“Vagabond A’s led colorful past lives in Philadelphia, Kansas City,“ Aug 16, 2016 by Thomas Neumann ESPN.com Associated Press, January 7, 1964
*1974 | DETROIT, MICHIGAN – The Oakland A’s came out swinging on this date in 1974, before the game against the Detroit Tigers. A’s teammates Reggie Jackson and Billy North got into a fight in the visitors’ clubhouse. It was broken up by teammates Vida Blue and John “Blue Moon” Odom, who had their own scuffle two years earlier.
A few minutes after the first fight was broken up Jackson and North came to blows again. This time Jackson banged his shoulder, but teammate catcher Ray Fosse playing peacemaker crushed a disc in his neck that virtually ended his season.
Jackson and North were close friends at one time, but according to the Oakland Tribune they had not spoken in a month. Apparently they had something to say to each other that day.
The ’74 A’s weren’t exactly the picture of harmony, still they went on to win their third straight World Series; a feat no team not named Yankees has ever done.
Oakland players have said they played so well as a team because of their common dislike for micromanaging owner Charles Finley. Oh, by the way, the A’s beat the Tigers that day 9-1.
1975 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – One of owner Charlie Finley’s novel ideas was put to rest on this date in 1975. Finley’s Oakland A’s released Herb Washington after a loss to the Chicago White Sox. Washington was a speedster put on the team for one purpose – to run.
He appeared in 104 games as a “designated runner, stealing 31 bases in 48 attempts, and scoring 33 runs. He had no at bats, no hits, no runs batted in and a fielding percentage of .000 because the former college sprinter never played in the field.
Herbert Lee Washington was born in Belzoni, Mississippi in 1951. He was a four-time all-American sprinter at Michigan State University. He tied or broke the world record in the 50 and 60-yard dashes several times.
Having a “designated runner” was just one of maverick Charlie Finley’s experiments. There were many. Some became as common as the 108 stitches on a baseball. Some didn’t work at all.