Woodward signed with the Braves for a $50,000 bonus in 1963 and made it to the majors to stay before the end of the year, mostly on the strength of his glove. When in 1970 he hit his only homer, off Ron Reed of the Braves (his former team), Reds teammate Wayne Granger said, “We’ve figured it out. It will take him 4,189 years to catch Babe Ruth.”
He was a utility man in the beginning, playing all four infield positions in 1964 while batting .209, but by 1964 he was the Braves’ regular second baseman, batting .264. In 1965 he led NL second basemen in fielding average. Woodward was acquired by the Reds in a big 1968 trade that included Clay Carroll, Tony Cloninger, and Milt Pappas, and was expected to be their regular shortstop. Instead, he lost the job twice to rookies, first to Darrel Chaney and then to Dave Concepcion.
In 1980, after two years as the Reds’ minor league field coordinator, Woodward was named their assistant general manager. From there, he went on to become the Yankees’ general manager in 1984 and the Mariners’ GM in 1988. He retired in 1999 after 11 years in Seattle. Actress Joanne Woodward is his first cousin.