Johnstone (21) batting for the Cubs in 1983
|Born: November 20, 1945|
|July 30, 1966, for the California Angels|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 6, 1985, for the Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Runs batted in||531|
|Career highlights and awards|
John William Johnstone Jr. (born November 20, 1945) is an American former professional baseball player, active 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 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).
Career highlights include:
- As an Angel, he 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 wall (July 3, 1970).
- As a Phillie, he went 7-for-9 in the 1976 National League Championship Series against the Cincinnati Reds; however, the Reds swept the series.
- As a Dodger, he 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; they won the next two games to win it all.
He 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, locking Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda in his office during spring training, once dressing up along with Jerry Reuss as groundskeepers to drag the Dodger Stadium infield in the fifth inning and then hitting a pinch-hit home run when Lasorda tried to show him up while imposing a fine to both players for being out of uniform, nailing teammates' cleats to the floor, and replacing the celebrity photos in manager Lasorda's office with pictures of himself, Reuss and Don Stanhouse. One time, during pre-game warm ups, he climbed atop the Dodger dugout and, in full game 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. He 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, he 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.
Many of the pranks, along with other aspects of his career, are described in the books he co-authored with sports columnist Rick Talley – Temporary Insanity, Over the Edge, and Some of My Best Friends Are Crazy.
Appearances outside baseball
Johnstone appeared in the movie The Naked Gun as a member of the Seattle Mariners in a game against the California Angels. Johnstone, who was a left-handed hitter throughout his career, bats right-handed in the movie.
After the Dodgers' 1981 World Series victory, Johnstone and Dodger teammates Rick Monday (with whom he shares 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.
- Body Slam (1986) - Booth Announcer
- The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988) - Seattle First Up