"I've known him since I was 15-years-old," Johnson said. "And it's something special to have approval of your head coach that way."
"He was a great catcher defensively. Probably one of the best arms I had in 19 years of coaching," Anderson said of Johnson.
Under Anderson's tutelage for four years at Valley City State University, Johnson became one of six ball players from the program to sign professional contracts, so having his former coach in the stands is special. Having Brady, Anderson's son, on the team makes it even more meaningful.
"Matt kind of always kidded Brady and said 'hey, someday you're going to play ball for me. I don't know where and when, but it's going to happen.' We just happened to be fortunate that this year it took place," Anderson said.
Brady grew up around the Valley City baseball program and built a relationship with Johnson through the years.
He was even in his manager's wedding as a ring bearer 12 years ago. They knew it was only a matter of time before they were back on the diamond together.
"It's something I've been kind of waiting for to happen," Johnson said. "I got to watch him play through high school from a distance. We get a great opportunity to be around each other like we haven't been this way in a long time. It's something pretty special to have him here."
"I think it's pretty cool," Brady said. "We always kept in touch over the years, but it's fun to come down here and actually play for him. I've heard about what he's done in the summer for the past few years, and it's actually cool to experience it."
While the connection off the field linked Brady to Johnson, it's his performance on the field that continues to earn him playing time.
"I've known that since his freshman year that he was a good ball player," Johnson said. "It just happened that we've been lifelong friends, pretty much family to each other. He's a high-quality guy that can play a bunch of positions. He can flat out swing it."
"I didn't want to be that guy that came down here because I knew the coach. I want to come out here and prove myself and show that I could play," Brady said.
Now seven games into his Mustangs career, Brady -- an honorable mention all-american last season -- is still working to carve his place into St. Joe's lineup.
And if he hits any speed bumps along the way, he can always turn to another former Valley City catcher for advice.
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