One of the best all-around players named to the All-Time Montgomery County basketball team in 1971 is Fred Johnson, who graduated from Linden in 1960. Fred lettered in basketball, baseball and track all four years, and as a senior received the award for most outstanding athlete and the scholarship award by the county coaches association.
In basketball, Fred was a guard on the Bulldog squad that finished the 1959-60 season with a record of 20-3, including winning the county tourney, under head coach Bill Springer. He ended the season with a 15.3 average, and was named to both the All-County and All-Sectional teams. Fred told me that what he remembered most from that year were Coach Springer's very demanding practices and the crowds that filled the gyms for each game. Both of his coaches in high school, Bill Springer and Emerson Mutterspaugh, were named to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. Fred recalled seeing Oscar Robertson play three times, and he also admired Alamo's Charlie Bowerman's competitiveness. He also praised Junior Waltz, another great Linden athlete, who worked with Fred from second grade on through high school. During his four years as a Bulldog, Fred scored a total of 902 points for his hometown team.
Fred was a catcher for the Linden baseball team. In the fall of 1959, the Bulldogs won the county championship, and Fred had an amazing .656 batting average. He remarked that he caught for Linden pitcher Steve Burkle who was signed by the Chicago White Sox.
After graduation, Fred attended DePauw and earned his degree in education. He then taught school and coached for the next 10 years, first at Waynetown, and then as an assistant for his old coach, Bill Springer, at Jennings County. In 1970, as head coach at Waynetown, his Gladiator team won the school's first Sectional championship since 1945, defeating Crawfordsville in the final game 74 to 69 . . . rated as one of the biggest upsets in county history.
Some of Fred's funny sports memories include seeing coach Bob Tandy of New Market putting his foot through a wooden chair at a county tourney game, seeing Linden teammate John King dive into some bushes to catch a ball hit into centerfield, and watching Linden's Hubie Blaydes fall into a gully and disappear in Alamo's outfield. He also recalled the time Jennings County played a basketball game against Scottsburg, who was known to have "hometown refs." Luckily, one of the referees that night was Bill Boone from Ladoga, and Jennings County got a fair shake . . . although Fred laughed when he remembered that during that game, a crazy Scottsburg woman threw a quarter and hit him in the head . . . and then asked him if he would return the quarter!
Hundreds of people here know Fred, as later on he became a letter carrier for the postal service for almost 30 years! During that time, he kept up with sports as a scout for North Montgomery, a coach for the Boys Club and grade schools, a radio announcer for games, an active member of the Montgomery county basketball hall of fame since 2004 . . . and he ran the clock for the North girls' basketball teams for over 25 years! Fred stated that he has made many friends over the years through sports . . . "I have an understanding wife who has allowed me to follow my passion!" One of his biggest thrills now is helping his son Nick coach at the middle school level.
Fred made the comment that he still loves to watch young people compete, and he is amazed at the number of outstanding athletes that have been right here in Montgomery County . . . and how far girls' athletics have advanced in the last 40 years. Finally, Fred told me that he will never forget all of the great athletes he played with, and against, and also coached through the years. And we won't forget you, Fred, one of Montgomery County's greatest!

John "Butch" Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 30 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history. He writes a general column that appears in The Paper on Fridays and a local sports column on Tuesdays.