There’s no need to wonder how a power pitcher like Nolan Ryan or Bob Feller would have fared in the dead ball era of the early 1900s, because they were there. So was Justin Verlander, Stephen Strasburg and Aroldis Chapman. Each one of these ace hurlers dominated the early days of baseball, but they did so under the name Walter Johnson. Nicknamed “The Big Train” because a train was the fasting thing people knew of to move from one place to another at the time, Johnson’s unprecedented sidearm fastball baffled even the most iconic baseball immortals of his day.
“We couldn’t touch him …”
There weren’t many times in his 24 year career that Ty Cobb was overmatched at the plate, and far fewer that the surly “Georgia Peach’ would actually admit to. But mention the name Walter Johnson and you’d see a rare emotion from Cobb … humility. “The first time I faced him, I watched him take that easy windup. And then something went past me that made me flinch. The thing just hissed with danger,” said Cobb. “We couldn’t touch him … every one of us knew we’d met the most powerful arm ever turned loose in a ball park.” Johnson’s dominance can be traced back to high school. As a member of Fullerton Union High School, he struck out 27 batters during a 15-inning game. Discovered while playing in the Idaho State League, the scout that signed him said of the 19-year old pitcher, “He throws so fast you can’t see ’em, and he knows where he’s throwing because if he didn’t there would be dead bodies strewn all over Idaho.” Once he developed a curveball, “The Big Train” became a runaway train, leading the league in wins for four consecutive seasons while topping the strikeout board eight straight times and twelve in all.
Game-Used Walter Johnson Bat Offered in MHCC March Auction
With a body of work that includes the all-time record for shutouts with 110, second all-time in wins with 417 and a career record in strikeouts that lasted for nearly 56 years, Walter Johnson is not only considered by many to be the greatest pitcher of his day but the greatest pitcher in baseball history. As incredible as his accomplishments were on the mound, he was remarkably skilled at the plate. A lifetime .235 hitter with 24 home runs, Johnson was called upon to pinch hit over 100 times in his career and, at age 37, batted .433 with two homers and 20 RBI in just 97 at-bats. Mile High Card Company is proud to offer a game-used Walter Johnson Louisville Slugger bat in the upcoming March auction, one of only three known to exist, authenticated and graded GU8 by PSA/DNA. Also available is the most significant card issue of Johnson ever produced; his absolutely stunning T204 Ramly card that rates as one of the highest ever graded at SGC 80 EX/MT+ 6.5. Both items are among the finest of a variety of high-profile items featured in the MHCC auction, which runs from February 20th through March 9th.