Johnstone (21) batting for the Cubs in 1983
November 20, 1946 |
|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, 1946) 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 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-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 as a groundskeeper and sweeping the Dodger Stadium infield in between innings and then hitting homers the next, nailing teammates' cleats to the floor, and replacing the celebrity photos in manager Lasorda's office with pictures of himself, Jerry 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.
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 of baseball
Johnstone appeared in the movie 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.
- Many official baseball books mistakenly list Jay Johnstone's birth year as 1945. In his book, Temporary Insanity, he addresses the subject page 129