Did you know that LaRue Washington accomplished something in baseball that eluded some all-time greats?

Something that Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Mike Schmidt and any number of other Hall of Famers couldn’t pull off?

It’s true, but before I tell you about that milestone of his, you should know a few things about his baseball journey.

In particular, Washington began his pro career when the Texas Rangers took him with their 23rd pick in the 1975 MLB Draft, out of California State University in Dominguez Hill, California.

From there, the path was pretty typical for the young outfielder, as he made stops at Rookie ball with the GCL Rangers and Single-A with the Asheville Tourists over the next two summers.

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But then, in the 1977, he made the jump all the way to Triple-A Tucson on the backs of his wicked wheels. That speed yielded 45 steals for the Toros that year, and then 50 in 1978, to go along with a gaudy 112 runs scored that second season.

He was also a run-producer, in the old-school sense, driving in 70+ each season.

As you might expect from those totals, Washington was getting on base a lot, hitting .324 with a .417 on-base percentage that second year in the desert.

It was all enough to get the prospect a late shot with the big club, and Washington made his Major League debut on September 7, 1978 … his 25th birthday!

He went 0-3 in three games, and was off to Tuson, again, to start the 1979 season.

Texas brought him up for one game in May, though, and again in mid-June. From that point to the end of the season, Washington logged 22 plate appearances in 24 games.

That low-density plate showing screams “pinch,” and indeed, Baseball Reference shows us that Washington most often entered games as a pinch runner (16 times that summer), though he did make five starts in the field.

His last action came on September 30, just after the official end of summer. It was fitting, because the young man with the blazing speed would never make it back to the Majors.

In March of 1980, the Rangers traded him and Chris Smith to the Expos in exchange for Rusty Staub, which had to be both exciting and daunting giving Staub’s status in the game and in Montreal.

That summer, spent with the Triple-A Denver Bears, turned out to be so-so for Washington, who batted just .266 with 12 stolen bases — but at least he got a souvenir.

That’s because his stint with the Rangers piqued Topps’ interest enough to dedicate card #233 in their base set to him.

There he appears posed in his batting stance, but with the Rangers cloth cap instead of a batting helmet. A beautiful blue sky hints at unlimited possibilities above the green grass, and the green outfield fence.

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And, on the back of that card, you get Washington’s full Big League story — 21 at-bats, .238 batting average, five hits, two RBI.

(Well, as full as you could get back then — Topps did neglect to show his gaudy Major League steals total … 2).

Yep, it’s a career-capper, something none of those famous guys up there could claim.

And, though Washington had only one year of Triple-A and one year in the Mexican League still ahead of him, he will always have a nifty 1980 Topps rookie card.

Just like Rickey Henderson.


Wow! Wax of the Day

When was the last time you saw a 1970 Topps Super wax pack up for sale? I don’t remember ever running across one of these, but there’s one up for grabs on eBay right now. Who knows its history or if it’s ever been worked on, but it sure wreaks of that 70s funk, don’t you think. Check out the listing right here (affiliate link).

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LOT OF 20 DIFFERENT 1980 TOPPS BASEBALL CARDS (PSA 9)

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