Former Player Claudell Washington Dies at 65

Claudell Washington
NEW YORK - CIRCA 1983: Claudell Washington #15 of the Atlanta Braves leads off of first base against the New York Mets during an Major League Baseball game circa 1983 at Shea Stadium in the Queens borough of New York City. Washington played for the Braves from 1981-86. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Former major league player Claudell Washington has passed away at 65 years old. Washington has been battling prostate cancer since 2017. He was currently living in the San Francisco area.

Washington’s Career

Claudell Washington had a 17-year career playing for seven different organizations. He spent six seasons with the Atlanta Braves where he played the best ball of his career. Washington played four seasons with the New York Yankees in two separate stints. He also had three-year stints with both the Oakland Athletics and Chicago White Sox, played two years with the then California Angels, and one year with the New York Mets.

Washington slashed .278/.325/.420 with 164 homers and 824 RBI. He also had 334 doubles, 69 triples, and stole 312 bases. Washington was a two-time all-star. First in 1975 with the Athletics and in 1984 with the Braves. He retired after the 1990 season.

Career Highlights

Washington played in 73 games as a rookie for the 1974 World Champion Athletics. After the 1976 season, the Athletics traded Washington to the Rangers for Bobby Bonds. During the 1986 season, Washington was traded to the Yankees from the Braves for Ken Griffey. So during his career, Washington was traded for the fathers of arguably the two best players in their generations.

On April 20th 1988 while playing for the Yankees Washington hit a home run off Jeff Reardon of the Minnesota Twins. It was the 10,000th home run hit in Yankees history. Also in 1988 Washington was part of the only AL outfield in modern baseball history where all three starters batted over .300. Washington accomplished this with Hall of Fame players Rickey Henderson and Dave Winfield.

In 1980 Washington also had another home run that put him in the record books. While playing for the Mets Washington hit three home runs on a 9-6 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Dodger Stadium. Washington became the third player joining Babe Ruth and Johnny Mize to have three-homer games in both leagues.

Washington struck out 39 times against Nolan Ryan the most for any player who faced the Ryan Express. He also was suspended 60 games for his involvement in the 1985 cocaine scandal.

Quotes From Other Players

When Washington broke into the Majors with the A’s, Hall of Fame player Reggie Jackson once said about Washington, “He’s the best player for his age I have ever seen or known.”

Hall of Famer Joe Morgan also said about Washington, “He was like most of the African American players in his time frame. They could hit. They could run. They could throw. They could play the outfield. And I just remember him being an exceptional hitter. … He could play in any context, so playoffs or whatever. He was a really good player.”

Lifelong friend Mike Norris had this to say about Washington’s sense of humor.

“He was just an amazing guy,” Norris said. “He had an incredible sense of humor that most people never really got to see because it wouldn’t come out around people he didn’t know well. But if you really got to know him, he was a wonderful friend.

“We hung out all the time when we were roommates in the minors. I nicknamed him Joke Box because of just how funny he was, the sense of humor he had. Every day he’d come up with something new.”

In The Movies

Claudell Washington appeared in the movie “Ferris Buehler’s Day Off” during a scene where Matthew Broderick who plays Ferris catches a foul ball off the bat of Washington. The movie used the actual in-game footage of Washington hitting a foul ball in Wrigley Field.

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