Johnson, Keith (2000)
One of Deering High School’s ultra athletes as a four-sporter in the 40’s, Keith Johnson staked his firm claim to baseball distinction as a three-time All-Telegram League selection as catcher, joining a select company of such repeaters.
The sturdy, compact Ram joined Westbrook High’s Chimmy Chamard Sr. as a three-peat All-Telly receiver (Chimmy might well have made it four straight but no team was selected his sophomore season of 1925).
Johnson made his diamond debut as a freshman, spelling the injured Jackie lot behind the plate.
Keith was in full charge all the way in his sophomore campaign as Deering won the Telly playoff title after trailing Portland in the regular season . Johnson was also instrumental in the Purple’s strong contention the next two springs as South Portland prevailed.
A two-time all-state football halfback (defense as well as offense), Keith was veritably the complete ballplayer,
.300 hitter with a power accent, tying the home run season record at 3; an excellent base-runner in stolen bases and canny handler and supporter of pitchers; throwing arm that kept successful steal attempts at a minimum.
Keith's precious skills made for early entry in adult competition.
He caught for the C.1.0. club in the Western Maine League during the World War II period.
Johnson also was invited by legendary manager-owner Connie Mack of the Philadelphia Athletics to serve as the A’s bull-pen catcher and he had a shot at a New York Giants tryout.
But he respectfully declined both offers as he was advised these would compromise his eligibility as he was headed for Governor Dummer Academy.
From the South Byfield, Mass., school Johnson entered Bowdoin College, but a chronic back problem cut short his stay.
Keith later was named to a five-man Maine delegation on a New England all-star team which played the Boston Park League all-stars in a 1946 charity game at Braves Field.
Johnson had a final fling with the Century Tire entry in the Portland twilight League.
Keith decided to call it a career after a monstrous collision at home plate took a heavy toll.
ironically, it was none other than that ageless marvel, Maine Baseball Hall of Famer Merv Kilmore, who was the would-be scorer, and characteristically most apologetic about the hit.
P.S. Paul Sullivan of Cheverus High set the record with four All Telegram League selection - thrice as shortstop, finally as catcher in 1961.
Legacy Page Portland Press Herald April 17, 2006.
One of the few four letter men in Maine high school history, he participated in football, baseball, basketball and track. He is considered one of Deering's all time great athletes. An all-state halfback, a three-time All-Telegram catcher, and leading base stealer, Keith was also a basketball starter and added an outdoor track letter in the sprints and long jump. He was inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000. Keith played Twilight League and semi-pro baseball. One of the highlights of his career was playing for the New England All-Star team.