It was the “little things” that Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Johnson said he remembers most fondly about his time in high school.
Before donning the orange and black, Johnson was a blue and gold Crusader at St. Paul’s School where he visited Friday to speak with students. He shared stories about his experience in the minor leagues and coach Buck Showalter’s ability to switch from scary to funny like a light switch, among other things.
“I like being able to come back and be somebody that they want to listen to. I’m one of them,” Johnson said.
He preached to a chapel full of young men to enjoy their time being part of a team in high school.
“I had a great time here. I loved playing here,” he said.
Steve Johnson isn't the only major leaguer that got his start at a Maryland private school. Watch here.
Johnson was a freshman back in 2002 when he was part of a championship-winning team that knocked off the favored Calvert Hall, 4-1.
“You hear 300 guys come out as freshman [at Calvert Hall]. To be able to come out and beat them like we did, it was awesome and it was good for the school,” Johnson said.
The team went onto repeat success the following season, taking down Calvert Hall again in the championship.
“We had a great core group of guys,” he said.
But outside of baseball, Johnson says he misses the little things that shaped his high school experience.
“It was the little things—free periods that you got to hang out with your buddies, doing homework or hanging out,” Johnson said. “I know my good group of friends we would order Chinese [food] every Tuesday and we’d eat it in Mr. Brown’s room. Little things like that.”
His sophomore trip stuck out in his mind, as well.
“It rained the whole time, like four hours canoeing in the rain. ... We had to cut it out early because the campsite was basically flooded. We had to camp in the gym here,” Johnson said. “I enjoyed waking up every day and coming to school.”
It was that passion for his St. Paul’s days that he passed on to his fellow Crusaders. He shook hands with lower school students at the carpool drop off in the morning. He answered questions in open forum an hour later.
Johnson then granted two interviews to both the school’s radio station, and it’s student-run newspaper The Page.
The day-long meet and greet was part of Charley Mitchell’s alumni relations program where he tries to introduce the students to the school’s diverse graduate network.
“I think his message is perseverance and determination and that can resonate with the kids,” Mitchell, the program’s director, said. “That’s one thing that they stress here with the kids.”
Mitchell was talking specifically about Johnson’s tenure in the minor leagues, where he pitched in 117 games. He was acquired in a trade from the Dodgers in July 2009.
“There were times when he wanted to give up a few years ago, but didn’t,” Mitchell said.
Johnson described his early days in the minor leagues as "not fun," which was met with laughter.
"Last year was my eighth year and I could say that it worked out and I made it, but there were times when I thought to myself, maybe I should've gone to college," Johnson said, landing another subtle joke.
Johnson was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 13th round of the 2005 amateur draft, according to www.baseball-reference.com.
This season he worked his way out of the minors and into 12 games with the Orioles
He said his only regret was not taking a longer moment to fully appreciate the blue and gold banner that hung in the stands the night he earned his first professional start.
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