Home Run Johnson
|Home Run Johnson|
Home Run Johnson with Brooklyn Royal Giants
|Shortstop / Second baseman|
September 23, 1872|
|Died: September 4, 1963
Buffalo, New York
|1893, for the Findlay Sluggers|
|1923, for the Buffalo Giants|
Grant U. "Home Run" Johnson (September 23, 1872 – September 4, 1963) was an American shortstop and second baseman 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.
Johnson began his career as a shortstop with the semipro Findlay Sluggers in 1893. The following year he earned his nickname "Home Run" by hitting 60 home runs. In 1895, he and Bud Fowler formed the Page Fence Giants in Adrian, Michigan. 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. Johnson returned to the Columbia Giants for 1901 and 1902.
In 1903 and 1904 Johnson played for the Cuban X-Giants and captained the team to the colored championship in 1903, defeating the Philadelphia Giants for the honor. His teammates included Rube Foster and Charlie Grant.
He joined the Philadelphia Giants in 1905. Findlay, Ohio's celebrated contribution to African-American baseball history turned 33 years old late that season. His hitting and pitching electrified his new 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 an occasional 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.
In 1906 he moved to the Brooklyn Royal Giants, where he was again captain, and led the team to championships in 1908 and 1909. Sportswriter Harry Daniels named Captain Grant Johnson to his 1909 "All-American Team" saying he "always has been a hard, consistent hitter, fielder, and base runner, and a great handler."
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.
- "Frank Lelands' Chicago Giants Base Ball Club" Fraternal Printing Company, 1910
- "Diamond Dashes" Indianapolis Freeman, Indianapolis, IN, Saturday, August 27, 1910, Page 4, Columns 5 and 6
- "Lincoln Giants Win First Two Games in Championship Series" Indianapolis Freeman, Indianapolis, Indiana, Saturday, August 2, 1913, Page 4, Columns 3 and 4
- "Page Fence Giants". Baseball History Daily. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
- "The Base Ball Spirit In The East." Indianapolis Freeman, Indianapolis, Indiana, Saturday, December 25, 1909, Page 7, Columns 1 and 2
- 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)