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Gary Johnson, Millennium Hall of Fame

November 03, 1999

figured scouting was easy his rookie season in 1970, when he saw two

pitchers, lefty Terry Forster and future Giant and Angel right-hander

John D'Acquisto, throwing bullets in the San Diego area.

"You can go years and never see two quality pitchers like that in the

same area at one time," Johnson said.

Johnson spent 25 years in the White Sox organization, 14 as a scout.

When he was 40 and realized the club had no pension plan, Johnson went to

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the Texas Rangers, where he knew general manager Joe Klein. But Klein was

let go 1 1/2 years later, and when it came time for the Rangers to renew

contracts for scouts, Johnson's name didn't come up.

But Johnson was only out of work for two weeks, because Kansas City

had immediate interest in him, and on Jan. 15, 1985, he signed with the

Royals.

"That was the only time in my life I was out of a job. I was

devastated when I was let go by Texas," he said.

His first year with the Royals, they won the World Series, beating St.

Louis in the I-70 Series, and Johnson has been with them since. "I went

from being out of work to being with a World Series champion," he said.

Johnson, who never played baseball until making the varsity his

freshman year at Huntington Beach High, made at least 13 stops in his

minor league playing career, playing three years at AAA Indianapolis.

His best year was 1962, when Johnson batted .342 to lead the Northwest

League, along with 15 home runs, 102 RBIs and 90 runs scored, earning him

league MVP honors, as well as a spot on the Topps Class-B League All-Star

team. In the Northwest League that year, Johnson outhit future Atlanta

Brave Rico Carty.

Johnson "signed for nothing" with the White Sox in 1958 after one

season at Orange Coast under Coach Wendell Pickens, after whom OCC's

baseball field is named. As a senior at Huntington Beach in 1957, Johnson

was the LA Herald Examiner's Orange County Player of the Year.

A longtime community supporter and member of the OCC Alumni Board of

Directors, Johnson is the latest honoree in the Daily Pilot Sports Hall

of Fame, celebrating the millennium.

Johnson and his wife, Evelyn, a former OCC songleader and current

president of the OCC Alumni Board, have three grown children: Matt, Julia

and Jill, and two grandchildren, Drake, 9, and Kaila, born Oct. 15.

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