There was another crucial ninth-inning World Series pickoff in 1974
World Series Game 4 ended like no World Series game ever has: on a pickoff. The walk-off pickoff is a new category for Fall Classic history, but in 1974, there was another ninth-inning play that came very close to echoing Sunday's dramatics.
In Game 2 of that year's Series, the Dodgers led the Athletics 3-0 going into the top of the ninth. L.A. starter Don Sutton stayed in to try to complete the shutout, but he put two runners on via a hit by pitch and a double. The Dodgers then brought in closer (and eventual Cy Young winner) Mike Marshall, who promptly surrendered a two-run single to Joe Rudi. Following a strikeout, with his team down 3-2 with one out and the slow-footed Rudi on first, manager Alvin Dark decided to lift Rudi for a pinch-runner.
Enter Herb Washington. Washington had one of most unusual careers in baseball history. In '74 and '75, he played in 105 games for the A's without making a single plate appearance or playing an inning in the field. Washington, a one-time world record holder in the 50-meter dash, was on the team exclusively for pinch-running situations such as this one.
It goes without saying that Washington was a very fast runner. But as any coach will tell you, there's more to baserunning than sprinting. Washington's uninspiring career stolen base percentage of 64.6 percent attests to that. So does what happened during this crucial moment:
Marshall picked Washington off, removing the potential tying run from the basepaths and then ending the game by striking out Angel Mangual.
Washington's pickoff, like Kolten Wong's, cost his team dearly. But Wong can take some solace in knowing that his predecessor's gaffe didn't spell ultimate doom for the club. In fact, that would be the only game Oakland would lose in the Series, as they won their third straight championship. And Herb Washington pinch-ran in two later Series games without incident.