02/06/07 — Johnny Narron headed to Cincy

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Johnny Narron headed to Cincy

By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on February 6, 2007 2:14 PM

The last time the Narron brothers were teammates, Richard Nixon's presidency was about to come to an abrupt end. "Blazing Saddles" and "The Godfather Part II" were playing in the theaters, "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet," "Kung Fu Fighting," "Jungle Boogie" and "Seasons in the Sun" topped the charts, and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "M*A*S*H," "The Waltons" and "All in the Family" were watched on television sets across the country.

Fresh out of Goldsboro High, young Jerry Narron was hitting third in the lineup and playing catcher. Johnny, his big brother, was batting cleanup and playing first base for Johnson City (Tenn.) in the New York Yankees' farm system.

It was 1974, the year Hank Aaron passed Babe Ruth on the home run list and Reggie Jackson's Oakland A's repeated as World Series champions.

"One of the biggest thrills I ever had was playing with my brother Johnny in rookie ball with the Yankees," recalls Jerry Narron, now 51. "We signed the same year -- he signed out of East Carolina and I signed out of high school -- and one of the biggest reasons I signed was to play with my brother."

Now more than 30 years later, they're back together again for another season in the sun.

The Cincinnati Reds officially announced over the weekend that Johnny has been hired as the team's video-administrative coach. He will serve under Jerry, who is entering his second full season as the club's manager.

"I'm extremely excited," Johnny said. "We played together in the minors back in '74, but we haven't been together since. Now, to be in the big leagues at the same time with the same team, this will be a wonderful experience. Very few people ever get an opportunity to get to the big leagues in any capacity, and for me to be with Jerry and the Reds is a true blessing."

The elder Narron was under contract with the Milwaukee Brewers organization to serve as manager of their Pioneer League team in Helena (Mont.) this season, but the Brewers released him from his deal so he could take his first big league coaching job.

"Milwaukee was very cooperative," Johnny said. "They saw I had a chance to be at the big league level, and I'm very grateful that they allowed me to do this."

Johnny, 55, joined the Brewers organization in 2003 after serving six seasons as an associate scout with the Atlanta Braves system. He also managed Helena in 2004 and was the team's hitting coach in 2003. He has also served as a hitting instructor for the West Virginia Power, Milwaukee's low class-A affiliate, and the Brevard County (Fla.) Manatees of the Florida State League. A 1970 graduate of Goldsboro High, Johnny went on to play baseball at ECU before playing minor league baseball in the Yankees and Chicago White Sox organizations from 1974-78.

Now he's a Red, just like his brother.

"My brother is going to video our games when we're on the road, he's going to be an assistant coach with our coaching staff, he does a great job of teaching hitting, he's given lessons for quite a few years and he's coached at every level," Jerry said. "I look forward to this year, he's going to be in the big leagues and he's going to see some things he's never thought about seeing before."