Scrappy Johnny Logan never backed down from a fight and never lost one. His quick hands compensated for an average arm at shortstop and were an asset when, outraged by beanballs, he took on opponents as big as Don Drysdale. In Milwaukee, he was a minor league star for four years and a major league standout when he moved there with the Braves in 1953. He was the shortstop for the 1957 and 1958 NL pennant winners; in ’57, he led the league with 37 doubles and reached career highs with 83 RBI and a .297 batting average. Traded to Pittsburgh for Gino Cimoli in 1961, he served the Pirates as a backup infielder and pinch hitter through 1963.
The following article is taken from Baseball Digest, written by Lou Chapman:
Johnny Logan Recalls Old Days at County Stadium
Former shortstop hopes to keep alive memories of the Braves’ glory years in the late 1950s
REMEMBER JOHNNY LOGAN, the hard nosed, clutch hitting shortstop of the Milwaukee Braves’ glory days?
Like fine wine, Johnny, now 72, has mellowed. He’s no longer the itching-for-a-fight battler. Would you believe a sentimental softie?
You see they tore down Logan’s old playground, County Stadium, and erected a modern day, dome topped ball field by the name of Miller Park. The old stamping grounds of Logan’s have been torn down, but Logan’s memories of 1957 and ’58 Braves’ championship years have not been erased in his memories.
So one day Logan lay awake in his bed and his thoughts naturally turned to the good old days, but let Johnny fill in the rest.
“I had a dream,” said Logan in his sing-song voice. “And I thought that in time anything resembling my old club would be gone from memory. So I thought: `I have to do something to keep those memories alive.’ I remembered that people in Boston kept their dreams alive by starting a Boston Braves’ historical association.
Why not something similar in Milwaukee? Surely there are enough old timers to recall guys like Warren Spahn, Hank Aaron, my old running mate Eddie Mathews, Lew Burdette and Andy Pafko.”
So he got in touch with friends like former teammate Felix Mantilla, restauranteur Tony Pipido and attorney Peter Salza, and they got the ball rolling. They enlisted the help of Tom Kaminski, a former travel agent of the Braves and Milwaukee Brewers, Bob Allen, former public relations director of the Braves; Bud Lea, retired sports editor of the Milwaukee Sentinel, and Tom Collins, former Braves and Brewers broadcaster.
Logan and Felix Mantilla, reserve infielder, are the only former Braves to establish residence in the Milwaukee area. Fans throughout the country can become members of the Milwaukee Braves Historical association.
Johnny is now a talent scout for the Brewers and has established firm roots in the city’s community. His memories of the old days are vivid, although he pays strict attention to the stories of salaries of today’s high priced athletes.
“I don’t resent today’s players’ salaries,” says Logan. “They’re entitled to what they can get.”
“God bless the ball players. I certainly hope they know how to invest the money. Back then, our goal was a hundred thousand–now it’s millions. The owners now are a lot more generous, and TV has done it. My advice to today’s ball players is, `Get it when you can. Invest wisely and don’t buy material things.”
When asked what he’d be worth in today’s player’s market, he replied,” Three and a half to four million dollars.” What would Warren Spahn and Hank Aaron be worth? “They’d have to be an owner’s partner.”
With the Braves of yesteryear, Logan said he was making $7,500 a year. Then 810,000 and later $15,000 He pointed out, “These were 1953 to 1955 salaries.”
Through the years, Logan has completely adjusted to the slow-paced gemietlichkeit of Milwaukee burghers. He loves the city because, “I made my name here. This was the right size city for me to make my reputation in baseball. Milwaukeans were very, very friendly.”
Logan tried to trade in his popularity for the county sheriff’s job. He ran three times but was unsuccessful. One year he lost by 1,400 votes but never asked for a recount.
There were plenty of kudos in those heady, hectic days when the Braves won the World Series in 1957.
“We got a lot of freebies then,” Logan recalled. “We got cars, dry cleaning, and even free milk and gas. Everybody was generous and helpful.”
County Stadium was hardly a home run park for him — 362 to 390 feet down the lines, “but in some of today’s ballparks, a can of corn is a home run,” he said.
In this respect, Logan pointed to the difference in strategies between his days and the present.
“I learned my fundamentals from old-timers who were my idols, guys like Earl Torgeson and Johnny Sain. They’d get on us if we fouled up.
“In the old days, baseball was a chess game. In the National League you’d get on, give yourself up, or let someone drive you in. In the N.L., we played for one run and to beat you the other team had to get two. Every time I hit a double, it was like a home run for me, because I knew that fellows like Joe Adcock or Wes Covington would drive me in. So as a little guy, only 165 pounds, I hit 47 doubles in a year. For me that’s 47 home runs because I scored all of those. For today’s hitters, the home run is the only answer. They think they’re Popeye.”
Logan frankly wishes he consumd more spinach like Popeye and went for the long ball in his day. He feels they had the wrong kind of strategy in that time.
“We stressed inside baseball too much,” said Logan. “We should have been more long ball conscious, instead of going for one run or two. Let’s be frank. Today’s home run hitters drive Jaguars; we drove Fords.”
In his day, Logan also had a reputation of being a different kind of hitter with his fists. Who can forget his classic brawl with pitching teammate Verne Bickford?
“We were at this restaurant in New York called Scopas,” Logan recalled. “I’m sitting at the bar and here comes Bickford. We had lost the game because Roy Campenella hit a line drive at me that knuckled and I couldn’t handle it. The Dodgers scored after that.
“Bickford said to me, `If I was pitching and you lost that line drive, I’d kick you in the butt.’ I ignored it and he said, `Hey, didn’t you hear what I said to you?’ I said, `Who was pitching?’, trying to antagonize him a little bit. He said, `It was Jim Wilson.’ It wasn’t Wilson when the ball was hit. It was Ernie Johnson. Anyway, I pulled a $100 bill from a secret compartment in my wallet and laid it on the bar.
“We made a bet and asked the bartender to call a wire service and find out who was pitching at the time (it was the fifth inning). They called back and said it was Johnson. I gave back his $100, but now he’s calling me names like gutless, yellow belly and words that I won’t repeat here. He said I didn’t have the guts to take him outside. He swung at me and then I let him have it. I broke one of his teeth, cut his lip, and bent his nose a little bit. The next day I took the team bus, but Bickford was so bruised he didn’t make it.”
There was the time in Cincinnati when Logan challenged Red’s outfielder Jim Greengrass, who outweighed him by 50 or 60 pounds.
“The fight instigated by (the late manager) Birdie Tebbetts who was giving signals from the corner of the dugout,” Johnny noted with a smile. He’d order his pitcher to knock down Joe Adcock. For instance, Tebbetts knew he’d get his name in the paper and acted like he knew everything in baseball.
“Greengrass came barreling into second like a football blocker this time and I came up thinking I might as well take a poke at him. Then Johnny Temple joined the fracas and I asked him, `What’s on your mind?’ To which Temple replied with a nasty remark and the fight mushroomed.”
Logan was a participant in another celebrated brawl against Brooklyn involving himself and his third base teammate Eddie Mathews against Dodger pitcher Don Drysdale.
“After throwing at me twice, I rushed out to get at him,” Logan said.
But here came Brooklyn manager Walt Alston who shoved Logan aside.
Then came Mathews who wiped up the mound with Drysdale. In came Dodger first baseman Gil Hodges who pulled Mathews off the field like a plow.
“I’m a lover, not a fighter,” Logan cracked innocently.
Not so innocent was Johnny earlier in his career when he and Mathews beat up a couple of sailors after the two players had a rough day at the plate and were in a belligerent mood.
The reputations of Logan and Mathews had spread to the point where the late Joe Louis had heard of their fistic exploits.
“After winning the World Series in 1957, I met Joe in Las Vegas, where he was a host at Caesar’s Palace. He told me, `I’ve done a lot of reading about you. I hear you and Mathews like to fight. I could beat you two guys one on one, but if you two ganged up on me, I wouldn’t stand a chance.’ Joe Louis was a Braves’ fan because he loved Aaron. Joe said, `He’s my baseball hero.”‘
Logan had imposing credentials on the field to go with his fighting prowess. He was a scrappy, aggressive competitor and dangerous in the clutch. He was picked to All-Star teams in 1955, ’57 and ’58. His best year came in 1955 when he finished with .297. He wound up his major league playing career in 1963. He retired after playing in Japan the next year.
Johnny wasn’t considered a long distance hitter, but in six seasons he hit 10 or more homers. He hit his peak of 15 in 1956.
He had 93 during his major league career. Logan collected 216 doubles and hit 41 triples.
He was dealt a tremendous blow when his wife, Dottie, died of cancer ten years ago. But, he came back fighting and has resigned himself to his loss.
Now he spends a lot of time trying to “keep the memory alive for all those loyal fans.” He and his fellow association members have plans for constructing a monument in the form of a tepee and having the names of all the Braves who played in Milwaukee inscribed. It would be placed in front of the new Miller Park.
As a Brewer scout he has come up with “three or four great prospects” recently.
“I’m just hoping to get a hometown Wisconsin athlete to represent the Brewers,” he said.