Perhaps the greatest high school baseball coach the state of Colorado has seen is exiting the dugout for good.

Cherry Creek’s Marc Johnson, a CHSAA Hall of Famer, a Colorado Sports Hall of Fame and the winningest coach in state history made it official on Wednesday that he’ll return for his 52nd season before calling it a career.

“I love the game of baseball,” Johnson said. “I love working with youth. I think God planned for me to work with 17 and 18-year-olds and one of the reasons that my health and humor is still pretty good is because of the fact that I work with 17 and 18-year-olds.”

Johnson’s story dates back to the spring of 1973 when he took over the Bruins program. He knew the program could be something special, but in order to get there he had to help Cherry Creek kids fall in love with the game at a young age. So he put his heart and soul into a development program that took a few years, but ultimately paid off.

“Back in the early ’70s, we knew there were good athletes at Cherry Creek but that we had to get them involved with baseball at a younger age — camps for little kids, feeder teams, all that,” Johnson told Kyle Newman of The Denver Post back in 2021. “Once we started to create the snowball of success, it was the tradition that carried us. It was the expectations of this program… and the players’ desire to uphold those expectations.”

It paid off for Johnson in a big way. Over the course of his career, he led the Bruins to eight state championships which is the most for any school above Class 3A. Cherry Creek was dominant in the late 1990’s, winning five titles in a row from 1995-99.

Since 2001, the Bruins have made it back to six state championship games, winning one back in 2012. They last played for the 5A title in 2019 when they lost to Regis Jesuit.

Johnson put his stamp on his legacy, not just at Creek, but in all of Colorado when he won his 808th game on May 12, 2021 when the Bruins beat Grandview 6-5 in a 9-inning thriller. That win gave him the most wins by any high school baseball coach in state history.

If there was any question as to how many lives Johnson had touched in his time coaching high school baseball, they were answered on that day.

“I had 253 messages [on my phone],” he said.

When reflecting on the win, he said that he would walk away from the game when he longer had an impact. If he feels like he doesn’t have an impact today, he might be sorely mistaken.

He spent the majority of his announcement pressing upon his players that winning doesn’t make them better humans or even better baseball players. Being the best they can be, being a part of a team and creating memories with their friends and coaching is what truly develops character over time. Everyone has their outlet of choice in that regard, Johnson’s is just baseball. And he feel’s honored to use that vehicle to have an impact on every kid that has come through his program.

“A better you makes a better we,” he told the players gathered for his announcement. “And a better we makes a better team. These things are more important than wins and losses.”

But on the topic of wins, when he enters his final season as coach, he has 846 wins to his name. Along with those are eight state championships and in his time coaching at Cherry Creek, a Bruins baseball player has been selected in the MLB Draft 53 times. Notable names among that crowd include Darnell McDonald and Brad Ledge, both of whom spent several years playing for Major League Baseball teams.

These are not the things that he is most proud of. But they are a reflection of a program that is built on the core values that Johnson holds dear.

As of now, there is no word on who will succeed Johnson at Creek, but whoever it is has big shoes to fill. After all, Johnson will walk off the field at the end of the 2024 season as the greatest high school baseball coach in Colorado history.