Posted by Tim Malcolm, Sat, March 07, 2009 04:00 PM Comments: 19
Career w/Phillies: .271 AVG / 185 HR / 666 RBI / 60 SB
In 1959, Gene Freese hit .269 with 23 home runs and 70 runs batted in — the best season of his career. Yet the Phillies traded the known commodity to the White Sox for a young Oklahoman named Johnny Callison. For 10 seasons, Callison would patrol right field for the Phightin’ Phils, hitting home runs, stealing bags, roping triples and throwing out runners throughout. The three-time All-Star quickly became one of the game’s better outfielders, and in 1964 he had his best season. What a season. First, he hit .274 with 31 homers and 104 RBI. Those totals were third and fifth, respectively, in the National League. He also was an integral part of the Phils run toward the NL pennant (we all know what happened, of course). But his greatest moment? Bashing a three-run, game-winning home run to win the All-Star Game at Shea Stadium. Callison would enjoy a few more strong years before his play dropped off (most hitters’ play dropped off in the late 1960s), but he would retire and settle back near Philadelphia. Callison died in 2006. Freese? He flamed out quickly after the trade. Advantage? Clearly Philly.
Comment: A hitter with power, speed and an eye, Callison was an authentic ballplayer. And a fan favorite. It was hard to weigh Callison, especially in comparison to No. 19, but this spot seemed right for him — a player who won’t be mistaken for a Hall of Famer, but one who had a spectacular career for the Phils.