Johnson would be deserving top citizen

Published 4:19 pm Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My message to the Atmore Chamber of Commerce and Citizen of Year Committee:

Dear Committee:

When it becomes time to consider the Citizen of The Year nominee, I would like to ask you to consider Murray Johnson.

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I have known him since 1970 and I have marveled at his dedication to a diversity of Atmore’s youth baseball and football programs. He has been involved and has displayed leadership in Little League, Minor Leagues, Babe Ruth, and Advance Babe Ruth programs. His work and involvement in Pee Wee Football programs have also drawn notice.

His leadership, which began in 1973, has been recognized by state youth officers and organizations in cities and towns from Huntsville to Mobile.

Recognized as a unique co-coordinator, especially in state and regional tournaments, he has worked alongside such well-known leaders as Rubin Sims of Decatur and Fred Brown of Andalusia.

Yet, his work on the local level has been unsurpassed. Even today he works until late hours of the night at the ball parks to maintain a congenial and competitive flow of the ball games, making sure umpires are on board, seeing that the concession stands are properly manned and looking out for the safety of players, managers, coaches and fans.

Moreover, he provides needed part-time employment for student umpires, concession stand workers and field and park workers.

His work also requires his attending regional and state meetings on a regular basis.

When he brings those district and state tournaments here, he brings in a lot of money to our local economy. Motels, gas stations, restaurants and fast food locales benefit financially from it all.

He is blessed with the ability to deal with parents who sometimes present problems due to lack of playing times for their children. He recognizes and uses good managers and coaches for all our teams. And, one very important requisite is his knowledge of the game. He is extremely gifted in interpreting rules, which are outlined in the youth baseball “book.”

I suppose, considering all his qualifications, his dedication would be at the top of the list. In fact you can safely say he is the man who has literally kept our youth programs “alive and going well” for many years.

Yes, so many, many young men have reaped the benefits of the touch of Murray Johnson’s involvement. Even today, children of those he helped back in the 1970s and 1980s are now experiencing his helping hand.

Countless numbers went through “his program.” Some went on to enjoy successful college baseball careers while many others have achieved success in various fields of life.

I, personally, owe him a debt. You see, his influence on my three sons helped pave the way for their baseball playing success in junior college as well as advanced college. There is no telling how much their educations would have cost me. But those baseball scholarships picked up the tab. And, they owe it all to our youth baseball programs directed by Murray.

Not only my sons, but others who came up through our youth programs enjoyed the same type of success.

It is not often that someone comes along like Murray Johnson. Just ask any of those who came up under his supervision. They will tell you that he played a vital role during the joyful times of their youth.

So, I hope you will consider him as your Citizen of The Year. Recognition should come to men like him at some stage. In my opinion, the time has come to recognize and honor Murray Johnson.

Now, let’s take a look at some people and events from the year 1975.

Burt Shell, the son of Howard and Nanette Shell, was selected a junior varsity cheerleader at the University of Alabama. The ECHS grad was a sophomore at the Capstone.

Clyde Helton, who was president of the Escambia County Cattleman’s Association, was selected county beef production chairman.

Gary Flavors, a popular police officer with the city, completed degree requirements at the Police Academy in Bay Minette. He was a 1968 graduate of Escambia County Training School.

Phil Rawls, the Atmore Advance news editor, resigned his job to take a position with the Montgomery Advertiser. He later left that position to become affiliated with The Associated Press, where he remains today. His writing style is exceptional. His phrasing, command of the English language and sentence structure is second to none.

Finally, here is something you want to consider. All this hullabaloo about soccer appeals to only 30 percent of the nation according to Paul Bedard, renowned journalist. And, it seems that the majority of those following this newly exposed sport are liberals. Have you noticed how our local TV station sets up at bars and taverns when they promote this sport? On these TV reports, I have never seen fans watching these events at locations other than bars. It seems to add up, doesn’t it?

Rest assured folks, soccer will never replace football and baseball.

Next week we will have more news from years gone by.

You can email Lowell McGill at