Lincoln Saltdogs Manager Tim Johnson announced his resignation on Thursday, ending a run of six seasons with the club. Johnson posted a .553 winning percentage as Lincoln’s manager, with a record of 315-255.
“It’s been a great run, it really has,” said Johnson, who led the Saltdogs to postseason play in three of his six years. “My wife and I have really made Lincoln our home, and we’re going to stay here for now. I can’t thank the Saltdogs fans enough for all the support and the kind words over the years, especially this year when I was dealing with my medical issues. These are the best fans in baseball, and I only wish we’d been able to bring them a championship. We’ve played a lot of great baseball over the years, though, and I’ll always be proud of that.”
Johnson’s best season as Lincoln’s manager came in 2006, when he led the Saltdogs to a franchise-best 65-31 record. Lincoln won both the first-half and second-half titles in the American Association North Division, the first two division titles in team history. For his efforts, T.J. was named the 2006 American Association Manager of the Year. The Saltdogs also captured the first-half North Division title in 2007, making Lincoln the first team in league history to win three straight divisions crowns. The playoff appearance in 2007 marked the third straight season that Johnson led the Saltdogs to the postseason, counting the 2005 wild-card appearance in Lincoln’s final year of Northern League play.
“Very few minor-league baseball teams, especially in the independent ranks, have enjoyed the kind of stability that Tim brought to the manager’s chair,” said Saltdogs president Charlie Meyer
. “Every franchise would consider itself fortunate to have the kind of manager Tim is, and to keep him with the team for as long as we have.”
The 2008 season came with a series of personal challenges for Johnson, who had to take a medical leave of absence in early July to undergo a pair of surgical procedures. He returned to the Saltdogs on August 11, though, and guided Lincoln on a magical stretch run that nearly earned the Dogs another division title. Lincoln went 10-3 after T.J. came back, closing to within a single game of first place on the final Friday of the season before finishing tied for second place.
“He led this franchise to three of the best seasons we’ve ever had,” said Saltdogs general manager Tim Utrup
. “Even though 2008 was a tough year at times, the way the team responded to him down the stretch really shows what kind of a manager T.J. is. We certainly wish him and Patty all the best as he moves on to a new chapter in his life.”
Johnson began his managerial career in 1987, after a seven-year career as a major-league player from 1973 to 1979. He was named the Pioneer League Manager of the Year in both 1987 and 1988. After several stints as both a minor-league manager and major-league coach, he became the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1998. Johnson has also managed in the Mexican winter league for the past 16 seasons.
For Saltdogs team information, go to www.saltdogs.com