On July 22, 1923, Washington Senator’s, Walter Perry “The Big Train” Johnson, became the first pitcher to pass the 3,000 strike out milestone when he faced Cleveland Indian’s right handed losing pitcher Stan Coveleski.
Johnson assisted the Senators in a 3-1 victory over the Indians.
Johnson played for the Senators from his debt in 1907 to his retirement from the sport in 1927. His fast ball was legendary, but the speed will forever be unknown since the radar gun was not invented until the 1940s. His arm gave him 3,508 batters and 20 plus wins for 10 consecutive seasons.
The strength and command Johnson demonstrated from the pitcher’s mound makes him one of the greatest major league pitchers to step on the mound. But, to many experts he is second to Cy Young. He was inducted in to the Baseball Hall of Fame with the class of 1936.
Johnson was born to a farm family in Kansas but did not start playing baseball until they moved west where sports writer Grantland Rice dubbed him with the name “Big Train” because trains were the fastest thing in the world at the time. His final major league appearance came as a pinch-hitter in what was Babe Ruth’s 60th home run of the season (September 30, 1927).
Detroit Tigers outfielder Ty Cobb said this about Johnson’s fast ball, “Just speed, raw speed, blinding speed, too much speed.”