Johnson at the 1924 Colored World Series
October 26, 1899|
Snow Hill, Maryland
|Died: June 15, 1989
|Negro leagues debut|
|1918, for the Philadelphia Hilldale Club|
|1936, for the Pittsburgh Crawfords|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Member of the National|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
William Julius "Judy" Johnson (October 26, 1899 – June 15, 1989) was an American third baseman in Negro league baseball. He played for the Hilldale Club, Homestead Grays, and Pittsburgh Crawfords from 1921 to 1936. Considered one of the greatest third basemen in the Negro leagues, he was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975.
Johnson was born in Snow Hill, Maryland, on October 26, 1899, to Annie and William Johnson. His family moved to Wilmington, Delaware, when he was five years old. He attended Howard High School but quit to work on the docks in New Jersey. Johnson was 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighed 150 pounds.
In 1919, Johnson played for a Philadelphia semi-pro team, the Madison Stars. He was acquired by a Negro major league club, the Hilldale Daisies, for $100, and played for Hilldale from 1921 to 1929. During that time, he was nicknamed "Judy" because he resembled Judy Gans, a player for the Chicago American Giants. Future Baseball Hall of Famer John Henry Lloyd became Johnson's mentor and taught him how to play third base.
In 1924, Johnson had a batting average of .327. Hilldale faced the Kansas City Monarchs that year in the first Negro World Series, and Johnson led all batters with a .364 average in a losing effort. The following year, Johnson batted .392, and Hilldale defeated Kansas City in that season's Negro World Series. In 1929, Johnson batted .416.
When the Hilldale club folded, Johnson became the player-manager of the Homestead Grays. There, he discovered and became a mentor to future Hall of Famer Josh Gibson. Johnson then ended his career playing for the Pittsburgh Crawfords from 1932 to 1936. He was the team's captain and helped them win the pennant in 1935. Johnson had a career batting average of .298 in the Negro major leagues.
After his playing career ended, Johnson was a coach and scout for several Major League Baseball teams; he signed Dick Allen. Johnson became the first black spring training coach in the majors, for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1954.
Johnson was a good fielder, and he was considered one of the greatest third basemen of the Negro leagues. In 1975, he became the sixth black player inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame and the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame. A statue of Johnson stands outside Frawley Stadium in Delaware.
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- "Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame". desports.org. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
- "Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame". phillyhall.org. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
- Staff (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.