No star, Johnston was a hustler who would play anywhere and always to the outer limits of his abilities. He was well-traveled in the minors, hiring on with seven clubs in four leagues before finding a home in 1916 with Brooklyn, where he was a fan favorite for a decade. Essentially an outfielder, he finally played the most games at third, a significant number at second and short, and 49 at first. He was a solid righthanded hitter, even in the dead-ball days, and eventually achieved .325 averages in the two years (1921 and 1923) when he had 203 hits. In a 1922 game, he hit for the cycle. The Dodgers used him in the leadoff spot, as he could wait out a pitcher, run the bases cleverly, and steal. In 1920 he and brother Doc, of the Indians, were the first family pair to face each other in a World Series (beating the Meusels by a year). After his playing days, the Tennessean coached the Dodgers and managed a number of minor league teams.