Saturday, January 18, 2014

Jay Johnstone (#485)

Jay Johnstone just came off his first full season in the majors in 1969, starting 141 games in center field for the Angels. It would also be the high point of his career in terms of playing time (even more than his 1975-76 stint as the Phillies’ regular right fielder). In deference to Del Unser (next post), I’m going to tab Jay as the right fielder on the “Hangin’ at the Bat Rack” team.

Johnstone was signed by the Los Angeles Angels in June 1963. He played in the Angels’ farm system from 1963 to 1968, the last three seasons in triple-A. Jay also played for the Angels for parts of 1966 to 1968, making his major-league debut on 7/30/1966 at age 20.

Jay was a full-time major-leaguer from 1969 to 1972. After his breakout 1969 season as the team’s regular center fielder, he played just over half the games in 1970 in center field, sharing the position with Roger Repoz, Jarvis Tatum, and Tony Gonzalez.

After the season, Johnstone and 2 others were traded to the White Sox for outfielder Ken Berry and 2 others. Jay spent the next 2 seasons with the White Sox. 1971 turned out to be similar to his last year with the Angels: the primary center fielder, but sharing the post with others. He also started 2 dozen games in right field. In 1972, Johnstone shared center field evenly with former Angels’ teammate Rick Reichardt, but overall, his playing time was decreasing.

Johnstone was released by the White Sox during Spring Training in 1973, and picked a few weeks later by the Athletics. He spent most of the season in the minors, while also playing 23 games with Oakland.

After spending part of the 73-74 off-season as property of the Cardinals, Jay was signed by the Phillies on April 3rd. He spent the first half of 1974 in the minors, but was recalled by the Phillies in early July, and was the team’s regular right fielder from that point until they acquired Bake McBride in June 1977.

In mid-June 1978 he was traded to the Yankees for reliever Rawley Eastwick, but was flipped to the Padres the next day. He was granted free agency after the season, and signed with the Dodgers. Johnstone spent the remainder of his career as a part-time outfielder and pinch-hitter.

After 2 seasons with the Dodgers and 3 with the Cubs, he returned to the Dodgers to start the 1985 season, but appeared only as a pinch-hitter in his final season. He pinch-hit 17 times over the entire season (missing all of May, July, and August).

Johnstone played in the post season with the Phillies (’76, ’77), Yankees (’78), and Dodgers (’81, ’85).

Also check out his 1967 card.

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