Carl Johnson, former third baseman with history-making Cannon Street All-Stars, dies

Cannon Street All-Star team players Vermort “Pop” Singleton (center) and Carl Johnson (second from left) look at a 1958 Fielding Funeral Home team photo in 2005. Julius Fielding (right) was in the photo.

Carl Johnson, former third baseman with the 1955 Cannon Street All-Stars, died Monday. He was 72.

Johnson was born Aug. 19, 1942 in Charleston and had recently been living in Lake Como, N.J. He was the owner of Carl Johnson Auto Detailing in Belmar, N.J.

Johnson was the third baseman for the Cannon Street All-Stars team, a group of 12-year-old boys from four baseball teams organized by the Cannon Street YMCA, the first Little League for black youth in South Carolina. After racism prevented the boys from being able to play in the state’s championship games in 1955, they were invited to attend the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., as spectators.

They weren’t allowed to compete for the national title because they hadn’t advanced through the tournament, but their attendance was encouraged and supported by the fans in Pennsylvania, a far cry from the boycott they received from the white players in the South.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the world series event and last week the South Carolina Department of Archives and History dedicated a marker at Harmon Field, the team’s home field.

Gus Holt, historian for the baseball team, remembered Johnson fondly and recalled how they would spend hours on the phone talking baseball.

“He was not only an All-Star, but an all-star person ... they were truly all-Americans. Carl Johnson personified this as a youth and as an adult,” Holt said.

Johnson is survived by his wife, Louise Johnson; sister Marie McMullin; daughter Michele Johnson; and grandchildren Kaysonne Anderson and Keyana Johnson.

He was predeceased by his parents; brother Nathaniel Johnson; sister Nancy Johnson; and son Carl Johnson Jr.

Arrangements are being handled by Ely Funeral Home of Neptune, N.J., on Saturday. No local arrangements or memorials are known at this time.

The All-Stars have created an online petition to have the team invited to the White House in recognition of its hurdles and accomplishments within the civil rights arena. Visit www.1955cannonstreetallstars.weebly.com to sign the petition.