Alex Johnson, the only batting champion in Angels history, died Saturday of complications from cancer. He was 72.
Johnson, an outfielder hit .288 in 13 major league seasons, but it was his two volatile years with the Angels that defined him.
In 1970, Johnson hit .329 to win the American League batting title, beating out Boston star Carl Yastrzemski on the last day of the season. In 1971, he was suspended five times and became the face of a dysfunctional team. The Major League Players Association filed a grievance, which became a landmark case that forced baseball to treat mental issues on par with physical injuries.
Marvin Miller, then the head of the players' union, said in 1990 that he became convinced of Johnson's "emotional illness" after an 11-hour meeting with him. The Angels lost the arbitration case and were ordered to reinstate him with back pay.
In a 1990 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Johnson denied having emotional issues but said, "I was young back then and didn't know about human beings. What I saw on that team was evil. You get too many negative things and you get your mind off the main objective, which was winning baseball games."
Panel split on Hamilton
Major League Baseball has to break a split decision about how to handle Josh Hamilton.
A four-person panel, which was to determine whether the Angels outfielder should enter a rehabilitation program for substance abuse, is deadlocked in its opinion, the Los Angeles Times has learned. The group is made up of two attorneys and two physicians — one of each appointed by the commissioner's office and the players union. The panel first determines whether a player has violated MLB's drug policy, then decides a course of treatment.
Because there is not an agreement on treatment, an arbitrator is expected to join the committee and break the tie, according to a person familiar with the process.
Mets' Murphy causes 'lifestyle' stir
New York Mets infielder Daniel Murphy said he disagrees with the "lifestyle" of people who are gay. The Mets played host to Billy Bean, a former major leaguer who came out after retiring and is MLB's first ambassador for inclusion, to talk at spring training.
Murphy said Christians may not have been articulate enough in describing their stance on homosexuality, adding: "We love the people. We disagree [with] the lifestyle."