Chappie Johnson

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George "Chappie" Johnson Jr.
Chappie Johnson.jpg
Catcher / First baseman
Born: (1877-05-08)May 8, 1877
Bellaire, Ohio
Died: August 17, 1949(1949-08-17) (aged 72)
Clemson, South Carolina
Batted: Right Threw: Right
1895, for the Page Fence Giants
Last appearance
1927, for the Chappie Johnson's Stars

George "Chappie" Johnson Jr. (May 8, 1877 – August 17, 1949) was an African-American baseball catcher and field manager in the Negro leagues. He played for many of the best teams from 1895 to 1920 and he crossed racial boundaries as a teacher and coach.

Johnson was born and raised in the village of Bellaire, Ohio, on the upper Ohio River. In 1895, he debuted at the age of 17 with the Page Fence Giants,[1] where he played short stop, left field, then first base, then moved to catcher where he stayed for most of his career. Most of the team moved to Chicago and formed the Chicago Columbia Giants in 1899. There, Johnson often caught for George Wilson, and the two became a powerful battery for the baseball club.[15]

Johnson moved on to the Chicago Union Giants, and played on and off with the Algona Brownies,[5] then moved with George Wilson to a baseball team in Renville, Minnesota and the famous battery won the state championship in 1905, playing against mostly white teams.

Previous to the 1906 season, Johnson traveled to Palm Beach, Florida and became head trainer for the Boston Red Sox. The Baseball color line excluded Johnson from playing in Major League Baseball games, but did not bar him from using his skills as a trainer.

In 1906, Johnson moved out East to catch for the Philadelphia Giants, and came back West in 1907 to manage the St. Paul Colored Gophers for a few seasons.[8] The Gophers went to Little Rock, Arkansas, playing Spring Training games with Major League Baseball teams.

By 1910, Johnson was reportedly the only catcher wearing shin guards,[16] saying they make him "look like a big leaguer." Other catchers quickly followed.

Johnson last played for a major team in 1919[13] (the eve of the organized Negro Leagues), and continued as a manager through 1939, even managing teams using his name, such as the "Dayton Chappies" and the "Chappie Johnson Stars." He died at 72 in Clemson, South Carolina.


  1. ^ a b "Pounded at 'Haha" Minneapolis Journal, Minneapolis, MN, April 22, 1895, Page 6, Column 3
  2. ^ "Giants Win" Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, Cedar Rapids, IA, Friday, April 23, 1897, Page 5, Column 1
  3. ^ "The Columbia Giants of Chicago" Indianapolis Freeman, Indianapolis, IN, Saturday, March 24, 1900, Page 7, Column 1
  4. ^ "Excellent Game" Delphos Daily Herald, Delphos, Ohio, Monday Evening, June 23, 1902, Page 4, Column 5
  5. ^ a b "Algona Brownies Win the Big Game" Webster City Tribune, Webster City, IA, Page 12, Columns 4 and 5
  6. ^ "Pottstown and Philadelphia Giants" Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Tuesday Morning, June 21, 1904, Page 10, Column 5
  7. ^ "Big Colored Teams at Hoboken" New York Times, New York, NY, Saturday, July 20, 1907, Page 8, Column 2
  8. ^ a b "La Crosse Wins Out in Slugging Match" La Crosse Tribune, La Crosse, WI, Monday, May 10, 1909, Page 2, Columns 2 and 3
  9. ^ "Rube Foster Back in Form" Chicago Broad Ax, Chicago, IL, February 5, 1910, Page 1, Column 5
  10. ^ "Baseball in the Windy City" Indianapolis Freeman, Indianapolis, IN, July 27, 1912
  11. ^ "Mohawks Play A.B.C.'s" Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, IN, Sunday, July 12, 1914, Page 3, Column 7
  12. ^ "A.B.C.'s Take Three From The Sprudels" Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, IN, Wednesday, May 19, 1915, Page 10, Column 6
  13. ^ a b "Empey Has Fine Bill" New York Sun, New York, NY, Page 4, Column 2
  14. ^ "Johnson's All Stars Win" Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA, Tuesday Morning, May 18, 1920, Page 16, Column 6
  15. ^ "Frank Lelands' Chicago Giants Base Ball Club" Fraternal Printing Company, 1910
  16. ^ "Diamond Dashes" Indianapolis Freeman, Indianapolis, IN, Saturday, August 27, 1910, Page 4, Columns 5 and 6
  • Riley, James A. (1994). "Johnson, George (Chappie, Rat)". The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues. Carroll & Graf. pp. 432–44. ISBN 0-7867-0959-6. 
  • (Riley.) George "Chappie" Johnson in Personal Profiles at Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. – identical to Riley (confirmed 2010-04-13)

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