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Publisher's Summary

To many, Walter Johnson is the greatest pitcher of all time. He was a star second to none from the dawn of the game's modern era through the "Golden Age of Sports" of the Roaring Twenties. The playing career of "The Big Train", as the sportswriters called him, spanned the era of such greats as Cy Young, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Lou Gehrig, and Al Simmons. Johnson knew every President from William Howard Taft to Franklin Roosevelt, and was friends with the likes of Will Rogers and Douglas Fairbanks.

But it wasn't Walter Johnson's blazing fastball alone that placed him on a pedestal as high as any in American sports. It was Johnson, above all others, who came to personify "gentlemanly conduct in the heat of battle", as Shirley Povich put it. One of a small number of like-minded stars tempering the game's roughneck reputation in the century's early years, he was still around to help shepherd it through its darkest hour of the "Black Sox" scandal. For several generations, Johnson's presence in the big-league consoled parents all over the country. If the game was good enough for the modest, decent, and honest Kansas farm boy, they figured, it was okay for their sons, too.

Throughout a life as full as it gets, and a career as dazzling as any in the history of sports, Walter Johnson remained an unspoiled individual, his name unmarred by any hint of wrongdoing on or off the field. This is the grand story of one of the good guys.

©1995 Henry W. Thomas (P)1997 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"A much-needed, comprehensive biography of a baseball legend." (Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • Cumming, GA, United States
  • 04-05-07

Greatest Pitcher of All Time?

All baseball fans owe it to themselves to read about one of the truly great pitchers. The book also gives an appreciation for the man and the times he pitched during.

I found the book entertaining and loved gaining a better understanding of baseball during the teens through thirties... they were very different times. It was also interesting to read about baseball in the nation's capital at the time.

In the end, this was a well done, well read book about one of the greatest baseball players in history... to appreciate baseball one needs to understand it history and this books ensures that and more.

The answer to the question in the title is... yes!

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

VERY INTERESTING

I found this book VERY interesting. Not your typical bio of a person who had a rough life and fought his way through trouble, etc... But a story about a regular guy, with irregular talent who found motivation in his pride. How hard this man worked his entire life, is more than inspiring.
But, this book is for REAL baseball fans. If not, you may get bored at times. If you love the game, and its players, its worth reading about, maybe the best pitcher to throw a ball.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The Long Career of Walter "Big Train" Johnson

This book is about baseball's first great pre WWII power pitcher that won over 400 games, more than the immortals Christy Mathewson, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Warren Spahn, Bob Feller, Bob Gibson, Greg Maddox and every other prolific ace pitcher enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

Cy Young, who won 511 games was the only pitcher to win more games than the Big Train's 417.

Moreover, Johnson is the all time strike out leader for half a century before the 1980s, 1990s and early 21st Century when Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson and five other pitchers surpass his 3,506 -- a record that stood for five decades.

Today Walter Johnson is ranked ninth among all time great strikeout leaders.

Beyond baseball it is interesting to note that the genteel Walter Johnson ran for Congress as a Republican nominee in my old district where a high school is named after him in the Washington suburbs of Maryland.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing story.

Great story but the narration suffered a bit. Any time he read a quotation it was one of two voices and intonations.