Steve Johnson was well-known in the world of basketball.
He served two stints as head boys basketball coach at Elkhart Memorial High School as well as at alma mater Concord and in other roles.But Johnson, who died Saturday, Dec. 21 at 71, was also a standout baseball player and coach.
As a catcher, Johnson drew interest from the Chicago White Sox and turned heads at Concord during the Elkhart County League days of the late 1950's and early 1960's.
His Concord coach in basketball and baseball was Les McCuen.
Later, Johnson enjoyed success as a baseball coach before turning his full-time attention to the hardwood.
After coaching basketball and baseball at Concord, Johnson was the junior varsity baseball coach at Memorial for the second and third seasons of the program and led the Crimson Chargers to marks of 13-6 and 20-4, including a two-year ledger of 18-8 in the Northern Indiana Conference.
"He really prepared well," says Dick Siler, who was Memorial's head baseball coach from 1972-73 to 1996-97 and elected to the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1992 and also is a member of the Elkhart County Sports Hall of Fame. "His teams were disciplined. This guy really loved baseball. He did a great job.
"I use to tease him. I'd say, 'Steve, you are a better baseball coach then a basketball coach.'"
Siler later got a chance to see just what kind of basketball coach Johnson was when Siler served as the basketball team's athletic trainer.
"It was a great experience," says Siler. "I would pay money to hear his pre-game and halftime talks. They were awesome - always to the point and with great deal of emotion."
Siler says he would have been honored to have his son - Scott - play for Johnson, had Scott been a basketball player in high school.
"He was a coach's coach," says Siler of a man who wound up in the Elkhart County and Concord athletic halls of fame and made his mark on the court and the diamond.