Curtis Johnson signs with the Ottawa Champions
by Randy Pascal
It hasn't taken local pitcher Curtis Johnson much time at all to experience the roller coaster that is life as a professional baseball player.
Just months after graduating from West Virginia State University, Johnson was offered an invitation to the training camp of the Ottawa
Champions, a team competing in the Can-Am League (independent).
The graduate of Lockerby Composite finished with a record of 2-1 in his final year with the NCAA Yellow Jackets, boasting an ERA of 0.36, with 10
saves and 34 strikeouts in 25 innings.
From there, he continued to impress, earning a contract and a spot on the opening day roster in the nation's capital. "He throws strikes, gets ahead in the count, and has a
good downward plane," noted Champions manager Hal Lanier on the team website.
Keep in mind, for a moment, that Lanier can lay claim to nearly 500 games of Major League Baseball managerial experience with the
Houston Astros (1986-1988), and a World Series ring as the third base coach with the 1982 St Louis Cardinals.
"It's a dream come true," stated Johnson. "I've been working hard my whole life, sacrificed a lot, and I'm proof that hard work pays off." However, with
nerves almost certainly in play, Johnson was dealt a dose of harsh reality in his professional debut.
Facing the Trois-Rivières Aigles last week, Johnson retired but one batter, surrendering four hits, three runs (two of which were earned) and
striking out one as Ottawa held on for a 10-6 win.
Johnson will try and turn things around this week, as the Champions host the New Jersey Jackals for a three game set before heading out on the
road, battling the Sussex Miners next weekend.
Overall, the team is off to a solid start at 3-1, trailing only the Rockland Boulders (5-0) in the six team circuit. Rounding out the Can-Am
League are the Québec Capitales, with exhibition games planned this summer against the national teams from both Cuba and the Dominican