Chicago native Johnny Washington was born on April 20, 1930. Upon graduating from Morgan Park High School in 1949, he tried out for the Negro League’s Chicago American Giants and made the team. Washington played for the Giants until 1950. He then played for the Houston Eagles. A versatile player, Washington played pitcher, first base and outfield with the Negro Leagues until 1951, when he joined the U.S. Marines, serving in the Korean War.
Washington played baseball on the U.S. Marine national championship team in 1952. He was wounded twice and received two Purple Hearts and a Silver Star. Because of his injuries, doctors told Washington to find another career upon leaving the military. However, an undeterred Washington played baseball in the minor leagues from 1955 to 1959 before retiring to spend more time with his family.
His semipro baseball career in the Chicago and Midwest League lasted through 1963. During this time, Washington led the league in hitting seven times and in pitching with the most wins eight times. Washington has directed Little League teams for the past twenty-five years. Presently, Washington resides in Chicago. He is the proud parent of five children and has thirteen grandchildren.