Tuesday, June 16, 2009

1976 Topps #114 - Jay Johnstone

  • Jay Johnstone was a well-travelled outfielder who played for eight teams from 1966-1985. "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 teammate's 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, dressing up as a groundskeeper and sweeping the Dodger Stadium infield in between innings, nailing teammate's cleats to the floor, and replacing the celebrity photos in manager Lasorda's office with pictures of himself, Jerry Reuss and Don Stanhouse. 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." (wikipedia entry)
  • Johnstone made his major league debut with the California Angels on July 30, 1966. He bounced between the minors and the Angels until 1968. In his five seasons with the Angels Jay had batting averages ranging from .209 to .270. Johnstone's best year for the Angels was in 1969 when he batted .270 in 148 games. Jay was traded to the Chicago White Sox after the 1970 sesaon.
  • Jay had a pretty decent year for the White Sox in 1971 (.260 with 16 homers in 388 at bats). But he struggled in 1972, batting only .188 in 261 at bats. Johnstone was released before the 1973 season. He was picked up by the Oakland A's and Jay spent most of the season in AAA Tucson, where he batted .347. He batted .107 in 28 at bats for the A's.
  • Jay was purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals before the 1974 season but he never played for the Cards (they released him at the end of spring training). The Philadelphia Phillies signed Johnstone and assigned him to AAA Toledo. Jay batted .316 in Toledo and was called back up to the Phillies. He batted .295 in 200 at bats for the Phils in 1974.
  • Johnstone's seasons with the Phillies (1974-1978) was the best part of his career. He had seasons of .295, .329 (1975), .316 (1976), and .284 (1977). He didn't have a whole lot of home run power, but he did have 38 doubles in 1976. He also had a nice LCS for the Phils in 1976 (7 hits in 9 at bats). Phillies manager Danny Ozark once said, "What makes him unusual is that he thinks he's normal and everyone else is nuts."
  • Jay started slowly in 1978 (.179 in 56 AB) and was traded to the New York Yankees in June. Johnstone did better with the Yankees (.262 in 65 AB). Jay also had a slow start in 1979 (.208 in 48 at bats) and was shipped to the San Diego Padres in June. He bounced back with the Padres (.294 in 201 AB) and was granted free agancy after the season.
  • Johnstone signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers and batted .307 in 1980. The 1981 season wasn't so good for Jay as he batted .205 in 83 at bats. But he did play for a World Series winner and had a good time doing it. Jay started off the 1982 season batting .077 and was released on May 25. The Chicago Cubs signed him in June and Jay played as a part-time outfielder until his release in September 1984. Jay tried to come back with the Dodgers in 1985 but he batted only .133 in 16 at bats as a pinch hitter and was released after the season.
  • Jay made a few TV and movie appearances (The Naked Gun, The Drew Carey Show, a few others) after his playing career. He also did broadcasting for the Yankees and Phillies, had his own television talk show, and wrote several books (including Temporary Insanity and Over the Edge). He also helped to found a company (Sporthings) that provides collectibles for charity events. Jay now works for FOX.
  • Major League players voted Jay the third biggest hot dog in the National League in 1982 (he finished behind Darrell Thomas and Al Hrabosky and ahead of Joaquin Andujar and Tug McGraw).

1 comment:

  1. So 3 of the biggest hot dogs were former Phillies . . . very interesting!