Ron Washington - Tales of Tides
Major League baseball players make their way to the professional level in various different ways, the most common being through the amateur draft held each June. RONALD LOUIS WASHINGTON, a former Tides player and coach, and current third base coach for the 2021 World Series champion Atlanta Braves, paved a
Major League baseball players make their way to the professional level in various different ways, the most common being through the amateur draft held each June. RONALD LOUIS WASHINGTON, a former Tides player and coach, and current third base coach for the 2021 World Series champion Atlanta Braves, paved a slightly different path on his way to the majors.
The Royals Baseball Academy, a baseball development camp unlike any other in baseball at the time, was where Ron Washington got his start in affiliated ball. The brainchild of Ewing Kauffman, former owner and founder of the Kansas City Royals, created the academy in 1969 as a way to find and develop talented athletes all over the country. Washington was a part of the initial class in 1971 and was one of only 14 players in the short history of the academy to make the majors. After several years in the Royals system, Washington was traded in 1976 to the Los Angeles Dodgers and would make his major league debut with the club during the September call-up period in 1977.
Washington, a middle infielder most of his career, primarily at the shortstop position, played one season with the Tides. While he was still under contract with the Dodgers organization, he was loaned to the New York Mets in 1979. In his age-27 season with Tidewater, he had a batting average of .264 (72-for-273) with 13 doubles, four triples, a home run, and four stolen bases over 83 games. He returned to the Dodgers organization at season’s end and was traded to Minnesota in 1980. The New Orleans, LA native got the call to the show in 1981 and remained at the Major League level for most of the rest of his playing career. While he predominantly played for Minnesota, he made several other stops in Baltimore, Cleveland, and Houston. A career .261 hitter, he retired from baseball in 1990 while at Triple-A Oklahoma City, an affiliate of the Texas Rangers at the time.
Washington returned to Norfolk shortly after his playing career concluded to kick off his illustrious coaching and managerial career. He spent the 1991-1995 seasons in the New York Mets system as a coach for the Tides (‘91, ‘92, ‘95) and a manager for Class-A Capital City (‘93, ‘94) where he went 123-153 (.466) as skipper of the Bombers. He became an infield and third base coach for the Oakland Athletics in 1996 after his final season in Norfolk. One of Washington’s strengths is his ability to develop and teach the art of defense to up-and-coming infielders. While he was in Oakland, Eric Chavez, a former third baseman for the A’s, won six straight gold gloves (2001-2006) under the tutelage of Washington.
His success in Oakland led him to become the manager for the Texas Rangers in 2007. After two losing seasons, he managed the Rangers to an 87-75 (.537) record in 2009 and a year later, he led the team to an AL West title and their first postseason appearance since 1999. They defeated the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees on their way to their first World Series appearance in franchise history in 2010, where they fell in five games to the San Francisco Giants. By winning the AL pennant, Washington became only the third African American manager in history to lead a team to the World Series. The Rangers would return to the fall classic in 2011 under Washington’s command but fell short yet again in a memorable seven-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Washington manned the helm for the Rangers for three more seasons, resigning near the end of the 2014 season, walking away with a career 664-611 (.521) record.
Washington returned to Oakland as an infield coach shortly after leaving Texas and took on third base coaching duties later that season. He spent the rest of 2015 and 2016 with the A’s before making the move to Atlanta to become their new third base coach. He was part of the 2021 Atlanta Braves World Series winning coaching staff and remains in Atlanta to this day.
In 2010, just before embarking on his first World Series appearance, a NOLA.com article published by Kevin Spain quoted former baseball coach and fellow New Orleanian, Ron Maestri, who said of Washington, "Wash is someone who refused to lose, who never complained, never made excuses, never asked for favors. Wash was no major league star. He was better than that. Wash will be remembered as the consummate baseball teacher."