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Oscar "Heavy" Johnson

Inducted 2023

Oscar "Heavy" Johnson

Oscar “Heavy” Johnson
Born: Atchison, Kansas Died: October 9, 1960

Oscar “Heavy” Johnson was an outstanding baseball player from an early age – but it took the nation a while to notice.
Johnson was born in Atchison, Kan., April 20, 1895, to a family of nine siblings and was the youngest of the bunch. By 1913, he enlisted in the Army, initially residing in the Columbus (Ohio) Barracks. Johnson was assigned to Company K in the 25th Infantry Regiment. It was one of four all-Black U.S. Army units formed in 1866 -- collectively known as the “Buffalo Soldiers.” The 25th Infantry’s baseball team was established in 1893 by Col. Andrew S. Burt.
On January 15, 1913, the 25th Infantry arrived at Schofield Barracks on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. It was here where the regiment baseball team became known as the “Wreckers”— one of the top professional teams in the country. Johnson would have success with the 25th Infantry squad, thanks to his massive power at the plate. He was small in height but was quite muscular standing 6-0 and weighing 250 lbs., hence the nickname “Heavy.” One description of him indicated that his biceps matched most men's thighs.
After 10 successful years with the 25th Infantry, Johnson turned professional and joined the Kansas City Monarchs. His initial season for the Monarchs was magnificent, finishing with a .406 batting average and .715 slugging percentage in 68 games (including league and interleague contests). He clubbed 19 doubles, 11 triples, and 11 homers while stealing nine bases. He followed that up the next season with another .400 season and the NNL Triple Crown. His .406/.471/.722 slash line over 98 games included the league’s top slugging percentage, and he also paced the circuit in OPS (1.193), homers (20), RBIs (120), doubles (32), and runs scored (91).
In 11 seasons in the Negro Leagues, Johnson hit .370 with a .428 on-base percentage and .592 slugging percentage. Per 162 games, he averaged 109 runs, 215 hits, 39 doubles, 17 triples, 19 home runs, 141 runs batted in, 16 stolen bases. After retiring from the Negro Leagues, Johnson reportedly played for the independent Detroit Cubs in 1935 at age 40.
A member of the Kansas Baseball Hall of Fame, Johnson died October 9, 1960, in Cleveland, Ohio.
Photo Courtesy of Kristen Otte of Visit Atchison (Mural located in Atchison, Kan.

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