The train that threw lightning

One of baseball's greatest pitchers grew up an average kid on a farm north of Humboldt. Walter Johnson discovered sports by tossing a rubber ball over the Crescent Valley one-room schoolhouse.

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November 16, 2020 - 9:49 AM

As one enters Humboldt, there are enormous billboards celebrating Walter Johnson and George Sweatt. Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

Long before Walter “Big Train” Johnson became arguably the greatest pitcher in Major League Baseball history, he was just your average kid on a farm north of Humboldt.

Though the family’s white clapboard house is long-gone from where it once stood, one dreams the place abuzz with activity nonetheless, breaking through the silence of farm fields under cloudless cobalt skies.

Walter Johnson.Courtesy photo

There in the river one could swim all summer in dark water, and fish under willow trees that still bend in the soft wind.

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