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Thread: YOUR 1966 BRAVES: Most Obscure of them all, #50 Donald Johnson

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    Director of Minor League Reports rico43's Avatar
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    YOUR 1966 BRAVES: Most Obscure of them all, #50 Donald Johnson

    It wasn't until September of 2015 that this Topps Vault photo was properly ID'd as Braves catching prospect Donald Johnson!

    Drafted out of USC, Johnson was Tom Seaver's catcher in his only year with the Trojas. Drafted in the 2nd round of the 1965 draft, he played in the Braves system through 1969, missing 1968 for military service. His career was over after two more minor league seasons with the Montreal Expos.

    That season: Johnson's brush with fame came midway through spring training of 1966. Injuries had briefly sidelined the Braves' top two catchers, Joe Torre and Gene Oliver, so the emergency call went out to the minor league camp and Johnsno, who had played only 18 pro games for the Braves' rookie league club in Yakima, was pressed into duty. He caught in three big league camp games before Torre and Oliver returned to duty, and he went on to play in a career-high 98 games for Kinston that season.

    What happened next: Johnson's photo remained in obscurity for so long due to a labeling mistake by Topps. His image was stuck in an envelope with another 1966 prospect Ken Nixon, and was incorrectly laberl as Nixon when placed for sale on eBay. His number, 50, was originally issued to an outfielder named Carl Mortaon (yes, that Carl Morton) who had already been returned to the minor league camp when Johnson got the call. The mystery was solved when we researched 1966 spring boxscores and found Johnson as the only name that did not jibe with our master list. A Google search found his high school hall of fame profile with a conclusive photo.

    Johnson was not around to appreciate this wild goose chase for his ID. He passed away in 2009 at the age of 65.

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