Customer Review

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You can't help not liking the Big Train, July 12, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Walter Johnson: Baseball's Big Train (Paperback)
Henry Thomas seems to have inherited the Big Train's genes. One gentleman does a big service to another (his grandfather)as Walter johnson is depicted in this well researched and written biography. If you are an avid fan of great pitchers, dead-ball era ballplayers, or just enjoy a heartwarming story of a well respected gentleman baseball player, this book will not disappoint. Walter "Barney" Johnson was more than just the second winningest major league pitcher of all time with a blazing fastball. First and foremost he was the sports main ambassador of goodwill as well as the idol of Washington Senator fans and the entire baseball community. The only matter that the book did not clear up with me was how he derived the nickname "Big Train." In other aspects, the book was extremely well done.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 18, 2012 1:20:54 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 18, 2012 1:22:53 AM PST
In a belated and maybe unnecessary explanation to the reviewer's question, Walter Johnson was called the Big Train because the power of his pitches was reminiscent of the vacuum whoosh sound when a railroad train passes a station and causes a reverberating disturbance which is strong enough to shake the stander-by. That he was nearly indestructable as a third-day pitcher may have worked into the legendary reputation of power. It has been recorded that children's letters reached him with the five letters "Train" for an address. By the same token, Christy Mathewson got mail with just a big "6" on it--his number with the Giants. We no longer feel towards baseball players, even the great ones, as men and boys did a hundred years ago. They replaced the heroic soldiers and feudal knights of past centuries. Sport was more than working-class diversion. It was justice and the character of the race. If the author did not mention the nomenclature of "Big Train", perhaps it was too much in his blood to even think of its origin. Trains are not the most powerful image any longer, nor the horse that preceded the "iron horse". Something has gone out of our imaginations, the anthropomorphic personifications of grace and strength, almost god-like in their magnificence.
The automobiles whipping down the highways are as air-streamed as insects. They no longer have the large eyes of our animals and the running boards of our coaches and wagons. Farewell to the past, of which we never tire.

William Ray
Willits CA 95490
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