I know about the Buck O’Neil and Minnie Miñoso controversies, but for my money the biggest omission in the 2006 election of Negro leaguers to the Hall of Fame was Grant “Home Run” Johnson—the best African American ballplayer of the 1890s and early 1900s, the biggest star in black baseball before Rube Foster (and probably co-equal with Rube for a few years in the 1900s), organizer and manager of great teams from the Page Fence Giants to the Cuban League champion Habana B.B.C. in the 1911/12 winter season, and still one of the best hitters in black baseball in his late thirties and early forties.I’m happy to report that, through the efforts of Howard Henry and Jeremy Krock, Johnson will be getting a marker for his grave at the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York. As part of this effort I recently supplied Howard with some photos of Johnson, so, for no particular reason, here are a few:
Grant Johnson with the 1894 Findlay Sluggers, an integrated team that also featured Bud Fowler.
Photos of Pete Hill and Grant Johnson from the Philadelphia Inquirer (April 23, 1905), one of several items on the same page promoting the Philadelphia Giants. This image of Johnson would later be reprinted in Sol White’s History of Colored Base Ball (1907).