Lest we forget: Ken Johnson

November 24, 2015

I frequently think about the statement, “X is going to be the first line in the obituary.” It’s usually offered when someone has a good life but will remembered for some unusual (often unfortunate) incident. Think about Steve Bartman or Bill Buckner, they should live and be well for many years.

http://www.historyforsale.com/productimages/thumbnails/21139.jpgIt’s a bit different for Ken Johnson, who died Nov. 21 at the age of 82. For one thing, it’s not actually the first line in the obituary in today’s New York Timesby Bruce Weber. It actually doesn’t come until appear until the third paragraph.

Five times in the major leagues’ modern era, a team has given up no hits and failed to win. But in perhaps the game’s starkest good-news-bad-news case, only once did a single pitcher complete a nine-inning game without yielding a hit and still manage to lose it. The man who owns that two-faced distinction, Ken Johnson…

Johnson managed to last for 13 seasons, compiling a record of 91-106 for seven ball clubs. It’s a nice coda that such a journeyman pitcher with no real local ties — although he did pitch for the Yankees in 1969 — is memorialized with such an extensive obit.

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