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Ron Washington makes first return to Texas as an opposing manager with fond memories

 The Associated Press  |    May 16th, 2024 5:21pm EDT

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Ron Washington often reflects on his first managerial job and taking the Texas Rangers to their first two World Series appearances.

“I was there, and as a manager, who wouldn’t want to win a World Series,” Washington said this week. “And I had two opportunities at it. Well, mainly one, in 2011 against the Cardinals. 2010 against the Giants, Bruce Bochy and his team just (beat) us. That was our first time in it, but then we came back the next year and we were more prepared for it. And, again, it didn’t happen.”

There are still fond memories for Washington in Texas, where he returns as an opposing manager for the first time when the Los Angeles Angels open a three-game series Friday night.

Washington is the winningest manager in Rangers franchise history. He won 664 games over eight seasons (2007-14) and two American League pennants for an organization that had never before won a postseason series.

“He deserves to be applauded big time. He was instrumental in some of the best years of this franchise,” said David Murphy, a Rangers outfielder during Washington’s first seven seasons and now a broadcaster for the team.

Bochy now occupies the home dugout in Texas, in his second season as Rangers manager after leading them last year to their first World Series title.

The Rangers lost the 2010 World Series in five games, when Bochy’s San Francisco squad won the first of three titles in five seasons. Texas was twice within a strike of the title in 2011’s Game 6 against St. Louis, but David Freese and the Cardinals rallied to win that game, and then took Game 7.

But Washington got his own World Series ring before Texas won its title, as third base coach for Atlanta in 2021. When the Braves visited Texas two years ago, the series opener fell on Washington’s 70th birthday, and on the field before that game he showed off the diamond- and ruby-encrusted championship ring that he pulled out of the pocket of his hoodie.

Washington is in his first season with the Angels, who have missed the playoffs the past nine years. It is his first job as a manager since abruptly resigning from the Rangers for personal reasons late in the 2014 season, later acknowledging an extramarital affair and citing it as the reason for leaving Texas.

Washington, who was on Oakland’s staff for 11 seasons before becoming the Rangers manager, was re-hired by the Athletics as an infield coach in the middle of the 2015 season. He stayed there until going to the Braves from 2017-23.

The Angels are 16-28 in their first season since two-way star Shohei Ohtani’s departure in free agency. Three-time AL MVP Mike Trout recovering from knee surgery.

At the same point in Washington’s first season with Texas, the Rangers were 17-27.

“You just had to make sure that the foundation is right, you had to make sure that the culture is set up the way it’s supposed to be,” Washington said, drawing comparisons to those situations. “You have to make certain that the type of baseball you want to see gets played out there.”

Texas won 75 games in his managerial debut, and the win total improved each year until a franchise-record 96 in 2011. Two more 90-win seasons followed before 2014, when the injury-plagued Rangers were 53-87 at the time Washington resigned, even though they had no plans to let him go.

“His joy and his passion for the game just stood out. … He wore his emotions on his sleeve in such a positive and such a good way. He was always optimistic. He loved to teach,” Murphy said. “You could see in him that he wished that he could go back out there and play if his body would let him. And that type of attitude rubs off on your players.”

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AP Sports Writer Greg Beacham in Anaheim, California, contributed to this report.

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