Home Run Johnson

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Home Run Johnson
Grant (Home Run) Johnson.jpg
Home Run Johnson with Brooklyn Royal Giants
Second baseman / Shortstop
Born: (1872-09-23)September 23, 1872
Findlay, Ohio
Died: September 4, 1963(1963-09-04) (aged 90)
Buffalo, New York
Batted: Right Threw: Right
Professional debut
1895 for the Page Fence Giants
Last professional appearance
1923 for the Buffalo Giants
Teams

Grant U. "Home Run" Johnson (September 21, 1872 – September 4, 1963) was an American second baseman and shortstop in baseball's Negro Leagues. He played for many of the greatest teams of the deadball era. Born in Findlay, Ohio, he died at age 90 in Buffalo, New York.

Career[edit]

Johnson began his career as a shortstop with the semipro Findlay Sluggers in 1894. He supposedly earned his nickname "Home Run" by hitting 60 home runs that season. In 1895, he and Bud Fowler formed the Page Fence Giants in Adrian, Michigan.[4] Johnson was the shortstop and the team's captain. After 1898 the Page Fence Giants were unable to continue playing, so Johnson and most of the other players moved to Chicago where they played for the Chicago Columbia Giants in 1899. The next season he played with the Chicago Unions, where he teamed with Bill Monroe and Mike Moore.

In 1903–04 Johnson played with the Cuban X-Giants, who were the eastern champions in 1903. In 1903 he was captain of the Cuban X Giants when Charlie Grant and Rube Foster were on the team.

The 1905 Philadelphia Giants

From 1905 to 1906 he played for the Philadelphia Giants, and they won championships both seasons.

Findlay, Ohio's celebrated contribution to African-American baseball history turned 33-years-old in 1905. His hitting and pitching so electrified the 1905 Philadelphia Giants that many assumed he spent more than one full season with the team. The unselfish qualities of Johnson's power-packed swing helped him to lead the team in categories as hit-by pitches, sacrifice hits and, of course, home runs with twelve. An honorable man of exemplary character, he hustled out ground balls and seldom disputed an umpire's questionable call. It was equally rare for him to strike out. In one reflective moment Johnson told a reporter, "when I did [strike out] I surprised myself." Slowed by an injury that occurred early in the season, he missed thirteen days of play. Johnson was rushed back into the team's starting line-up, and as a consequence his home run totals slumped dramatically. He also was used as a starting pitcher. A submarine pitcher of exceptional ability, he was essentially the Philadelphia Giants' fourth starter in 1905. His gutsy mound appearances continually kept everyone questioning why he did not pitch more often.

He then moved to Brooklyn Royal Giants, where he was captain and led them to a championship in 1909. In 1910 Johnson signed with the Leland Giants and hit .397. The team used the nickname of "Dad" Johnson as well as his old nickname, "Home Run Johnson." [2]

From 1911 to 1913 Johnson played with the New York Lincoln Giants, hitting .374, .413, and .371. In 1913 the Lincoln Giants won the eastern title and beat the Chicago American Giants in the championship playoff. Later he played with the Pittsburgh Colored Stars of Buffalo and managed the Buffalo Giants.

Johnson continued to play with lesser teams until finally retiring in 1932 at the age of 58. After retiring from baseball he lived in Buffalo, where he worked for the New York Central Railroad Company.

He was buried in Lakeside Cemetery (formerly Lakeside Memorial Park Cemetery and Buffalo Rural Cemetery) in Hamburg, New York on September 14, 1963.

References[edit]

  • Dixon, Phil S. The 1905 Philadelphia Giants (Phil Dixon's American Baseball Chronicles, Volume III). – See Phil Dixon's ...; the books
  • Riley, James A. (1994). "Johnson, Grant (Home Run)". The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues. Carroll & Graf. pp. 434–46. ISBN 0-7867-0959-6. 
  • (Riley.) Grant "Home Run" Johnson, Personal profiles at Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. – identical to Riley (confirmed 2010-04-13)

External links[edit]