(WSYR-TV) — Chances are that if you have worked in sports media covering the Syracuse Crunch or the Syracuse Chiefs, now the Mets, you ran into Donald Johnston. Donnie Baseball, as he was referred to by reporters and those who worked with him, died Monday, January 3, 2022, after a long illness.
Donnie ran the press box at NBT Bank Stadium for decades. In the offseason, you would find him running the media eating area with the Syracuse Crunch. There was always a smile, a handshake, and a question…
“Do you need anything?”
That is how Donnie lived his life—helping others. When not working for the professional teams in Syracuse, you would often see Donnie at his alma mater of Paul V. Moore High School on Friday nights, keeping stats for the Central Square Red Hawks. The next day, he would travel to Altmar-Parish-Williamstown to keep stats for their games. Around those parts, he was lovingly referred to as “Donnie Stats”.
Johnston served Central Square since 1975 and is in their Hall-of-Fame. But his hand was also in the pro ranks.
“We are all just shocked and saddened to hear about the loss of “Syracuse’s Donnie Baseball”. “Donnie Stats” as he was known around CNY was not only a fixture here at the Chiefs/Mets, but he was also our friend. Donnie was adored by scouts, home and visiting managers, umpires as well as all the media that came to the stadium over the years. Donnie was part of our family and he will be fondly remembered here at Historic NBT Bank Stadium. People often wonder what makes NBT Bank Stadium “Historic” and the answer is people like Donnie Johnston.”Jason Smorol – Syracuse Mets General Manager
“I had the pleasure of working with Donnie for over 25 years and was always impressed with his positivity and love for Central New York sports. His determination to better himself despite the challenges thrown his way is something that has always inspired me.
No matter the role he was serving in with the Crunch, he was always ready with a smile and a statistic. The measure of his impact is reflected in the multiple long-term relationships he formed with staff members and CNY media. My thoughts and prayers go out to his daughters during this difficult time.”Jim Sarosy – Syracuse Crunch Chief Operating Officer/Alt. Governor
A GoFundMe has been set up in Donnie’s honor to help offset funeral costs.