Sox Boast Teacher-Student Dynamic in the Leadoff Spot
I’ve always been fascinated by the special connections in sports that seemingly come out of nowhere. For instance, Hall of Famers John Havlicek and Phil Niekro grew up together in Ohio. Legends Bill Russell and Frank Robinson were 1952 basketball teammates at McClymonds High School in Oakland CA and the next year Robinson and future baseball stars Vada Pinson and Curt Flood comprised the nucleus of the McClymonds Five. Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola lived across the street from each other and were best buds as youngsters on The Hill in St. Louis.
Another interesting connection has surfaced in a story by Scott Merkin on whitesox.com describing the mentor-student relationship between former and current White Sox outfielders and leadoff men Lance “One Dog” Johnson and Juan Pierre, just acquired from the Dodgers.
As the story goes, Johnson and Pierre are both products of the University of South Alabama, where Johnson came back to work out with his alma mater’s baseball squad. It was there he took Pierre under his wing.
“You have to realize I actually trained Juan and gave him the road map to the big leagues,” Johnson told Merkin with a modicum of levity. “I taught him my innermost secrets. I’m excited to see he’s here and wearing my number.” Pierre will wear No. 1 for the Sox in honor of Johnson. He has previously worn No. 9, but that was Sox favorite Minnie Minoso‘s number and it’s retired.
“He always preached being a leadoff hitter, not a leadoff man,” said Pierre. “You are not up there just trying to walk, but you should try to do damage. He took his walks, but he made his point clear about being a leadoff hitter, getting on base anyway you can and hitting the ball hard.”
Sox fans are looking forward to seeing Pierre put Johnson’s lesson plan to work at the Cell this summer.