Joe Johnston unfolded his lawn chair in the middle of a crowd gathered behind home plate. 

Johnston didn't know anyone around him when he watched the Hannibal baseball team play Troy Buchanan in the district semifinals Saturday in Wentzville.

The Lake St. Louis resident isn't family or friends with any of the current players.

But the 1970 Hannibal High School graduate still had a reason for being at the game.

Johnston, a senior left fielder in the inaugural year of the school's baseball program, follows the current Pirates enough to know they set the team record with 16 wins.

He wanted to see the record-breaking squad with his own eyes.

“I was at the library this morning and I flipped onto hannibal.net and saw they were playing out here today,” said Johnston. “I figured I would come watch and bring back some old memories.”

Johnston wore an original HHS baseball cap inscribed with his last name and jersey number.

“This hat is still from 1970, except my head has got a little bit bigger since then,” he joked. 

Johnston spent much of Saturday's game meeting spectators who made the trip from Hannibal.

Although Hannibal's season concluded with a loss, the former player viewed the game as an opportunity to relive his playing days.

Johnston recalled coach Gene Hall's 1970 Pirates went 13-7 and advanced to the final eight in Missouri. 

Not shabby for the first season in program history.

“We had played together for a couple years in Legion ball, so we were well-acquainted with each other and backed each other up,” Johnston said. “Some teams might have taken us a little lightly because we were a first-year team.” 

Johnston rattles off the names of former teammates, some who he has lost touch with over the years.

He vividly remembers certain games from his senior year.

“People always say, 'How do you remember all this?'” he said. “My mom kept every scorecard and game that I can look through. I've got a good memory, but I've got a lot of cheat sheets.”

Following high school, Johnston went to Hannibal-LaGrange College before starting his career at Firestone (now Titan Wheel) in Quincy.

He moved to the St. Louis area in 1985 and worked for General Motors for 31 years before retiring two years ago.

Current Hannibal coach Ian Hatton was impressed by Johnston's gesture to watch the Pirates play.

“Those are the kind of things we're trying to build for and play for — something bigger than us,” Hatton said. “To have a guy like that here is an honor.”