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Walter Johnson Thread

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  • bluesky5
    Walter Johnson - 1913

    4/10 v. New York: W, 2-1

    CG, 9 H, ER, BB, 3 K, W
    0-3, 2 SO
    4 assists

    4/19 at New York: W, 5-1
    CG, SHO, 6 H, 8 K, W
    1-4, triple, RBI, SO
    PO, 2 assists

    4/23 v. Boston: W, 6-0
    CG, SHO, 2 H, 2 BB, 7 K, W
    2-3, triple, RBI
    PO, 2 assists

    4/25 v. Boston: W, 5-4
    relief: IP, 2 H, K, SV

    4/30 at Philadelphia: W, 2-0
    CG, SHO, 4 H, BB, 10 K, W
    0-3, 2 SO
    2 assists

    5/3 at Boston: W, 2-1
    relief: 2.2 IP, 4 H, BB, 4 K, W
    0-1, SO

    5/5 at Boston: W, 5-3
    relief: 5 IP, 4 H, 3 K, W
    1-1, run, sac bunt
    PO, 3 assists

    5/10 at Chicago: W, 1-0
    CG, SHO, 2 H, BB, 4 K, W
    3 assists

    5/14 at St. Louis: W, 10-5
    6 IP, 3 H, ER, 7 K, W
    2-3, double, triple, 2 runs, SO

    5/18 at Detroit: W, 2-1
    CG, 6 H, RA*, 3 BB, K, W
    2 assists
    *Cobb stole home after promising he'd score on Johnson in the papers.

    5/21 at Cleveland: W, 5-3
    relief: 1.1 IP, H, K, W

    Pitching: 11 games, 10-0 record, save, 7 starts, 6 CG, 4 SHO, 70 IP, 43 hits allowed (H), 9 BB, 3 RA, 2 ER, 46 K
    Batting: 7-25, double, 3 triples, 3 runs, 2 RBI, 7 SO, sac bunt, .280/.280/.560
    Fielding: 3 PO, 18 assists, no errors

    8 game, 56 inning scoreless streak

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  • bluesky5
    Johnson is almost universally regarded as the greatest pitcher ever here. He's probably also the greatest hitting pitcher of all-time. That is quite accomplishment.

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  • willshad
    Originally posted by bluesky5 View Post
    Foxy Grandpa, what a name.
    And we thought today's cartoons were crude!
    Attached Files

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  • bluesky5
    Don't often see good pictures of Johnson as young as he is in alpineinc's post. You can see the modern baseball cleat hadn't been invented yet. He's got the mid-high tops on.

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  • Floyd Gondolli
    Capture 1.PNG
    "Walter Johnson: Baseball's Big Train" Henry W. Thomas, 1995. (P. 360)
    capture 2.PNG
    You do not have permission to view this gallery.
    This gallery has 1 photos.

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  • Sultan_1895-1948
    Damn Bill would have loved this photo. GREAT FIND!!!

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  • alpineinc
    Bumping this thread as I stumbled across a great WJ photo from 1909, at American League Park (II), also known as Boundary Field in DC. From a Senators' teammate's collection, the photo is too good to let disappear back into the mists of the interwebs. Enjoy.

    Last edited by alpineinc; 12-04-2016, 10:26 PM.

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  • dreifort
    sorry if someone has already posted this, but came across this article from the University of Virgina, where they had archived photos of Johnson's grips when he had visited many yrs ago during Senators spring training visit...

    Nathan Kirby Breaks Down 99-Year-Old Pitching Photos

    really good quality shots of Johnson's ball grip

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  • bluesky5
    Foxy Grandpa, what a name.
    Last edited by bluesky5; 04-21-2017, 05:32 PM.

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  • Brian McKenna

    Kid Johnson Ventures out of California

    Walter Johnson, who needs no introduction to baseball history fans, was born on the family farm in Allen County, Kansas in November 1887. The family moved to Southern California, settling in Brea in Orange County, in April 1902 when Walter was 14 years old. More accurately, they lived in Olinda, a village or neighborhood in Brea situated roughly in between Los Angeles and Anaheim. The area was popular for its petroleum excavation, the Olinda-Brea oil fields.

    On July 24, 1904, the 16-year-old was plucked off a juvenile sandlot team and pitched his first game for the Olinda Oil Wells, the local adult semi-pro club. Johnson manned the mound for three innings during a 21-6 romp over Eureka, fanning two men per inning. It wasn’t until the following year however that he landed a spot with the club. That year he appeared on the mound (as best as yet determined):

    • Olinda, 15 games pitched
    • Fullerton Union High School, 3 games
    • Rivera, 4 games

    (Johnson and several Olinda members joined Rivera after a financial dispute split the club – and then rejoined Olinda.)

    In total, he posted a 12-9-1 record in 22 games undoubtedly striking out over 200. On April 15 in a high school contest versus Santa Ana, Johnson struck out 27 batters over fifteen innings, against only 3 walks. Neither team scored, resulting in a tie. With Olinda on November 12 versus Tufts-Lyon, he won his first of many 1-0 games; it was also his first one-hitter. He posted two more shutouts before the end of the year.

    In 1906, Johnson pitched seven games for Olinda through April 8, notching a 5-2 record. Over the winter at age 18, he briefly attended Orange County Business College. In mid-April, Johnson received a telegram from former Olinda teammate Jack Barnett, a Ventura native. Barnett had recently joined Tacoma in the Northwestern League at shortstop and his new club was willing to give the hard-throwing teenager a try.

    Johnson arrived a few days before the season opened on April 28. He got his chance to pitch on an off day, Monday, April 30, during a hastily-scheduled exhibition game versus Grays Harbor. The contest proceeds were earmarked for the American Red Cross which was helping in the aftermath of the massive earthquake that hit San Francisco on the 18th.

    Johnson lost 4-3 ceding ten hits. At the time a hiccup in the Pacific Coast League suggested to Tacoma and other western cities that a massive amount of established talent would soon be available. Considering this, Tacoma passed on the young Johnson and he was released, given $40, a week’s pay.

    Johnson, alone and away from home for the first time, waited in Tacoma hoping the club would change its mind. The breakup of the PCL never did come about, leaving Tacoma in need of a pitcher. Considering that Johnson was young, far from home and personally inexperienced, he wouldn’t have stayed in Tacoma unless expecting or perhaps wishing for another baseball opportunity. Moreover, he was reluctant to leave California in the first place and otherwise probably would have headed back to his family.


    The call didn’t come from Tacoma but from another former Olinda teammate Claire Head, a California native and middle infielder who had appeared in one game for the Los Angeles Angels during the initial campaign of the PCL in 1903. Head had just landed a spot with a semi-pro club in a small town in southwestern Idaho near the Oregon border called Weiser.

    Weiser, population nearly 1500, was linked by railroad to five other southern Idaho towns that naturally decided to create a league, the Southern Idaho League:

    • Boise
    • Caldwell
    • Emmett
    • Nampa
    • Payette
    • Weiser

    The league only played on Sundays and holidays, charging a 25-cent admission. Their season had also opened on April 28.

    Johnson arrived in Weiser on May 18 and was on the mound two days later. He struck out seven and won 17-1, allowing only four hits. Weiser’s manager James B. Coakley had seen enough, Johnson was handed the mound duties, replacing captain A. Van Harton, and given a job during the rest of the week at the local office of the Bell Telephone Company at $90/month.

    Insert A
    Note from the box score that Johnson is referred to as “H. Smith.” Head, the shortstop, was known as Roy Patterson. The reason for the deception is unclear.
    Despite Johnson’s masterful game on the mound, Weiser’s new catcher “Foxy Grandpa” Miller received the accolades.

    Idaho Statesman 5/21/1906

    Insert B, C and D

    Foxy Grandpa

    Miller’s unusual nickname stems from a popular cartoon of the era. His real name was Cornelius Uhl, at times referred to as Con or Neil. He weighed close to 250 pounds and was thought to be 53 years old.

    Uhl, the son of a timber merchant, was actually born in August 1867 in Galion, Ohio, making him nearly 39 years old when he caught Johnson in 1906. Galion was a railroad town with two large depots and, naturally, Uhl took up the trade and worked as a brakeman and switchman through much of his life, moving from town to town, state to state.
    His baseball career probably began in the late 1880s. In 1892, he caught Pink Hawley with Fort Smith, Arkansas and later boasted of catching quite a few of the top pitchers of the era:

    Baseball Magazine 2/1916
    Insert E

    With Weiser in 1906, Uhl “won a popular young telephone operator,” Pearl Elliott, about 20 years his junior, and married her. She was perhaps a co-worker of Johnson’s at the phone company. In June, Uhl secured a job with the Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company and soon relocated to Le Grande, Oregon. The couple had a child, Cornelius, the following year. (Idaho Statesman 3 May 1907)

    He did however rejoin the Idaho league in 1907 with Huntington, after losing about 50 pounds. As the Baseball Magazine article claims, he played through age 45 when his weight and advancing years became too much to manage.

    Rest of 1906

    On May 27, 1906, his second game with Weiser, Johnson tossed a 1-hitter, shutting out Payette 12-0. Henry Thomas, Johnson’s grandson, in his thoroughly-researched biography of the pitcher notes that Johnson was once again upstaged by Foxy Grandpa in the press.

    In his next start on June 3, Johnson lost 2-0 despite striking out 12. Caldwell came into the June 10 game with a perfect record 6-0. Johnson held them to one run on 12 strikeouts, winning 8-1, amid a melee instigated by gamblers.

    Idaho Statesman 6/11/1906
    Insert F

    Weiser’s season ended in early July and Johnson returned home. His final record with the club stood at 7-1, averaging over 10 strikeouts per game.

    In many of his games with Olinda, Johnson’s battery mate was Guy Meats, a farmer and California native three years older than Walter. After the Weiser season ended in 1906, Johnson returned home and joined the club from Olive, Meats’ hometown. Johnson would bring Meats with him to Weiser in 1907. (Meats would continue to catch Johnson’s postseason games in Olinda for a number of years after the pitcher joined the majors.)


    Johnson returned to Weiser (now a member of the Idaho State League) for the 1907 season at $150 a month, pitching for the club by mid-April. His record stood at 3-1, with a shutout through May 5. With his next string of starts in rural Idaho, Johnson became a national figure and was quickly signed to a major league contract.

    Johnson was an impressive physical specimen, standing 6’1” tall and nearing 200 pounds; however, it was another feature which turned heads – his wingspan. “The lad is only nineteen years old, and is as strong as an ox. He is noted for the spread of his arms, which they say would make even Bob Fitzsimmons blush.” (Oakland Tribune 12 June 1907)
    Back in 1890, the man whose name Johnson’s would forever be linked with as top two winning in major league history – Cy Young – gained an immediate call-up to the majors after pitching a no-hitter for Canton. As impressive as that was, Johnson would top it many times over, though albeit perhaps against lesser competition.

    For the rest of his time in Weiser, twelve starts from May 19 to July 15, Johnson dominated, ceding few hits and even fewer earned runs – 4 if you can believe that. There was one 1-hitter, 3 two-hitters and yes 2 no-hitters – in a row. Only once did he strike out less than 10 batters, once as many as 19, another time 18 and averaging 13 (156 in total). The catch phrase of the newspapermen at the time was that his opponents fell because of “Too Much Johnson,” the title of a popular stage production that Orson Welles later made into a film.

    In one contest (the 19-K game), he fanned 8 of the first nine men who took the box (pitching against Spec Harkness ). Perhaps putting aside the myth that Johnson was strictly a fastball pitcher in his youth, the Idaho Statesman noted that he sent the 19 packing “by his deceptive curves.” (Idaho Statesman 20 May 1907)

    Idaho Statesman 5/20/1907
    Insert G

    On June 30 versus Caldwell, Walter struck out an impressive 15 batters but was eclipsed by the opposing pitcher Irv Higginbotham , brought in from Aberdeen of the Northwestern League as a ringer, who nailed 17. (Caldwell brought in three other ringers at catcher, left field and second base. One scored the game’s only run.)

    Idaho Statesman 7/1/1907
    Insert H and I

    Shutouts, well that brought the astonishment. Of those 12 games, the first 7 were shutouts, as were the last 2. In between, he allowed 5 runs, only 4 earned in three games. Unfortunately, Johnson lost two of them, 1-0 and 3-2. How many consecutive scoreless innings? 77 – that’s about eight and a half full games.

    The national headlines began after the fifth shutout, first towards his home on the west coast and then in the east. Joe Cantillon, manager of the Washington Senators, dispatched someone to take a look at the Weiser Wonder, dubbed The Kid in the west.

    Washington Bound

    The timing of Johnson’s streak couldn’t have been any better as far as the Washington Senators were concerned. One of Cantillon’s catchers, 27-year-old Cliff Blankenship, had injured his throwing hand on a foul tip in the seventh game of the season on April 20 in Philadelphia. He tried to play through it but was still lame in mid June.

    Cantillon had just taken over the club and was in desperate need of quality ballplayers; the Senators were the running joke of the American League, having finished last in half of the league’s first six seasons as a major.

    Blankenship was born in Georgia but played the last three seasons on Seattle in the Pacific Coast League. He was more than familiar with the western baseball territory and, more important, knew the ballplayers. In fact, outside three brief stints in the majors, he essentially relocated to the west coast in 1904 - and died in Oakland in 1956.
    On June 17, 1907, Blankenship departed D.C., heading west in search of baseball talent for the woeful Senators. Johnson’s streak was still alive and, in fact, he had just notched the two consecutive no-hitters.

    Blankenship emerged a week later in Wichita, Kansas. Cantillon wanted the club’s speedy center fielder Clyde Milan – who “attracted considerable attention this spring and no less than six major league clubs were after him. Cantillon saw him play against the Nationals [the Senators formal club nickname] in an exhibition game this spring, and was so much impressed with his work that he has been watching him ever since.” (Washington Post, 25 June 1907)

    The 20-year-old Milan would anchor Washington’s outfield into the early 1920s. After securing the main focus of his trip, anyone else would be icing for Blankenship. That cake was served on June 30 as the Washington Post headlined “Secures a Phenom.” Biding his time at the team hotel on the 29th amid a rainstorm, Cantillon received word that Blankenship had signed Walter Johnson, the Weiser fireballer (for $450 a month). (Blankenship also signed third baseman Bill Shipke from Des Moines.)

    The Senators expected Johnson to meet the club in Detroit on July 15 to kick off his major league career. The pitcher, though, was tentative. Part of his deal with Blankenship included a return ticket to Olinda in case he didn’t pan out. He was also unsure at age 19 if he was yet major league caliber. Sure he was dominating in Weiser but the Idaho backwoods was far from big eastern baseball in more than one aspect. (Many western ballplayers were hesitant to relocate to the large eastern cities where the lifestyle was well out of their comfort zone.)

    Moreover, the locals naturally wanted the pitcher to hang around and lead the club; they were even offering to root him in the community with a business opportunity or two. He had to confer with others and do some soul searching. Johnson discussed the matter with his catcher Guy Meats, a hometown buddy, and surely others on the club, and also wanted input from back home. Meanwhile, he stayed in Weiser.

    Instead of joining Washington, Johnson headlined a postseason series against Mountain Home. Weiser won the first game, 6-1, with Johnson at first base. He pitched in Boise on the 14th, winning 1-0 and securing $2500 in wagers for the Weiser fans. He defeated Mountain Home again the next day, 4-0.

    On the 23rd, the Washington Post wondered “What has become of Walter Johnson…?” No one had heard from the young pitching phenom. Unbeknown, he was on his way. He had left Weiser on the 22nd, a tearful goodbye at the railway depot. He arrived in D.C. on the 26th and would make his major league debut against Detroit on August 2.

    Carey, Charles, “Walter Johnson,” SABR Biography Project
    Galveston Daily News, 30 June 1907
    Idaho Statesman, Boise, 1906-1907
    Logansport Pharos, Indiana, 26 July 1907
    Oakland Tribune, 12 June 1907
    Salt Lake Tribune, 15 July 1907
    Thomas, Henry W. Walter Johnson: Baseball’s Big Train. Washington D.C.: Phenom Press, 1995.
    Thomas, Henry W. "The Weiser Wonder: Walter Johnson in Idaho,” Grandstand Baseball Annual, 1995, Joseph M. Wayman publisher, 1995
    Thomas, Henry W. and Charles W. Carey, "The California Comet: Walter Johnson in the Golden State," Grandstand Baseball Annual, Joseph M. Wayman publisher, 1995
    Titusville Herald, Pennsylvania, 16 July 1907
    Washington Post, 23 April 1907, 18 June 1907, 9 July 1907

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  • bluesky5
    Walter Johnson's Road to the Major Leagues

    At age 14 Johnson's father moved his family to Olinda, California from Humboltdt, Kansas to work in the oil fields where his wife's brothers were prospering. The oil company had a baseball team, the Olinda Oil Wells. Johnson's father (Frank) was a big fan and took Walter to Anaheim to watch them play every Sunday. Walter drove a team of horses with his father after school and during summers so he didn't have much time for ball playing, outside of one o' cat and pickup games, until age 16. He credits this (and farm work in Kansas) for his arms durability, "By that time I had attained sufficient strength so that I could not hurt myself." The Oil Wells became a prominent team in southern California, picking up ringers and playing in front of large crowds. It was then that the boys in town caught baseball-fever. Walter originally was a catcher. He liked it because no one could steal on his arm. His father suggested he pitch due to his arm strength. In 1904, with his sandlot team being beaten badly, Johnson went from catching to pitching and the boys never let him look back. He was, however, always his sandlot teams pitcher back in Kansas.

    Word of his fastball got around town to Joe Burke, the Oil Wells' player/manager. He and Jack Barnett went down to the sandlots to try out Johnson. He struck them both out. They said Johnson "thought it was all a big joke." Not long after Johnson came out of the stands to pitch for Olinda. July 24, 1904 against Eureka from Los Angeles. Johnson struck out six in the final 3 innings. Frank Johnson was concerned his son would hurt his arm if he continued pitching with the adult team so he pulled him for the year after that appearance. "A wise old fellow." Joe Burke said.

    In fall 1904 Johnson entered Fullerton High School where he played ball and lost all of his starts. In spring 1905 his father allowed him back with the Olinda team. They had lost their battery and Johnson and his buddy Grover Collins were signed up to replace them. His first start was an extra inning CG against the Rivera Club and their star pitcher Fred Snodgrass. Johnson lost 5-4 on an 11th inning HR by Rube Ellis. New manager Tom Young disbanded the Oil Wells in the summer of 1905 due to lack of funds at which point Johnson joined Rivera for a 4 game stint. Young restarted the team in October and Johnson eagerly rejoined it. Walter earned the nickname "Kid Johnson" in the papers around this time.

    In February 1906 he was scouted by Frank "Pop" Dillon of the Los Angeles Angels and Russ Hall from Seattle, also of the PCL was there. Burke, back with the Oil Wells didn't tell Johnson the scouts were there as he struck out 11 and gave up ten hits in a 5-4 win. Dillon told Burke that the kid telegraphed his pitches and he wasn't ready. Hall came back to see Johnson a few weeks later but he was less than spectacular. After the Olinda season ended word got around that Jack Barnett was now with the Tacoma Tigers of the Northwestern League and contacted Johnson about joining. Walter didn't jump at the chance and left it up to his folks, who allowed him to go.

    Due to the San Francisco earthquake it looked like the PCL was going to disband for the season and the players would be looking for somewhere to play. After pitching just one charity game for the victims of the quake (a 4-3 CG loss) manager Mike Lynch released Johnson hoping to pick up PCL veterans, telling him he'd be a better outfielder. However the PCL pulled itself back together and there was no talent to be had. Johnson was ticked off. He had begun to believe he had a future in baseball but had now been rejected by 3 of the most respected men in baseball on the west coast. An old friend from the Oil Wells, Clair Head, heard of Johnson's luck after his own unsuccessful tryout with Tacoma and telegraphed him to come to Weiser, Idaho and play in the six team Southern Idaho League. In his first year in the league he went 7-1 with 4 SHO, a 1.00 ERA and had 79 K's and a no-hitter and a one hitter. The season ended in July and for the rest of the summer he pitched for a team from Olive before going home to pitch for Joe Burke on his new Anaheim Oil Wells in the new Southern California League.

    After the Oil Wells' season ended Johnson had nowhere to play ball. His old Rivera Club teammate and sometimes rival Rube Ellis got Johnson a meeting with old Pop Dillon of the Angels. Johnson was to meet him at a pool hall but was so shy he didn't want to interrupt the pool game and Dillon left without ever speaking to him. Burke then sent Johnson to a New York Giants training camp in Los Angeles but again he was too shy upon seeing McGraw and Mathewson. Weiser offered him $150 a month to return and so he did. In 1907 Walter pitched 67 consecutive scoreless innings and consecutive no-hitters for Weiser. Tacoma and other teams from the PCL came calling but Johnson refused them all. Preferring to stay in Idaho. On June 17th Joe Cantillon, manager of the Senators, telegraphed Johnson offering to pay his expenses east and guaranteed him a contract. Johnson declined. On June 28th a stranger approached Johnson on the street and began talking him up. It was Cliff Blankenship, catcher for the Senators. He asked Johnson if he wanted to pitch in the majors. Walter said "I don't think so." Blankenship told him to think it over. After talking with his teammates and parents he finally agreed although he wanted to finish out his commitment to Weiser. However the Southern Idaho league fell apart due to gambling and scandal with a pennant winner never decided. He left for Washington on July 22, 1907.

    *Summarized from the Henry H. Thomas biography.
    Last edited by bluesky5; 07-14-2018, 10:33 AM.

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  • csh19792001


    From 1914-1927, Johnson faced 8061 batters at Griffith Stadium. He allowed a grand total of only 27 (!!) home runs during those 19 years.

    Now, contrast that with Pete Alexander. He pitched in hitters' parks, and HR parks; especially from 1920 on, for obvious reasons. Baker Bowl, Wrigley (Weeghman Park from 1914-1923), then Sportsman's his final 5 seasons. All relative bandboxes, the HR threat omnipresent in each- esp after 1920. Alex gave up twice as many HR in his home parks as he did on the road.

    This is one fundamental reason why Pete Alexander is underrated, Big Train perhaps overrated, and Alexander arguably the superior pitcher of that entire era.

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  • Herr28
    Walter Johnson describes his greatest day in baseball, from the 1968 book (My Greatest Day in Baseball) as told to John P. Carmichael, who compiled the stories from a couple dozen of the game's greatest stars.

    Walter Johnson

    as told to John P. Carmichael

    What a pitcher was Walter Perry Johnson! Born on November 6, 1887, in Humboldt, Kansas, the "Big Train" whipped his smoke ball past American League batters for 21 years, all with the Washington Senators. He struck out more men than any other pitcher, 3497, and his total of 414 games won is second only to Cy Young. A huge and gentle man who was always frightened that one of his serves might accidentally strike a batter and result in severe injury, Johnson was extra careful with his control and walked very few batters. After his glorious pitching career was finished, Walter managed at Washington and Cleveland. Then he retired to his Maryland farm where he became a leader in local politics until he died on December 10, 1946.

    ("As the hitter sees Johnson's arm descending, just swing," said outfielder "Birdie" Cree years ago. "The bat will then cross the plate at about the same time the ball reaches it and, if you're lucky, you hit the ball. A fellow does not have to judge the height of the pitch . . . or if it was a curve.")

    This won't be very original, I'm afraid (said Johnson) because there couldn't be a bigger day for me than the one everybody knows about . . . October 10, 1924, in the last game of my first World Series. It was Weiser, Idaho, and Detroit and Washington put together; I guess you'd call it a piece of every day for 18 years and it didn't look like I'd ever see it come around. After all, I was 36 years old and that's pretty far gone to be walking into the last game of a series . . . especially when you couldn't blame people for remembering I'd lost two starts already.

    You see I didn't have much besides a fast ball in my life and there comes a time when speed alone won't stop a batter. If a boy hasn't got real, natural speed it isn't worth his while to try and force a fast ball, because a slow pitch and a curve can fool a hitter better than unnatural speed. Besides, the arm may suffer. A free, loose motion and control are the main assets for a pitcher. That's all I ever had to amount to anything.

    Why, when I started out at 18 years of age I couldn't even land a job on the Pacific Coast. I went to Weiser, Idaho, because it had a semipro team and the players worked in the mines. I won my first game 4-0 on two hits. I won the next 2-1 in 15 innings and then fanned 15 to make my string three straight.

    Weiser people began calling me "pardner" instead of "sonny." I still was at Weiser in 1907 and had won 13 and lost 2 when Cliff Blankenship, a Washington scout, arrived. He'd really come out to look at Clyde Milan; I was just a by-product of his trip.

    Well, he never saw me pitch at all, but he knew my record and offered me the job. I wouldn't take it until he'd promised me a return ticket to California in case I failed. I joined Washington at Detroit August 2, 1907, despite the pleas of Weiser folk who offered to buy me a cigar stand and set me up in business if I'd stay there. But you know how you are at 18 . . . you want to see things.

    I saw something my first start. I got beat 3-2 and Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford bunted me all over the infield. I fell all over myself . . . and the 1,000 people in the stands laughed themselves sick. I was so confused I even missed the bus back to the hotel . . . and was walking there in my uniform when some fans gave me a lift.

    Seventeen years later I was in a series, but I wasn't happy about it. I'd been beaten in New York for the second time by the Giants and I'll admit when I got on the train to Washington, where we were to play the seventh game, there were tears in my eyes. I was carrying my youngest boy on my shoulder and trying not to speak to people when Clark Griffith put a hand on my arm. "Don't think about it anymore, Walter," he told me. "You're a great pitcher. We all know it."

    "Now tonight when we get home don't stand around the box offices buying seats for friends or shaking hands with people who feel sorry for you. I've seen many a fast ball shaken right out of a pitcher's hand. Go home and get to bed early . . . we may need you tomorrow." I told him I would.

    You can imagine hot "red hot" Washington was the next day . . . the last game of its first World Series coming up. Thirty-five thousand people were crammed into our park. President Coolidge was there. I made myself as conspicuous as possible on the bench, because I didn't want any sympathy . . . and I didn't even want Harris to think of me in a jam. Well, "Bucky" started Curley Ogden but pretty soon George Mogridge was in there and then "Firpo" Marberry, our big relief ace.

    We were all tied up in the ninth when I came in. I'll always believe Harris gambled on me because of sentiment, but he said no. He just told me: "You're the best we got, Walter . . . we've got to win or lose with you." So I walked out there and it seemed to me the smoke from the stands was so thick on the field that nobody could see me. I remembered thinking: "I'll need the breaks" and if I didn't actually pray, I sort of was thinking along those lines.

    I was in trouble every inning. After getting Fred Lindstrom in the ninth, Frank Frisch hit a fast ball to right center for three bases, We decided to pass Ross Youngs and then I struck out George Kelly and "Irish" Meusel grounded to third. In the 10th I walked "Hack" Wilson and then, after striking out Travis Jackson, I was lucky enough to grab a drive by ol' Hank Gowdy and turn it into a double play.

    Heinie Groh batted for Hugh McQuillan, the Giant pitcher, in the 11th and singled. Lindstrom bunted him along. I fanned Frisch, this time, on an outside pitch and once more passed Youngs. Kelly struck out again.

    They kept after me, though. Meusel singled in the 12th, but I'd settled down to believe, by then, that maybe this was my day and I got the next three hitters. I'd tried to win my own game in the 10th with a long ball to the wall, but Wilson pulled it down. So I was up again in the 12th when it was getting dark. "Muddy" Ruel had lifted a pop foul to Gowdy, who lost it, and on the next pitch Ruel hit past third for two bases. Then I sent an easy grounder to short . . . and Jackson fumbled. We all sat there staring at Earl McNeely as he hit an easy grounder to Lindstrom.

    The ball never touched Fred. It hit a pebble and arched over his head into safe territory. I could feel tears smarting in my eyes as Ruel came home with the winning run. I'd won. We'd won. I felt so happy that it didn't seem real. They told me in the clubhouse that President Coolidge kept watching me all the way into the clubhouse and I remember somebody yelling: "I bet Cal'd like to change places with you right now, Walter."

    A long time later Mrs. Johnson and I slipped away to a quiet little restaurant where I used to eat on Vermont Avenue, in Washington, and do you know that before we were through with our dinner 200 telegrams had been delivered there. I never thought so many people were pulling for me to win, because the Giants were pretty popular. When we packed up and went home to Kansas we had three trunks full of letters from all the fans all over the world.

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  • Bill Burgess
    It that is a photo of Sol Bloom, case solved. He looks remarkably like Charlie Chaplin. But it MUST be Sol. Thanks, Bench 5 for solving the mystery for all of us, old amigo!

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  • Bench 5
    Originally posted by Bill Burgess View Post
    Since it shows Walter giving the person a silver dollar, maybe it was on the occaion when Walter tried to throw a silver dollar across the Rapahannock River, as George Washington was supposed to have done.

    They are dressed like that, with Charlie in Revolutionary War clothes and all.
    [On February 22, 1936, Walter threw a silver dollar across the Rappahannock River. The river then measured 272 feet wide at that point of the toss, but Walter's toss was estimated to travel 317 feet. Someone claimed that when Washington supposedly did it, it measured 1,500 feet across.]
    Do you think it could be Sol Bloom? The pic above looks similar to his pictures below.

    February 22, 1936

    Fredericksburg, Virginia

    To celebrate George Washington's 204th birthday the town of Fredericksburg planned a daylong celebration. To cap off the day the city invited baseball legend Walter "The Big Train" Johnson to duplicate George Washington's legendary throw of a silver dollar across the Rappahannock River.

    As the story goes U.S. Rep. Sol Bloom, D-N.Y. believed the coin throw was physically impossible. The Congressman felt so strongly the Big Train would fail in his attempt to duplicate Washington's throw he offered to bet anyone $20 to $1.

    The Free Lance-Star was quick to take that bet, and asked the citizens of Fredericksburg to take the bet on the understanding all winnings would go towards the purchase of the Ferry Farm, Washington's boyhood home, so they could turn it into a museum. All together, the citizens and the paper raised $5,000 to wager against the Congressman from New York.

    It was reported by the Associated Press that the Big Train had some doubts about the throw. Walter was concerned about the distance. He said that he can throw hard but he could not really throw for distance. He was also concerned because of all of the money being wagered.

    It was agreed that Walter would get three attempts to match Washington's throw. With 4,000 spectators watching the Big Train failed to reach the other side with the silver dollar on his first throw. To the joy of the large crowd Walter was able to clear the river on his next two attempts. The third throw was measured at 286 feet, and was recorded as the official throw.

    After it was all said and done Sol Bloom refused to pay the citizens $100,000 citing that the river was narrower than it was when George Washington made his throw, plus the silver dollar did not exist at the time of Washington's throw. It is said that George Washington actually threw a piece of slate the size of a large coin across the river when he lived at the Ferry farm. It may never be clear what George Washington threw across the river but it is clear that on February 22, 1936 Walter Johnson threw two silver dollars across the Rappahannock River.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Bench 5; 06-27-2011, 09:05 PM.

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