new icn messageflickr-free-ic3d pan white

Baseball in Anaheim

Anaheim, California, had a baseball team before The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. (What a stupid name, but that's another story.)

 

This is a group portrait of ten players and the team manager of the Anaheim Baseball Team, circa 1900. Visible behind them is a dirt baseball field.

 

Update 1: I would date this photo in 1905, between March 5 and July 30.

 

Update 2: I think this park might be Athletics Park in Anaheim. In 1905, Anaheim was the only city in Orange County that could legally serve alcohol on Sundays.

 

Back Row, Left-to-Right:

unidentified, unidentified, Herman Stock, manager, Charles H. "Chili" Fisher

 

Front Row, Left-to-Right:

? Schneider, F.B. Callen, Walter Perry Johnson, unidentified, unidentified, unidentified

 

Now here is something I didn't know until I started researching this photo.

 

A local boy, Walter Perry Johnson (November 6, 1887—December 10, 1946), third from the left in the front row, went on to become one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history.

 

Johnson started out playing catcher for the Olinda Elementary School (Olinda is now part of Brea, Orange County, California). His father noticed he could "throw a baseball real, real hard" and encouraged him to try pitching.

 

The Santa Ana Evening Blade[1] reports that Johnson pitched for Fullerton Union High School (Fullerton, Orange County, California). On April 15, 1905, he struck out 27 batters in a game against Santa Ana High School (Santa Ana, Orange County, California).

 

The Anaheim Gazette[2] reported that his professional pitching debut in Anaheim was on March 5, 1905, playing for the Olinda Oil Wells. Even though he only gave up four hits and a walk, he lost the game 5-4 due to five errors by his teammates.

 

Also in the Anaheim Gazette: on April 9, he struck out 11 batters in a game against the Los Angeles Owls. On May 28, he struck out 12 batters in a game against the Los Angeles Hoagies. Johnson's share of the money literally collected in a hat was usually 50 to 75 cents per game. The Olinda Oil Wells disbanded after a double header on July 30.

 

Some of his Major League Baseball stats:

 

417 Wins / 279 Losses (one of only two pitchers with 400 wins; Cy Young had 511)

110 Shutouts (still a record)

3,509 Strikeouts (a record until 1983; now 9th, Nolan Ryan had 5,714)

2.170 ERA (11th overall)

531 Competed Games (4th overall)

203 Hit Batters (still a record)

23749 Batters Faced (3rd overall)

Source: Walter Johnson, at www.baseball-reference.com/

 

Johnson played 21 seasons for the Washington Senators (1907-1927). He was the American League MVP in 1913 and 1924. He was manager of the Washington Senators (1929-1932) and the Cleveland Indians (1933-1935).

 

Early in his career, Johnson became famous for his fastball. No one could touch it. They didn't have radar guns to measure a pitcher's speed in 1917. The way they measured his fastball was Johnson went to the Bridgeport Arms laboratory where they measured his fastball at 134 feet per second, the equivalent of 99 mph or 159 kph. Speeds like this were unheard of in Johnson's time. (Smoky Joe Wood might have been able to throw this fast.) His speed lead to an exceptional record of 3,509 strikeouts that stood for more than 55 years until Nolan Ryan broke it in 1983. In 2009, he is still 9th in the all-time strikeouts.

 

Johnson was one of the first five players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936. (Johnson's Hall of Fame page)

 

Johnson appeared in the Ogden Nash poem "Lineup for Yesterday" in the January 1949 issue of Sport magazine:

 

J is for Johnson

The Big Train in his prime

Was so fast he could throw

Three strikes at a time.

 

Update: I found Nash's poem on the www.baseball-almanac.com/poetry/po_line.shtml.

 

—————————————————————————

 

[1] The Santa Ana Evening Blade operated from May 1897 to December 1905.

 

[2] The Anaheim Gazette operated at least as early as 1870 and at least as late as 1943.

AnaPL_p997_a1_1056x769

29,779 views
11 faves
14 comments
Taken on January 20, 2009