By the way, a week later the Times reported that “USC first baseman Mark McGwire hit his 17th home run of the year last Sunday to equal the school record, set by Dave Hostetler in 1978. It took Hostetler 58 games to hit 17 homers. McGwire, a sophomore, did it in his 38th game.” A note added that McGwire had a .970 slugging percentage in Pac-10 games. Barry Bonds was playing left field for Arizona State and slumping.
Then, in February of 1984, USC coach Rod Dedeaux said, “We’ve got a team that’s going to be tough to beat.” Johnson, now a sophomore, and still 6-10 and 210 pounds, threw a three-hitter over six innings, striking out seven UC-Irvine hitters to get his second win of 1984. Dedeaux said: “When I go out and talk to him, I make him get off the mound so I don’t look like a Pygmy.”
A year later, in February 1985, the Times did a preview of USC’s baseball team. Dedeaux said of Johnson, who’d gone 5-3 with 73 strikeouts in 78 innings in 1984, “I look for him to come into his own this year.” McGwire had left USC after his junior year to sign with the A’s. By the way, USC fans will recognize the name of Rodney Peete, who Dedeaux touted as a freshman shortstop who was “going to be a good player. It’s just a question of when.”