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Gabby Street; Walter JOHNSON (HOF);

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Biography

Gabby Street was known as "Walter Johnson's catcher," yet he gained his greatest acclaim for catching a baseball dropped from the top of the Washington Monument. He started his professional career with Hopkinsville in the Kitty League in 1890, playing for the princely sum of $60 per month. Sold to Terre Haute in the Central League and then to Cincinnati, he made his big league debut in 1904. Street bounced around, going from Cincinnati to the Boston Braves and back to Cincinnati in 1905. The next two seasons he played with the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League. In 1908 he was sold to Washington and returned to the major leagues. Street played for Washington just four years, the last two being on a part-time basis. His best batting average during that time was .222. The Big Train, Walter Johnson, credited Street for helping him maintain his concentration. "What a catcher he was," Johnson said, "a big fellow-- a perfect target, a great arm, spry as a cat back of the plate, always talking… full of pep and fight. Gabby was always jabbering and never let a pitcher take his mind off the game. When we got in a tight spot Gabby was right there to talk it over with me. He never let me forget a batter's weakness." The young Johnson won 14 and 13 games in Street's first two seasons, then 25 in each of Street's last two seasons in Washington. While with the Senators, Street settled a bet between two sportsmen by catching a ball tossed from the top of the Washington Monument on the morning of August 21, 1908. (He missed 14 before he caught one). Although reportedly "considerably jarred by the impact," he pocketed a $500 prize and then later that day caught Walter Johnson's 3-1 victory over the Tigers. Street was traded to the New York Highlanders in December 1911 and later returned to the minor leagues. When the United States entered the First World War, Street enlisted, saw action in Europe, and left with the rank of sergeant. He was later known as "Old Sarge."



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