Former Kansas City Royals infielder U.L. Washington, who helped lead the club to its first AL pennant and is known for flexing his trademark toothpick, died on Sunday, the team announced, after a battle with cancer. He was 70 years old. 


Washington spent eight seasons playing with the Royals from 1977-1984. He helped them reach the World Series for the first time in 1980. 



U.L. played shortstop and second base during Royals tenure, batting .254 with 228 RBI and 26 home runs. 


Despite bringing a vital cog in the Kansas City Royals’ 1980 World Series run, Washington’s place in baseball lore is the fashion statement he made while on the field. 


It creates such a stir that, according to the Kansas City Star, there was conversation about banning the toothpick before young ballplayers began emulating the risky activity. 


“I’d much rather be remembered as a pretty good player, but I realize most people will remember me as the guy with the toothpick,” Washington said in 1988, via the Star. “I feel I’ve had a pretty good career, especially looking back at how I got into professional baseball.”


Washington spent a season with the Montreal Expos and two with the Pittsburgh Pirates before he retired after the 1987 season with a career batting average of .251 in 907 games. His love for baseball didn’t wane and he continued to play baseball after his MLB career was finished.  



George Brett was the star of those World-Series contending Royals clubs and expressed his feelings about his friend and former teammate. 


“So sorry to hear my friend, my teammate U.L. Washington has died of cancer,” longtime Royals star and executive George Brett said on social media. “He was a great player. I will always be thankful for our time together with the Royals.”

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