It had been a long time coming but on Opening Day, 1925, Walter Johnson came to Yankee Stadium as a World Series champion. News photographers were there on April 14, 1925, capturing a pre-game handshake between the great pitcher and Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert.
There’s no doubt Ruppert coveted Johnson, who had been a thorn in the Yankees’ side for years and had just ended the Yanks’ one-year reign as champions.
A surviving, original example of that moment is on the block through RMY Auctions.
The game’s most famous pitcher was beginning the last stage of his brilliant career, having led the Washington Senators to the 1924 title in a hard-fought battle against the New York Giants. The title ended a long drought for Johnson, who had the misfortune of pitching for some woeful teams during his long tenure in D.C.
Ruppert played the role of good sport, having watched his Babe Ruth-led squad lose the pennant by two games the year before. Johnson didn’t pitch that day and Ben Paschal’s homer and three RBI led New York to a 5-1 win. It would be the only day the team would spent in first place all year.
Johnson did start the Senators’ home opener on April 22, tossing a complete game in a 10-1 shellacking of the Yanks. Washington again won the A.L. pennant as Johnson reeled off 20 more wins en route to his career total of 417, but they lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series. It was his Johnson’s last 20-win season.