Mustangs Manager Back For Season
ST. JOSEPH, MO For 10 months out of the year, Matt Johnson carries himself like any responsible adult:
he goes to work, pays bills, provides for his family.
But for two months, the Fundraising University consultant/adjunct faculty member at Northwest Missouri
State University returns to the children’s game that helped mold him into the person he is today.
“I get butterflies every opening day,” the baseball lifer, said. “It’s exciting. It brings back all of the passion for
And why wouldn’t it?
Johnson, the Mustangs’ manager since the organization’s inception in 2009, has led the team to a 257127
record. That’s an average of 36 wins per season to go along with four MINK League titles in the last five
“It’s a cool thing to see that kind of success, but all of the credit goes to the players buying in. That requires
trust, and credit goes to the players for trusting me and giving everything they can.”
From the high school ranks to college to professional, Johnson played at every level. The Sawyer, ND native
was a four-year starting catcher at Valley City State University where he earned all-conference,
all-region and All-American honors. He followed that up playing professionally for the Fargo-Moorhead
Redhawks, the Allentown Ambassadors and the Washington Wild Things as a catcher, and finally as a relief pitcher for the
St. Joseph Blacksnakes.
Those experiences, along with a stint as the assistant baseball coach at Northwest Missouri State, helped
shape Johnson into the players’ coach he is today. Players respect the manager, and he understands how
to motivate them without putting overwhelming pressure on his team to perform.
“Since 2009 we’ve focused on the same two things: win the league and advance our guys in their skill level,”
Johnson said. “Those are the same expectations we have each year, and at the end of it all we hope to be
fortunate enough to have an opportunity to play in the postseason.”
Those opportunities have come more often than not. Since 2009, no MINK team outside of St. Joseph has
won more than one league title. The Mustangs have also played in the National Baseball Congress World
Series five times, including two fourth place finishes.
It’s a winning tradition that keeps players focused, and continues to attract more and more support from the
city of St. Joseph.
“This is what we envisioned when we put the team together. We knew the community would love it. That’s
what separates us from the rest of the league the-community embraces the Mustangs.”
The team was embraced by nearly 2,400 fans at Phil Welch Stadium each night in 2015.
And after another long 10 month-wait, Johnson’s looking for even more support in 2016 as he returns to the
children’s game once again searching for a third consecutive league title.
By Matt Tritten