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Edwin "Big Ed" Johnson

Inducted 1968


All sports in Colorado—and baseball in particular—will forever be indebted to Edwin Carl Johnson, better known as “The Grand Old Man of Colorado Politics.” He was honored for his contributions to the world of baseball by induction into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.

Johnson, who served three terms as a United States Senator (1937-55) and two stretches (three terms) as governor of the State of Colorado (1933-1937, 1955-1957), professed a love for baseball as great as that for politics. “Big Ed” got into baseball by accident at the age of 63.

The late Jack Carberry, sports editor of the Denver Post, vigorously shook a finger under Johnson’s nose and said: “You’re the man to reorganize the Western League.”

Reorganize it he did—in time for the 1947 season. In the years to come, the Western League was to become the envy of minor league baseball. With Denver as the hub, the league drew as high as 1,361,061 fans in its third year of operation. Denver pulled in 463,039 of this. Johnson served as Western League President—without pay—until 1956.

Among Johnson’s lasting sports contributions to Denver and Colorado was his behind-the-scenes work in the building of Bears Stadium. He negotiated for this site, sold $150,000 in bonds to personal friends, loaned the money to the Howsam family for the rest of the financing, and pushed the project to completion.

Johnson wrote the constitution for the proposed third major league, the Continental League, turned down an offer to become its president and at one time was mentioned for the post of Commissioner of Baseball.

You’re the man to reorganize the Western League.