By ROGER MILLS
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 6, 2001
Rays second baseman Russ Johnson is a true Cajun country boy from Baton Rouge. Here are his honest takes on Louisiana cooking, country life, hard work, meeting his wife, love and lust and gun ownership.
RM: You are quite the country boy, aren't you?
RJ: I'm a country boy. Love fishing and hunting. I did it with my dad. I want to do it with my son. I want him to do it with his sons.
RM: What do people misunderstand about Cajun Country?
RJ: Swamps. That's all they ever say. There's swamp land there but it's along the coastal area, just like here in Florida. There's more to it than just swamps.
RM: Where do you get the best Cajun food?
RJ: There are several good restaurants. But the best ones are the little holes in the wall, family-owned ones. You know, I really don't even know the names but I just go. I know how to get there.
RM: Best piece of advice you ever got?
RJ: It was from my father, George Johnson. He's is a hard worker and he said, "If you put everything you have into it, you will get something out of it. You will be rewarded in some fashion. The good Lord doesn't punish those who work hard and overexert themselves. You might not be the greatest baseball player ever, but you'll be the best Russ Johnson can ever be."
RM: But your dad isn't really interested in your baseball career?
RJ: My dad's not a baseball person. He doesn't know anything about it, still doesn't. Doesn't care. He's only been to like two games (since I've been in the big leagues). He would rather me be home working on the farm. It doesn't bother me. When I was growing up, I loved to hunt and fish just like I loved the game. I understand. I'm never going to shed tears over this game.
RM: Best day of your life?
RJ: I have had two great days. The day I met my wife, Trisha, and the day my son Cole was born. I never saw myself as being married and I never saw myself as a father.
RM: Tell us about how you met your wife while at LSU.
RJ: I was walking around with a linebacker (John Baylor) to class and I saw Trisha and I waved at her. I had never met her in my life, I just knew she looked good. We made eye contact and I told John I was going to go ask her out on a date. He said, "Man, you ain't got what it takes!" I ended up asking her out. I took her home to meet my parents on the first date. She was the first girl I ever dated. I never dated a girl in high school.
RM: Poor thing, she married a country boy.
RJ: I always said I wasn't going to marry a girl who can't accept me. If I was going to be single my whole life then that's what it was going to take. But I'm going to hunt and fish all the time. Every time it gets cold, I'm going to go hunting. If we have a Christmas party planned and it gets cold, I'm going to the woods. I was raised that way. My dad hunted every time. It's my life. It's what I do. I know it's a hard thing for women to take. Women like you to be at home and have dinner Friday night and go out and have a few drinks on Saturday. Me, I want to be out in the woods.
RM: What's the difference between love and lust?
RJ: Love is something that's wholehearted. It's not driven by one urge. It's a feeling that I would die for that instantly. That's love. Somebody ever tried to lay a hand on my wife or son, they're going to have to kill me. I'd die for them. Lust would be something you have to have for one reason.
RM: Is there a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow of life?
RJ: There is, if you plan on making your own rainbow. If you think somebody is going to give you a rainbow, no way. It's going to be a long struggle. But if you want to be something and you go out there and work at making a rainbow for yourself, it may not be the prettiest rainbow, or the tallest, or the brightest, but there will be something at the end of it.
RM: Worried about Judgment Day?
RJ: I'm scared to death. I'd probably dehydrate from crying too much.
RM: What's your take on guns in the home?
RJ: Got to have them. I'm sick and tired of people saying how guns kill people. People kill people. You ain't taking my guns. If you try, we're going to have a fight. You can take away the pistols. I don't care about that. The only ones who really need them are police officers. But rifles and shotguns? You're not taking them away from me.
RM: Should the government demand that every gun is registered?
RJ: I don't have a problem with that. It's just a headache. You know what's ironic, the people who are being forced to register guns aren't going to use them in crimes. The criminals are never going to register their guns.
RM: The problem with society is?
RJ: Discipline. Spare the rod, spoil the child. If you don't whip your children, they will not respect you, they will not respect their elders and then they'll do what they please. Children are naturally born mean. They don't know any better and need guidance in life. This timeout thing doesn't work.