Connie Johnson was a 6-foot-4-inch righthander who broke in as a 30-year-old with the White Sox in 1953. Three years later, the Sox included him in a six-player swap with Baltimore, where Johnson ended his career in 1958.
Johnson's best season was 1957, when he led the Orioles in wins (14), innings pitched (242) and ERA (3.20). The most noteworthy game of his career occurred a year earlier, on June 21, 1956, when Johnson teamed with reliever George Zuverink to throw a one-hitter against Connie's erstwhile team, the White Sox. The Sox, however, got a one-hitter of their own from Jack Harshman and won the game, 1-0. Johnson took the loss.
Johnson ended his career with 40 wins, 39 defeats, 716 innings pitched, and a 3.44 lifetime ERA.
If Mark Prior never appears in another Major League game, the pitcher whose final career numbers will most closely match Prior's, according to Bill James' Player Similarity Score formula, is Connie Johnson.
Johnson was not a terrible pitcher by any definition of the term, but if he represents the tick mark on the measuring stick of Mark Prior's career, it would be a case of failed promise, to say the least.
On Thursday, the Tribune's Fred Mitchell reported that Cubs trainer, Mark O'Neal has been assigned the job of staying in regular, almost daily, contact with Prior this off-season, "monitoring (his) health, conditioning and well being" in the run-up to spring training.
Godspeed, Mark O'Neal.