His resumé suggests his home is a baseball field amid the palm trees of south Florida, or situated in the endless warmth of Southern California or arid climate of the Arizona desert. When you consider that the man, in slightly less than 40 years of high school coaching, has been the mentor to 15 first-round picks, 75 professional signees and more than 300 who went on to play baseball in college, it truly is remarkable that this gentleman hails from a state more famous for its moguls than its pitchers’ mounds.
The coach, of course, is Marc Johnson, since 1972 the head baseball coach at Cherry Creek High School. In that time, he has amassed 611 wins (prior to the start of the 2010 season) while capturing seven titles and finishing as the runner up on four other occasions.
Johnson took over the Creek program in the early 70s with the idea that focusing on the fundamentals of proper execution and that undying attribute of “playing hard” would give his team not only a chance for success within the state, but outside as well. The notion that kids from the fair-weather states were better than his own has never set well with Johnson, so he raised money to take his kids to out-of-state events and show them and all the snowbirds that Colorado’s best could hit, field and run with the finest teams from the so-called baseball meccas.
As the wins between his Creek teams and summer league teams piled up, Johnson’s reputation as a teacher and tactician grew — not only regionally, but nationally. In 1996, the American Baseball Coaches Association named him National Coach-of the-Year. A year later, the American Amateur Baseball Congress awarded him Amateur Coach-of-the-Year honors and, to top off the 90s, the sports bible, Baseball America, cited him as National Coach-of-the-Decade.
Johnson also has coached teams at the international level, including the 1988 U. S. Olympic Under-18 squad that became the first team to defeat Cuba in International Junior competition. That same team went on to win the gold medal at the World Games in Sydney, Australia.
Johnson naturally takes great pride in the five former players on Major League Baseball rosters, guys like Brad Lidge, Josh Bard, Darnell McDonald, David Aardsma and Luke Hochevar. But one of his greatest feelings of accomplishment resides in the fact that he has created a family atmosphere through the years. Each winter, the Creek baseball family hosts a banquet which attracts hundreds and raises thousands for the next generation of Bruins.
He is quick to mention his good fortune in having so many great players and receiving mentoring from Tom Petroff and Bus Campbell. However, when you think of high school baseball in the state of Colorado, Marc Johnson’s name has a Hall of Fame ring — and we didn’t even mention that as the Cherry Creek Soccer Coach for 25 years, he won five more State titles.
Now they’re all men and have their own kids… It’s just a blessing.