Callison dies; HR won '64 All-Star game for NL

PHILADELPHIA -- Johnny Callison, the rocket-armed right fielder for the Philadelphia Phillies who hit a bottom-of-the-ninth home run that won the 1964 All-Star Game, has died. He was 67.

He died Thursday at Abington Hospital following an illness, Phillies spokesman Larry Shenk said Friday. He lived in Glenside, a Philadelphia suburb.

Callison was born in Oklahoma and went on to become a three-time All-Star during his 16-year career. A left-handed hitter with a smooth swing, Callison started with the Chicago White Sox in 1958 and established himself as one of the top players in the National League after being traded to Philadelphia two years later.

"What a wonderful player he was," commissioner Bud Selig said from Detroit before Game 3 of the American League Championship Series. "Strong arm. Hit that home run that won the '64 All-Star Game. I liked watching him play."

Callison had a fierce arm in right field, and runners tested him at their peril. He led the league in assists four straight years.

"He can run, throw, field and hit with power," the late Gene Mauch, who managed Callison on the Phillies, once said. "There's nothing he can't do well on the ballfield."

Callison was the MVP of the 1964 All-Star Game in New York, hitting a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off hard-throwing Red Sox reliever Dick Radatz to give the National League a 7-4 victory at Shea Stadium.

Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning, a Hall of Fame pitcher, said Friday he and Callison became close friends when they roomed together during the 1964 season. The two were teammates from 1964-67.

"He had all the tools that a great player needs," Bunning said.

The Kentucky Republican said the last time he saw Callison was during a reunion before Veterans Stadium closed.

"He did an unbelievable job playing right field and knocking in a lot of key runs," Bunning said.

Dick Allen recalled his former teammate as a great person and a great player.

"Johnny was more than a teammate to me, he was a close friend," Allen said. "He was a terrific player with a great arm from right field. He also had a funny, dry sense of humor."

Callison was part of the 1964 Phillies team that infamously wasted a 6½-game lead with 12 games left in the season by losing 10 straight. During the seventh loss in that streak, Callison played despite a bad case of flu and hit three homers against Milwaukee. Callison played in every game that season.

"I had some of the greatest times of my life and my career with Johnny. We grew up in baseball together," Ruben Amaro Sr. said. "We were part of the Phillies that couldn't win a game in 1961 and he was really one of our big guns in 1964, when we should have won. My heart goes out to his wife and his daughters."

Callison was a fan favorite during his 10 seasons with the Phillies and finished second in MVP voting behind St. Louis third baseman Ken Boyer in 1964. Callison also played two seasons with the Chicago Cubs and two more with the New York Yankees before retiring following the 1973 season.

"Cannon for an arm. Compact power. Just a superb ballplayer. He was the whole package," said FOX broadcaster and former major-league catcher Tim McCarver, who played against Callison throughout the 1960s and early '70s.

"While I didn't know him well personally, I had enormous respect for him as a player. Particularly the 1964 season with the Phillies, when he was such a clutch performer for that very, very good ballclub," McCarver said.

Callison hit .264 with 226 homers for his career. He batted .274 with 31 homers and 104 RBI in 1964 and hit .262 with 32 homers and 102 RBI the following year. Callison made the NL All-Star team in 1962, 1964 and 1965.

He is survived by his wife, Dianne, three daughters, eight grandchildren and a great-grandson.

Funeral arrangements are pending.