LINCOLN, NE – The Lincoln Saltdogs will try to even the series against the St. Paul Saints by beating former Husker, 10-year MLB vet, and knuckleballer Dan Johnson tonight.
Johnson first made baseball headlines as a slugger for Nebraska from 2000-2001. As a senior, he earned first-team All-America honors from three publications and led the Huskers to their first College World Series appearance. The first baseman hit 46 home runs in his two seasons, including a school-record 25 round-trippers in 2001. He owns the career record for Slugging Percentage with an unreal .791 mark.
The Oakland Athletics picked Johnson in the 7th round of the 2001 MLB draft. He went on to spend parts of 10 seasons in the MLB and belted 57 home runs over his career. He was known for his clutch hitting and delivered his most famous homer on September 28, 2011. His two-out, bottom of the ninth inning blast tied his Tampa Bay Rays with the New York Yankees in the final game of the season. The Rays won the game in extra-innings to clinch the AL Wild Card.
Johnson has retooled himself as a knuckleball pitcher. He has pitched in 13 games over the past three seasons and owns a 5-6 record with a 5.54 ERA. He logged his most innings with St. Paul in 2016 when tossed 40 innings and mustered a 4.50 ERA. His best effort that season was a seven-inning shutout performance against the Saltdogs at Haymarket Park. The 38-year-old pitched one scoreless inning against the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks earlier this year.
The Saltdogs (18-13) will try to spoil Johnson’s homecoming and avenge yesterday’s 15-9 defeat. Lincoln will throw Mike Tamburino tonight. The righty is 3-0 with a 2.02 ERA, the second-best mark in the league.
Fans can purchase $10 Triple Play deals for tonight’s game. The package includes a reserved ticket, a hot dog and a soda. First pitch is at 6:45 PM with coverage beginning at 6:15 PM on ESPN 101.5 FM 1480 AM and saltdogs.com/stream.