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Sent on Mormon-News: 11Jun01

By Mark Wright

LDS Major League Pitcher Says Church Contributed to his Success

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND -- Most professional athletes go through a slump at one time or another during their careers. Most respond to a slump by working harder, re-focusing on the fundamentals, and spending some additional time on the field or court, practicing and honing their skills. Mired in a serious slump last season, Jason Johnson, a pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles, did all of the normal things that other athletes do to get back in the "groove" again. However, Johnson also did something else, something that is practically unheard of among professional athletes. He used religion to give him an edge.

Johnson, an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, found himself struggling through a dismal season last year. He sported an anemic 1-10 record, a miserable 7.02 ERA, and had suffered through two demotions to the Orioles Triple-A farm club in Rochester. "It was one of those situations last year where I didn't think anything would help," Johnson said.

Fast forward to this year, and Johnson seems to be a different man. Last Sunday, in his most recent start of the season, Johnson went 8 2/3 innings against the Montreal Expos, gave up just one earned run and earned his sixth win of the year (currently, Johnson's record is 6-3). And, with an ERA now hovering just barely above 3.0, Johnson has turned into one of the bright spots in the Orioles rotation. So, just exactly how did Johnson manage to turn things around?

Johnson credits several different activities with his remarkable improvement this season. One of the more focused efforts was a vision training program offered by Dr. William Harrison of Laguna Beach, California. Harrison's program involved eye exercises which required Johnson to focus quickly and rapidly pick out small pictures from a series of wall charts. The exercises, which gradually increased in difficulty over a three-week period, were a boon to Johnson. However, in addition to improving his physical eyes, Johnson also began to exercise his spiritual eyes. Along with working on improving his eyesight, Johnson began studying the scriptures every day and become a student of the doctrines of the Church.

Although not clear from the source article, Johnson was apparently ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood during the off-season, probably to the office of an Elder. While the reporter calls it the "Order of Melchizedek, the highest of three levels within the church," the statement is likely a simple error of misunderstanding. What is unmistakable, however, is the personal growth and success Johnson attributes to a return to his religion. "Last year I kind of strayed a little bit," Johnson said. "I wasn't really reading scriptures and the Bible. Now I read every day. I follow all the guidelines. It's cleared my mind."

Given his recent success, both in baseball and in life, it appears that Johnson's vision has improved in more ways than one.


Johnson's focus is all the difference
Baltimore MD Sun 10Jun01 US MD Balt S2
By Joe Strauss: Sun Staff


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