Walter Johnson Spent Two Decades As a Washington Senator, But Couldn't Get Elected to Congress

Stephen Douglas
Walter Johnson Celebrates 20 Years With Senators
Walter Johnson Celebrates 20 Years With Senators / Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Eighty years ago today, Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt won his third consecutive presidential election. Meanwhile, Republican Walter Johnson lost the race for congress in Maryland's 6th district. Losing is something that Johnson had felt before as he has the fourth-most losses in MLB history.

Johnson was one of the first five people ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and has 417 wins, the second-most in history. After spending two decades dominating MLB as a Washington Senator, it makes perfect sense to have him run for office. So he was recruited by his friend, the Speaker of the House, Joe Martin. In Martin's terrifyingly titled book, My First Fifty Years in Politics, he explained why Johnson maybe came up short in his race.

"Since Johnson was an utterly inexperienced speaker, I got some of the boys to write two master speeches for him—one for the farmers of his district and the other for the industrial areas. Alas, he got the two confused. He addressed the farmers on industrial problems, and the businessmen on farm problems."

Just incredible. Not quite as impressive as Babe Ruth eating four steaks in the story in the next paragraph of the book, but still that's a pretty great way to tank a campaign.