Tonight (Sunday, December 5) we will find out whether or not a Western New York baseball legend will be joining a very elite club – membership in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. Pioneering African American ballplayer, Grant “Home Run” Johnson, who is interred in Lakeside Cemetery in Hamburg, is a finalist on the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s “Early Baseball Era” ballot.
“Home Run” Johnson was an outstanding African American professional baseball player during the late 1800’s/early 1900’s whose race prohibited him from playing Major League Baseball. He became a legend of the “Negro Leagues.”
Born in Findlay, Ohio on September 23,1872, Mr. Johnson began his notable career in professional baseball in 1894 with the Findlay Sluggers, a semi pro team, where he earned his nick name “Home Run” after it was said he belted 60 homers during the season. Later, he co-founded and played for the Page Street Giants in Adrian, Michigan until the team folded in 1898. Grant then moved to Chicago where he played for the Chicago Columbia Giants. In 1903-1904 he played for the Cuban X-Giants, winning the Eastern Championship in 1903. Then with the Philadelphia Giants in 1905-1906, his team won championships both seasons. Grant continued to play for various teams, including some on Buffalo, until his retirement in 1933. He lived the remainder of his life in Buffalo, working for New York Central Railroad.
Grant Johnson is one of seven Negro Leagues and pre-Negro Leagues figures being considered for admission in the Baseball Hall of Fame by the “Early Baseball Era” committee (made up of 16 professional baseball writers from across the country), alongside three stars from the American League and National League. The ballot is composed of candidates whose primary contributions to the sport came before 1950. Any candidate who receives votes on 75 percent of the ballots cast by the committee members will earn election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and will be inducted in Cooperstown on July 24, 2022.
The results of the Early Baseball Era Committee vote will be announced tonight at 8:00 pm on the MLB (Major League Baseball) Network, which is a subscription-based cable channel. Here’s a link to the MLB Network website, so you can visit the site on Sunday evening to get the news: MLB Network