SarahNET Radio: Former NY Met HoJo a Palinista


Howard Johnson is the guest on The Palin Radio Update with Kevin Scholla! The former New York Mets slugger discusses how players feel about Sarah Palin and why he believes most athletes are conservatives. HoJo also offers his thoughts on Christianity in sports, Tim Tebow, the 1986 Mets, and much more. Also, SarahNET Radio’s full recap of Governor Palin’s riveting NRA speech. Plus, the Palins attend the Kentucky Derby, have a brush with Duck Dynasty, and Governor Palin weighs in on a report that the Pentagon may court martial soldiers who share the Christian faith. Steel Resolve, our weekly commentary with Sarah Steelman is featured as well.

Sports Are Built on Conservative Values

Former Mets Third Baseman Howard Johnson is a two-time World Series Champion, a three-time member of the 30-30 Club and one of the most loved players in NY Mets history. He drove in over 100 runs in one season. He has two rings, one from the 1984 Tigers and one from 1986 with those Amazing Mets. He is affectionately known as “HoJo.”

Scholla said former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin called on us to infiltrate pop culture in sports, Hollywood and the arts. He observed that athletes particularly in baseball tend to be conservative and asked Johnson if he agreed with this assessment or if players are political.

Johnson said many players are afraid to come out with it especially on social media, but said sports are built on “the principles of conservatism – hard work, earning your way, the results-oriented type thing.” He continued, “sports is the ultimate. You have to play your way into a roster; you have to play your way into a lineup. You have to compete. You have to be the best you can be or you get passed….Those are the good lessons we get from sports for me.” He said, “conservatism is about the desire to be the best you can be, earn your way and not have things handed to you.”

Reagan, Bush Years Shaped HoJo

Scholla noted that Johnson’s heyday was during the Reagan-Bush and Bush-Quayle years when capitalism reigned supreme. He asked Johnson if that era shaped him politically.

“Before that, I didn’t know what conservative or liberal was. There was no talk radio, no Rush Limbaugh. You did your own thing and you survived on your own merits. I knew we were in a lot of trouble with Jimmy Carter as president. Things were not good then,” Johnson said. “When Ronald Reagan took over I remember when the tax went down from 70% to 24% or 25%. This country really took off. I didn’t really understand it. I was out there just trying to play, be the best thing I can be and survive. The time was right when President Reagan cut taxes and gave people their own money. Who can argue with that?”

USA the Only Place You Can Create Your Own Job

Scholla asked if players and coaches “get into it” over politics or do players put that aside.

Johnson said players do put it aside. “I don’t think anybody goes to that extent where ‘this guy’s a liberal,’ ‘this guy’s a conservative.’ There are many different views out there….there was no Fox News; you didn’t have the vehicles where you could express yourself or give an opinion.” He continued, “people just understood the value if hard work and the value of surviving….I never thought about ‘what happens if I don’t make it? How am I going to live?’ You just figure it out. A lot of people don’t understand: you can’t have it handed to you.” Johnson said, “even if things don’t work out for you, you can make your way any way you can. Somebody said once, ‘the United States is the only place you can create your own job.’ That right there to me says it all. You can make your own way in this world and the United States is the best country on earth to be able to do that. It’s still the best country in the world.”

HoJo: We Loved Gov. Palin’s Message

Scholla asked Johnson, “what’s your take on how how ballplayers see Sarah Palin since she sprung on the scene?” Johnson was a Mets coach during the 2008 campaign and Scholla asked him what the team thought of her when she burst on the national scene.

“Well, we thought she was good looking. That’s for sure. But we loved her message and we were all kind of hoping that McCain would be able to pull it out. There was some concern on people’s minds – just being honest – that she wasn’t ready to be President, if something were to happen to John McCain. I never really thought about the Vice President being essential on a ticket, but if they can make an argument someone is going to believe it,” he said. “I know some guys questioned it, but they didn’t mean they didn’t want her to be the Vice President; they just didn’t know if she was going to be the best one to be the President if something were to happen to McCain.”

HoJo: Gov. Palin’s Leadership Has Value, Merit

Scholla asked if the “ready to be President” issue and her qualifications were some things Johnson discussed with players.

“Her qualifications? I mean she ran a state for goodness sake. She has leadership ability. I don’t think you have to be the smartest person or the most wealthy. I don’t think you have to be any of those things to be a leader. You have to be a leader. I think it’s hard to define leadership. It’s one of those things where you just recognize it,” Johnson said. “For her to come from where she basically came from – nowhere – to running that state and having a chance to be on that ticket, those are big accomplishments regardless of how you feel about her. You can’t look at that and say, ‘that doesn’t have value, or that shouldn’t be merited,’ because it should be. That’s not something that happens every day.”

HoJo: Happiness Should be You Determining Your Fate

Scholla said, “you don’t get more American than baseball; it’s part of the fabric of our country, and he asked Johnson, “as a baseball man do you see a lot of the values of our country being messed with by bureaucrats in Washington?”

“I do. I think there is too much involvement in the daily life of everybody. The government is everywhere. I just don’t like the fact that there’s just more and more – cameras everywhere, drones, all of it – there’s no privacy,” Johnson said. He expressed his concerns about socialism and the nanny state.

“There’s such a push now, such a hunger now since the last election that half the country wants the other half to take care of them. That’s a thing that I will never understand: how someone can fall into that trap. It’s not a way to survive. Happiness in this country should be you determining your fate, where it is you want to go, the limitations you put on yourself. You shouldn’t have a centralized authority telling you what you can and cannot do, what you can buy and can’t buy, and if you are successful you have to fork over a good portion of what you make to support somebody who doesn’t.”

HoJo on Expressing Christianity: Stand Up

Scholla asked Johnson how his Christianity is received in the sports world, noting the criticism of Tim Tebow for his expressions of faith.

“It’s been going on throughout time: Christians being persecuted for their faith.” He said he knows a lot of players who don’t like Tebow, and he can’t understand it. He said Tebow is not doing it for attention but its just “him being him.”

“No one is saying Christians are better than anyone else. We all make mistakes. You have to stand up for what you believe is right. If you’re a Christian, you need to stand up and do that,” Johnson said.

“That’s one thing I enjoy about Twitter,” he said. People can choose to read or not read the verses he posts; Johnson only asks that people respect his beliefs. Twitter allows him to say things that he may not want in the paper but does want to share with his followers.

Despite Wild Behavior On, Off Field, Mets Well-Read

Scholla said that despite the Mets of the ’80s having wild times on and off the field, Keith Hernandez had a relationship with Nixon. The team was well-read and knew what was going on in the world.

“We had a very smart team and everybody took their job very, very seriously….and they wanted to be the best. New York can do that. There is a certain edge it takes to play there; you have to be able to survive; you have to get something out of you that you’re not used to getting, and only you can get it. There’s an edge you gain from playing there,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if it’s from so much media, the fans there who are very knowledgeable….One thing I learned very early and that’s probably one reason why people appreciated me there: if you played hard, you got dirty, you got bloody, you did what you did and you were 0 for 4, they’re not going to kill you, because you’re out there giving yourself, playing as hard as you can.” Johnson said, “it doesn’t matter how much money you make…if you play hard, give it your best shot every night, most people will go home and say that about you even if you might not have done well.”

HoJo: Gov. Palin a Figher, Not Giving Up

Scholla compared Johnson to Gov. Palin and Tebow both of whom have their detractors no matter how hard they work or what they do.

“People are digging on Gov. Palin because she’s outspoken; she’s a fighter. She’s not giving up. She’s not going back into the shadows. She is who she is. That’s what we enjoy about her: she’s not afraid to say what she thinks,” Johnson said.

“People seem to listen to what people say and see how they behave and what they do. If it backs it up; it matches, then what else is there? I can say something, but if I don’t walk it or live it, then that’s not going to work. I have to be honest with myself and if I say something I’ve got to do it. It’s not saying something for publicity’s sake because to me it’s not really that big of a deal. I don’t think she looks at it that way. I don’t think she says stuff to come across a certain way. I think she just says what she believes.”

HoJo’s Children Successful

Johnson’s son, Glenn is going to be 25 this year. “He will be playing independent baseball. He’s a successful kid, very smart. He’s a math major. My wife and I raised him to be the best he can. I don’t worry about my kids. I know they’re going to fight, they’re going to be successful, because that’s what they want. They don’t expect us to take care of them. They’re going to survive,” he said.

“My oldest daughter just had a baby less than a year ago. I have a grandson now. She was a figure skater. They lived in Nashville for a number of years. My youngest daughter is trying to get into the sports world. She graduates from the University of Florida with a Communications degree, so she’s a great kid, Kayla,” Johnson said.

“We’re just blessed; my wife and I are just blessed with our children. They turned out well and my wife has been the backbone of that. She’s been there when I haven’t been because of my job and she deserves the credit for that,” he said.

Three Generations of Golden Retrievers Going on Four

Johnson’s dog, Tebow is a third generation Golden Retriever puppy in the household. The first dog, Malone had 11 puppies, and died five years ago. The second generation of the litter was Sapp which had four puppies, Tebow being one of them. Sapp is 13. The Johnsons are trying to mate Tebow, so they’ll have a fourth generation.

Hard-Working People Are What Keep this Country Going

Johnson closed by saying he “hopes the country gets back on track and gets going in the right direction. We’re hoping and praying things turn out well for this country. Things have been a struggle. You’ve got to keep the faith, keep praying, keep working. Hard-working people are what keeps this country going.”

Steel Resolve: Make Baccalaureate Services New Again

“There’s a country song I love by Joe Nichols called “Old Things New.” In it he talks about how he’s taken some old things and made them new,” Sarah Steelman said as she opened her weekly Steel Resolve segment. “The one thing I think we need to make new is restoring the Baccalaureate service to the high school graduation ceremony. It used to be sponsored by the school. It was included in the graduation announcements that the graduates sent out. It used to be that all the students participated as a school-sponsored event. Even those who were not graduating provided music and readings.”

“Now, the public schools do not allow it on their premises and they do not sponsor it in any way, shape or form. Why is it important for the school to sponsor it? Well for one thing, when it was incorporated into the graduation ceremonies kids were required to go to it. Secondly, it is important for students to have a sense of higher purpose,” she said.

“It is important to remind them of what is truly important and to give them a sense of perspective. It reminded students that they were spiritual beings and that their lives have eternal value no matter what they did as a profession,” Steelman said about these ceremonies.

“Call me old-fashioned but it has bothered me for a long time. My oldest son graduated in 2005 and our public school still sponsored one. Two years later in 2007, it was gone. Perhaps, we should consider as Joe Nichols puts it, making some old things new,” she concluded.

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