Ron Johnson, longtime coach in the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox and Kansas City Royals organizations, died Tuesday at age 64 because of complications related to COVID-19.
Johnson most recently served in the Orioles' organization, where he managed the Triple-A Norfolk Tides from 2012-18. He came to the Orioles from the Red Sox, where he was the Pawtucket Red Sox's manager from 2005-09 and Boston's first base coach on Terry Francona's staff from 2010-11.
The Royals offered Johnson his first coaching job, and he managed teams at the Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A levels for the organization during the 1990s. His managerial career spanned 25 seasons in the minor leagues, where he went 1,752-1,773 in 3,525 games, according to MLB.com.
As a player, Johnson had a brief big-league career, appearing in 22 games with the Royals and Montreal Expos from 1982-84. He hit .261 (12-for-46) with two doubles and two RBIs.
"RIP RJ. You were one of the coolest teammates I ever had," longtime Royals pitcher Mark Gubicza tweeted. "Praying for Daphne and the entire family. Love you brother."
Red Sox general manager Brian O'Halloran offered his condolences.
"We were devastated to learn of the passing of our friend and former colleague, Ron Johnson," O'Halloran said in a statement. "RJ was instrumental in helping countless Red Sox players reach and succeed in the big leagues, and was an important contributor to two World Series championships. His kindness, sense of humor, love of family and passion for the game of baseball stood out among many wonderful qualities. We would like to express our heartfelt condolences to RJ's wife, Daphne, his five children, and the many people inside and outside the game of baseball who loved him."
The Orioles echoed those sentiments while praising Johnson as a leader and mentor.
"The Orioles are devastated to learn of the passing of former Norfolk Tides manager Ron Johnson," the Orioles said in a statement. "In his seven years at the helm of Baltimore's Triple-A affiliate, Ron led countless players in their journey to the big leagues. He was recognized for his leadership and passion for the game of baseball as a two-time recipient of the Cal Ripken Sr. Award (2018 and 2015), given to a Minor League staff member who exemplifies Ripken's qualities as an instructor leading by 'The Oriole Way.' The Orioles extend their heartfelt condolences to his wife, Daphne, his five children, and the rest of his family and friends as they mourn this incredible loss."
(Field Level Media)