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A New Sign Marks the Birthplace of Walter Johnson, the “Humboldt Thunderbolt” – and One of the “Five Immortals” of Baseball

While many of Signco’s sign projects are all about creating something new, every now and again, there’s an opportunity to work on a classic sign restoration. Signco recently had the pleasure of working with a small Kansas community in renovating a large sign honoring Walter Johnson, one of the first baseball players to ever be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Before jumping into the restoration project, let’s take a closer look at “The Humboldt Thunderbolt”!

In 1936, Walter Johnson was among the first five baseball legends inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Johnson, along with Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth, and Honus Wagner were deemed the “Five Immortals.”

Walter Johnson – National Baseball Hall of Famer.

Johnson was born in 1887 in Humboldt, Kansas, and lived there until 1902 when his family moved to Orange County, California. In 1907 the 19-year-old was signed to the Washington Senators (who became the Minnesota Twins in a 1960 relocation) where he spent his entire 21-year career. A right-handed pitcher, Johnson set numerous baseball records – many of which still stand almost a century later! During his career some of his nicknames included “Barney,” “The Big Train,” and “The Big Swede,” but his hometown fondly referred to him as “The Humboldt Thunderbolt.”

Before and After. The Walter Johnson sign on 169 Hwy outside of Humboldt, Kansas.

For years a large billboard stood next to 169 Hwy marking Humboldt as Johnson’s birthplace. But time and weather took their toll on the sign – to the degree that it had become largely unreadable – in fact, the decrepit sign was on the verge of collapse. Humboldt’s hometown hero deserved better, the time had come to honor him anew.

Signco was engaged to recreate the sign – and also make it bigger and better. The Signco team went to work cleaning, restoring, and expanding the existing sign frame. Next up were all new graphic panels emblazoned with “The Humboldt Thunderbolt,” along with a list of his most notable Hall of Fame achievements.

A massive portrait of Johnson had been donated by renowned artist, Graig Kreindler, famous for his baseball paintings. Signco weatherproofed and secured the large painting to the billboard bringing the custom sign project to a close – leaving Humboldt with what might be described as a “visual” home run, one that properly honored their homegrown Baseball Hall of Famer.


No matter the size and scope of your next visual project, the signage experts at Signco will do their best to hit it out of the ballpark! Send the Signco team an online message today to get started!