New Orleans native Ron Washington brings World Series experience to Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves won their way past the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Division Series on Tuesday and now have San Francisco or Los Angeles (decided by a winner-take-all Game 5 on Thursday) in their path to reaching their first World Series since 1999.
One of the Braves’ weapons in their pursuit of the NL pennant is not a pitcher or a position player, but rather third base coach Ron Washington, a native of New Orleans who still resides in the city.
Should the Braves advance to the World Series, they will benefit from Washington’s experience in two World Series as manager of the Texas Rangers. None of the other members of the Braves coaching staff, including manager Brian Snitker, has any background with World Series competition. Bench coach Walt Weiss is the only one of Snitker’s staff who has experienced a World Series as a player. The 68-year-old Washington is in his fifth season as a base coach for the Braves, while also working extensively with the infielders.
Washington fell short of claiming a World Series ring, as his 2010 Rangers team was over-matched against the San Francisco Giants in the 2010 Series, losing in five games. However, in 2011 they were one pitch away in Game 6 from winning the franchise’s first World Series championship against the St. Louis Cardinals. But they wound up losing to the Cardinals in seven games. Washington spent eight seasons as the Rangers manager, including 2007 to 2014. He is the all-time winningest manager in Rangers history with 664 victories.
The graduate of John McDonogh High School in New Orleans in 1970 was in the first class of amateur players signed by the Kansas City Royals to participate in their newly established baseball academy. The infielder spent five seasons in the Royals’ minor-league system, followed by stints in the Dodgers and Mets organizations.
Washington made his major-league debut with the Minnesota Twins in 1981 and primarily played as a utility infielder with them for six seasons. He spent one season each with Baltimore, Cleveland, and Houston before retiring as a player after the 1990 season. He began his coaching career at the minor-league level in 1991 and has spent 26 years on major-league coaching staffs.
A favorite among the Braves players, “Wash” is well-known for his demanding fielding drills with infielders before games. Braves all-star second baseman Ozzie Albies told The Sporting News in August, “He’s [Washington] the GOAT, that’s what I’d say. He’s the guy. He makes us feel comfortable, makes us feel great on and off the field. He makes us feel at home, feel safe. He’s all about doing the right things. Just do it right, good things are going to happen. He’s a special guy and we love to have him here.”
Washington has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the San Diego Padres managerial job vacated by Jayce Tingler, who was let go after two seasons. Padres general manager A.J. Preller is familiar with Washington because they were with the Rangers at the same time.
Braves manager Brian Snitker also has ties to New Orleans since he played baseball at the University of New Orleans.
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New Orleans baseball historian
Richard Cuicchi, Founder of the Metro New Orleans Area Baseball Player Database and a New Orleans area baseball historian, maintains TheTenthInning.com website. He also authored the book, Family Ties: A Comprehensive Collection of Facts and Trivia About Baseball’s Relatives. He has contributed to numerous SABR-sponsored Bio Project and Games Project books.