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Ex-Pirates Co-Owner Johnson Dies

May 24, 2000 GMT

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Thomas Phillips Johnson, who co-founded the city’s largest law firm and once sated his lifelong passion for baseball by serving as a co-owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, has died. He was 85.

Johnson died at Shadyside Hospital in Pittsburgh on Tuesday of respiratory failure stemming from cancer.

A lawyer, businessman, philanthropist and political activist, Johnson was best known as longtime co-owner and vice president of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Johnson and friend Frank McKinney bought the controlling interest of the baseball team in 1946 from the Barney Dreyfuss family. John Galbreath and Bing Crosby later joined the ownership group.

By the time he sold his share to the Galbreath family in 1984, Johnson’s Pirates had won World Series championships in 1960, 1971 and 1979.

``He was very proud of his three World Series rings,″ said his son, Thomas Johnson Jr. of Poultney, Vt. ``He got a real kick out of sports writers and baseball players. He was at 55 consecutive Pirates openers and he always took off to go to the World Series.″

Johnson graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1937. After World War II, Johnson returned to Pittsburgh to practice law with Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay.

In 1946, he joined six other lawyers to create Kirkpatrick, Pomeroy, Lockhart & Johnson, now known as Kirkpatrick & Lockhart.

Through the law firm, Johnson came to serve as an officer of more than 50 corporations, notably Cyclops Corp. and Rockwell International.