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— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Home Run Johnson

Elected to the Hall of Merit in 1925, but feel free to post commentary here, too.

Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: May 26, 2004 at 07:43 AM | 28 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. chrisallenweber Posted: November 23, 2005 at 08:38 PM (#1744299)
Baseball's Hall of Fame is now also considering honoring Home Run Johnson... for additonal info see:

<a href="http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/news/article.jsp?ymd=20051121&c>Hall gets names for Negro Leagues vote</a>
   2. Brent Posted: November 26, 2005 at 02:27 AM (#1746623)
I'm re-posting some material that is relevant to Grant Johnson from the Spottswood Poles thread on Cuban League play:

Brent Posted: October 22, 2005 at 02:11 AM (#1697684)
Spottswood Poles played four winters in the Cuban League: 1910-11, 1912w, 1913w,
and 1914-15. (The winter of 1913-14 no North Americans played in Cuba.) Here is
his record:
Season Team    G   AB   R   H 2B 3B HR SB  Avg  Slg 
10-11  Fe     26   89  20  32  5  0  0  - .360 .416
12w    Fe     23   86  10  22  1  2  0 11 .256 .314
13w    Fe      -  151  40  55  3  8  1 21 .364 .510
14-15  Fe     14   57   9  13  0  2  0  4 .228 .298
Total             383  79 122  9 12  1    .319 .413


Notes:
During these four years the Cuban League consisted of only three teams. Most
of the top black American stars of the time played in Cuba at least some of
those winters.
1910-11: Poles led league in doubles; was second in average and slugging behind
Pete Hill.
1913w: Poles led league in at-bats, runs, hits, triples, and slugging. His team
(Fe) won the pennant.

As Gary has reminded us, offensive context is important, so I’ve calculated the
offensive context from the statistics shown in Figueredo’s Cuban Baseball: A
Statistical History, 1878-1961. These batting statistics follow Figueredo in
excluding most pitchers. (Apparently pitchers batting records are included if
they also played in the field, so the batting records for Méndez and Pedroso are
included.) In 1910-11 the ball was still quite dead, but it became more lively
in the following seasons:
Season  Lg Avg  Lg Slg
10-11     .224    .270
12w       .255    .314
13w       .276    .336
14-15     .266    .313


I’ve calculated the relative batting average and relative slugging for Poles and
other players over those four seasons by taking the ratio of the player’s own
average to what his average would have been if he had hit at the same rate as the
league each season. Poles’ relative average is 1.24 and his relative slugging is
1.32.

I’ve also calculated a combined average that is analogous to OPS+. (Walks and
on-base percentage are not available to the Cuban League, so it is not possible to
calculate OPS+.) The combined average substitutes batting average for on-base
percentage in the OPS+ formula; I’ll call it BPS+ (for batting plus slugging):

BPS+ = 100*(Avg/lgAvg + Slg/lgSlg – 1).

I believe all Cuban League games were played in the same park, so it is not
necessary to park adjust. Here are the top 10 hitters in the Cuban League over
these four seasons based on this statistic (min. 185 at-bats):
Player            Seasons   AB  Rel Avg  Rel Slg  BPS+   
Grant Johnson           2  199     1.38     1.32   170
Pete Hill               2  205     1.34     1.33   167
John H. Lloyd           3  251     1.32     1.34   167
Carlos Morán            3  325     1.37     1.28   165
Cristóbal Torriente     2  226     1.23     1.37   160
Spottswood Poles        4  383     1.24     1.32   156
Armando Marsans         4  364     1.27     1.28   155
Julián Castillo         3  250     1.06     1.37   143
Rafael Almeida          3  250     1.14     1.12   126
Emilio Palomino         3  241     1.08     0.99   107


Morán was a third baseman of Chinese ancestry who played in Cuba from 1900-16.
Marsans, who was white, played for 8 seasons in the majors and also played in
Cuba from 1905-28 (we see from his major league data that he did not draw many
walks, which is not visible from the Cuban data). Castillo was a first baseman
who played from 1901-13; he was probably the top Cuban hitter of the aughts.

Another player I’ll mention is Eustaquio (Bombín) Pedroso. He was a pitcher with
a career similar to that of Méndez, though not quite as good. However, while
Méndez was a pretty good hitter, Pedroso was a great hitter (at least for
the two seasons included in these tallies)—-he hit .329 with a .434 slugging
percentage in 143 at-bats, giving him a BPS+ of 164. He didn't make the above top
ten list because he had too few at-bats.


Chris Cobb Posted: October 22, 2005 at 10:37 AM (#1697810)
Brent, this data is MAGNIFICENT!

It is especially valuable because it includes Marsans, so that we can get rough MLEs from this data.

I've just calculated Marsans' major league BA+ and SLG+ for his time in the NL 1912-14. I dropped
his 1911 seasons because he was a rookie, and I left out his FL play in 1914 because it muddies
the waters of league quality. In 1063 PA, his BA+ was 1.11 and his SA+ was .99. He's only one guy
and we have only 364 AB in the CWL, but his conversion factors are .87/,76. The ba/sa ratio is
exactly of the sort we would expect, and the quality level is AA, which is probable for the CWL at
this fairly early stage in its history. It might be a little high or a little low, but it's plausible.

That gives us MLE BPS+ scores for the major players as follows:

Grant Johnson 120
Pete Hill 118
John Henry Lloyd 117
Carlos Moran 116
Cristobal Torriente 111
Spotswood Poles 108

For Johnson, these are his 39-42 seasons, so a 120 BPS+ makes him look, well, great.

For Hill, these are his 31-34 seasons, so a 118 BPS+ doesn't raise his stature, but it doesn't
show him to be obviously underqualified, either.

For Lloyd, these are his 27-31 seasons, so we would expect better. Lloyd was definitely a
late-bloomer, however, so his peak as a hitter is probably later, and a 117 BS+ is still
highly valuable for an excellent defensive shortstop.

For Moran, this was late in his career. It certainly suggests that his election to the Cuban
Baseball Hall of Fame was well-deserved, and that his reputation in Riley as
an excellent contact hitter without much power is accurate. He would merit further study
from us, if there's more we can know.

For Torriente, these are his 16(!)-19 seasons, so there's nothing here to suggest that he
wouldn't become a great player.

For Poles, there are his 22-25 seasons, so this data does not help his case. Given the
uncertainties of the conversion factor and the fairly small sample size, a 108 BPS+
may not accurately represent his value during these years, and it may not include
his peak. But I think that all three factors -- too low a conversion factor, these values
as unusually low for Poles, and a later peak -- would need to be accepted as being
operative here for this data to be consistent with an HoM-quality career for Poles.
By this data, he looks to be a step behind all of his NeL contemporaries whom we
have elected.

John (Don't Call Me Grandma!) Murphy Posted: October 22, 2005 at 10:57 AM (#1697830)
For Johnson, these are his 39-42 seasons, so a 120 BPS+ makes him look, well, great.

For Hill, these are his 31-34 seasons, so a 118 BPS+ doesn't raise his stature, but it doesn't
show him to be obviously underqualified, either.


This is great stuff, Brent, especially when you factor in the uncertainty of their statistical records that we all faced at the time of their inductions. I don't know if it's 100% validation of their elections, but it's close.

Brent Posted: October 22, 2005 at 09:25 PM (#1698657)
Chris Cobb wrote:

I've just calculated Marsans' major league BA+ and SLG+ for his time in the NL 1912-14...
He's only one guy and we have only 364 AB in the CWL, but his conversion factors are .87/,76...
the quality level is AA, which is probable for the CWL at this fairly early stage in its history.


While a conversion factor of .87/.76 is plausible for the CWL for this period, it seems a little
low to me. The other information that can be used to assess the performance of the CWL is their
performance against major league teams. Looking specifically at the 1910-15 era, I'm aware of
the following series:

1910 - Detroit Tigers go 7-5 against Habana and Almendares.
- World Champion Athletics (minus Collins and Baker) go 4-6.
1911 - Phillies (minus Alexander) go 5-4.
- Pennant winning Giants (fully staffed) go 9-3.
1912 - Athletics (fully staffed) go 10-2.
1913 - Brooklyn Superbas go 10-5.

Some of the Cuban teams' successes in the early years was due to major league teams not
coming fully staffed, but these teams still look better than AA to me.

Thinking about possible reasons that the Marsans comparison might be biased, I thought
of three possible reasons:

- Perhaps his style of play (aggressive base runner whose "power" mostly came from trying
to stretch out an extra base) was more suited to Cuba than to the majors.

- His first 3 Cuban seasons in this 4-year span were with an Almendares team that was
strongly oriented toward pitching and defense. (For example, in 1910-11 Almendares
won the pennant even though their team batting and slugging averages were lower than those
of their main competitor, Habana -- .216 and .263 versus .233 and .293.) In a very small
league, this means that Marsans was not facing as many top pitchers, and conversely, Johnson,
Hill, and Poles were facing tougher pitchers on average.

- With a sample of only 364 AB in the CWL, we shouldn't ignore the possibility that the data
may just be too noisy to reliably infer what we'd like to.

I agree that these data don't help Poles' case. On the other hand, he's close enough to the
other HoMers that if a strong case could be that he was a superb defensive outfielder, he
might remain in the mix.

By the way, Eric Enders wrote a very nice biography of Marsans that was published in SABR's
Deadball Stars of the National League.

Gary A Posted: October 22, 2005 at 09:27 PM (#1698668)
I'm working on reconstructing Cuban League seasons (and exhibition series) from this period from box scores. Nothing's really finished, but I can say that Carlos Moran walked a fair amount, as did Johnson and Hill. Hill hit extremely well against major league competition in 1908-09, as well as in exhibition series matching NeL teams against Cuban teams, 1904-09. (He was pretty much better than anyone, including major league hitters, in these series.)

Btw, let me reiterate my offer to send the 1927/28 Cuban League stats I've compiled to anyone who wants them.

Gary A Posted: October 22, 2005 at 09:31 PM (#1698676)
Also, Rafael Almeida played in the majors at this time, too, though only with 285 ABs.

Gary A Posted: October 23, 2005 at 09:45 AM (#1699128)
Using Brent's figures above, Almeida, with 285 Cuban League at bats and 250 major league at bats (1911-13), gets conversion rates of .88/.95.
   3. Gary A Posted: November 26, 2005 at 07:26 AM (#1746845)
Just adding to Brent's list of major league tours in Cuba:

1908 Cincinnati Reds (more or less fully staffed, though missing a couple of their best pitchers) went 6-7-1.

1909 Detroit Tigers (lacking Cobb and Crawford) went 4-8.

1909 A team of major league "All Stars," including Three Finger Brown, Addie Joss, Sherry Magee, Howie Camnitz, Fred Merkle, Germany Schaefer, and others, went 2-3.
   4. sunnyday2 Posted: November 26, 2005 at 02:01 PM (#1746894)
And if I recall it was Jose Mendez who inflicted a number of those losses.
   5. Paul Wendt Posted: November 27, 2005 at 01:26 AM (#1747488)
Is 1908 the earliest known tour, or the earliest with a record of games?
I recall reading of Cuba trips earlier in the decade, organized by Frank Bancroft (based in Cinci) and, I think, Connie Mack. Maybe they weren't consummated.
   6. Brent Posted: November 27, 2005 at 03:07 AM (#1747625)
1904 - The "All-Nationals," a mixture of major and minor leaguers, went 1-4. Major league members were Frank McManus (NY Highlanders), Dude McCormack and Dutch Jordan (Brooklyn), and Shad Barry (Cubs).

The same year the "All-Americans," another mixture of major and minor leaguers (though this time the majority were major leaguers) went 7-5. Major leaguers were Bill Bergen, Jack Doscher, and Fred Jacklitsch (Brooklyn), Joe Cassidy and Howard Wilson (Washington), Mike Donovan (Cleveland), George Davis (White Sox), and Frank Barberich (Browns).

1906 - The "All-Americans" went 7-7. Shad Barry (now with the Cardinals), Matty McIntyre (Detroit), and Rube Kroh (Boston Pilgrims) were major leaguers; a couple of others had had major league experience.

1907 - The "All-Leaguers" went 5-6. Figueredo doesn't give the full roster but mentions Matty McIntyre (Detroit), Bill Mack (Cubs), and Biff Schlitzer (Athletics), who is reported to have introduced the spitball to Cuba.

Mendez is most famous for the 1908 series against Cincinnati, when he pitched 25 consecutive scoreless innings. In his first start he pitched a one-hitter (a single by Miller Huggins in the 9th inning) and struck out 9, followed by a relief appearance of 7 scoreless innings with 2 hits, followed by another shutout. He followed that with two more shutouts against a minor league team from Key West, making 43 consecutive scoreless innings against major or minor league opposition.

In 1909 Bombin Pedroso threw an 11-inning no-hitter against Detroit (one unearned run was scored), which his Almendares team won 2-1. Mendez was 1-2 in that series and 0-2 (with one tie) in the 1910 Detroit series. In the series against the Athletics, though, Mendez was 2-0 with both victories coming against Plank. Against the Phillies in 1911 Mendez went 2-1 (including one shutout), but went 0-2 against the Giants. (Pedroso went 2-0.) In 1912 against the Athletics Mendez went 1-2 (Pedroso also went 1-2). Against Brooklyn in 1913 Mendez went 0-1 (Pedroso went 2-3).
   7. Gary A Posted: November 27, 2005 at 06:15 AM (#1747925)
Also, in 1909 Mendez defeated the "All Stars" (an all-major-league team) 3-1 on 2 hits, striking out 10. Howie Camnitz was the opposing pitcher.

His full line from the 1908 Cincinnati series:

W-2
L-0
TRA/ERA-0.00
G-3
GS-2
CG-2
SHO-2
IP-25
H-8
HR-0
R-0
W-3
K-24
HB-2
SH-0
SB-0
DP-1
WP-0
   8. Paul Wendt Posted: November 27, 2005 at 07:34 PM (#1748402)
Vaguely, I recall lots of talk about baseball and Cuba in Sporting Life during the early and mid 19-aughts. (Among lots of talk about baseball in America's new empire, in SL and Baseball Magazine before the Federal League and European wars.)

Sometimes, a scout (Ted Sullivan), military officer, or politician (Taft?) was the source or subject of a Sporting Life article on the popularity of the game or the quality of play, maybe the suitability of Cuba as a training site. It's possible that my recollection of "tours" covers some spring training trips, consummated or not.

By the way, Clyde Engle played in Panama one winter probably in the late aughts. He planned to return with a major league teammate next winter but that didn't happen.
   9. Brent Posted: November 28, 2005 at 05:34 AM (#1749129)
Adding up the series listed above (excluding the ones involving mixtures of major and minor leaguers), I count the Cuban teams going 42-57, with Mendez 9-10 and Pedroso 7-11. (One correction to the records I gave above - for the 1910 Detroit series, Detroit's record should be 7-4-1.)
   10. Gary A Posted: November 29, 2005 at 03:31 AM (#1750541)
I should have Mendez's full record (and Pedroso's, Munoz's, and other Cuban pitchers) against big league teams in Cuba, 1908-1913, in a week or so (or sooner). I'll probably post it in Mendez's thread.
   11. Paul Wendt Posted: May 07, 2006 at 02:36 AM (#2008246)
(Where better to post this? I don't know, so here it is.)

Last fortnight I found in Springfield Republican 1896 the game stories and boxes for four games the Cuban Giants played in Western Massachusetts that spring. I photocopied and mailed to Dick Clark, who chairs the SABR Negro Leagues Cmte; asked for guidance re their value, wondered what is redundant. He replied by email, Thanks (in more words). "ANY material you find, especially on the 19th century games is terrific. We hope to include all 19th century Black team games into a data base, regardless of opponent."

These were weekday games at Amherst Coll and Williams Coll, Mon-Tue May 26-27, and at Central Park of Orange, Tue-Wed Jun 17-18. I guess that the Giants played to larger crowds in the metropolis on weekends but I feel my limb giving way as I write.

I suppose that a few of you will someday find accounts from the 19-aughts if not the 19th century. Please keep this inchoate project in mind. If you are not a SABR member, the "Research" directory at sabr.org (check it out!) will always provide at least an email link to the NLC chair, who will happily provide a street address, or tell you what has been thoroughly mined if this is years from now. If the blackball theme in the HOM project has inspired you, join SABR and its NLC and volunteer to begin working on this.
   12. Paul Wendt Posted: May 07, 2006 at 02:45 AM (#2008263)
Several months ago, I wrote:
Vaguely, I recall lots of talk about baseball and Cuba in Sporting Life during the early and mid 19-aughts. (Among lots of talk about baseball in America's new empire, in SL and Baseball Magazine before the Federal League and European wars.)

Some Americans in organized baseball were talking about Cuba in 1899-1900 if not during the war. The Cuban Giants played in Cuba during winter 1900(?). I'll confirm or correct when I find again. --or is this well known?
   13. Brent Posted: May 07, 2006 at 04:26 AM (#2008353)
Cuban Giants played in Cuba during winter 1900(?).

If they did, Figueredo missed their series. He says the first American all-black team to play was the Cuban X-Giants, December 1 to December 9, 1903.

For 1900 (the first season that the Cuban League admitted black players), he records a 4-game series with the Brooklyn Superbas, November 5 through 25. Brooklyn easily won all 4 games by lop-sided scores. The next major league team Figueredo records were the 1908 Cincinnati Reds that Mendez famously shut out and the 1909 Detroit Tigers against whom Pedroso pitched a no-hitter. During the aughts several more black teams, white minor league teams, and teams made up of mixtures of major and minor leaguers also visited Cuba.
   14. Gary A Posted: May 07, 2006 at 06:06 AM (#2008397)
I looked for the 1900 series in Diario de la Marina (the only paper for that year I have access to), and did find a schedule listed, in the February 13, 1900, issue. The Cuban Giants ("Gigantes Cubanos") were supposed to play this schedule:

Feb 18: Cuba
Feb 22: Habana
Feb 25: Almendares
Mar 1 : San Francisco
Mar 4: Habana
Mar 8: Cuba
Mar 11: San Francisco
Mar 15: Almendares
Mar 18: All Cubans
Mar 22: "Pick Nine de color."

However, I wasn't able to find a trace of these games actually being played. If anybody has access to another Cuban paper for that year, maybe you could check it out. Otherwise, it'll have to wait until I get back to the Library of Congress. (For some reason, my library is completely incapable of ordering Cuban newspapers through interlibrary loan.)
   15. Brent Posted: May 07, 2006 at 06:33 PM (#2008807)
It turns out my other book on Cuban baseball, The Pride of Havana by Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria, discusses the 1900 series. He says that although they were called the Cuban Giants by the Cuban press, they were actually the Cuban X-Giants. He says they won their first game against Habana (on February 26) 6 to 5 after the first match against Cuba (Cubano?) was rained out. They continued to win against Cuban League and non-league competition, though some of the games were close. Finally a racially mixed all-star team called Criollo beat the Cuban X-Giants twice. The all-star team consisted of Agustin (Tinti) Molina (c), Carlos (Bebe) Royer (p), Esteban Prats (1b), Sirique Gonzalez (2b), Carlos Moran (3b), Jose Maria Magrinat (ss), Rafael Rodriguez (rf), Alfredo Arcano (lf) and Manuel Martinez (cf).
   16. Gary A Posted: May 07, 2006 at 08:58 PM (#2009290)
Also, the piece in Diario de la Marina gives the Cuban Giants (Cuban X-Giants) roster:

"...los afamados pitchers Robinson, Nelson y Carter; Williams y Parker catchers; Grant, notable 2a; Wilson 1a; White, S.S.; A. Jackson 3a y sus tres notables outfielders: Nelson, R. Jordan y Jackson."

"1a" = primera (1st base), etc.

This does look like the Cuban X-Giants from 1899-1900, which included:

James Robinson
John Nelson
T. Williams (c)
Frank Grant
Ed Wilson
Sol White
Andrew Jackson (3b)
William Jackson (of)
Robert Jordan

Carter could be Charles "Kid" Carter, who played for the Philadelphia Giants 1902 and after. There's a Parker listed as a lf with the 1900 Genuine Cuban Giants. I had assumed that the Williams at catcher was Clarence, but T. Williams is listed with the 1900 X-Giants.
   17. Paul Wendt Posted: March 15, 2008 at 11:39 PM (#2713468)
Early Major League Ventures into Cuba by Brian McKenna
scope 1879-1900
   18. Paul Wendt Posted: March 15, 2008 at 11:41 PM (#2713469)
"Home Run Johnson"? How will I find this again?

Answer: search for
Cuba 1900
   19. Chris Cobb Posted: June 27, 2008 at 02:57 AM (#2834072)
Here's a summary of the published data available on Grant Johnson, which I first posted to the HoM site in February of 2004.

The Case for Home Run Johnson

Here are the facts of his career as I have them, with a little bit of analysis thrown in.

1) Career -- played at highest professional level available from age 21 through age 42; was a star from his first season at least through age 39.

2) Major Roles with Championship Teams
1895 -- Co-founded with Bud Fowler (first notable black star) the Page Fence Giants, which rapidly become best black team in the midwest.
1896 -- Page Fence Giants defeat Cuban X-Giants in championship series.
1899 -- Page Fence Giants fold; most of team follows Johnson to Chicago Columbia Giants. Columbia Giants beat Chicago Union Giants in Western Championship series; Johnson hits a home run in second game of two-game series. Columbia Giants lose one-game championship match against Cuban X-Giants, but Johnson hits a home run.
1903 -- Joins Cuban X-Giants; team wins Eastern Championship
1904 -- Cuban X-Giants lose Eastern championship series to Philadelphia Giants team built by Sol White
1905-06 -- Plays for Philadelphia Giants; teams win Eastern Championship both seasons
1907-09 -- Captain of Brooklyn Royal Giants; team wins Eastern Championship in 1909.
1910 -- Plays for Rube Foster's great Leland Giants team, possibly best black team prior to the organized leagues; team wins Western Championship; Johnson hits 3rd.
1911-1913 -- Plays for New York Lincoln Giants; team wins Eastern Championship all three seasons; in 1913, plays and wins a championship series against Rube Foster's Chicago American Giants.

Also played five winters in Cuba, served for part of that time as captain of the Havanna Reds; they won 1 winter league championship with Johnson as Captain.

3) Available batting numbers from Riley's _Encyclopedia of Negro Leagues_, with some contextual information

Hit .471 in 1895 (team is minor-league level; goes 8-7 vs. white teams in the Michigan State League; team bats .310 in these games)

Won 1 batting championship in Cuba, hit .319 for his five seasons there (MattB says Cuban leagues were pitcher-dominated -- more numbers should be available)

Hit .412 in 5 exhibition games against Detroit Tigers in Cuba in 1910, outhitting both Cobb and Crawford for the series, though not Pop Lloyd, who hit about .500, I think.

In 19 career games against major-league teams, bats .293
(for comparison, Pop Lloyd hit .321 in (I think) about 30 exhibition games)
(for comparison, Honus Wagner career average .329, George Davis .297; Bill Dahlen .275; Bobby Wallace .267)

4 seasonal batting averages from late in Johnson's career, 1910-1913, available. He was teammate of Pop Lloyd during those four seasons, so we can compare the two as hitters against the same competition. Lloyd is 26-29; Johnson is 36-39.

1910
Johnson, .397; Lloyd .417
1911
Johnson .374; Lloyd .476
1912
Johnson .413; Lloyd .376
1913
Johnson .371; Lloyd .363


So, yes, Lloyd is better, but Johnson still looks like an outstanding hitter. Two most memorable anecdotal assessments of Pop Lloyd are these:

Connie Mack -- "Put Lloyd and Wagner in the same bag and whichever one you pulled out, you wouldn't go wrong."

Babe Ruth -- asked who was the best ballplayer of all time. Ruth asked, "You mean major leaguers?" "No," replied McNamee, "the greatest player anywhere." "In that case," responded Ruth, "I'd pick John Henry Lloyd."

Johnson could be only 75% the player Lloyd was still be an obvious HoMer; the evidence that he was at least that close to Lloyd in quality seems pretty strong.

4) Reputation.

Defense: Good fielding shortstop. Doesn't receive the defensive raves that Monroe and Lloyd receive, but played shortstop until he became a teammate of Lloyd's, so he must have been pretty good. Switched, I note to _second base_, not to first base or outfield, when he started teaming with Lloyd at age 36.

Offense: Best hitter of his era; patient, disciplined, power hitter. His nickname is "Home Run," after all. Wrote the chapter on hitting in Sol White's book (Rube Foster wrote the pitching chapter).
   20. Chris Cobb Posted: June 27, 2008 at 02:58 AM (#2834074)
More on Home Run Johnson [also from February, 2004]

1) Averages for 1910-1913 appear to be contemporary reports, based on play against all competition, which means _mostly_ against semi-pro teams. To give a little more context for those numbers, here are averages of similar derivation (as far as I can tell from Riley) for Johnson's top contemporaries

Johnson, age 36-39 -- .397, .374, .413, .371. Mean = .389 Line-drive power +
Lloyd, age 26-29 -- .417, .476, .376, .363. Mean = .408 Line-drive power
Hill, age 30-33, -- ,423, .400, .357, .302. Mean = .371 line-drive power +
Poles, age 20-23, -- .440, .398, .414, .487. Mean = .435 Slap Hitter, speedy
Louis Santop, age 21-24 (1911-1914). .470, .422, .429, .455. Mean = .444 Great Power

Santop is listed as playing for the New York Lincoln Giants, 1911-14
Poles is listed as playing for the New York Lincoln Giants for most of his career.

These numbers suggest that Pop Lloyd was not the top hitter during the period under consideration, but

3) Holway: compiles numbers for play of black teams against one another and against major-league and Cuban-league competition.

For pre-1920 play these numbers are small; for pre-1910 play, they are for just a handful of games; for pre-1900 play, they are practically non-existent.

That said,

Johnson's BA against black teams, 1904-1913 (no box-score records of play against black teams exist for the first 9 years of his career). Compiled by Holway. Johnson is the only player whose career began in the 19th-century listed in the table, so direct comparisons to his contemporaries are not helped much, but it gives one a greater sense of the greater scope of his career.

106-335, .316

Johnson's lifetime batting record against major-league competition, compiled by me from Holway's game accounts.

17-49, .347

This is based on records of 1 game in 1895 against the Red, partial account of 10-19 games in Cuba against the Tigers and the Athletics, 1 game against the Giants/Highlanders in 1912, and, in 1913, 1 game against the Phillies and 1 possible game against a minor-league team barnstorming with Walter Johnson, who pitched, in 1913.

1895 1-8 vs. Reds. Parrott, Phillips pitch
1910 11-24 vs. Tigers, A's. Mullin, Willett, Summers, Plank, Bender, Coombs pitch*
1912 2-4 vs. Highlanders/Giants. Drucke pitches
1913 3-13 vs. Phillies, W. Johnson team?,. Alexander, W. Johnson pitch*


*Johnson's reported averages for these two series were .412 and .417, and each Cuban team (Johnson played for one) played 10 games, so these 24 ab represent only a fraction of Johnson's performance here, but one that is consistent, at least with the quality of the rest.
**Holway's records are inconsistent on this last set of games. He indicates that H.R. Johnson's team played only one game, but the at bats don't fit with a single game, so it looks like he played in both contests. I've gone with the reported at bats and hits, but I'm not certain exactly how many games they refer to.

Results

1895 Page Fence Giants lose, 11-7
1910 Cuban teams on which H.R. Johnson go 4-7-1 vs. Tigers, 6-4 vs. Athletics
Havanna Reds, team for which Johnson probably played, goes 3-3 against Tigers, 3-2 against Athletics (other games played by Almendares Blues).
1912 Lincoln Giants win, 6-0 (Smokey Joe Williams pitching)
1913 Lincoln Giants win, 9-2 (Smokey Joe Williams pitching), Mohawk Giants beat W. Johnson's barnstormers, 1-0 in 5.5 innings (Frank Wickware pitching)


Home Run Johnson's average in all recorded at-bats vs. top competion

123-384, .320

No analysis just now, but I hope this data gives a fuller picture of the quality of Johnson's play, and the quality of black baseball vs. white baseball, in the latter part of his career.
   21. Paul Wendt Posted: June 27, 2008 at 09:27 PM (#2834924)
1899 -- Page Fence Giants fold; most of team follows Johnson to Chicago Columbia Giants. Columbia Giants beat Chicago Union Giants in Western Championship series; Johnson hits a home run in second game of two-game series. Columbia Giants lose one-game championship match against Cuban X-Giants, but Johnson hits a home run.

Is Holway the source? where?
In 1899 and 1900 many games or series are said to be for the colored championship of the world, or the amateur championship of Chicago, or some other championship.

Unions & Columbias.
from coverage by the Chicago Tribune
1899
-09-03
today, Sunday: Union @ Columbia. first game, best 3 of 5, for $100 a side, all the gate receipts, and the colored championship
. . . @Columbia 1, Union 0
-09-18
yday, Sunday: Columbia 4 @Union 2. second game of series
-09-25
yday, Sunday: @Columbia 6, Union 0. Columbias win three games and the championship but two more game may be played.
[I recall reading somewhere that Columbias won 5 of 5 but Chicago Tribune covered only the first three. I have those three boxscores and they are easy to find for anyone with access to historical Chi Trib.]

X-Giants & Columbias.
1899
-09-10
today, Sunday: Cuban (X-)Giants at Columbia Giants, "the colored championship will be settled".
But these teams played several games on the road during the next two weeks, in Indiana and Michigan at least.
   22. Gary A Posted: July 01, 2008 at 02:10 AM (#2838434)
Sorry, I don't have time to type up stats at the moment (I might later in the week if I remember), but if you check out my blog at agatetype.typepad.com, under the categories (down the right side) "cuban league statistics" and "negro league teams & players in Cuba" you can find a more precise accounting of some of Johnson's performances in the Cuban League and for Negro League teams visiting Havana.

Also, here are stats for Negro League & Cuban hitters vs. major league teams in Cuba, 1908-1913.
http://agatetype.typepad.com/agate_type/2006/03/cuban_hitters_v.html
   23. Chris Cobb Posted: July 01, 2008 at 04:00 AM (#2838567)
Is Holway the source? where?

I didn't keep my early research up to scholarly standards of source citation, so it's taken me a few days to find a moment to check.

Yes, Holway is the source. To be specific, the data on 1899 games are from _The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues_, pp. 36-37.
   24. Paul Wendt Posted: July 23, 2008 at 08:53 PM (#2869776)
Chicago Tribune 1901-01-11
Ball Player Wins a Fight
Findlay, O.,Jan. 10. --
Grant Johnson, Captain of the Chicago Giants, a colored ball team, was given the decision over Con Riley, Kid McCoy's ex-trainer, after six rounds of clever boxing here tonight. Riley says Johnson is the fastest amateur he ever faced.
   25. yest Posted: May 27, 2010 at 02:58 AM (#3544139)
I found this unsourced statement on Home Run Johnson Wikipedia site.

He also was used as a starting pitcher. A submarine pitcher of exceptional ability, he was essentially the Philadelphia Giants’ fourth starter in 1905. His gutsy mound appearances continually kept everyone questioning why he did not pitch more often.

does anyone know any information on it?
   26. yest Posted: May 27, 2010 at 03:04 AM (#3544142)
I found this unsourced statement on Home Run Johnson Wikipedia site.

He also was used as a starting pitcher. A submarine pitcher of exceptional ability, he was essentially the Philadelphia Giants’ fourth starter in 1905. His gutsy mound appearances continually kept everyone questioning why he did not pitch more often.

does anyone know any information on it?
   27. Paul Wendt Posted: June 22, 2010 at 04:17 PM (#3566603)
I feel certain that the source for almost all of that long paragraph must be the listed Reference (I quote without markup):
> Dixon, Phil S. The 1905 Philadelphia Giants (Phil Dixon's American Baseball Chronicles, Volume III). – See Phil Dixon's ...; the books

Second-hand I "know" that Dixon has a complete or nearly-complete log of 1905 games with box scores for most of them, and he has some prose account of the team season. I have not seen the book.

The Negro Leagues Book lists Johnson as a pure shortstop for the 1905 Phi Giants, and the 1906 Phi Giants and Brooklyn Giants, ... and other teams 1904 03 00 1899 97 96 95. The number of secondary and tertiary positions listed for other players is not great (zero on a few teams) but it isn't trivial either. For the 1905 Phi Giants, however, the only people with two listed positions are three primary p secondary rf. Pitcher is one listed position for only four players; the fourth is ?Osborne, secondary pitcher. This depth of coverage for player roles roughly matches what the same source provides for the 1904 and 1906 Phi Giants.
Bottom line: This paragraph has no value as evidence but it touches one of the bases.

(I have some players, team affiliations, and fielding positions that others have not compiled and disseminated, as far as I know. They end 1902/1903 however, and I don't know any mound work by Johnson.)
   28. KJOK Posted: September 17, 2011 at 06:30 AM (#3927850)

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