Ashwill: Walter Johnson, Negro Leaguer?
From SABR member Gary Ashwill at Agate Type on December 5, 2012:
A few weeks ago [SABR member] Bill Staples flagged a fascinating passage from Edwin B. Henderson’s classic, The Negro in Sport (1939), about Walter Johnson and black baseball. It was actually quoted from a Shirley Povich column in the Washington Post, originally published on April 7, 1939, in which Povich talked to Walter Johnson about the Negro Leagues. The column contains Johnson’s oft-quoted endorsement of Josh Gibson, saying that “any big league club would like to buy” Gibson for $200,000. “He can do everything. He hits that ball a mile. And he catches so easy he might just as well be in a rocking chair. Throws like a rifle. Bill Dickey isn’t as good a catcher. Too bad this Gibson is a colored fellow.”
But the column goes on to tell this somewhat less well-known story.
The idea of Walter Johnson being hired to pitch for a “colored team” (which, by the way, he doesn’t name) is fascinating. I can’t say I’ve ever heard of a similar situation—a famous white major league pitcher being picked up for a game by an otherwise all-black team, and to pitch against another black team. I really can’t think of one. This would amount to Walter Johnson (and his catcher, Gabby Street) “playing colored baseball,” as he put it to Povich.
Read the full article here: http://agatetype.typepad.com/agate_type/2012/12/walter-johnson-negro-leaguer.html
This page was last updated December 5, 2012 at 6:37 pm MST.