Idalou baseball honors program pioneer, pays tribute to her late husband
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Ever since she approached the school board in the 1980s with a request to start a baseball program for Idalou High School, Sissie Johnson has been by the dugout with a helping hand, hug, word of encouragement and bubble gum. This season the team is paying tribute to her late husband after his passing in January.
“He got sick and he would come and sit in the pickup,” Sissie said. “He knew what it meant to me.”
On the back of the batting helmets are Farrell’s initials, FJ.
“I’m so grateful to Coach Brockman and to the boys for doing that,” Sissie said. “It sure would mean a lot to Farrell. He would appreciate it so much. They’re such good people.”
Head Coach Thomas Brockman told KCBD there was no question that they would pay tribute.
“Farrell was at every game and took her everywhere,” Brockman said. “He didn’t do the books like she did when he was such a big part, as she was, as well.”
Sissie, now 83 years old, continues her duties as bookkeeper for the team, a role she said she’s had since she helped to bring the high school program to Idalou.
“I always loved doing it at Little League and I did it all those years at Little League until we had baseball in high school,” Sissie said. “I just love this part.”
The five coaches she’s served with say the love she shows to them and to the players is what makes her presence so vital.
“She got this whole thing started and it wasn’t for her own kids,” Don Long said. “It was for all the kids of Idalou.”
Coach Long and Coach Mark Turner joined Sissie shortly after the program began in the 1990s.
“She treats those kids like her own, loved up on them a lot,” Turner said. “She always had bubble gum, and there’s no telling how much she spent on bubblegum over all those years. She’s just very dependable, very supportive of everything we did. She was just a great person to have around the program.”
Sissie lays out a bag of bubble gum in front of her outside the safety screen at every game. As the game is played, she marks down every moment and voices her love to the team and coaches.
“She just has a desire for the game, but more importantly, she has a desire to love on kids,” Garrett Heard, former coach, said. “That was an immediate reflection of how she actually dealt with us as coaches. It was just a really neat opportunity and experience, and a continued opportunity, to have somebody that’s involved so much with the program.”
These days she travels with family and fellow fans to games. However, at the home field she was recently given her own parking space.
“I told her that she’s more important than a lot of people around this place and she really is,” Brockman said. “Her wisdom, her advice, her hugs are the best. It’s special to have her here.”
Sissie said with wonderful people around her, she has more love to give and baseball to see.
“As long as God’s willing and I can get here.”
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