Students don’t know enough about Walter Johnson


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Walter Johnson looks onto the field during a game with the Washington Senators. After baseball, Johnson served on the Montgomery County Council and made a difference in the community.


WJ is named after one of the greatest starting pitchers of all time, Walter Johnson. Johnson is second all-time in wins, seventh all-time in ERA and third all-time in innings pitched. He was one of the first five players ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame back in 1936. But do WJ students know anything about this?

The answer is no. I roamed the halls of WJ, asking people what they new about Walter Johnson. I randomly approached 28 people, total. First, I asked them if they knew who Walter Johnson was; what was he famous for? Twenty-six out of 28 people at least knew he was a baseball player. I then asked those 26 people who knew he was a baseball player to name his team. Only two people knew he played for the Washington Senators. One person said Nationals, which is close, I guess, and the rest of the 23 didn’t know. Then, I asked them if they knew what position he played. Only six people knew Johnson was a pitcher, surprisingly 15 people had no idea, and I got five wrong answers among them: three people thought he was an outfielder, one person thought he was a hitter and one person helpfully suggested “isn’t he the one with the glove?”

What about who Johnson was as a person? The last question I asked was if they knew anything about Johnson’s character. Of the group, 19 people said they didn’t know anything and seven people gave me answers to varying accuracy.

There were a couple of good answers like “he was a loving person who respected others.” Another said he was a very charitable person. One person said he was a self made man who built everything he had.

One student simply said Johnson was “a cool guy.” Perhaps the most concerning answer I received was when one student said he didn’t know much about Johnson as a person, but did know that he attended WJ (Johnson wasn’t even alive when WJ opened).

It’s unfair to ask WJ students to become  experts on everything about Walter Johnson, but they certainly should know something other than that he was a baseball player.

I found an archived article about WJ’s school history on its website. In the article, there is a detailed part about Walter Johnson and what it means to be named after him.

“Besides being a great sportsman, Walter Johnson was also a quality human being,” the site reads. “The Johnson name stood for honesty and modesty. He had an even temperament, didn’t smoke nor drink, and his worst cuss word was “darn”. WJ students should be proud that their school is named after such a man as Walter Johnson.”

Why aren’t WJ students made aware of this? To most WJ students, Walter Johnson was merely some baseball player and nothing more.  

Still Johnson is someone students can look up to for what it means to be a quality human being. Administration should make an effort to make Johnson’s presence felt inside the halls of WJ, instead of just one plaque outside the school with incorrect statistics on it.