Former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Jay Johnstone, a fan favorite and noted prankster who hit a key home run that helped the Dodgers win the 1981 World Series against the New York Yankees, has died of COVID-19 complications at the age of 74.
Johnstone, who grew up in West Covina and attended Edgewood High School, also won a World Series with the Yankees in 1978.
“Jay Johnstone’s spunky spirit and zest for life will never be forgotten. Rest in peace to the two-time World Series champ,” the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association posted Monday on Facebook.
Johnstone played 20 seasons in the major leagues, including his first five seasons with the California Angels, and parts of four seasons with the Dodgers.
His pinch-hit homer in Game 4 of the 1981 World Series fueled a raucous 8-7 victory for L.A. at Dodger Stadium, as the team came back from a two games to none deficit to vanquish the Yankees in six games.
He was also a notorious prankster who loved getting the goat of former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, once sneaking into the manager’s office and replacing Lasorda’s beloved celebrity photos with pictures of himself and fellow players Jerry Reuss and Don Stanhouse.
Johnstone played in 1,748 regular season games in his career, finishing with a .267 batting average and 102 home runs.
“The Dodgers are saddened by the passing of former Dodger Jay Johnstone and offer their deepest condolences to his family and friends,” the team tweeted Monday afternoon.