Brea Old and New: The go-to source for "All things Brea"!

Walter Perry Johnson – A Bonafide Baseball Hero

1 year ago by in ( Uncategorized )

Walter Perry Johnson was born on a small rural farm near Humboldt, Kansas in 1887. By the time Walter was fourteen-years-old, Frank and Minnie Johnson had moved their family to Olinda, CA, a small oil lease "boomtown" in Carbon Canyon, just east of Brea.

Walter Johnson's Hall of Fame plaque

Walter Johnson's Hall of Fame plaque

The city of Brea was still in its early days for formation, and by 1903, had begun to establish itself as a thriving destination for those seeking their fortunes in the Golden State.

The teen-aged Johnson was already over 6' tall  and muscular. He split his time between working on the oil lease, playing baseball with his friends on Santa Fe in Olinda, and going to school. First, at the "Little Red Schoolhouse" in the canyon, and later, riding on horseback to attend Fullerton High School.

His athletic prowess became more evident when he joined the Fullerton Union High School baseball team and struck-out 27 batters during a 15-inning game against Santa Ana High School.

By the time Johnson was nineteen, he had moved to Idaho, where he worked as a telephone company employee. He also pitched for the local baseball team, in the Idaho State League, where he was spotted by a pro talent scout. By July, 1907, Walter Johnson had signed his first major league baseball contract with the Washington Senator's. The rest, as they say, is history...

The right-hander returned to Brea in 1924, a celebrated and bonafide baseball hero. He had earned his nickname, "The Big Train", from Ty Cobb, who said of Johnson's pitching skill, "You can't hit what you can't see".  He had also earned and was awarded the coveted "Most Valuable Player" title in his league.

But, these weren't the only reasons over 15,000 people came to the Brea Bowl in October, 1924. Nearby cities and communities full of excited baseball fans had been anticipating what was being called "The Big Game".

Walter Johnson was bringing his friend, Babe Ruth, along with players from the New York Yankees notorious "Murderer's Row" with him to Brea.

And they were going to play baseball!

Author :

  • Kathy Cannon

Leave a Reply