Jerry Johnson Death – The winning pitcher in Blue Jays’ first game, Jerry Johnson has died on Monday, November 15, 2021, after a long battle with Lewy Body Dementia and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Johnson died at the age of 77. Johnson went on to allow one run in 2 2/3 innings in relief in the Blue Jays’ 9-5 win. The Blue Jays would continue to use the 33-year-old right-hander primarily as a middle reliever for the rest of the season. In all, Johnson posted a 4.60 ERA and recorded five saves in 43 appearances, spanning 86 innings.
Johnson was born on December 3, 1943, in Miami, Fla., Johnson was initially signed as an infielder by the New York Mets in 1962. The death of Jerry was announced to the public via Facebook page by his wife Susan Trautmann Johnson on Monday afternoon. “I am the luckiest woman alive, I had my very own Prince Charming!,” wrote Trautmann Johnson in her Facebook tribute. “The life we lived together was nothing less than a miracle. Many people have said that we had a fairy tale love affair. I don’t see any other way than that to describe the 19 years I spent with my Jerry.”
Johnson had already spent parts of nine seasons in the big leagues when the Blue Jays acquired from the San Diego Padres on February 16, 1977, in exchange for catcher Dave Roberts. In the Blue Jays’ first game, played in the snow at Exhibition Stadium, Johnson relieved starter Bill Singer with one out in the fifth inning with his club leading the Chicago White Sox 5-4. Johnson’s death comes just six weeks after fellow 1977 Blue Jays reliever Chuck Hartenstein passed away at the age of 79. Johnson is the sixth member of the inaugural Blue Jays squad to die.
Johnson made his big league debut with the Phils on July 17, 1968, and was a solid contributor for them down the stretch, posting a 3.24 ERA in 16 appearances, including 11 starts. Johnson spent another season with the Phillies, he was part of the landmark trade in which the Phils dealt him, along with Dick Allen and Cookie Rojas to the St. Louis Cardinals for Curt Flood, Tim McCarver, Byron Browne, and Joe Hoerner.
Photo Credits – Kevin Glew