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Former MLB Player Jay Johnstone Died from COVID-19 at 74 — Glimpse inside His Career

Odette Odendaal
Sep 30, 2020
08:35 A.M.

Legendary baseball player Jay Johnstone sadly passed at the age of 74. As a versatile outfielder and a fan-favorite, he helped both the Yankees and the Dodgers secure a World Series championship, and it is "shocking" that he is gone.


Baseball's prankster died from complications from the novel coronavirus, according to his daughter Mary Jayne Sarah Johnstone, who spoke with the Associated Press on Monday.

Johnstone began his career with the Yankees in 1978, the same year they won the World Series. The following year he briefly played for the San Diego Padres before heading over to the Los Angeles Dodgers. After a short trade to the Chicago Cubs in 1982, Johnstone returned to the Dodgers again in 1985.

Jay Johnstone before a MLB game at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. | Source: Getty Images.

Jay Johnstone before a MLB game at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. | Source: Getty Images.


The revered outfielder's daughters said that he had had dementia the last couple of years, and Mary couldn't believe that complications from COVID-19 would take her father when he was so strong.


Johnstone had been living in a nursing home in Granada Hills when he died, and Mary found it difficult to come to terms with what had happened, as she said:

"COVID was the one thing he couldn't fight. It's really kind of shocking."


Following his retirement as a player, Johnstone never strayed far from the beloved sport. Working as a radio commentator for the Phillies and the Yankees kept him close to the action.


That was his motto to everything.

When news broke of Johnstone's death, the Dodgers, whom he helped win the World Series in 1981, offered their "deepest condolences" to his family and friends.

The Yankees also made sure to reach out with a few kind words and wrote that news of Johnstone left them deeply saddened. Noting that Johnstone will be missed, the team also extended their condolences to his loved ones left behind.



Johnstone's baseball talent saw him play 20 seasons in the major leagues, but he also earned a reputation as a prankster among his fellow players and staff during his career.

Having a sunny, glass-half-full outlook on life allowed Johnstone to find the humor in life, no matter what came his way, and he wanted to share it, as his daughter, Mary said:


"That was his motto to everything: bring a smile to people's faces. Everyone loved him."

The impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic sadly stretches far and wide, but teams such as the Yankees had been hard at work to try and keep their players going and motivated.


Considering social distancing regulations, Mike Ford and David Hale decided to something special for the kids after baseball camp got canceled.

Hale and Ford volunteered to give the children zoom lessons since they had to forego the camp, and the pair had a blast with the children, even if it was remotely.

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