Cover photo for Eric Scott Johnson's Obituary
Eric Scott Johnson Profile Photo

Eric Scott Johnson

November 20, 1970 — January 25, 2024

Eric Scott Johnson

Ladies and gentlemen, gather 'round as we bid farewell to the one and only Eric Scott Johnson, who left this world on January 25th, 2024. Eric did life on his own terms, embracing every twist and turn with a wry smile on his face and a song in his heart, probably one with some cussin’. As he embarks on his final journey, may the road rise to meet him, and may his spirit forever roam free.

Eric was born in Pontiac, Michigan on November 20, 1970, to Chuck and Mary Johnson. He was one of four siblings: Chuck was the oldest, then came Eric, Jennifer, and the baby Ryan. From an early age, Eric reveled in outdoor activities, helping his dad with the family wood business, mowing lawns for the neighbors, and most of all playing baseball–which he would have played year-round, but Michigan winters were cruel and cold. Recognizing both his enthusiasm for the game and restlessness when he couldn’t play it, Eric’s Dad came up with a workaround. He built a batting cage of sorts in the family basement complete with a pitching machine and padded walls on all four sides. It was here during the Michigan winters that a very talented switch hitter was born. Just before his senior year, Eric went out West in search of sun, adventure, and year-round baseball. He stayed with family friends and attended Chatsworth High School where he was heavily scouted by several division I colleges. But also that Spring in 1989, he found himself the 12th-round draft pick for the Minnesota Twins! He was at a crossroads. Forego college in favor of a lower rung professional contract, or take his pick of division 1 full ride scholarships? He decided to go the college route and played 2 years at Northridge and then finished out his eligibility at Cal Lutheran University. Eric played four memorable years of college ball– as a catcher, left fielder, and first baseman, but was most celebrated by teammates and NCAA coaches for his switching-hitting prowess.

After college Eric’s path took a different turn, one might speculate because he fell in love. His first encounter with Michelle was in the hallway after Spanish class at Cal-LU where she found him to be cocky and unpleasant. Their first conversation went something like this: Eric: “My shoulders hurt.” Michelle: “Your shoulders hurt, What? Why?” Eric: “Because I’ve been carrying the baseball team.”

Michelle still recalls their first serious discussion about the relationship where Eric asserted “we’re not exclusive.” Her response, “then, hit the road.” And he did… but he returned the following day, without a word, and never left. They were married two years later. They stayed in the area for a while, but eventually made their way back to Bakersfield, Michelle’s hometown, with a couple of teaching credentials and two beautiful kids in tow (Everett & Alexandra). Eric taught various grades in K-8, but the bulk of his career, over 20 years, was spent in the “Opportunity Program.” He specialized in a particular type of student, some may call them troubled, but he had a keen sense of what they needed…and what they didn’t. As a teacher, he was a force to be reckoned with – strict, yes, but always with a touch of innovation that kept his students on their toes. His lessons were more than just words on a whiteboard; they were life lessons, infused with his unique brand of humor, some straight talk, and a little bit of love.

Dodgers or Angels, Eric embraced them both with the fervor of a true baseball player and fan. The family made countless trips to both LA stadiums for the all-American ballpark experience, even securing tickets to Game 2 of the 2017 World Series: Dodgers vs Astros. (Dodgers lost. But Astros are cheaters.) Nothing felt more natural for Eric then a decent seat at Dodger stadium, with a Dodger Dog, peanuts, and a beer in his lap.

His love of family, adventure, and road trips knew no bounds. Eric had a penchant for classic country music, the kind that makes you want to hit the open road. Johnny Cash, John Prine, Waylon & Willie (…and the boys) were his guides as he embarked on countless road trips, dragging his family to out-of-the-way historical monuments, famous eateries, and fringe museums. And he never neglected a souvenir shop either.

His home was his playground. A stroll through his backyard will tell you this was a man with real interests. His garage alone, a treasure trove of artifacts and collectibles, displayed so immaculately that it has been known to bring grown men to tears. The Johnson home was a haven of nostalgia, with every corner adorned with vintage road signs, old telephones, retro clocks, and neon signs–each one with a story to tell. Most of them purchased; some, well, let's just say "acquired.” Eric's humor was as inappropriate as it was legendary, garnering enthusiastic laughs from some and uneasy chuckles from others. While Michelle was a rule follower; Eric was a rule bender. Whatever the trip or event, he was always scheming…Can we smuggle in an ice chest? Can someone limp so we can jump to the front of the line? He could also be unbelievably generous, especially when the drinks were flowing. Many a meal was enjoyed on Eric's dime, much to the dismay of his ever-patient wife (the one who did the bills).

As we continue our journey down memory lane, let's not forget Eric's affinity for the city of San Francisco, where he dreamed of watching over the city from atop the Golden Gate Bridge and one day finding peace and solace in it’s beautiful bay. Oh, the adventures he must have imagined, gazing out over the bay with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. So here's to you, Eric Scott Johnson, may your journey be as wild and wonderful as the roads you traveled. Farewell, dear husband, father, son, brother, and of course, friend. Can’t wait to get on the road again.

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Saturday, February 10, 2024

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