SNOW HILL – County officials approved plans for a memorial to honor a legendary baseball player born in Snow Hill.
The Worcester County Commissioners last week approved a request from the Worcester County Historical Society to erect a memorial honoring baseball player William Julius Johnson — better known as Judy Johnson — on the grounds of the Snow Hill library.
“I think it’s long overdue,” said C. Newton Weaver Jr., president of the Worcester County Historical Society.
Johnson was born in 1899 in Snow Hill and went on become a star player in the Negro Leagues in the 1920s and 1930s.
“It’s amazing how many people just didn’t know that he was born in Snow Hill,” Weaver said.
He said Johnson was known for his skill as a ballplayer as well as his upbeat attitude in spite of discrimination and dealing with Jim Crow regulations.
“He was not only a good ballplayer he was a good human being,” Weaver said.
Johnson was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975 and the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996. He died in 1989 in Wilmington, Del.
“It’s amazing he was able to accomplish what he did,” Weaver said.
Weaver said the concept of a memorial in Johnson’s honor came up after a Stephen Decatur High School student included an essay on the ballplayer with his application for a scholarship from the Worcester County Historical Society a few years ago.
“To me it was inspirational,” he said.
When members of the group realized there was nothing in Snow Hill to commemorate the fact that Johnson had been born there and spent the first six years of his life in the town, they decided to change that. Weaver said the library was selected as an ideal location for the marker, which will be black granite, because it was highly visible.
“It’s central,” Weaver said. “We want people to see it every day, riding by or walking by.”
He was thrilled that the commissioners approved the plan to put the marker — which is being paid for by the Worcester County Historical Society — on the library property.
“I was overwhelmed by the consensus of the commission,” Weaver said.
Though fundraising for the project is still underway, Weaver hopes the memorial will be installed in the spring. Anyone interested in donating to the cause can send checks to Worcester County Historical Society c/o Bob Fisher, 230 S. Washington St., Snow Hill, Md., 21863.