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December 27, 1922|
Stone Mountain, Georgia
|Died: December 28, 2004
Kansas City, Missouri
|April 17, 1953, for the Chicago White Sox|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 14, 1958, for the Baltimore Orioles|
|Earned run average||3.44|
Kansas City Monarchs
Johnson played in his first game for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues at the age of only 17. After a great season, he was selected to the East-West All-Star game, and was the youngest player ever to achieve that distinction. He was one of the pitchers on the Monarchs' 1942 Negro World Series champion team that included future Hall of Famers Satchel Paige and Hilton Smith. In 1943, he took a break from baseball to fight for the US in World War II. In 1946, he returned to the Monarchs and played for them until 1950. In his final season in the Negro Leagues he made his second East-West All-Star game, with an 11–2 won-lost record.
In 1951, Johnson played for a team in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada. After leading the Canadian Provincial League in strikeouts, his contract was purchased by the Chicago White Sox at the end of the season.
Chicago White Sox
After a couple of seasons in the minors Johnson made his major league debut at the age of 30 on April 17, 1953. During his first season he pitched in 14 games, starting ten of them, going 4–4 with a 3.56 ERA and 44 strikeouts. After spending the entire 1954 season in the minors, he started 16 games in 1955. He finished the season 7–4 with a 3.45 ERA and 72 strikeouts. In 1956, he pitched in 5 games for the White Sox going 0–1 with 6 strikeouts and a 3.65 ERA. Overall with the White Sox he appeared in 36 games, starting 28 of them, and going 11–9 with 122 strikeouts.
On May 21, 1956, the White Sox traded Johnson along with Mike Fornieles, George Kell and Bob Nieman to the Baltimore Orioles for Jim Wilson and Dave Philley. He started 25 games for the Orioles in 1956, going 9–10 with 130 strikeouts and a 3.43 ERA. He had his best major league season in 1957, going 14–11 for a losing team with 177 strikeouts and a 3.20 ERA. In his final major league season in 1958, he went 6–9 with 68 strikeouts and a 3.88 ERA. He finished his five-year major league career going 40–39 with 497 strikeouts and a 3.44 ERA.