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Thursday, January 25, 2024

Ron Johnson became the perfect AAA manager, passed in 2021

Ron Johnson 1990 Baseball City Royals card

Ron Johnson played eight seasons in the minors and even got a few looks at the majors. He then settled back in the minors as a manager

He spent more than a dozen seasons as a manager at the AAA level, a role Orioles manager Buck Showalter recalled later to The Boston Globe Johnson being perfect for.

"I think that's the toughest place to manage or maybe coach," Showalter told The Globe. "It takes a special guy to do that job ... He was the perfect Triple A manager. He would give the guys the space when they got sent down and were upset, but at some point, Ron would have that tough conversation."

Showalter spoke of Johnson to The Globe in January 2021, after Johnson's passing from COVID-19 at the age of 64.

Johnson's long career in baseball began in 1978, taken by the Royals in the 24th round of the draft out of Cal State Fresno.

Johnson started with the Royals in the rookie Gulf Coast League and at single-A Fort Myers. He played 1980 at AA Jacksonville, then AAA Omaha in 1981.

Then, in September 1982, he made Kansas City. He saw eight games. He then saw another nine major league games in 1983 and then five games with the Expos in 1984, the extent of his big league playing career. He went 12 for 46.

By 1989, he was a minor league coach with the Royals at single-A Baseball City. By 1992, he was a manager in the rookie Gulf Coast League, something he told The Fort Myers Sun-Press he didn't think he'd be.

"I thought it was everything everybody had told me it would be," Johnson told The Sun-Press in February 1993. "It was a rough job, especially at the lower level. You're not only the manager, you're the disciplinarian. You're their friend. You're their father. You're their mother. You're their brother. And you're their bank."

He them made AA Memphis as a manager in 1994, then AAA Omaha in 1998. He stayed there two seasons. He arrived with the Red Sox at AA Trenton in 2002, then made AAA Pawtucket as manager in 2005. He managed at Pawtucket five seasons.

With Omaha in 1999, Johnson spoke to The Omaha World-Herald about working with his players.

"You develop a bond with your team, your coaching staff," Johnson told The World-Herald that June. "Teams win because of chemistry. You have to have personnel. If you don't have talent you're going to lose. I'm only as good as my players."

In 2010, he returned to the majors as Red Sox first base coach. He spent two seasons back and then moved to the Orioles and back to managing at AAA, at Norfolk. He stayed at Norfolk for six seasons. 

Johnson passed Jan. 26, 2021, at the age of 64.

Ron Johnson 1990 Baseball City Royals card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,299
Made the Majors:1,393-32.4%-X
Never Made Majors:2,906-67.6%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:567
10+ Seasons in the Minors:349

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