Ballantyne was an inside left, signed on a free by newly-promoted Saints from Aberdeen in June, 1932. (He'd featured mainly in the reserves at Aberdeen, but had played some first-team games as the season had gone on. He'd joined the Dons at the start of season 1931-32 from a spell in the United States.) He had a brother, Johnny Ballantyne, an inside-forward for Partick Thistle.
Ballantyne lasted a year at St Johnstone, making 23 league appearances in a season that saw Saints finish fifth in the top flight. In his debut against Third Lanark in August, he was described as a 'veritable box of tricks', the 'best forward on the field in working the ball' and an 'energetic inside man whose knowledge of half-back play was valuable'. The Daily Record said his 'artistry and deceptive feinting were a delight'. Of Ballantyne, the Dundee Telegraph wrote, 'the general consensus was that Tom Muirhead has in this fellow one of the best inside forwards in the country. Ballantine [sic] knows when to hold the ball; he knows when to part with it, and, what is perhaps more important, he knows exactly how to deliver it."
He switched to inside-right for the Dewar Shield tie against Montrose the following Wednesday and scored the opening goal.
His strengths lay in his intelligence and his technical skill; his weakness that he wasn't direct enough. In an early game against Partick Thistle – where he lined up against his brother in the same position – he was described as 'an astute tactician', with 'smart touches', but one who didn't carry much of a punch.
By the time Saints lost to reigning champions Motherwell at the start of September, his form had waned. There were grumblings about the effectiveness of both Saints' inside-towards (Ballantyne on the left and Benzie on the right) for 'lacking guile and subtlety'. 'Much of their clever stuff,' wrote one journalist about their performance against Well, 'got nowhere'. Even in the win a couple of weeks later against Clyde, one reporter wrote that Ballantyne's passes had a penchant for going astray, and he had 'an inclination to hold onto the ball too long on occasions'. Another, more pointed, report described him as 'going in circles with the ball'.
He scored the third goal against Cowdenbeath in mid-September ('the best of the game'), but that wasn't enough to impress some watchers. A 'great many' of his passes were misplaced and he was a 'poor shot' despite his goal. Still, he was praised for his astuteness, and there was a suggestion he'd thrive at inside right.
He shone in September's 0-0 friendly against Arsenal, in front of a record Muirton crowd, and was also prominent in the next game against Airdrie. He scored in the 7-1 victory against Morton, where, along with the rest of the forward line, he earned 'bouquets'. Still, one pundit complained that he was much too direct with his passes: you can't please everyone.
There was heavy competition for places in the Saints forward line – at one time nine players fighting for five roles – and while it was claimed Ballantyne and Benzie were being given an extended opportunity to make good, by mid-October Benzie was no longer first pick, and on December 3, Ballantyne was rested for the game against Queen's Park, returning on Christmas Eve against Third Lanark 'to little effect'.
With Harry Ferguson, and latterly Bobby Davidson, doing well in the inside-left role in the absence of Ballantyne, he was tried in a fresh position – pushed out to the wing against East Stirling, where he did well enough to suggest that 'with further experience he would be able to pull his weight'. He played on the wing for most of his remaining games for Saints.
You'll probably be disappointed that your grandad played a major role in a cup victory over East Fife almost exactly 90 years ago, in January, 1933. After a draw at Muirton, Ballantyne was brought back into his favoured inside-left position for the replay and was the instigator of an exciting comeback, scoring the equaliser as Saints won 2-1. It was a triumphant moment in what was otherwise a spotty second half of the season. He was at inside-left for a final time in the last-eight loss to Hearts and was succeeded in that position by Bobby Davidson, who a year or two later went on to big things at Arsenal.
Ballantyne was in and out of the side for the rest of the season, but wasn't retained. I'm not sure what happened to him – I suspect it might have been the end of his professional career; there was a mention of an 'R Ballantyne', a 'former Saints inside-left', playing in that position in for the reserves against Motherwell late in 1934. That would have been him, but as Saints lost 8-1, perhaps best to pretend it wasn't.
What should be highlighted is that he was at Saints at an amazing time: the beginning of its first golden period – a time when international honours were at last coming to the club. Plus he was signed by the great Tommy Muirhead, who knew how to spot a player. Lots to be proud of.
Incidentally, you can pinpoint almost to the hour when that picture you posted was taken: late morning of the first day of training on Tuesday, July 19, 1932. The photo features only nine players– those who lived in Perth at the time. (Another three joined training that afternoon, but missed this snapshot.)