As a young man playing competitive baseball and basketball for Hastings teams while in high school during the 1950s, Cal Johnson saw a lot of things.
But not even a water pistol stream — blasted directly into his eyes during the Tigers' state championship victory celebration in basketball in 1954 — could distract from those lessons learned playing for head coach Earl Applebee.
The oldest of two siblings born to Harold and Verona Johnson, Johnson dominated the local sports scene during his playing days for the Tigers in basketball and American Legion in baseball. At 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds, he was a commanding presence, both on the mound and court.
In baseball, he used a lively fastball, curve and change-up to dominate hitters, racking up double-digit strikeout performances as a matter of routine.