Walter Perry Johnson was born in 1887 on a farm in Humbolt, Kansas. His family moved to California in 1901 where his father worked in the oil industry. Johnson discovered baseball in high school and semi-pro leagues where his power arm led to great pitching success. He was signed by the Washington Nationals/Senators at the age of 19 in 1907. He pitched his first major league game August 2, 1907 against the first place Detroit Tigers. Young Detroit star Ty Cobb described his first encounter with Johnson this way.
|Big Train and Georgia Peach - |
could not have been more
different as players or people
|Walter Johnson statue at National's Park in |
Washington DC - depicted with his side-
|The Big Train with President Calvin Coolidge|
The Big Train retired just shy of the age of forty at the end of the 1927 season. Two years later Johnson was named manager of the Senators, a position he held for four years, all with winning records. His life was visited by tragedy in 1930 when his wife died relatively early in age. After another short stint as manager of the Cleveland Indians, Walter Johnson retired from baseball in the Washington DC area. He was elected Montgomery County, Maryland commissioner and ran unsuccessfully for congress. He died at the age of 59 in December 1946. For a nice short video montage of Walter Johnston set to some heroic music check this out.
|Walter Johnson's funeral at Washington National Cathedral|
|Your blogger at the entrance to |
|My buddy Andrew with Walter|
|Its not uncommon to see baseball's left on gravestones|
in tribute to ballplayers. I'd love to know the story of
how this one found its way to Rockville Cemetery
To get a quirky take on the Big Train check out 'Walter Johnson' by proto-punk artist Jonathan Richman; including the fitting refrain,
|Big Train's Cooperstown plaque|