Lost Pictures–Walter Johnson Steamrolls the American League

20 Jun

walterjohnsonsteam

A 1912 publicity photo featuring Walter Johnson at the wheel of a steamroller, and Senators catcher Eddie Ainsmith with the shovel at Griffith Stadium in Washington.  The photo was taken on June 17; the Senators had just returned from Cleveland having won 16 straight games–all on the road.  During the streak, the Senators had gone from 17-21 in sixth place, to 33-21, just one and a half games behind the Boston Red Sox.

The Washington Times said “It was considered an omen of continued triumph” that the steamroller was “found on the grounds.”

The Senators won the following day and continued playing well the rest of the way, finishing 91-61, their first winning season in the team’s 12-year history.  But, it was not good enough to catch the Red Sox who finished 14 games in front.

Johnson had his first of two 30-win seasons, finishing 33-12 with a league-leading 1.39 ERA.

Ainsworth played in the major leagues for 15 years, the first nine with the Senators.  The Washington Post said before the season opener in 1915:

“For the seventh consecutive year Walter Johnson will work in the opening clash for the home folks, and in nearly as many seasons will Eddie Ainsworth be his battery mate.  This pair always work together and no pitcher and catcher in either league are better acquainted when it comes to baseball.”

Eddie Ainsmith

Eddie Ainsmith

Several weeks after Ainsmith was traded to Boston (then to Detroit on the same day) in January of 1919, Louis Dougher a writer for The Washington Times said:

“When Eddie Ainsmith was traded to Detroit via Boston, Clark Griffith shattered on of the crack batteries…it was Johnson and (Charles “Gabby”) Street.  Then when Gabby slowed up and gave way to a successor, it rapidly became Johnson and Ainsmith.”

Age, more than the departure of Ainsmith slowed Johnson down, but he still won 140 games and posted three 20-win seasons after his personal catcher was traded.

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9 Responses to “Lost Pictures–Walter Johnson Steamrolls the American League”

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