1954 Edina-Morningside grad and 11-year major league middle infielder Bob “Rocky” Johnson was born on March 4, 1936 in Omaha, NE. Johnson’s father had grown up in the Twin Cities and the family returned to Minneapolis in December 1947.
Johnson, who signed with the Detroit Tigers out of high school, made his major league debut with the Kansas City Athletics on April 19, 1960 at age 24, drawing a walk as a pinch hitter.
In total, he played 874 major league games over parts of 11 seasons with the Kansas City Athletics, Senators, Orioles, Mets, Reds, Braves, Cardinals, and Oakland A’s, hitting .272 with 628 hits and 44 home runs. He played 71 regular season games for the eventual 1966 World Series Champion Orioles.
He singled off Jack Kralick in his first two major league at-bats in Minnesota on July 25, 1961. He played 75 games against the Twins overall, hitting .283 with five home runs, including two each off Jim Kaat and 1954 Sebeka High School graduate Dick Stigman.
Johnson earned a reputation as a proficient pinch hitter over the course of his career. He strung together six consecutive pinch hits in 1964, an American League record he owned for 17 years before Bill Stein broke it in 1981.
Johnson, who lives in St. Paul these days, was inducted into the Edina Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999.
Stew Thornley wrote about Johnson for the Halsey Hall SABR book Minnesotans in Baseball (click here).