Home Run Johnson
(Home Run; Dad)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 170 lb.
Home Run Johnson was one of the greatest Negro League sluggers of the Deadball Era. Along with Bud Fowler, he formed the Page Fence Giants in 1895, playing shortstop and acting as team captain, whereas Fowler had been a professional player for 17 years. He went 1 for 8 in games against the Cincinnati Reds that April. When the Page Fence Giants disbanded in 1898 Grant joined the Columbia Giants, then went to the Chicago Union Giants and later the Cuban X-Giants. Despite being only in his mid-20s, Johnson was known as a leader known for his wit and personality as well as his skill on the field.
Johnson continued to bounce around in 1905 when he moved to the Philadelphia Giants and hit .583 against other top black teams. The next year he became player-manager of the Brooklyn Royal Giants and hit .350. He batted .347 in the Cuban Winter League that season and .306 in '07. In 1908 Johnson hit .271 in a 12-game series against Cuban players and was 2 for 10 in another crack at the Reds.
At age 36, Home Run Johnson moved to the Leland Giants and became a second baseman as the team had Pop Lloyd. He hit just .207 in their 11 games against other top black teams and managed only .196 against Cuban teams in a series there. Johnson dazzled against white teams, though, hitting .412 against the Detroit Tigers in 12 games (outperforming Ty Cobb) and .429 against the Philadelphia A's in 10 games, 7 of them against Eddie Plank or Chief Bender. The veteran hit .410 in the 1911 Cuban Winter League, second in the circuit. At age 38, he returned to managing as the player-manager of Brooklyn once again, hitting .303 against top black teams. After that he mostly played for minor black teams. He remained active until age 58.
On the field, Grant was known for a patient batting eye in addition to his clutch homers. Off the field, he was known as a singer and a moral person. When he finally retired, he worked for the New York Central Railroad Company.