Sorry I have been away for a while. But I have been rather busy. I also write a blog on the Arizona Diamondbacks which you can find at venomstrikes.com. Not only will you find good reads by me but also by fellow staff members Chris Czar, J. Levi Burnfin and Tyler Roberts. Now as I return to you my faithful readers, I would like to go back to the past…as in almost 100 years ago to a guy whose name still resonates today as perhaps the greatest pitcher of all time. I would love to write about him since I either hear or read his name at least three times per week That would be the man known as “The Big Train”, Walter Johnson.
Now before going any further, I am sure some of you will point out his numbers are so daunting because of his era. There was also no integration in baseball at that time. Fine, I get it. You still have to be mesmerized by the awesome statistics he compiled over his 21 seasons. Go ahead, which number do you love the most? Is it the 417 career victories, good for 2nd behind Cy Young’s 511? How about his insane 1913 season of 36 wins, 7 losses with a 1.14 ERA? Maybe the number that really sticks out is 110 as in the number of career shutouts tossed by the Train, a record that will never be broken. In fact, I guarantee no pitcher will come within 60 shutouts of that number. All of these amazing stats were recorded by Johnson with the Washington Senators, whose unofficial motto was “First in War, First in Peace, Last in the American League”.
Two of Johnson’s most endearing records lasted for over 40 years. He held the record for most consecutive scoreless innings (56) until it was broken by Don Drysdale in 1968. His 3,508 strikeouts was a legendary record early in my baseball fandom that was broken by Nolan Ryan in 1983. Another Johnson mark that will never be approached is his total innings pitched of 5,923, good for third all time. Perhaps the ultimate honor for Big Train came in 1936 as he was part of the first class to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. That recognition, the equivalent of Mount Rushmore, gives Walter Johnson one more name: Immortal.
Ty Cobb once said the following about Johnson: “His fastball looked about the size of a watermelon seed and it hissed at you as it passed.” Many a hitter left the bat on his shoulder as a fastball courtesy of the Train whizzed past him. For more facts, stats and photos on Walter Johnson, check out the official website here. More than 100 years after his big league debut, Walter Johnson still casts an imposing shadow over the game of Baseball.
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