Bethesda Historical Society

January 23, 2024 - Bethesda's 153rd birthday!

Walter Johnson

Walter Johnson lived with his family from 1925 to 1936 in this house at 9100 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda. Click here to read more about the house. 

Play Video

The Story of Walter Johnson & the World Series, a 12-minute video documentary by Ted Chalfen (2016)

Walter Johnson was one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history and among the very first inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Called “The Big Train” because of his overpowering fastball, Johnson pitched 21 seasons for the Washington Senators  from 1907 to 1927 and later managed seven seasons in the majors.

In 1925, Walter Johnson purchased a house for his large family in the Alta Vista area of Bethesda at 9100 Old Georgetown Road. He later moved to a farm in Germantown.

Johnson served as an elected member of the Board of Commissioners of Montgomery County and ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1940.  He died of a brain tumor in 1946 at age 59 and was interred at Rockville Union Cemetery in Rockville, Maryland.

A collegiate summer baseball team based in Bethesda is named the “Big Train” in honor of Walter Johnson. Since its beginning in 1999, more than 175 of its players have gone on to play professional baseball, including 16 in the major leagues. Click here for more information about The Big Train baseball team, its founder Bruce Adams, and the Shirley Povich Field where the team plays.

Walter Johnson on Big Train TV

The third episode of Safe at Home Tuesdays on features host and Big Train founder Bruce Adams interviewing Hank Thomas, Walter Johnson’s grandson, and sports broadcaster Tim Kurkjian on the Hall of Fame pitcher (a 52-minute video).

Johnson ran as a Republican for Congress from the 6th district in Maryland in 1940, but lost by 53% to 47%.

Thanks to Bruce Adams for the Walter Johnson memorabilia