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Ralph Johnson

Ralph Johnson
Nickname: Big Cat

Career: 1950-1954
Positions: ss, 3b, of
Teams: Birmingham Black Barons (1950), Indianapolis Clowns (1950-1952), Kansas City Monarchs (1952-1954)
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Born: November 24, 1924, Bartow, Florida

The beginning of this infielder's career coincided with the years when the Negro American League was struggling to survive the loss of players to organized baseball. He was primarily a shortstop, and most of his career in the Negro Leagues was after they were no longer of major league quality. He also played third base and in the outfield. He began playing semi-pro baseball for the Lakeland Tigers at age eighteen, and also played with semi-pro clubs in Tampa, Miami, and Santo Domingo prior to joining the Birmingham Black Barons in 1950, where he played with Willie Mays.

After leaving Birmingham, he played with the Indianapolis Clowns in the early 1950s, when they were no longer of major-league quality but featured Hank Aaron and female second baseman Toni Stone. He also played with the New Orleans Creoles and the Kansas City Monarchs, where he hit .296 in 1954, his last season in the Negro American League. Afterward he returned to Florida, played semi-pro ball, and drove a truck. After retiring in 1983, he moved to Atlanta and managed a poolroom.

Baseball Career Highlights:
"I was chosen for the East-West All Star game five straight years."

Professional/Personal Accomplishments:
"After leaving baseball, I started driving a big 18-wheeler. I drove trucks from 1958-1984. Then, I opened a pool hall in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1990, I adopted a son. I stopped working in the pool hall in 1994 to spend more time with him."

NLBM Legacy 2000 Players' Reunion Alumni Book
, Kansas City Missouri: Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Inc., 2000.

James A. Riley, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1994.

Ralph Johnson photo

Ralph Johnson