Johnstone earned a deserved reputation as a flake who kept his teammates entertained
with his uninhibited clubhouse antics, but he was also a fine lefthanded hitter who
managed to last 20 seasons in the ML despite playing over 130 games only once (1969
with the Angels). He was originally a speedy, switch-hitting centerfielder, but abandoned
hitting from the right side after his rookie season. Only two years after hitting
a career-high 16 HR for the White Sox in 1971, Johnstone was released outright and
his career seemed doomed. He came back with the Phillies, however, and in the 1976
LCS he was phenomenal in a losing effort. He was seven-for-nine in the series, but
the Reds swept the Phillies in three. Johnstone starred again in the 1981 WS for
the Dodgers, belting a pinch two-run HR as Los Angeles came back from a 6-3 deficit
to win Game Four 8-7. After finishing his career as a reserve outfielder and pinch
hitter, Johnstone became a baseball broadcaster.
»November 30, 1970: The White Sox trade OF Ken Berry to the Angels for OF Jay Johnstone in a 6-player deal. The White Sox also make a rare trade with the Cubs when they send OF Jose Ortiz and infielder Ossie Blanco to the North side for pitchers Pat Jacquez and Dave Lemonds.
»June 1, 1975:
The Phils edge the Astros, 5–4, on Jay Johnstone's 5th inning homer off Larry Dierker. The homer is the only hit for the Phils after the first inning in which they score 4.
»August 5, 1975: The first seven Phillies hit safely—good for 15 bases—against Bill Bonham (10–8)and the Cubs, in setting a ML record. No pitcher has ever started a game by allowing seven straight hits. Dave Cash leads off with a single, and Larry Bowa matches it. Garry Maddox homers over the LF fence. Greg Luzinski singles, and Jay Johnstone and Tommy Hutton follow with doubles to make it 5–0. Mike Schmidt then hits his 22nd homer to finally drive Bonham out of the game. His replacement, Ken Crosby (making his ML debut) gives up a single to Johnny Oates for the 8th straight hit. Dick Ruthven lays down a sac bunt for the first out, but three walks, two hits and a balk make it 10–0. As historian Lyle Spatz notes, the Phils last scored 10 runs in a frame on August 13, 1948. Schmidt adds a 2nd homer to help push the final to 135.
»September 18, 1976:
The Phillies finally win, topping the host Cubs, 4–1, as Jay Johnstone leads with four hits. It is the first-place Phillies 6th win in their 24 games.
»June 14, 1978:
The Yankees acquire OF Jay Johnstone from the Phillies in exchange for P Rawly Eastwick, who was a disappointment after New York signed him for more than $1 million.
»May 24, 1982: Pittsburgh tops the Dodgers 9–3. Jay Johnstone breaks an 0–21 streak by lining a pinch double for LA, but when he returns to the dugout manager Tommy Lasorda tells him he's been released. He'll sign with the Cubs but return to LA in 1985.