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Herb Washington
Pinch runner
Born: November 16, 1951 (1951-11-16) (age 58)
Belzoni, Mississippi
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
April 4, 1974 for the Oakland Athletics
Last MLB appearance
May 4, 1975 for the Oakland Athletics
Career statistics
Games played     105
Runs     33
Stolen bases     31
Career highlights and awards

Herbert Lee Washington (born November 16, 1951 in Belzoni, Mississippi) is a former world-class sprinter in the early 1970's who parlayed his speed into a brief and unique Major League Baseball stint, and later became a successful businessman as the owner/operator of numerous McDonald's Family Restaurants, a minor-league professional hockey franchise, and held a number of high-ranking executive posts on varied boards and organizations.

Washington became one of the world's most celebrated sprinters as a student-athlete at Flint Central High School and Michigan State University.[1] The four-time all-American won one NCAA title, seven Big Ten titles, and tied or broke the world record in the 50- and 60-yard dashes several times.[1] He went on to gain further recognition as a player for Major League Baseball's Oakland Athletics, despite his lack of previous baseball experience.[2]


Pro baseball career

In 1974, Washington was tapped by Oakland owner Charlie Finley to become the A's "Designated Runner." Despite having no professional baseball experience, and having last played baseball in high school, Washington was a member of the Athletics 1974 World Series championship team. His major league debut was on April 4, 1974 against the Texas Rangers.

Appearing as a pinch-runner for Joe Rudi in game two of the 1974 World Series, Washington was picked off first base in a crucial ninth-inning situation by Dodgers' reliever Mike Marshall.[1]

Washington played in 105 major league games without batting, pitching, or fielding, playing exclusively as a pinch runner.[2] He had 31 stolen bases in 48 attempts and scored 33 runs during his short career.[1] He was released one month into the 1975 season.[2]

Washington's 1975 Topps baseball card is the only baseball card ever released that uses the "pinch runner" position label. [1]

Business career

Following his 13-month stint as the only "Designated Runner" in Major League history, Washington joined the professional Track & Field circuit and remained in competition until 1976.

In 1980, he moved from the Detroit area to Rochester, NY where he opened an inner-city McDonald's Family Restaurant. He added his second local McDonald's franchise seven months later, and in 1986 he opened a McDonald's in suburban Pittsford, NY. He acquired a total of five Rochester-area McDonald's franchises and became one of the nation's most successful African-American restaurateurs.

Herb Washington was Co-Chairman of the Small Business Committee of the United Way, and was active in the Urban League of Rochester. Washington was named to the New York State Athletic Commission in 1990. In 1992, he became the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Buffalo, NY branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and later was named Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. [3]

In 1998, Washington purchased all the Youngstown, Ohio area McDonald's franchises from Sam Covelli, once the largest McDonalds franchise owner in the United States.

In 2005, he founded the Youngstown Steelhounds minor league hockey franchise, becoming one of the first African-American owners of a professional hockey league team. The following year, he sold several of his Youngstown-area McDonald's franchises to John Perdue, who turned them into 24/7 operations.

Washington currently resides in the Youngstown suburb of Boardman, OH with his wife and children.


  • Washington was actually the second of six players that Finley's Athletics used as a pinch-running specialist during the 1970s. Of those 6, however, Washington was the only player who served exclusively as a pinch runner; the others played the field and batted at some point during their tenures. Before Washington was released in 1975, Oakland actually had three such players on the roster at the same time.
  • Washington's cousin, George Hoey, was an all-Big Ten defensive back at the University of Michigan and played five seasons in the NFL.


  1. ^ a b c d "Player Page". Retrieved 2007-11-11. 
  2. ^ a b c "Player Page". Retrieved 2007-11-11. 
  3. ^ African-American Who's Who, Past & Present, Greater Rochester Area By Mike F. Molaire, Marsha Jones, Fred Tanksley New Millenium Edition., by Mike F. Molaire, Marsha Jones, Fred Tanksley, p. 193-4

External links



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