Former Major League Baseball player Jerry “JJ” Johnson of Canyon Lake passed away today, November 15, at the age of 77.
Johnson passed away peacefully in his sleep after a long battle with Lewy Body Dementia and COPD, according to Johnson’s wife, Susan. “He faced those diseases and his eventual death the same way he did life, with dignity and strength,” she said.
The former professional pitcher was 24 years old when he made his Major League Baseball debut on July 17, 1968, for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Johnson went on to play for the St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, San Diego Padres, and Toronto Blue Jays.
Johnson picked up the win as a relief pitcher in the first-ever Blue Jays game on April 7, 1977. He went 2-4 with a 4.60 ERA in the Blue Jays’ inaugural season, at the end of which he retired.
In July 2019, Jerry Johnson and seven other Canyon Lake former professional baseball players gathered at Holiday Harbor Park where they posed for photos and shared stories of their days in Major League Baseball. Pictured, from left, are Paul Pettit, Jerry Wood, Edgar Carroll, Jim Merritt, Jerry Johnson, Rick Greene, Greg Harris, and Bobby Kielty. Photo by Canyon Lake Insider.