Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Original Running Man

While reading through my cousin's copy of The Sabr Baseball List & Record Book (not on the toilet, I swear), the Delino came across the unusual tale of Herb Washington safely nestled under the revered "More Career Games Played than Plate Appearances by Non-Pitchers since 1900." From 1974-1975, Mr. Washington appeared in 105 games and had (in my best Animal House Dean voice) ZERO POINT ZERO plate appearances. Turns out, the speedy Washington got DRAFTED in two sports, despite the fact that he never actually proved himself in either. From some dude on tripod:

A superb all-around athlete, Washington suited up for the Spartans' football team as a wide receiver in 1971 and 1972. Although he caught only one pass for 41 yards, the Baltimore Colts drafted the speedster in the 12th round of the 1973 draft. Washington, however, never pursued a career in pro football.

Meanwhile in Oakland, the Athletics had just captured their second consecutive World Series title, and owner Charlie Finley was, apparently, bored. Finley, who came up with several wacky ideas such as using an orange baseball, decided his team needed a "designated runner"; a player whose sole purpose is to pinch run and steal bases.

Herb Washington, even though he had not played baseball since his junior year in high school, fit the bill. Two weeks before the 1974 season, Finley signed the track star and placed him on the 25 man roster.

Fortunately, Mr. Washington left his mark on California baseball folklore during the 1974's World Series.

After winning Game 1, the A's were down 3-2 in the bottom of the 9th with one out in Game 2 when Washington was inserted to pinch run for Joe Rudi, who was on first base. Washington, however, was quickly picked off by Dodgers' reliever Mike Marshall who then struck out Angel Managual to end the game. Oakland went on to win the Series in five games, but Washington's pick off lives on in World Series infamy.

Guess his trading card, which features neither glove nor bat, tips you off to his one special skill. I for one respect a player who wears only one hat, and can play the game with no arms (which would make for some interesting slides). Maybe it's only a matter of time before Ben Johnson gets a second doped-up career going.

6 comments:

Orel said...

Does this have anything to do with Juan Pierre?

Delino DeShields said...

soon

Steve Sax said...

Great find Delino. You keep taking your time on the toilet--it yields benefits for both you, and us.

cigarcow said...

Damn, I came for the Juan Pierre joke.

Orel said...

But you stayed for the scatological humor!

Steve Sax said...

Is that a piece of paper-mache chasing Arnold?