(If you stop to think about it for a minute, what we have with this card blogging community is simply an online Mutual Appreciation Society. But it's not that we fawn all over each other -- although that happens, oh, shall we say, periodically. It's that we all appreciate the same thing: BASEBALL CARDS. It's time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 8th in a series):
This is an all-time favorite for a lot of people, all because of what it says on that baseball in the lower right corner.
That's right: "Pinch Run." (not exactly the abbreviation for Pinch Runner that most people know). It is supposedly the only card ever issued with that position listing.
As many people know, Herb Washington was a Charlie O. Finley creation. Washington was a world-class sprinter out of Michigan State, and he became Oakland's "designated runner" during the 1974 season. Washington hadn't played baseball since high school, but that didn't matter because he never came to the plate, nor played the field, during 105 games in the major leagues.
As wonderful as the front of the card is, the back is even better.
Washington has the most unique stat line ever issued on a baseball card: Games, Runs, Stolen Bases, Caught Stealing. That's it. The write-up is interesting, too. It mentions how "Herb was personally responsible for winning 9 games for A's in 1974 with his speed." I don't know how they came up with that figure, and Topps apparently didn't want to explain it.
Another key item is the cartoon on the back. It asks: What is a fungo? Interesting. Do you think Herb Washington knew what a fungo was in 1974? Maybe, maybe not.
When I think of Herb Washington, I think of how he was picked off first base in the ninth inning of Game 2 of 1974 World Series by Dodgers reliever Mike Marshall. One of the few positive moments for L.A. in that Series.
According to the quasi-reliable wikipedia, Washington is now a successful businessman, owns several McDonald's franchises and a minor league hockey team.
Good for Washington. He wasn't content to remain a novelty, even though that's how baseball fans will remember him. And why his 1975 Topps card is so appreciated.