Born: November 6, 1887 – Humboldt, Kansas
Died: December 10, 1946 – Washington, D.C.
Many consider Walter “The Big Train” Johnson the greatest pitcher in major league history. He spent his entire major league career (1907-1927) with the Washington Senators, one of baseball’s worst teams during much of Johnson’s career. Johnson earned his nickname from famed sportswriter Grantland Rice because of the speed of his pitches.
He was born in Humboldt, Kansas in 1887, before his family moved to California in 1901 when he was 13 years old. The family returned to Kansas eight years later and Johnson bought his own farm near Coffeyville in 1914, where he wintered with his family until during his off-seasons until 1921. Before joining the senators as a 19–year–old in 1907, Johnson pitched 85 consecutive scoreless innings in an Idaho semi–pro league.
"The Big Train"
Johnson’s exploits are legendary – 3,508 strikeouts (a record that stood for half–century), 416 victories (second only to Cy Young), 802 games pitched and 110 shutouts (both American League records.) One of his most amazing feats was shutting out the New York Yankees in three consecutive games, played in a span of four days, in 1908. Johnson pitched in two World Series, helping the Senators to the championship in 1924. He won 20 or more games in ten straight years, led the American League in earned run average five times, strikeouts 12 times, wins six times and twice was named the league’s Most Valuable Player. He was one of the five original inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, joining Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner and Christy Mathewson.