons.
A three time National League All-Star, he received MVP votes in four consecutive seasons from 1962-65, finishing as the runner-up for the 1964 campaign. 

Most Memorable Moment

Callison was an National League All-Star in 1962 and again in the 1964 and 1965 seasons. The most memorable moment of his big league career, or at the very least the one for which he is most remembered by the wider baseball community, came in the 1964 MLB All-Star Game.
He did not start that game for the National League, which began the midsummer classic with a trio of Hall of Famers in the outfield. Billy Williams of the Cubs started in left, Willie Mays of the Giants in center, and Roberto Clemente of the Pirates in right field.
In the bottom of the 5th inning, Callison was sent in to pinch-hit for Bunning, his Phillies teammate, and would pop out to shortstop. In the bottom of the 7th, Callison flew out to deep center field, nearly tying the game as the NL trailed 4-3.
The game went to the bottom of the 9th with the National League still trialing by that 4-3 score. Mays led off with a walk from tough Boston right-hander Dick Radatz, and with Orlando Cepeda at the plate, the “Say Hey Kid” stole second base.
Cepeda then blooped a base hit to score Mays and tie the game at 4-4, and Curt Flood was sent in as a pinch-runner. After Radatz got Ken Boyer to pop out to thirrd, catcher Johnny Edwards was intentionally walked to bring the weak-hitting Ron Hunt to the plate.
However, National League manager Walter Alston then played his trump card, bringing to the plate 30-year-old superstar Hank Aaron, who had been held back to that point for just such a moment. However, Radatz won the battle, striking Aaron out and bringing Callison to the plate.
With two outs and two men on base and the game tied at 4-4, the 25-year-old Phillies right fielder stepped in to the box. On the first pitch, Callison drove a blast deep to right field and over the Shea Stadium wall for a game-winning home run. It was one of only three walkoff homers in MLB All-Star Game history. For the winning blast, Callison was awarded the 1964 MLB All-Star Game MVP award.

Reasons for Ranking Placement

Callison produced an 8+ WAR season in 1963, and a trio of 5+ WAR seasons in 1962 and again in 1964-65 during his peak as a player. In each of his final three seasons with the Phillies from 1967-69, Callison produced a 2+ WAR season (he had just missed a fourth with a 1.9 mark in 1961).
On the Phillies all-time career lists, Callison played 10 seasons in Philadelphia and ranks as follows: Hits (16), Runs (16), Doubles (13), Triples (6), Home Runs (12), RBI (18).

Formula Explanation 

The player rankings formula combines both traditional and advanced statistics/metrics and assigns a point total to each category. These statistics only reflect the player’s Phillies career.
First, single season WAR is a primary factor in our rankings. According to WAR’s calculations, 2+ WAR is considered a starter, 5+ WAR is All-Star caliber, and 8+ WAR is MVP level.

We totaled the number of seasons that a player performed at a 2+ WAR, 5+ WAR, and 8+ WAR level and assigned a set point value for each category, (+1), (+3), and (+5) respectively.

For example, in 1980, Mike Schmidt complied an 8.8 WAR. This was counted as a 2+ WAR season, a 5+ WAR season, and an 8+ WAR season. So, for 1980 alone, Mike Schmidt earned (9) points for WAR.

Second, we assigned a point value for amount of years spent with the Phillies. In order to be considered for this list, a player must have been with the organization for a minimum of (5) years.

Next, we assigned point values for being among the top 25 in particular statistical categories, such as batting average, hits, doubles, triples, RBI, home runs, and OPS for hitters, and ERA, Wins, and WPA (wins probability added) for pitchers.

Finally, all statistical categories were totaled up using our point based system and ranked accordingly, with historical columnist Matt Albertson and managing editor Tim Kelly of Sports Talk Philly reserving the right to move players up the list, within reason. 

An explanation of why a player is ranked in a certain spot will be provided, as will an overall score breakdown.