Leaguer of the Month
Born: January 24, 1913 in Evergreen, Alabama
Ht: 6'-1", Wt: 200
Batted right and threw left.
Teams: Caraopolis Greys, Pittsburgh Giants, Homestead Grays,
New York Black Yankees, Cincinnati Tigers, Brooklyn Royal Giants
he didn't make anyone forget Josh Gibson, Josh Johnson was a fine
power-hitting catcher in his own right.
joined the Homestead Grays in the mid-1930s after Gibson had moved
to the Pittsburgh Crawfords. On the Grays, he played with Buck
Leonard, Raymond Brown, Smokey Joe Williams, Jesse Hubbard, Harry
Williams and Tex Burnett.
"Joe Williams was just about ready to quit," remembered
Johsnon. "He was traveling with the team mostly as an added
attraction. He was easily 50. He could throw, not as fast as he
Playing with Smokey Joe was especially thrilling for Johnson,
because when he was a boy he often pretended he was Joe on the
sandlot. "He was a legend in the black community,"
the late 1930s, Johnson moved to the Cincinnati Tigers and was
managed by Double Duty Radcliffe whom he described as "a
fiesty, hard-nosed, good, driving sort of man."
Tigers had an impressive pitching staff that Johnson got to catch,
including Double Duty, Porter Moss, Jess Houston, Willie Jefferson
and Gene Bremmer.
Though he didn't hit nearly as many homers as Josh Gibson,
Johnson could hit the ball a long way when he got ahold of one.
Johnson hit some of the longest homers ever hit at Crosley Field
and hit a few balls into the monuments at Yankee Stadium.
caught many great pitchers over his career, including Satchel
Paige who he said was very tough to catch because of his tremendous
speed, but his favorite to catch was Barney Brown.
Brown was pretty much like Warren Spahn," said Johnson. "He
was a classic, stylish lefthander. No junk, pin-point control,
finesse, good speed, good location. He was one of the best! I
loved to catch him cause you didnt have to worry about
anything. Threw it right where you wanted--knew he was thinking
all the time."
baseball, Johnson earned his Master's Degree and taught for many
years before becoming assistant to the State Superintent of Schools