Born in Madill, Oklahoma, Johnson had a mediocre pitching record. In his only major league season, the war-shortened 1918 campaign, he compiled a 1-5 won/loss mark (.167) and a 3.64 earned run average for the Philadelphia Athletics. He returned to the minor leagues as a pitcher thereafter and became a manager with Bisbee of the Class D Arizona-Texas League in 1929.
In 1935, Johnson was promoted to a coaching position with the Cubs by manager Charlie Grimm. He was associated with the Cubs for the remainder of his career as a coach (1935-39; 1944-53), minor league pilot, and scout. In early May 1944 he served as interim manager of the Cubs, between Jimmie Wilson and Grimm's second term, for one game, which Chicago lost. The Cubs, however, won three National League pennants (and ) during his 15 years as a coach.
Johnson died at age 90 in Scottsdale, Arizona.