This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com
With the Yankees and the Phillies taking commanding leads in their respective championship series, now seems as good a time as any to reflect on the few players in history who have donned uniforms for the remaining four postseason contenders. Aside from the Angels, these teams have been around for quite a while. It’s hard to believe that only three players in major league history have put in time with each of the teams left in the postseason. Let’s take a quick look at two men who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles of Anaheim Angels, Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees, and a closer look at the one player who had an impact with some of these clubs in the postseason.
One of these players was Stan Javier, who split 17 seasons between 7 teams, and made his major league debut with the New York Yankees in 1984. His Yankee career lasted all of 7 games, and he was traded during that off-season in a multi-player trade that sent Rickey Henderson to the Bronx. He went on to have a solid career and a World Series championship with the Athletics. The second ballplayer that wore all the uniforms of the teams remaining was the late Ken Brett, brother of Hall of Famer George Brett. Ken Brett spent time with 10 different major league teams during his 14 year career. He appeared in the 1967 World Series as an 18 year old and threw an inning and a third of hitless ball. Despite lingering arm troubles, Brett was a reliable option as hemoved on from Boston after a few season and began his oddysey that included 9 uniform changes in 10 seasons.
The final player to profile is Jay Johnstone, who spent 20 seasons in the big leagues, logging time with 8 teams in total and appearing in 5 postseasons with the Phillies, Dodgers, and Yankees. Johnstone played all three outfield positions for the California Angels, the team that drafted him which he played 5 seasons of his career with. Johnstone bounced from the White Sox to the Athletics before finding a new home in Philadelphia. His career flourished with the Phillies, and peaked when he hit .778 in a losing effort against the Cincinnati Reds in the 1976 NLCS.
After his 1978 season started off slow, the Phillies shipped Johnstone off to the New York Yankees in June of that year for reliever Rawly Eastwick. Johnstone responded well by hitting much better with his new club. He played a bench role during the ’78 World Series which the Yankees won in 6 games. A year and a day later, Johnstone was traded to the San Diego Padres after another slow start to the season. Johnstone hit well the rest of the season, and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent following the 1979 season.
At the age of 34, Johnstone’s 1980 season was his finest since the 1977 season, despite playing with 100-150 fewer at bats than his days with the Phillies. In 1981, Johnstone’s Dodgers were facing off in the World Series against the Yankees and Johnstone made the best of his limited play in the series. In Game 4, he cranked a 2 run home run as a pinch hitter en route to a come-from-behind 8-7 victory that helped turn the momentum in favor of the Dodgers as they went on to win the next two games and the series.
Johnstone logged a few more seasons in the big leagues with the Chicago Cubs and a brief return to the Dodgers, before turning his focus to a brief career as a color commentator.
As the Dodgers and Angels both face elimination games, there’s no doubt that fans of both teams are hoping there might be a Jay Johnstone somewhere in the clubhouses of their teams with their backs against the wall.