ARLINGTON, Texas — Ron Washington never got the ring he was looking for in Texas. Even so, the winningest manager in Rangers history is also remains the most beloved by fans.
It’s a big reason why the Atlanta Braves became the de facto team to cheer for in the World Series last year—that and beating the Houston Astros. There were so many in Dallas-Fort Worth who wanted to see “Wash”, now the third base coach of the Braves, finally get the championship that eluded him in 2010 and 2011.
And we know how the story ends now. The Braves beat the Astros in last year’s World Series and Washington finally climbed to the top of the mountain.
“I feel tremendously fulfilled because not only me, but every person that plays the game of baseball wants to get to the point where they can get a World Series ring,” Washington said prior to Friday’s Rangers-Braves game.
“That’s what they play for. They play for a World Series ring. I had three opportunities in the World Series, and I finally got one. So it’s very special.”
Friday is also quite special. Not only is it Washington’s 70th birthday, but with the Braves visiting the Rangers, he gets to return to a place where he made a lot of memories.
Washington was the manager of the club during its most successful run, winning the only two American League pennants in franchise history during its tenure. And even though the World Series demons have been exorcized, those 2010 and 2011 teams still hold a special place in his heart.
“My heart is broken that I haven’t been able to get one here in Texas,” Washington said. “And we had two opportunities at it. My heart is broken for that. But you know, when things don’t work out the way you want them to work out, you got to pick up the pieces and you got to move on. “
After he stepped down as manager in 2014, Washington returned to the game as infield coach of the Oakland Athletics in 2015 and third base coach in 2016. During that time, Washington helped transform current Texas Rangers second baseman Marcus Semien into a premier defender.
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Semien called Washington “the most influential baseball man” in his life, and consulted with him before signing his seven-year, $175 million contract with the Rangers.
“When I got to meet Marcus… he was committed to becoming the best that he could be,” Washington said. “He had a tremendous attitude. He had a great work ethic. And he never took one day into the next. He tried to take what went wrong the day before and improve it going into the next day. And that’s what’s special about Marcus Semien .”
Washington has been the third base coach of the Braves since 2017, so it’s not often that he gets to come to Arlington anymore. So when a visit to Texas appeared on the schedule this season, it stood out. Washington is forever engrained in Rangers history, and that isn’t easily forgotten on either side.
“There’s not a day that I don’t look at the box scores and see what Texas is doing because I want them to be successful,” Washington said. “I know the people up top. I know them well. I know how they go about their business and they want to be successful. And I just hope they’ll be successful, you know? They tried to prove to the fans this year by going out and getting some winning ballplayers and trying to put something together. And I think in the end, they probably will.”
Washington has seen the Rangers’ early struggles from Afar. As the three-game series begins this weekend, he’s gotten a closer look as the Braves prepare for this weekend’s series. While fans might be skeptical of the Rangers’ 6-13 start, Washington believes in the moves made will eventually pan out.
Or, as he so eloquently said while manager of the Rangers, that’s the way baseball go.
“Right now everyone is trying to find themselves,” Washington said. “[It was a] short spring training. Everyone is trying to find themselves. I think after 100 at bats arrive, and the consistency starts to kick in, I think you’ll see a different situation between those lines.”
As treasured as the memories in Texas can be for Washington, his focus remains with the Braves. They’re the defending World Series champions and just welcomed back their superstar, Ronald Acuña Jr., after a long recovery from a knee injury. The Braves reloaded in the offseason and, despite a 9-11 start to the season, are primed for another run.
“It should be a very exciting ballgame,” Washington said. “So I’m looking forward to it. I’m here with the Atlanta Braves and I certainly want to beat the Texas Rangers.”