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Johnstone earns Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame nod

Pitcher spent eight years with four Major League teams

— A long baseball journey that sent John Johnstone from Liverpool to the Major Leagues now has placed him among the select few in the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame.

Johnstone, who now lives in Baldwinsville, received his induction medal Wednesday at Driver’s Village in Cicero, where the Hall of Fame is located and where the entire Class of 2012 was introduced for the first time.

This year’s class includes Johnstone, golfer Sally Dee, basketball coach Pat Donnelly, Syracuse football standout Dick Easterly, 1950s Parochial League basketball star Bob Kalfelz, lacrosse star Brad Kotz, equestrian Olympic gold medalist Beezie Madden and long-time high school administrator Royce Newell.

They will all be officially honored Oct. 15 at the Hall of Fame’s annual induction dinner, which takes place at Drumlins Country Club and starts at 7 p.m.

As his baseball career began to take off at Bishop Ludden, Johnstone also stood out in basketball for the Gaelic Knights. In 1987, Johnstone and Ludden went 22-3 and made it all the way to the state championship game in Glens Falls.

While at Onondaga Community College, Johnstone’s pitching gained the notice of Major League scouts, and the New York Mets selected him in the 20th round.

Though Johnstone’s overall minor-league record was 56-50, it included an 11-2 mark at Pittsfield in 1989 and a 15-6 season with St. Lucie a year later.

Still, Johnstone had not made it to the big show – until the new Florida Marlins made him the 31st pick in the Expansion Draft before their debut season in 1993.

What followed was a Major League odyssey that spanned seven seasons. Johnstone won his first game in 1994, and 14 more would follow in a journey that took him from Florida to Houston to Oakland and, finally to San Francisco.

Johnstone said that his favorite stop was San Francisco, where he won the first-ever decision for the Giants at Pacific Bell (now AT&T) Park in 2000 and also pitched in the National League West division clincher later that season.

Just after signing a $1.175 million dollar contract with San Francisco, though, Johnstone suffered a fractured back, which led to his retirement in 2001.

A few years later, Johnstone, back home in Central New York with his wife, Lori, began work as a pitching coach at Baldwinsville, but that was cut short by a car accident in 2008.

Medical, plus the birth of his daughter, Ava (she’s now 3), has kept Johnstone from coaching in recent years. He says he wants to return to coaching at the professional level at some point in the future.

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