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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jay Johnstone
Born: (1945-11-20)November 20, 1945
Manchester, Connecticut, U.S.
Died: September 26, 2020(2020-09-26) (aged 74)
Granada Hills, California, U.S.
Batted: Left
Threw: Right
MLB debut
July 30, 1966, for the California Angels
Last MLB appearance
October 6, 1985, for the Los Angeles Dodgers
MLB statistics
Batting average.267
Home runs102
Runs batted in531
Career highlights and awards

John William Johnstone Jr. (November 20, 1945 – September 26, 2020)[1] was an American professional baseball player and television sports announcer. He played in Major League Baseball as an outfielder from 1966 to 1985 for the California Angels, Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Chicago Cubs.

Johnstone was a member of two World Series teams with the Yankees in 1978 and the Dodgers in 1981. He was known as a versatile outfielder with a good sense of humor, known for keeping clubhouses loose with pranks and gimmicks. He later served as a radio color commentator for the Yankees (1989–1990) and Phillies (1992–1993), and wrote books about his career.

Early life

Johnstone was born on November 20, 1945, in Manchester, Connecticut, to John William Sr., an accountant, and Audrey (Whebell) Johnstone. The family moved to Southern California when Johnstone was a child. He attended Edgewood High School, where he excelled at baseball, basketball and football.[2]

Baseball career

Johnstone was signed as an amateur free agent by the Los Angeles Angels, in 1963.[1] He made his major-league debut in July 1966.[2]

Johnstone (21) batting for the Cubs in 1983

As an Angel, Johnstone preserved Clyde Wright's no-hitter against the Athletics in the seventh inning by catching a Reggie Jackson fly ball, 400 feet from home plate, in straightaway center field, just in front of the outfield wall (July 3, 1970). After a campaign in which he batted .238 with 39 runs batted in (RBI) and 11 home runs, Johnstone was traded along with Tom Egan and Tom Bradley from the Angels to the White Sox for Ken Berry, Syd O'Brien, and Billy Wynne, on November 30, 1970.[3]

As a Phillie, Johnstone went 7-for-9 in the 1976 National League Championship Series (NLCS), against the Cincinnati Reds; however, the Reds swept the series. He and Bobby Brown were sent from the Phillies to the Yankees for Rawly Eastwick on the day before the trade deadline on June 14, 1978.[4]

As a Dodger, Johnstone hit a pinch-hit, two-run home run in Game Four of the 1981 World Series, against the New York Yankees (the home run rallying the Dodgers from a 6–3 deficit to win 8–7). The victory also enabled the Dodgers to tie the Series at two games each; Los Angeles won the next two games, to win it all.[5]

Clubhouse prankster

Johnstone pulled off a number of infamous pranks during his playing days, including placing a soggy brownie inside Steve Garvey's first base mitt, setting teammates' cleats on fire (known as "hot-footing"), cutting out the crotch area of Rick Sutcliffe's underwear, and locking Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda in his office during spring training. Johnstone also nailed teammates' spikes to the floor, and once replaced the celebrity photos in manager Lasorda's office with pictures of himself, Reuss, and Don Stanhouse.

In a 1981 game against Pittsburgh, Johnstone and teammate Jerry Reuss dressed up as groundskeepers to drag the Dodger Stadium infield in the fifth inning of a game. Afterwards, Lasorda yelled at them and sent Johnstone to pinch-hit the next inning as a punishment; however, Johnstone ended up hitting a home run.[5] During the Dodgers' 1982 spring training, Johnstone locked Lasorda inside his motel room by tying his doorknob to a palm tree.[2]

Once, during pre-game warm-ups, Johnstone climbed atop the Dodger dugout and, in full uniform, walked through the field boxes at Dodger Stadium to the concession stand and got a hot dog. Another time, he bolted from a taxicab on the gridlocked Golden State Freeway during a pregame traffic jam and began running in uniform toward the Stadium Way exit. Johnstone also once dressed up in Lasorda's uniform (with padding underneath) and ran out to the mound to talk to the pitcher while carrying Lasorda's book and a can of Slim Fast.

As a baseball announcer, Johnstone once covered a microphone with a scent of stale eggs then proceeded to interview Dave "Smoke" Stewart, Mickey Hatcher, and other players. While faking a pause for commercials during a TV interview with Yankee players Deion Sanders and Mel Hall, Johnstone tricked them into uncovering a restaurant bread basket containing a snake; both players jumped from their seats, provoking laughter all around.

Johnstone's 1984 Fleer baseball card #495 shows him wearing a Budweiser Brockabrella, an umbrella hat for which Lou Brock was a spokesman; Johnstone claimed the photo was not pre-planned and that Budweiser rewarded him with a case of complimentary beer each summer.[6]

Journalism career

Johnstone hosted blooper TV show The Lighter Side of Sports in the late 1980s. He worked as radio color commentator for the Yankees games on WABC (1989–1990) and the Phillies games on WPHT (1992–1993).

He also co-wrote three books with sports columnist Rick Talley—Temporary Insanity, Over the Edge, and Some of My Best Friends Are Crazy—in which he described many of the pranks, along with other aspects of his career.[2]

Entertainment roles

Johnstone appeared in the movie The Naked Gun as a member of the Seattle Mariners in a game against the California Angels.[7] Although he was a left-handed hitter throughout his career, Johnstone bats right-handed in the movie.

After the Dodgers' 1981 World Series victory, Johnstone and Dodger teammates Rick Monday (with whom he shared a birthday, service in the Marines, and stints with the A's, Cubs, and Dodgers), Jerry Reuss, and Steve Yeager appeared on Solid Gold and sang their own rendition of Queen's hit, We Are the Champions.


Johnstone died from complications of COVID-19 at a nursing home in Granada Hills, California, on September 26, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic; he was 74 years old.[8] According to his daughter, Mary Jayne Sarah Johnstone, he had suffered from dementia in recent years.

Career statistics

20 1748 5229 4703 578 1254 215 38 102 531 429 632 .267 .329 .394 .979

In the postseason, covering 14 games (one NLDS, four NLCS, two World Series) Johnstone batted .476 (10-for-21), with two runs scored, one double, one triple, one home run, and five runs batted in (RBI).

Film appearances


  1. ^ a b "Jay Johnstone, a two-time World Series champion and popular prankster around MLB, dies at 74". ESPN. Associated Press. September 28, 2020. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d "Jay Johnstone, Major League Outfielder and Prankster, Dies at 74," The New York Times, September 29, 2020.
  3. ^ "Center Fielders Are Exchanged". The New York Times. December 1, 1970. p. 79. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  4. ^ Eichel, Larry & Livingston, Bill. "The locker-room clearance," The Philadelphia Inquirer, Thursday, June 15, 1978. Retrieved October 22, 2020
  5. ^ a b "Former Dodgers fan favorite Jay Johnstone dies at 74 after COVID-19 battle," The Los Angeles Times, September 28, 2020.
  6. ^ Markusen, Bruce. "#CardCorner: 1984 Fleer Jay Johnstone". National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  7. ^ Bolch, Ben (October 15, 2018). "Reggie Jackson, Queen Elizabeth, Leslie Nielsen: How 'The Naked Gun' filmed the best baseball scene in movie history". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
  8. ^ "Former Dodgers Outfielder, Two-Time World Series Champ Jay Johnstone Dies Of COVID-19 Complications". KCBS-TV. CBSLA Staff. September 28, 2020. Retrieved September 29, 2020.

External links

This page was last edited on 17 July 2023, at 19:59
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