Barry Johnson, a right-hander with the Arizona Wildcats in 1990 and 1991 who later went on to be a teammate of Michael Jordan’s with the Double-A Birmingham (Ala.) Barons in 1994, has passed away because of health reasons at age 54.
Johnson was residing in Houston, where he was a co-owner of The Metal Chapter – a performance & strength facility. A certified biomechanics coach through the National Pitching Association, he was also a pitching coach and private instructor.
“Barry was very personable, would talk to anyone, It didn’t matter if you were a freshman or a senior,” former Arizona teammate Robbie Moen commented. “He was extremely reliable. He always took the ball and never shied away from any challenge. His work ethic rubbed off on anyone who paid attention. He will be missed.”
After he was an all-state pitcher at Joliet (Ill.) Catholic High School, he was selected by the New York Mets in the June 1987 amateur draft but opted to attend Florida State.
He lettered two years with the Seminoles before transferring to Arizona and pitching for Jerry Kindall in 1990 and 1991.
After signing with the Montreal Expos in 1991, he pitched in the minor-leagues for 11 seasons.
He as part of seven Major League organizations — Expos, Chicago White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers, Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies). He led the White Sox organization in ERA three times (1993, 1995 and 1996) and was a member of two league championship teams (GCL Expos in 1991 and Birmingham Barons in 1993).
He played for Arizona great Terry Francona at Birmingham, where Francona was the manager from 1993 to 1995. Francona also managed Johnson and the United States in the 2001 Baseball World Cup in Taiwan.
Johnson compiled a 1-0 record for the silver medal-winning Team USA.
Following a four-year stint in the front office of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Johnson moved to Houston.
Johnson, who earned a degree in accounting at Arizona, served also as an associate scout for the Chicago Cubs, Major League scout for Inside Edge, Inc., before becoming co-owner of The Metal Chapter.
In lieu of flowers, the Johnson family is asking supporters and well-wishers to use Venmo (@bjmemorial33) for donations to Golden Age Home Care where he was cared for in the final stages of his life.
A celebration of life ceremony for Johnson will be held Saturday at 9 a.m. (Tucson time) in Houston. It will be streamed live on YouTube.