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