MLB Legend UL Washington Dead At 70

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Andrew Powell Sports and Entertainment Blogger
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U.L. Washington, an ex-MLB shortstop whose claim to fame was having a toothpick in his mouth while he played throughout his 11-season career, passed away Sunday after battling with cancer. He was 70 years old.

Washington’s death was first reported by the Canadian Baseball Network, with former teammates taking to social media to express their condolences. George Brett was one of them.

“So sorry to hear my friend my team mate UL Washington has died of cancer he was a great player I will always be thankful of our time together with the Royals,” wrote Brett on X. (RELATED: Former South Carolina Football Star DJ Park Dead At 29)

From 1977-87, Washington suited up for the Kansas City Royals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Montreal Expos. Playing a total of 907 games in his career, he hit 27 home runs and 255 RBIs with a .251 batting average. In 1980, Washington helped lead Kansas City to the American League pennant. In that series against the New York Yankees, Washington racked up a .364 batting average, an RBI and a double.

Going on to the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies, the Royals lost in six games.

Washington was beloved by fans, mainly for playing baseball while he had a toothpick in his mouth. In an interview with The Kansas City Star, Washington said the reason for the toothpick was because he didn’t like the burning experience that he felt from tobacco.

In 1980, there was a strong debate about possibly getting rid of the toothpick with a ban by MLB, but fortunately for Washington, it never came to that.