June 10, 2006


Charles Johnson , one of the oldest surviving Negro League ballplayers, passed away peacefully on Saturday, June 10, 2006 at the age of 96 after living a long, exciting and productive life.

Charles was born Aug. 7, 1909, in Pine Bluff, AR. He moved to Chicago in 1925 and from the age of 15 was on his own. After becoming friends with Ted ''Double Duty'' Radcliffe and Ted's brother, Alex, Charles ''Goulash'' Johnson pitched and played outfield on and off during the 1930's for the Chicago Giants, the American Giants, the Union Giants, the Illinois Giants and the Elite Giants.

Most of the time he played on barnstorming teams, primarily in Chicago, but he also traveled throughout the country and Canada. Over the past decade he has been a fixture at autograph shows and Negro League reunions.

He also was instrumental in fighting job discrimination in the 1960's, was a strong union man, and was the first African American Special Agent on the Illinois Central Railroad Police.

Charles is predeceased by his beloved Julia (1999), whom he married in 1942. Charles will be missed by Julia's relatives, Bettye Odom and Debra Albino; his dear friend, Dolly Dockery; close friend and advisor, Gary Crawford; longtime friend and former co-worker, Steven Kirby; his friend and neighbor, James Horton; and former Negro League colleagues and pals, Johnny Washington, Hank Presswood, Nathan Griffin, Bob Wiggins, Ernie Westfield and Ira McKnight.

There will be a short graveside service Friday, June 16, at 11 a.m., at Oak Woods Cemetery, 1065 E. 67th, Chicago. A Memorial Service is being planned. In lieu of flowers, contributions to benefit surviving Negro League stars can be made in Charles' memory at www.negroleaguelegends.org. Published in the Chicago Tribune on 6/15/2006