“Humbled” was one of the first words to come out of the mouths of both Jimmy Aulds and Wayne Johnson before their induction into the Louisiana Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame this weekend.
Aulds and Johnson join Burke Broussard, Joe Brockhoff, Mel Didier, Rick Mauldin, Roger Cador and Paul Mainieri in the Class of 2022 Hall of Fame.
Aulds made his mark with 15 district titles at West Monroe for nearly two decades, while Johnson accumulated an all-time record of 889-270 in his 41 years of coaching.
“I never felt like I done that much, but I really appreciate the thoughts of all the other coaches on that,” Aulds said.
Aulds and Johnson were stalwarts in Northeast Louisiana baseball. While Aulds made an impact at one school for many seasons, Johnson rebuilt many programs and raised their status to championship level.
Johnson won a state championship with St. Frederick in 1982, claimed another state title with Cedar Creek in 2000 and had multiple runner-up finishes in his career. Johnson took five different LHSAA high schools to the state tournament and won 27 district championships through the years. In his 41 years of coaching, Johnson never had a losing season.
“All the coaches tell me they ought to put a medal around my neck for being a head coach that many years,” Johnson said, laughing. “People like (D’Arbonne Woods head football coach) Tommy Tharp played second base for me when he was 18 years old. I’ve won many awards as a player and as a coach, but they were yearly achievements. This is the first one that covers a lifetime.”
He enjoyed stints at St. Frederick, Jonesboro-Hodge, Cedar Creek, Ouachita, Cladwell, Downsville and Mangham. The career highlights were numerous for Johnson’s career, which includes taking a football powerhouse like Jonesboro-Hodge in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s to back-to-back state tournaments.
Perhaps the height of Johnson’s career came when Cedar Creek defeated Oak Grove, 2-0, for the state championship in 2000. Why? Because the greatest compliment of all came afterward.
“My daddy told me that was the most perfect game my team had ever played,” Johnson said. “It was really strange because before the game all I said was, ‘Y’all have too much character to lose this game.’”
Under Aulds’ leadership, the Rebels dominated district play through the ‘80s and the ‘90s record-wise.
“We won a lot of ballgames by one run,” Aulds added. “We were playing Ruston for example, and they had a heck of a ball club. They were beating us, 3-2, with two outs when we bunted with runners on second and third. We laid down a perfect bunt and the kid threw it over to first, but we were safe. When they stood there, they couldn’t believe it, as both of our runners ended up scoring on the play.”
Along with the 15 district titles the Rebels won, West Monroe enjoyed 36 straight district wins and made 16 playoff appearances. The Rebels made the state tournament nine times under his watch and was state-runner up once.
Aulds compiled a 342-67 overall record.
“It wasn’t until it was all over that I realized how many games we won,” Aulds said. “I had great kids who were willing to work. And great parents too. The parents were willing to help out when we needed things because back then we had to really do it all ourselves. I had great assistants like Billy Bell and Phil Keifenheim.”
Johnson and Aulds join previous local inductees Micah Harper, Jeff Schexnaider and Wilbert Ellis as hall of fame members.
The amount of ball games won by the newest inductees speaks for itself, but each coach was most proud of the relationships formed with former players and coaches along the way. For Johnson, his journey came full circle when Tharp was the head football coach at Mangham and he was the baseball coach alongside his former second baseman.
“Jesus Christ really put me on a great mission as a player and a coach,” Johnson said. “As long as you do things the right way and work hard and love players, you get to form unique relationships with them. I still have players from 20 and 30 years ago calling me to tell me how much they me love me. I still hunt, fish and play golf with a lot of them.”