Walter Perry Johnson - "The Big Train"
A member of Major League Baseball's
"All Century Team"
#60 on EPSN's Top 100 Athletes
of the 20th Century
Walter Perry Johnson was born on November 6, 1887, near Humboldt, Kansas, the second of six children. He moved with his family to Orange County, California in 1901 and attended Fullerton High School. He began playing pro baseball in 1906, briefly in Tacoma, Washington and then in Weiser, Idaho, where he was signed to a Washington Senators' contract in July 1907.
Some of the major accomplishments of his outstanding career include:
- On September 4, 5 and 7, 1908, he shut out the New York Highlanders (the current Yankees) in three consecutive games. He was only 20 years old.
- On April 14, 1910, he pitched his first of 14 opening day assignments, beating Eddie Plank of the Philadelphia Athletics 3-0. This was the first Presidential opener, where William Howard Taft threw out the Ceremonial First Pitch. Walter Johnson had a 9-5 record in opening games with 7 shutout wins.
- He pitched 56 consecutive scoreless innings between April 10 and May 14, 1913; a record that stood until 1968. This was his best year when he won 36 games and lost only 7.
- He pitched the most consecutive innings, 369, without allowing a home run.
- On May 11, 1918 he pitched an 18-inning, 1-0 victory over the Chicago Blue Sox.
- On July 1, 1920 he hurled his only no-hit, no-run game, beating Boston 1-0.
- He struck out 3,508 batters, the most until Nolan Ryan broke his record in 1983.
- His 417 career wins is the second best in baseball history.
- Ranks third all time in innings pitched with 5,923.
- Ranks fifth all time in complete games with 531.
- Ranks first all time in total shutouts with 110.
- Had a lifetime winning percentage of .599.
- His ERA was under 2.00 eleven times in 21 seasons.
- Pitching in relief on October 10, 1924, he won the final 12-inning World Series game, clinching victory 4-3 over the New York Giants.
- In 1925 he batted .433, the highest season average ever attained by a pitcher. He is the only pitcher in Major League history to win 20 games and bat over .400 in a season.
Walter Johnson was elected a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame in the original class of 1936.
He retired to his farm in Germantown, Maryland in 1936, was elected Montgomery County Commissioner in 1938, and as a Republican candidate lost a very close election to the U.S. Congress in 1940. He broadcast the Senators' games in 1939.
Walter Johnson's life was cut short by a brain tumor and he died at the age of 59 on December 10, 1946.