Rambling On About My Glory Days: Where’s Waldo, I mean Johnstone?
So many of my crazy, memorable baseball experiences happened when I played for the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is kind of ironic because I was only with the big league Dodger team for a short while. I guess it makes sense though, because after all, it is Hollywood. The following story is quite famous, told and written about many times before. However, having been there at the time, I will give my version.
Most of you probably remember the scene in Raiders of the Lost Arc where everyone on ship was looking for Indiana Jones. Then all of a sudden, someone points to an unlikely location and states, “There he is.” This is exactly what happened one day in the Dodger dugout. Jay Johnstone, first class pinch hitter, was being summoned by the man himself, Tommy Lasorda. “Go find Johnstone and tell him he is hitting,” were his orders to nearby coaches and players. This was not always an easy chore to find Jay Johnstone, even during games. So, as was customary, many were called upon to find him. After much time passed, it was reported to Lasorda that he could not be found. “What do you mean he can’t be found?” came booming out of Tommy along with a few unmentionables.
Suddenly, someone from the bench points and yells, “There he is!” The crazy thing is the person is pointing out towards the outfield scoreboard area. If you knew Jay Johnstone, you certainly would not put any prank past him, so one could not rule out seeing him sitting with the fans or even on top of the scoreboard. This was not the case; Jay Jonstone was being shown on the big Diamond vision screen. At first, everyone was confused because it was not obvious that it was Johnstone. Yep, there he was, dressed as a member of the grounds crew. Being the middle of the fifth inning, Jay, along with a couple of teammates including Jerry Reuss were walking in full grounds keepers garb with the crew and dragging the infield. At this point, everyone’s eyes went to the field to find the players walking merrily along – and doing what it takes to help the team and Dodgers, I guess.
At this point, Lasorda really began screaming as everyone else was absolutely cracking up with laughter. I believe, even Tommy had to chuckle at the ingenuity of this stunt. Obviously, someone involved with the stunt had alerted the Dodger Diamond vision people that this would happen. It was just coincidence that Lasorda would call on Johnstone to bat at this time. Being a naive rookie at the time, it was a small taste of the big time stunts that often went on around baseball teams. As I have stated before, having players, like Jay that keep teams â€œlooseâ€ during the long, grinding, pressure-packed season is and was very necessary.
Former major leaguer Jack Perconte is the author of The Making of a Hitter (http://jackperconte.com) and has a baseball instruction blog that can be found at www.baseballcoachingtips.net. He has recently published his second book Raising an Athlete – How to Instill Confidence, Build Skills and Inspire a Love of Sport