Happy Birthday to Walter Johnson, the Big Train, born on 6 November 1887. We get to claim him as an ex-Twin, since he played his entire career, 21 years, with the old Washington Senators.
Johnson’s accomplishments are legendary, and far too numerous to mention. His 417 wins are second most in baseball history (Cy Young – 511), and his 3,508 strikeouts stood as the top career mark for 55+ years. His record of 110 career shutouts is still the high-water mark. He had 12 twenty win seasons, including a string of ten in a row, and twice won more than 30 games. The Senators of Johnson’s time were generally not a very good club, finishing in the second division about half the time.They finished second in 1912 and 1913, when Johnson had his 30 win seasons, but they finally made it to the World Series in 1924 and 1925, Johnson’s 18th and 19th seasons.
I could go on talking about his accomplishments, but I’ll wrap up by pointing to Johnson’s reputation as a kind and gentle man.
You’ll note the wicked side-arm motion he had there. The Twins could use a guy like this right about now. Yes, indeed. More about Johnson from SABR, of course…
Johnson was one of the first five players elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame. He died at age 59, on 10 December 1946.
Good game, Barney.
Two good Walter Johnson quotes:
“Can I throw harder than Joe Wood? Listen mister, no man alive can throw any harder than Smoky Joe Wood.”
“I throw as hard as I can when I think I have to throw as hard as I can.”
And Ty Cobb said,
“His fastball looked about the size of a watermelon seed and it hissed at you as it passed.”
This Sunday’s paper had two major stories – the 50 game suspension of Twins prospect Eddie Rosario for a second failure on a drug test, and coincidentally, the Hall of Fame election, where people (or at least the Baseball Writers Association of America) are trying to figure out what to do about all the Big Stars from the Steroid Era. Bobby Bonds? Roger Clemens? Mike Piazza? Will any of them get into the Hall?
There was a nice article by La Velle E. Neal III in the Star Tribune last Sunday, looking at this year’s candidates. As no one was elected last year, there’s also a few strong carryover candidates, muddying the waters.
Here’s my ballot for 2014:
1. Greg Maddux *
2. Tom Glavine*
3. Jeff Bagwell
4. Tim Raines
5. Jack Morris
6. Frank Thomas*
7. Larry Walker
8. Lee Smith
It’s the first year on the ballot for Maddux, Glavine and Thomas, 4th year for Bagwell and Walker, 7th year for Raines, 12th for Smith, and 15th for Morris. (fifteen years already for Morris? That seems hard to believe.) I guess I’m holding off on letting the tainted players in. Perhaps the expansion era committee will vote them in, and maybe it would be best to let the players decide if these players are beyond the pale or not.
Jack Morris was a bull. He was a great pitcher for 14 years with the Tigers, had one famous year with the Twins, another great year with Toronto (21-6 at age 37), and then two not so good years at the end,with Toronto and Cleveland. All those years at Detroit, he was a pitcher you did not want to face. And then in ’91, game seven, there was no one you’d rather have on the mound for you.