Byron Emmerson "Mex" Johnson ("Jew Baby"), born September 16th, 1911 in Little Rock, AR,1 was a Negro League Baseball player from 1931 to 1940.
Byron Johnson was the 9th and final child of Joseph Johnson and Lizzie (nee Golden) Johnson.2 He grew up in Little Rock, AR and attended Stephens Elementary School, Gibbs High School, Dunbar High School and Dunbar Junior College in Little Rock.3 He was nicknamed "Mex" as a youth or wearing a hat that resembled a sombrero.
Johnson was a small,4 well-fielding shortstop. He began playing semi-professionally in Little Rock with the local Highland Sports5 before playing in the Negro Southern League in 1931 with the Little Rock Grays6 7 and in 1933 with the Little Rock Stars.8 In the mid-1930s, Johnson played football and baseball at Wiley College in Marshall, TX. He also played during the summers with the semi-pro Dubisson Tigers of Little Rock from about 1933-1937. While playing for Dubisson, he was discovered by the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League and joined the team in 1937. He quickly became the Monarchs' primary shortstop and was selected to start for the West team in the 1938 East-West all-star game.9 Playing at Comiskey Park in Chicago on August 21st, Johnson went 1-4 in the game.10 The following two season, Johnson was shifted to play with the Satchel Paige All-Stars,11 an affiliate team of the Monarchs. Johnson retired from baseball following the 1940 season.12
After baseball, Johnson was an Army staff sergeant in World War II and worked as a teacher at Dunbar High School and the U.S. Post Office in Little Rock. He moved with his family to Denver, CO in 1958 following the tumultuous integration of nine black students into Little Rock Central High School in 1957, among whom was Johnson's niece Carlotta Walls. Johnson worked for the Post Office in Denver for a number of years and died in Denver on September 24th, 2005.13 He was buried in Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, CO.14
"DENVER - Mr. Byron "Mex" Johnson , 94, of Denver, Colo., formerly of Little Rock, found eternal rest on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2005. He was a graduate of and later taught and coached at Dunbar High School, where in 1929 he had played football. "Mex" played on several teams in the Negro American Baseball League, including many years with the Kansas City Monarchs . He also authored the recently released Legacy of a Monarch. He is survived by his daughter, Jacquelyn Johnson Benton of Denver. Funeral services for Mr. Johnson will be 1 p.m. today, Sept. 28th, in Denver. Services entrusted to Advantage Aurora Chase Mortuary."15
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com.
Statistics at the Seamheads Negro Leagues Database.
3 Legacy of a Monarch: an American Journey, by Jan Sumner, 2005.
4 Johnson's WWI draft card gives his height at 5'5" and his weight as 150 lbs.
5 Legacy of a Monarch: an American Journey, by Jan Sumner, 2005.
7 Arkansas Gazette, 7/17/1931, p.14
8 Arkansas Gazette, 5/3/1933, p.11
11 Also called the Kansas City Travelers and the Kansas City Monarch Travelers, and sometimes billed as the Kansas City Monarchs.
12 Legacy of a Monarch: an American Journey, by Jan Sumner, 2005.
13 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 9/28/2005
15 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 9/28/2005