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Circa 1919-22 walter johnson washington senators road jersey

  • USA
  • 2006-06-24
About the object
Walter Johnson: “The Big Train” Hailing from tiny Weiser, Idaho, 19 year old Walter Johnson was signed by the lackluster Washington Senators to shore up their pitching woes. The Senators needed a shot in the arm. After all, the American League team had losing records in each year since they joined the league in 1902. Initial expectations of the young man some called a country boy was mixed. On the one hand, team officials were overjoyed when they received news that Walter had pitched 75 scoreless innings in the Idaho State League without giving up a single run. On the other hand, one of their more cynical scouts thought that trying to tame the pitchers fast ball in the big leagues was like going on “a wild goose chase”. However, fate blessed not only the Capital City but anyone who loved the game of baseball when Walter came to the District of Columbia to hone his skill on the mound in 1907. Sure he spent each of his magnificent seasons with only one team, the Washington Senators, but he, in a sense, belonged to all. He became, simply, the number one baseball pitching star in a galaxy of stars with names revered a century later, names like Cy Young, Grover “Old Pete” Alexander and Christy Mathewson. By the time “The Big Train” finished his spectacular playing career, he had notched 416 victories backed by a generally weak hitting team with 110 of them by shutout, struck out over 3,500 batters and led his team to a Worlds Championship. The modest gentleman became an idol to millions nationwide. Walter Johnson, the greatest right handed pitcher of them all, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1936, among the first class of men selected for baseball’s greatest honor. “Swat” In late 1922 Eric “Swat” Erickson retired to his farm in the small town of Jamestown, New York after concluding a solid seven-year career in Major League Baseball.  The crafty right-handed pitcher appeared in 145 games in the “bigs” winning 40 and losing 50 as a member of the New York Giants, Detroit Tigers and Washington Senators. When Erickson stepped out of the baseball limelight and settled back into the “country life” of farming and raising his family, he brought home to Jamestown memories and stories of having played with and against some of the greatest baseball players of the first quarter century. Among those recollections recorded in an interview by his hometown newspaper, in the 1970’s Erickson stated unequivocally ”Ruth was the greatest slugger of them all, don’t ever let anyone tell you any different, but Walter Johnson was the greatest pitcher.” Few could offer such an appraisal with better perspective. From 1919-1922 Eric Erickson and Walter Johnson had the privilege of each other’s company as friends and teammates with the Washington Senators. Erickson a solid contributor in his own right to the Senators pitching staff, witnessed Johnson at the height of his greatness from a vantage unlike any other. Their time together with the Senators coincided with the twilight of Johnson’s reign as the games dominant hurler. In Johnson, Erickson bore witness to a living legend. The impression was lasting.  In addition to the memories from which countless tales would be spun, Erickson carried home with him to Jamestown in 1922 other career mementos, which he tucked away in the farmhouse he had built himself by hand. The modest accumulation included typical objects such as photographs, programs, articles, pins and ticket stubs. One other item made its way back to the farm from Washington – an item that today stands as one of the games greatest treasures. For Erickson, in spite of having worn many different jerseys throughout his professional baseball career, carried home with him a single jersey, and it was not his own. “A Washington Monument” After more than 80 years of preservation by Eric “Swat” Erickson and his heirs, we are privileged to present the only known game worn Walter Johnson jersey in private hands. Manufactured by Spalding, the grey pinstriped road jersey is constructed of thick flannel. Underneath the manufacturers tag in the collar in Johnson’s last name in finely scripted red stitching. A heavily embroidered “W” adorns each of the three-quarter length sleeves in black. The present state appears to have changed little since it was last worn by Walter. Every aspect of the jersey is unchanged, including all six original buttons. Its condition is superb, with substantial, but not excessive wear that gives it ideal display quality. Outside of the only other known Walter Johnson jersey that resides in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, this is the finest object ever discovered related to “The Big Train” and it is a national monument to baseball greatness. Articles of provenance include: A notarized letter of provenance form Eric Erickson’s granddaughter. Copies of original newspaper articles related to Erickson and Johnson. Copies of photographs of Erickson and Johnson, including two of them together (shown). A comprehensive LOA from Dave Grob, Dave Bushing and Troy Kinunen of MEARS (Grade A10).

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