Wednesday, July 10, 2013
10 facts about Rangers manager Ron Washington
He needs just 10 Ws to pass Bobby Valentine for most wins in franchise history.
ARLINGTON Whether you think Ron Washington is the best manager in Rangers history, there's one thing no one can deny -- he's about to be the winningest. Washington needs 10 more wins to pass Bobby Valentine for most wins in franchise history. To honor Wash, here are 10 things you might not know about the Texas manager.
1. Dodger deubt: Washington made his big league debut in 1977, when the Los Angeles Dodgers called him up for a brief 10-game stint. During that time, then-Dodgers outfielder (and current Reds manager) Dusty Baker took Washington under his wing, buying Washington his first suit and even yelling down the dugout to Tommy Lasorda to let Washington pinch hit. “He taught me how to act in the clubhouse. Taught me how to be a pro. … All those things you pass on,” Washington told our Michael Florek in June.
2. "Immature" taste in music: Washington has a strict routine before every game, which includes working out a lineup with bench coach Jackie Moore, then power walking around the field 10 times and doing sit ups to stay in shape. Washington’s soundtrack of choice when he’s out on a walk? Juvenile. Washington told KTCK-AM in June, “The beat of his music keeps me going.”
3. Fourth time's the charm?: Washington interviewed for managerial jobs three different times before landing his job in Texas. He interviewed twice with the Oakland A’s – once in 2003 and again in 2005 – only to see the job go to Ken Macha both times. He also interviewed with the Florida Marlins in 2005, but Joe Girardi got the job instead. For his part, Washington was convinced he’d be named manager in Oakland, telling our Barry Horn, “I thought I had the job.”
4. NOLA native: Washington, who was born in New Orleans in 1952, still maintains an off-season home there that he’s owned for nearly 30 years, according to D Magazine. When the home was damaged in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina, Washington rebuilt it in part with the help of former players like Miguel Tejada and Jason Giambi, who combined to donate more than $68,000. Washington is the first New Orleans native to be a major league manager.
5. No-hitter splitter: Washington was watching from the bench earlier this year when Houston’s Marwin Gonzalez broke up Yu Darvish’s perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning. But Washington was once in Gonzalez’s shoes ... sort of. On May 28, 1988, a 36-year-old Washington came on as a pinch hitter for the Indians and ended 35-year-old Odell Jones’ no-hitter with one out in the ninth. It was Jones’ first MLB start in seven years, and he only made one more before retiring.
6. Texas tenacity: Washington almost didn’t interview with the Rangers after the 2006 season. Washington was still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged his home in New Orleans, and was tired of putting himself out there only to be overlooked. But Wash was finally convinced to interview with Texas – not by Jon Daniels, but by Oakland GM Billy Beane. “[Beane] didn’t say you have what it takes [to manage],” Washington told Barry Horn. “He said, ‘You can’t turn down an opportunity to interview.’”
7. Major minor leaguer: As a player, Washington was a picture of perseverance. After signing with the Royals as a 19 year old in 1971, Washington spent the next 11 seasons in the minor league, playing in 1,009 games and racking up 4,010 plate appearances. His minor league career was only broken up by a 10-game stint with the Dodgers in 1977.
8. Proper portrayals: Washington is a key figure in the book Moneyball by Michael Lewis and the subsequent 2011 movie starring Brad Pitt. The story focuses on Oakland GM Billy Beane's attempts to use sabermetrics to help the A's win on a budget, which took place during Washington's tenure as Oakland's third base coach. Washington was played by actor Brent Jennings in the film, and he said he was pleased with the way he was portrayed. Washington told our Evan Grant in 2011: “The few lines I had, [Jennings] handled them very well. He was assertive and decisive. And that’s how I am, so I was happy to see that.”
9. OK in OKC: Though some fans may not realize it, Washington’s managerial career isn’t his first stint in the Rangers organization. Washington spent the final year of his 20-year playing career with the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City, hitting .238/.248/.322 in 101 games before retiring in 1990. Washington even tried his hand at pitching that year, throwing three innings of relief work while allowing eight base runners and two earned runs. Those were the only innings Washington ever pitched as a pro.
10. Impressive impressions: Washington has never lacked for confidence, and that shined through during his interview with the Rangers. After he finished speaking with Jon Daniels, Thad Levine, AJ Preller, and Don Welke, Washington announced to the group: “I know I impressed you guys.”
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