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Johnson leaves Cardinal baseball team on solid ground

In 12 years of coaching, there are bound be a lot of memories created and that is definitely the case for former Cardinal baseball coach Roger Johnson.

Since submitting his letter of resignation in late February, Johnson has had a chance to reflect on some of those memories. His list of recollections is long and ranges from the competitiveness of the sport to the light-hearted moments he shared with his teams over the years.

Some of those that stick out are the 1996 team that won the North Subsection as the No. 8 seed, Mitch Loch stealing home against Minot, ND to win the game in the Moorhead Invite and the team discussions on whether or not Knute Nelson Park would flood if the water tower were to fall.

"Very difficult," Johnson said when asked how hard it was to give up coaching. "It is something that I have been involved with for many years. Baseball has been a big part of my life as a player and a coach. But like most things in our lives, change comes. Welcome it and move on to the new opportunities."

His retirement not only opens new doors for Johnson, but also creates a new opportunity for a new coach to step in.

Russ Hinrichs will be that coach for at least one season as he steps in on an interim basis. Hinrichs has been a part of the Cardinal baseball program and Legion baseball in the summer for years. Johnson gave him his first coaching job as a senior in high school when he helped him coach at Discovery Middle School.

Knowing that Hinrichs is the man taking over the program this year has allowed Johnson to step away knowing that the team is in good hands in the immediate future.

When a sport has been a part of someone's life for more than 30 years, though, it becomes more than just a game.

Johnson will not rule out becoming a head coach. As of right now, though, he has no plans of coming back.

"As the old saying goes, 'nothing is for sure or permanent, just death and taxes," Johnson said. "When you have been involved with coaching for over 35 years, who knows."

If he never steps foot in the dugout again, Johnson will have walked away knowing that he was a big part of some memorable moments in Alexandria baseball history.

Johnson's Cardinals won sole possession of the CLC title for the first time in 30 years during the 2002-03 season. He also brought his team to three section championship series and has sent many athletes on to play at a higher level. Five of his former players are now coaching in the high school ranks.

All these accomplishments are indications of how Johnson was not only a coach, but a teacher of the game of baseball.