Former All-Star Claudell Washington dies at 65

June 10th, 2020

Claudell Washington experienced a majority of his success with the Braves. But the Bay Area native also made his mark with the hometown A’s, and he historically entrenched himself in the Yankees’ record book with one of the franchise’s milestone homers.

Washington’s contributions to each of these organizations were once again remembered on Wednesday, when the former outfielder passed away at the age of 65. He told The Athletic in 2018 he was battling prostate cancer and planned to stop undergoing treatment.

Washington was a two-time All-Star who hit .278 with 164 home runs, 312 stolen bases and a .745 OPS over 17 Major League seasons. He became one of the first players in MLB history to produce a three-homer game in both leagues, and he was the guy who hit the foul ball Ferris Bueller snared in the 1980s classic film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. 

Washington was just 19 years old when he debuted for the A’s on July 5, 1974. Three months later, he went 4-for-7 in the World Series and helped Oakland win a third consecutive title. His best season with his hometown club came in 1975, when he recorded a career-high 40 steals, produced a .769 OPS and earned his first All-Star selection.

Though Washington experienced early success, it took some time for him to find some stability. The A’s traded him before the 1977 season, and midway through the '78 season, the Rangers dealt him and Rusty Torres to the White Sox in exchange for Bobby Bonds.

After being traded to the Mets during the 1980 season, Washington impressed enough to draw a five-year, $3.5 million deal from former Braves owner Ted Turner. Finally, the outfielder found a place where he could play for more than a year or two.  

Washington hit .278 with 67 homers and 115 stolen bases over his six seasons with Atlanta. He helped the 1982 Braves win the National League West and earned his second All-Star selection two years later. He produced career highs in home runs (17) and OPS+ (130) during the 1984 season.

The Braves kept Washington until June 30, 1986, when he was traded to the Yankees in exchange for Ken Griffey Sr. and Andre Robertson.

Washington’s finest season with the Yankees occurred in 1988, when he hit .308 with 11 homers and a .784 OPS. His pinch-hit homer off the Twins’ Jeff Reardon on April 20, 1988, was the 10,000th home run hit in Yankees franchise history.

After producing a three-homer game for the White Sox on July 14, 1979, Washington tallied another for the Mets on June 22, 1980. At the time, he stood with Babe Ruth and Johnny Mize as the only players to construct a three-homer game in both leagues.