1925: Walter Johnson Impresses with the Bat

Tuesday May 19, 1925

With his team down by one in the top of the ninth inning at Cleveland, Nats’ manager Bucky Harris made a seemingly strange move. With the pitcher’s spot due up he sent ace pitcher Walter Johnson to the plate as a pinch-hitter. Johnson had pitched a few days before, so it was figured that he would not be pitching. Harris had used most of his bench options, however, and Johnson took some pride in his bat.

Washington baseball observers had become accustomed to watching Walter Johnson win games, but this was a new means of victory for the legend. With a man on, he hit a ball the opposite way over the 45-foot-high wall in right field to put his team up by one. According to Charlton’s Chronology, the only other right-handed batter to clear the wall in its history was Smokey Joe Wood.

The Nats won the game, and Johnson was the hero without even throwing a pitch. It wasn’t isolated hitting success for Johnson, however. He batted .433/.455/.577 with a pair of home runs in 107 plate appearances in 1925.

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