August 6, 2015
By Mike Killeen
After each St. Cloud Rox home baseball game, you can find Mike Johnson in the exact same spot.
He's stationed outside the main gate at Joe Faber Field.
"I always go to the front gate and thank everybody for coming," said Johnson, a 2008 graduate of Saint John's University and the assistant general manager of the Rox, who are members of the Northwoods League. "It's their last impression of the ball park. That way, if there's something they want to get off their chest, or things didn't go right, it's one last opportunity for them to talk to me instead of them leaving (unhappy)."
Johnson is trying to make sure anyone with an unhappy game experience doesn't share it with friends or social media. That's important for a team whose marketing tagline is, "Rox Solid Fun."
"I can nip anything that happens, but for the most part, we're just thanking fans and seeing if they had a great time," Johnson said.
Johnson has always been interested in athletics. He ran track at both St. Cloud Technical High School and for Coach Tim Miles and the Johnnies.
It wasn't until his senior year (2007-08) at Saint John's that he got involved in the behind-the-scenes management. He worked for SJU athletic director Tom Stock and athletics office coordinator Marilyn Koltes while finishing a double-major in communication and management.
"I wanted to get more involved and gain more experience, and Tom was bringing me on sales calls, and then I helped him at football and basketball games," Johnson said. "That spring, Marilyn gave me the reins a little bit more with the season football ticket renewal, mailing out envelopes, helping her once they came back in and finding them a spot. That's where I got my first experience on the ticketing side."
He earned a master's degree in sports management from St. Cloud State University, and then spent a season with the Hickory (North Carolina) Crawdads and two seasons with the Tri-City ValleyCats (Troy, New York) before joining the Rox.
"To be able to (work) in my hometown, it was just a no-brainer," Johnson said. "I moved back here in March 2013."
Team co-owner and vice president Scott Schreiner handles player personnel decisions and big corporate accounts. So, what does Johnson do as assistant general manager?
"I like to say I work with every element of the organization except what goes on the field," Johnson said. "I handle our ticketing system, I manage our website and the content that goes on there. I work with corporate partners and groups.
"I think one of the biggest hurdles we have is people see us as a seasonal business. We let people know we're here 12 months out of the year," Johnson said. "We're making sure the promotional schedule is full of great giveaways.
"The liberal arts, in essence, is kind of reflective of how my job is. There are so many different areas that I work with," Johnson added.