Claudell Washington, a baseball sensation at 19, dies at 65

By Tyler Kepner

The rookie sensation is a captivating character for sports fans, a blank canvas for the imagination. The young ballplayer with uncommon talent inspires awe, even among the greats.

So it was for the teenage Claudell Washington, who joined the Oakland Athletics in the summer of 1974, when he was 19, and fit seamlessly into their lineup. That October, he hit .571 in the World Series to help the A’s win their third championship in a row, against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“He’s the best player for his age I’ve ever seen or known,” the future Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson raved to The Sporting News that September. Jackson, a fellow Oakland outfielder, said Washington should be a .300 hitter and easily capable of 20 home runs per season. His swing, Jackson added, reminded him of that of Carl Yastrzemski, another future Hall of Famer.

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