Former Atlanta Braves broadcaster Ernie Johnson Sr. passed away Friday night at the age of 87. Johnson's health had been declining for years, and he had recently been moved to a hospice. He is survived by his wife Lois and their three children.
Johnson was a broadcaster for the Braves from the 1960s to the 1990s. Johnson, Skip Caray, and Pete Van Wieren formed a legendary broadcasting team for the Braves during this period, and it was Johnson who labeled the Braves "America's team" as they were the first team to be nationally televised by a cable superstation. Johnson, a beloved figure by both fans and players, had a jovial personality that even the lackluster Braves teams of the 1970s and 80s couldn't subdue.
“When you think about listening to the Braves on radio and TV back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, E.J. was the guy," Chipper Jones said. "Always had a kind word to say, always had a smile on his face, always a very uplifting kind of personality."
Johnson briefly retired in 1989 before he returned to the booth the following August. A September night during that 1989 season provided a small glimpse into the city of Atlanta's love for Ernie Johnson Sr. The Braves were in last place that season and averaged around 12,000 fans per game, but 42,000 fans showed up to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on September 2 to say "goodbye" to a legend.
“A great broadcaster, loved the game of baseball, and one of the best human beings I’ve ever met in my life," Bobby Cox said. "Class all the way. Can’t say enough good things about one man and he would be the one guy that you would say everything you could think of about. He was that nice of a human being."
Johnson was inducted into the Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame in 2001.
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