Ray Washburn     

Ray Washburn
Ray Clark Washburn

Batted Right, Threw Right
6' 1", 205 lbs.
Born : May 31, 1938, Pasco, Washington
Whitworth College, WA

Washburn, a Washington native, pitched semi-pro ball for Bellingham (1958) and the Lethbridge White Sox (1959) before embarking on a pro career which included ten seasons in the major leagues, mainly with the St. Louis Cardinals.

He had an outstanding summer in Canada finishing with a 7-2 record in 10 starts in regular season play, 6 of them complete games.

On July 27th, Washburn tossed a no-hitter as Lethbridge beat Medicine Hat 9-2. Years later Washburn recalled the highlight saying hardly anyone noticed at the time because of a near-riot during the game and because he walked so many, in fact walked in both runs against him.

He had fanned eight while handing out eight free passes.

                                W  L   ERA
1958  Bellingham                N/A
1959  Lethbridge, SABL          7  2   N/A
1960  Rochester, IL             5  4   4.45
1961  Charleston, IL           16  9   2.34
      St. Louis, NL             1  1   1.77
1962  St. Louis, NL            12  9   4.10
1963  St. Louis, NL             5  3   3.08
      Tulsa, Texas              1  1   7.80
1964  Jacksonville, IL          1  0   1.13
      St. Louis, NL             3  4   4.05
1965  St. Louis, NL             9 11   3.62
1966  St. Louis, NL            11  9   3.76
1967  St. Louis, NL            10  7   3.53
1968  St. Louis, NL            14  8   2.26
1969  St. Louis, NL             3  8   3.07
1970  Cincinnati, NL            4  4   6.95

Washburn, Tri-City Herald      

(Tri-City Herald, December 24, 1999, one of a series of the Top 100 Stories of the Century in the Tri-City area -- Richland, Pasco, Kennewick) 

Washburn goes from Burbank to bigs

By Jeff Morrow Herald sports editor

Ray Washburn pitched for some great St. Louis Cardinals teams in the 1960s, and his 72-64 career won-loss record is why he's No. 8 on the Herald's top 100 Mid-Columbia sports stories of the century list.

But ask Washburn, 61, what he's most proud of, and the Columbia-Burbank High graduate talks about his days at Whitworth College in Spokane. 

"I don't think I can say I'm most proud of one thing, but the Whitworth team winning the NAIA championship in 1960 is big," he said. "We've had a lot of reunions with that group - at least every five years. They're all school teachers."

Washburn graduated from Burbank in 1956 and spent his freshman year of college at Whitworth.

But he came to the Tri-Cities for his sophomore season at Columbia Basin College. As a member of the men's basketball team, he helped lead the Hawks to the Northwest Junior College title.

"I think the school was in its third year," Washburn said. "We played at the high school. I didn't do too bad. But I was too small (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) to go on. I wasn't quick enough to play out front."

Besides, baseball was his meal ticket.

"I don't know if I always was dreaming about being a major leaguer, but I could always envision it," said Washburn, who noted he had several games in high school where he struck out 20 of 21 batters. "I started getting more confidence, and the opportunities to play good summer ball were there."

One summer, Washburn pitched semipro in Walla Walla. Another summer was spent in Bellingham, and another in Lethbridge, Alberta.

"I always had a lot of opportunities to play good quality ball," Washburn said.

CBC coach Len Pyne knew he had something special in Washburn the one season he had him there.

"He had control with a fairly good fastball and a good slider he used all through his major league career," said Pyne. "He was a big kid."

CBC went 24-5 that season, even sweeping WSU in a twinbill during a time when CBC played NCAA Division I schools.

The Hawks lost a best-of-3 Northwest junior college championship series to Yakima Valley, but Washburn got CBC's only win.

Washburn went back to Whitworth to finish his college career, and the magical season of 1960 was key.

"That was my biggest break, because we won the Area tournament and went to NAIA Nationals," Washburn said. "I talked to a lot of scouts when we got back there - it was held in Sioux City, Iowa. Nobody knew who we were, but we had a good team. I pitched in three games. I came out early in the first game when we had a 10-0 lead.

" Washburn signed with the Cardinals after the NAIA tournament and finished the 1960 season at Triple-A Rochester.

In 1961, the Cardinals moved their Triple-A team to Charleston, W.V., and Washburn led the International League in won-loss record and earned run average.

It earned him a callup to the big club at the end of the season, and he went 1-1 with a 1.77 ERA in 20 innings.

He stuck with the team for good in 1962.

"That was exciting," Washburn said. "When I first got there, Stan Musial was still playing. We had an all-star infield in Ken Boyer, Dick Groat, Julian Javier and Bill White."

Johnny Keane was the manager the first couple of years, resigning after the 1964 World Series.

Red Schoendeinst took over the club in 1965, and Washburn liked him.

"He was easy going. He didn't say much to anybody," Washburn said. "But one of the reasons the club was so good was they were all self-starters. We had some real team leaders in guys like Bob Gibson and Tim McCarver."

Washburn had a great rookie season, going 12-9 with a 4.10 ERA.

"When I first started, I didn't have an offspeed pitch," he said. "I could throw hard. I had a cut slider. What they call sliders now were called flat curves back then.

" But in 1963, Washburn got hurt. "I started the season 5-0," he said. "We were in Los Angeles one night and I had retired the first 20 batters. I was throwing so well. But I threw too hard for too long, and I hurt the triceps in my shoulder.

" He finished the '63 season at 5-3 in just 11 games pitched, then suffered through another injury-plagued year in 1964 (3-4 in 15 games).

The Cardinals made the World Series that year, beating the Yankees in seven games, but Washburn couldn't play because of an injury.

For the first time in three years, Washburn pitched more than 100 innings during the 1965 season. He went 9-11 that season, was 11-9 in '66, and 10-7 in '67.

During that 1967 season, the Cardinals made it back to the Series and Washburn finally got a chance to play. He was used in relief as the Cards defeated the Red Sox 4-3 that year.

Then came 1968, Washburn's career season. "It's hard to forget 1968," Washburn said.

He went 14-8 with a miniscule ERA of 2.26 and a whopping 215 innings pitched.

Washburn also tossed a no-hitter that season against the San Francisco Giants, retiring Willie Mays and Willie McCovey for the final two outs of the 2-0 victory.

"It was back-to-back, because the night before Gaylord Perry no-hit us," Washburn said. "In Gaylord's no-hitter, only two balls were hit out of the infield. The same thing happened in my game. It was typical in that nobody would say anything to me the last two innings.

"I think I had a good curveball, and the sinking pitch made them pound the ball into the turf," he said.

The Cardinals returned to the Series that October, but the Detroit Tigers rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win the Series 4-3.

Washburn got his only Series victory that year. He calls that 1968 Cardinals team the greatest he ever played on.

"The only disappointing thing was losing to Detroit after being up 3-1," he said. "We made a couple of changes with Mike Shannon coming from the outfield to third base. Roger Maris played well, Curt Flood was a great outfielder, and so was Lou Brock. We had the Baby Bull in Orlando Cepeda."

Then there was Bob Gibson. "What a great competitor," he said.

Washburn suffered through a 3-8 season in 1969, then made it back to the World Series in1970, pitching 113 innings of relief in Game 5 for the Cincinnati Reds, who lost 4-1 to the Baltimore Orioles.

By 1971, though, he missed the cut with the California Angels and his playing days were over.

"After that, I worked in a sporting goods store in Seattle, and I had an opportunity to be an assistant baseball coach at Bellevue Community College," Washburn said.

Washburn eventually became head coach. He coached at BCC for 12 years and was athletic director for another 12 before retiring.

Today, he's still active as a part-time P.E. teacher at BCC, and he helps his daughter and son-in-law with their orchards in Wenatchee.

"Believe it or not, I'm not a golfer," he said. "Hard to believe a baseball player doesn't golf, huh?"

That's OK. Ray Washburn has had plenty of other things to do.