On June 26, 1971, the California Angels suspend starting outfielder and defending American League batting champion Alex Johnson. Earlier in the season, Johnson had been benched five times and fined 29 times for failing to hustle.
Some of these incidents include – During an exhibition game, Johnson leaned against the left-field fence, trying to stay in the shade. After another game, he was fined $100 for loafing. Johnson, limited as a fielder, stopped taking outfield practice before games. In June, after a potential trade deadline deal with the Milwaukee Brewers for Tommy Harper fell through, Johnson told reporters that he needed to get out of California, and that “playing in hell” would be an improvement. Johnson was benched after he loafed on two balls hit to him in left field against Milwaukee, which resulted in a five-run fourth inning for the Brewers, and failed to run out a ground ball in his final at-bat in the ninth inning. Lefty Phillips, the Angels manager put it simply, “If you had seen him play lately, you’d know why he isn’t in the line-up.
Johnson was a source of frustration for his managers and teammates alike.
Although he filed a grievance and was reinstated later in the 1971 season, Johnson never again played for the Angels.
He spent his last five seasons bouncing from Cleveland to Texas to the New York Yankees, and, finally, to his hometown Detroit Tigers. But Johnson never fully recovered from his roller-coaster ride with the Angels.
In an article by the LA Times Johnson would say – “I lost all my enthusiasm for the game,” said Johnson, 47. “I saw so much negativism with the Angels, that I couldn’t help but lose it. I never got the enthusiasm back.”