Card-by-Yankees Card: The 1977 Topps Set, Card #405, Claudell Washington (Article 74)
by Paul Semendinger
(Continuing a series…)
That’s what I remember the Yankees calling Claudell Washington.
Claudell Washington had two stints with the Yankees. The first came from 1986 to 1988. In those three years, Washington did a pretty good job manning the outfield for the team. In each of those years, his batting average increased:
1986 = .237
1987 = .279
1988 = .308
Those numbers weren’t a fluke of a guy getting fewer and fewer at bats either. Each year he played in more games and had more at bats.
1986 = 54 games, 144 at bats
1987 = 102 games, 339 at bats
1988 = 126 games = 485 at bats
In his Yankees career, Claudell Washington hit 26 home runs, but one was very special.
The date was April 20, 1988. The Yankees were playing the Twins in Minnesota. Dave Winfield homered earlier in the game. Jack Clark homered slightly later in the game. But, when Washington connected, in the top of the 9th (pinch hitting for Joel Skinner), the homer gave the Yankees the lead (which they’d cough up), but, even more importantly, it was the 10,000th home run in Yankees history.
The Yankees were the first Major League team to reach 10,000 home runs.
The Yankees (as of July 9, 2021) still rein as baseball’s all-time greatest home run hitting team. They have clubbed 16,420 home runs.
The second place club is the San Francisco Giants with 14,890.
16 franchises have now passed the 10,000 home run mark, but it was the Yankees who were first and it was Claudell Washington who hit that historic homer.
Sometime around 2039, a Yankee will hit the team’s 20,000th homer
Claudell Washington was a pretty darn good player who had a very good 17-year career.
C-Dub played for the Oakland A’s, Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox, New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, Yankees, and California Angels. For his career, he batted .278/164/824.
Washington reached the big leagues in 1974 as a 19-year-old and was a member of the World Champion A’s. He’d never play for a World Champion again. (I wonder what that’s like, to taste baseball’s greatest glory as a very young kid, and then never be there again.)
Washington did well in the post season that year. In the 1974 A.L. Championship Series, he played in four games and batted .273. Then, in the World Series against the Dodgers, he played in five games and batted .571 (4-for-7)!
Washington’s A’s lost in the 1975 A.L. Playoffs. (Washington played in three games and batted .250.)
In his long career, he’d see the playoffs only one other time, with Joe Torre’s 1982 Atlanta Braves. In that series, Washington batted .333 in three games. HIs total post season batting average, for his career, was .333 (13-for-39).
Claudell Washington was an All-Star in 1975, a year where he batted .308/10/77 for the A’s. He was an All-Star again in 1984 with the Braves. He hit .286/17/61 that year.
For a number of years, Washington was a big-time base stealer with the A’s:
1975 = 40 stolen bases
1976 = 37 stolen bases
1977 = 21 stolen bases
He then stopped stealing bases in large quantities until he got to the National League and again had a pretty good stretch with the Braves:
1982 = 33 stolen bases
1983 = 31 stolen bases
1984 = 21 stolen bases
By the time he was a Yankee, he was an older 31-years-old and only stole 34 bases, in total for the Yankees.
The Yankees acquired Washington in June 1986. They traded Andre Robertson and Ken Griffey to the Atlanta Braves to acquire him. In that trade, the Yankees also got Paul Zuvella.
After the 1988 season, Washington signed as a free agent with the Angels.
In 1990, the Yankees re-acquired Washington in a trade for Luis Polonia.
Washington’s second stint with the Yankees wasn’t very productive. In 33 games, he batted only .163. That was Washington’s final season.
Claudell Washington’s final hit was a single off Red Sox pitcher Dana Kiecker on June 4, 1988. He came around to score on a wild pitch. He was then 0-for-his next-11, and then he was released.