NORFOLK, Va. - Ron Johnson, who managed the Triple-A Norfolk Tides from 2012-18, passed away Tuesday due to complications from COVID-19. The Tides confirmed the news in a statement.
Johnson, who was 64 years-old, is the winningest manager in Tides history. He won 491 games in seven seasons - the longest tenure of any Tides manager. In 2015, Johnson was voted International League Manager of the Year.
"Our entire organization is devastated by this news," Tides general manager Joe Gregory said. "RJ was a fantastic manager who always got the most out of his players, but he was an even better person behind the scenes. His personality and love of the game made him one of baseball's outstanding people, and he'll be truly missed."
Johnson and his wife Daphne have five children - including Chris, a former MLB slugger. Ron managed Chris in Norfolk during the 2017 season.
Johnson appeared in 22 major league games with the Kansas City Royals and Montreal Expos from 1982-84, mostly as a first baseman, batting .261 in 53 career plate appearances. He went on to manage in the Royals, Red Sox and Orioles systems.
He spent 10 seasons in the Red Sox system, working his way up from Single-A Sarasota to Double-A Trenton and Portland to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he was in charge from 2005-09. He spent the 2010 and ’11 seasons as Boston’s first base coach.
“RJ was instrumental in helping countless Red Sox players reach and succeed in the big leagues, and was an important contributor to two World Series championships," Red Sox general manager Brian O'Halloran said. "His kindness, sense of humor, love of family, and passion for the game of baseball stood out among many wonderful qualities."