Even-keeled mom always knows best for Johnson

Even-keeled mom always knows best for Johnson

CHICAGO -- Before a raucous contest against the Royals on April 23, Micah Johnson received a text from his mother, Tanya, with a prescient reminder for the night ahead.

"Don't get in a fight, no fighting," said Johnson with a broad smile in relaying his mother's advice that came hours before the bench-clearing, bullpen-emptying fracas at U.S. Cellular Field. "She's very smart. She understands."

In this case, and many others, mother knows best.

Johnson is in the midst of his first big league season as the White Sox starting second baseman. He also went back to school at Indiana University during this past offseason to finish his degree, with his thoughts focused on someday becoming a Major League Baseball general manager. And he's fluent in Spanish, which comes in handy during everyday baseball life.

When it comes to on-field talent, Johnson is high-energy, high-speed. When it comes to his overall demeanor, Johnson is even-keel and somewhat low-key. That second trait is more a by-product of his mother.

"The only time I've heard her in the crowd is when I hit a home run last year in Indianapolis, my hometown," said Johnson, who was playing for Triple-A Charlotte at the time. "I hit a home run, and I could hear her scream.

"She never put pressure on us. We did whatever we wanted. If you wanted to play piano, we played piano. She just made us learn and whatever we enjoyed, she always helped us.

"I enjoyed baseball so every single day, no matter how cold it was, she would hit me ground balls in the front yard with a tennis racket, her and my dad," Johnson said. "Every day they did something."

That devotion from Tanya, a Spanish teacher in middle school in Indianapolis, and Harold, a commercial lender, paid dividends.

"My mom had one glove on the left hand and a bat on the right and she would toss the ball up and hit it with one hand so I could throw it back to her," Johnson said. "She was great."

Although Johnson has reached baseball's highest level, that motherly support doesn't stop. Tanya texts her son something positive after every game. If he goes 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, she'll talk about his nice defensive plays.

"She's always positive," said Johnson, who is the family's middle child with an older and younger sister. "They are super happy I'm in the big leagues but also happier that I'm close to them."

Receiving a psychic fight night warning certainly was not the first advice Johnson saw from his mother. Words were exchanged on Opening Day between the Royals and White Sox after Jeff Samardzija hit Lorenzo Cain with a pitch, and Tanya told her son to stay out of it because "those guys are bigger than you," recounted a laughing Micah.

She'll also send him some sort of "silly text" if Micah gets caught cussing on television. But as much as a mother's concern never ends, regardless of the job or the age, it's her persistence/devotion with everything she does in life that has rubbed off on Micah.

"One time I remember from Little League, where it was raining and thunderstorming, and I came off and said, 'I'm done. I'm scared,'" Johnson said. "She didn't let me come off the field. She made me go back out on the field. She motivates you, but is not overbearing like some parents. She just wants you to do it in the right way. She's an amazing person."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.