Tim Johnson has been wearing his coach’s cap for a long time, 28 years in fact, heading the varsity baseball team at Comstock Park High School, with an all-time career record of 555 wins and 302 losses.
The beloved coach reminisced about the years spent building the Panthers’ baseball program, and simply sharing his love for baseball.
“I grew up playing the game as a young kid. It was always one of my favorite things to do,” he said, noting that leading the team has always been about more than the number on the scoreboard.
“I’ve loved being around the kids and helping them be successful, enjoy the game, play hard and achieve goals,” he said.
Johnson was recently inducted into the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame during the East-West All-Star Baseball Classic game at Comerica Park. He was nominated by former Grandville High School baseball coach Jim Leonardo.
“I think just because I’m getting old,” laughed Johnson, about his Hall of Fame nomination. “They look at your overall record. We’ve had a lot of success over the years.”
Over the past 20 years, Johnson has coached teams that have won 11 conference championships, nine district championships. The 2003 team made it to state semi-finals. He became a member of the 500 Club, in 2012, when he earned his 500th career victory.
Jake Brown, a 2013 graduate, played catcher on the team. Brown said Johnson’s love for the game is evident. He fine-tunes the “little things” that perfect batting and throwing.
“He’s stayed in one spot (Comstock Park), and got a lot of wins. He’s made a huge difference,” Brown said.
About a dozen of Johnson’s players have gone on to play college baseball.
A Longtime Panther
Johnson graduated from Comstock Park High School, and planned to play football at Grand Rapids Community College, but he tore his knee during his senior year. Instead, he would become a longtime football coach there.
He started coaching football as the assistant coach at Comstock Park while still in college, and worked as an assistant in the special education department for 11 years.
He coached football at Grand Rapids Community College for 25 years, all while coaching high school baseball. He returned as assistant football coach at Comstock Park in the 2012-2013 school year.
He and his wife, Mary Rose, also enjoy watching their son, Jeremy play baseball and basketball at Sparta High School, where he gets “to be a fan more than anything.”