Random Retro Baseball Player: Howard Johnson | Sharapova's Thigh

This past week while I was in California as we honored my great friend that we lost way too soon, Henry Pearson, I thought much about our baseball memories together. Henry was a diehard New York Mets fan, and I remember that for at least awhile his favorite player was Howard Johnson, who played for the Mets from 1985 through 1993. So I figured I'd learn some more about "HoJo" and perhaps why Henry was such a big fan of his in our latest installment of the "Random Retro Baseball Player" series...

Years Played: 1982-1995.

Teams Played For: Detroit Tigers(82-84), New York Mets(85-93), Colorado Rockies(94), Chicago Cubs(95).

Positions: Third Base(1031 Games), Shortstop(273 Games), Left Field(99 Games), Center Field(86 Games), Right Field(36 Games), Second Base(8 Games), First Base(5 Games).

Bats/Throws: Both/Right.

Career Line: .249 AVG, 760 R, 1229 H, 228 HR, 760 RBI, 231 SB, .340 OBP, .446 SLG, .786 OPS.

Best Season: 1989- .287 AVG, 104 R, 164 H, 36 HR, 101 RBI, 41 SB, .369 OBP, .559 SLG, .928 OPS.

Awards/Leaderboard: 2-Time NL All-Star(1989, 1991).

2-Time NL Silver Slugger For Third Basemen(1989, 1991).

Finished In The Top 10 Of NL MVP Voting 3 Times(1987-10, 1989-5, 1991-5).

Led NL In Home Runs In 1991 With 38, Finished In Top 10 4 Other Times(1987, 1988, 1989).

Led NL In RBI In 1991 With 117.

Finished 2nd In NL Slugging Percentage Twice(1989, 1991).

Led NL In Runs Scored In 1989 With 104, Finished 2nd In 1991 With 108.

Led NL In Extra Base Hits In 1991 With 76, Finished 2nd In 1989 With 80.

Led NL In Sacrifice Flies In 1991 With 15.

Led NL In Power-Speed Number In 1989(38.3) And 1991(33.5).

Fun Facts: Nicknamed "HoJo" understandably considering the first two letters of his first and last names.

He was selected by the Detroit Tigers with the 12th pick overall in the 1979 amateur draft.

He was on two World Series-winning teams: the Tigers in 1984, and the Mets in 1986.

As a switch-hitter with lots of power, HoJo did some things at the plate that had never been done before by a switch-hitter in the National League.
  • From 1992-1997, he held the National League career record for home runs by a switch-hitter.
  • From 1987-1996, he held the single-season National League home run record.
  • In 1991, he became the only switch-hitter to lead the National League in both home runs and RBI in the same year.
  • He became the first switch-hitter to lead the National League in RBI in 1991.
HoJo was a three-time 30-30(30+ homers, 30+ stolen bases). Most view him simply as a power hitter but he had underrated speed and ability to swipe a bag.

He is third all-time for the Mets in home runs and RBI, and second in stolen bases and doubles.

In 2007, his son Glen was drafted by the Mets in the 36th round of the amateur draft, but did not sign.

He is currently the Mets' hitting coach.

You can get plenty more on HoJo on his Wikipedia page, and more on his statistics on his Baseball Reference page.

Personal Reaction: I'd just like to add that I can see why Henry liked Howard Johnson so much. I followed HoJo closely as a kid because of Henry, so I knew much of this myself. However, as I read up on him for the first time in years and looked through his statistics, it made more sense. Johnson was a part of the Mets' last world championship team, he was one of the premier power hitters in baseball and could do it from both sides of the plate, he was a stolen base artist, and defensively, he played all over the field. He was Henry's kind of ballplayer.

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