Sept. 8, 2007
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --- The University of New Mexico baseball team had a special visitor at fall practice on Friday, Sept. 7 - New Mexico Hall of Honor inductee Mark Johnson. Johnson shared stories of his days as a Lobo and as one of the winningest collegiate baseball coaches in the nation.
Johnson, in town for the 2007 New Mexico Hall of Honor ceremonies on Thursday, Sept. 6, is currently in his second season as the head coach at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.
Johnson is a graduate of the University of New Mexico where he received his bachelor's degree in science and physical education in 1967 and his master's degree in Recreation and Physical Education in 1971. He earned All-Conference honors as a member of the Lobos' baseball team in 1965, 1966, and 1967 and was NCAA All-Region in 1967.
After playing professional baseball in the Mets organization from 1967 to 1969, Johnson served as an assistant coach at New Mexico (1969 to 1971), Arizona (1971 to 1976), and Mississippi State (1976 to 1982) before joining Tom Chandler's staff at Texas A&M in 1982.
In his first season at Sam Houston State, the Bearkats had one of the three best turn-around seasons in NCAA Division I baseball in 2007. SHSU rolled up a 40-24 record, a improvement of 17 victories over SHSU's 23-31 record in 2006.
The 40 victories were the most by a Sam Houston State team since 1987 when the Kats won 44. The Bearkats' fourth place Southland Conference regular season finish earn SHSU its first SLC playoff berth since 2000 and was the team's best league finish since 1997.
Sam Houston rolled undefeated through the 2007 Southland Conference post-season tournament to earn its first NCAA Division I national playoff berth since 1996. With thrilling come-from-behind victories over Troy and Southern Mississippi, Sam Houston reached the NCAA regional finals for the first time in its four NCAA Division I playoff appearances.
The Bearkats broke or tied 16 school records in 2007 including the university's highest season batting average (.315).
During the 2007 season, Johnson picked up his 900th career coaching victory and now owns a lifetime collegiate head coaching record of 916 victories, 457 losses, and three ties in 20 years.
For 19 years, Johnson was head coach at Texas A&M where he directed the Aggies to two NCAA College World Series appearances and a record of 876 victories, 433 losses, and three ties.
Johnson served as head baseball coach at Texas A&M from 1986 to 2005. He won Southwest Conference championships in 1986, 1989, and 1993 and Big 12 league titles in 1998 and 1999. His teams competed in the NCAA playoffs 13 times, making 13 NCAA regional appearances and reaching the College World Series in 1993 and 1999.
Johnson was Sporting News National Coach of the Year in 1993 and is a member of both the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) and Texas Baseball Hall of Fames.