Johnson was a muscular, strikeout-prone, righthanded slugger who didn’t play regularly in the ML until his ninth professional season, but still hit 245 home runs in the ML after belting 162 in the minors. He was dubbed “another Mickey Mantle” by the overreactive New York press after hitting .329 with 24 HR and 78 RBI in only 63 games in the lowly Nebraska State League in 1956, but he played only 19 games for the Yankees before being traded to the A’s in 1961. He was purchased by the Reds after spending most of 1962 in the military, and in 1963 he led the Pacific Coast League with 33 HR at San Diego.
Johnson hit 21 HR for the Reds in 1964, and no longer tried to pull every pitch over the left-field fence, although he still struck out often. In 1965 he led the NL with 130 RBI while batting .287 with 32 HR, and he added 24 HR in 1966. Defensively, Johnson was bouncing from first base to third base to the outfield, rarely remaining at one position for more than a season. The Braves traded three players to get Johnson after the 1967 season, but sold him to Philadelphia after he hit only .208 in 1968, and with the Phillies he tied a ML record with home runs in four consecutive at-bats, July 10 and 11, 1971. After Johnson’s average dipped again to .213 in 1972, the Phillies traded him to the A’s for a single minor leaguer, and he spent 1973-76 shuttling around the AL as a designated hitter and occasional first baseman.