Pitoniak: Herb Washington, baseball’s most famous pinch-runner

From SABR member Scott Pitoniak at The National Pastime Museum on May 4, 2018:

The offer was tantalizing, and for a fleeting moment during that Oakland A’s game in late September 1974, Herb Washington considered grabbing the 34-inch, 32-ounce Adirondack Big Stick bearing his name and walking up to the plate for his first Major League at-bat. “We had already clinched the division and [Manager] Alvin Dark sauntered down the dugout and said I could pinch-hit if I wanted to,” he recounted. “My heart started pounding. I’m thinking, ‘Wow! A chance to swing the lumber in the big leagues. There are guys who would kill for this opportunity.’”

But the more the A’s highly publicized—and ridiculed—“designated runner” pondered the circumstances, the less Washington was inclined to step into the box.

“We were playing the California Angels that night and they had this guy by the name of Nolan Ryan on the mound,” Washington explained, smiling. “Now, Nolan wasn’t exactly on the top of his game this night. In fact, he was having some serious control problems. One pitch would be down the pike. The next one would be behind your back.”

Read the full article here: https://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/herb-washington-baseball-s-most-famous-pinch-runner

Originally published: May 4, 2018. Last Updated: May 4, 2018.