Los Angeles Dodgers legend "Sweet" Lou Johnson passed away on Wednesday night at the age of 86. His former team confirmed the news after speaking with Johnson's wife. According to NBC News, he had been ill and passed away the day after his birthday.
"The Dodgers are saddened to hear about the passing of former Dodger 'Sweet' Lou Johnson. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends," the organization said in a statement. Johnson played for several teams during his MLB career, but he drew the most attention during his time in Southern California. It was with the Dodgers that Johnson hit the game-winning home run against Minnesota to secure the World Series title.
I was sad to hear that @Dodgers 1965 World Series hero “Sweet” Lou Johnson passed away. I’ll always remember your smile. I send my condolences and love to your family. Thank you for all you did for our organization and community. May you rest in peace, sir. 🙏🏽— Kenley Jansen (@kenleyjansen74) October 3, 2020
🎥🎙 @TheVinScully pic.twitter.com/DCf9J4ZLA2
Johnson spent 17 seasons in professional baseball, which included eight years in the majors. He played for the Chicago Cubs (1960, 1968), California Angels (1961, 1969), Milwaukee Braves (1962), Dodgers (1965-67) and Cleveland Indians (1968). During his career, he hit .258 and registered 48 home runs and 232 RBI in 677 games. His list of achievements includes two home runs during the 1965 World Series.
The late Dodgers star originally began his professional baseball career in 1953 when he signed with the New York Yankees. He spent the first portion of his career in the minors before making his majors debut with the Chicago Cubs on April 17, 1960. He then spent three seasons in the majors before returning to the minor league for 1963-64.
Johnson ultimately returned to the majors following a trade that sent him to the Dodgers. Starting left fielder Tommy Davis broke an ankle in May 1965, prompting Johnson's elevation to the starting roster. He filled in for Davis on defense while batting .260 and registering 57 runs and 58 RBIs in 130 games.
Johnson continued to shine for the Dodgers in 1966 while setting career highs with 152 games, 526 at-bats, 143 hits, 17 homers, 71 runs and 73 RBIs. The team returned to the World Series but lost to Baltimore. Johnson only appeared in 104 games the following season after breaking his leg. His baseball career later came to an end in 1970 when he retired at the age of 35.
"Dodger fans will always remember his important home run in Game 7 of the 1965 World Series, when he was clapping his hands running around the bases," Dodgers team president and CEO Stan Kasten said, per ESPN. "Lou Johnson was such a positive inspiration at Dodger Stadium with our employees and our fans as well as throughout the community in the appearances he made on behalf of the organization."