John A. Britton
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 5' 8", Weight 160 lb.
- Debut 1940
- Final Game 1948
- Born April 21, 1919 in Mount Vernon, GA USA
- Died December 2, 1990 in Oak Forest, IL USA
John Britton was a Negro League infielder for 11 years and played two years in Japan, where he made several notable firsts. He was a third baseman.
Britton began his career with the Minnesota Gophers, a minor black team, in 1940. He drew interest from the Ethiopian Clowns and Homestead Grays and signed with the former, also in 1940. With the Clowns, he continued to develop as a hitter while getting into the team's usual acts on the field. His most notable clowning act was wearing a wig over his shaved head, then throwing it on the ground during arguments with umpires.
Britton hit .389 for the 1943 Cincinnati Clowns and was traded to the Birmingham Black Barons for Hoss Walker. With Birmingham, Britton was a key player in the heart of the order, batting third for the next five years.
In 1944, Johnny hit .324, 5th in the Negro American League. He hit 11 doubles, tied with Alec Radcliff for 5th in the NAL. He helped the team to the NAL pennant. Unfortunately, he and four teammates were injured in a car accident; Britton dislocated his left hand. James Riley states that Britton missed all but one game of the 1944 Negro World Series while John Holway writes that he missed every game - but Holway also lists Britton as playing in the Series, going 2 for 16, indicating he played every game (if not up to his usual level).
Britton batted .333 in 1945 and also spent part of the year in the Mexican League, hitting .280/~.346/.364 in 29 games for Veracruz. In 1946, John batted .262, followed by a .336 campaign in 1947 and .289 in 1948. He played in the 1948 Negro World Series, which Birmingham lost. That year, he was moved to second in the batting order.
Britton went to Nippon Pro Baseball in 1952 along with Jimmy Newberry. He was sent by the St. Louis Browns to the Hankyu Braves, making it the first deal of a MLB team sending players to a team outside of the US or Canada. Britton was the first gaijin in Hankyu club history. He hit .316/.338/.416 in 1952, not almost entirely as a contact hitter. He was the first foreign player ever picked for an All-Star team when he was on the Pacific League squad that year. He finished 5th in the PL in batting average.
Britton slipped in 1953, batting .276/.286/.331 with only 3 walks in 448 plate appearances; he only struck out 13 times, though. That was Britton's final season in professional baseball.
- The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James Riley
- The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues by John Holway
- Japan Baseball Daily by Gary Garland
- The Mexican League: Comprehensive Player Statistics by Pedro Treto Cisneros