ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Angels hired Ron Washington to be their new manager Wednesday, turning to a veteran baseball mind in an attempt to end nearly a decade of losing.
The 71-year-old Washington became the majors’ oldest current manager and only the second active Black manager, joining Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I’m lost for words, but not the work it will take!” Washington told The Associated Press by text message.
Washington led the Texas Rangers from 2007-14, winning two AL pennants and going 664–611. He spent the past seven seasons as Atlanta’s third base coach, helping the Braves to their 2021 World Series title.
Washington replaced Phil Nevin, who wasn’t re-signed last month after 1 1/2 losing seasons in charge of the long-struggling Angels. Los Angeles is mired in stretches of eight consecutive losing seasons and nine straight non-playoff seasons, both the longest streaks in the majors.
Washington has never shied away from work: He’s regularly among the first on the field, hitting hundreds of grounders to infielders.
Arte Moreno, the Angels’ 77-year-old owner, clearly hopes the experienced Washington can get the most out of a long-underachieving franchise with a big payroll and three-time AL MVP Mike Trout, but almost no team success to show for it. Shohei Ohtani, the team’s superstar two-way player, became a free agent this week.
Washington got a two-year contract. He’s the fourth manager in the last six seasons for the Angels following the departure of Mike Scioscia, who spent 19 years running the Halos’ bench before walking away after the 2018 season. Brad Ausmus, Joe Maddon and Nevin have all tried and failed to reverse the Angels’ slide.
Washington’s successful tenure at Texas had plenty of bumps along the way. He tested positive for cocaine use during the 2009 season and offered to resign, but he kept his job and led the Rangers to the World Series in 2010 and again in 2011.
Washington abruptly resigned from the Rangers on Sept. 5, 2014, surprising the baseball world. Two weeks later, he acknowledged having an extramarital affair and cited it as the reason for leaving Texas, which had intended to bring him back in 2015.
With a reputation as a personable, old-school manager with an ebullient personality and an exciting edge, Washington also knows the AL West well. Along with his time in Texas, he spent 13 seasons over two stints as a coach with the Oakland Athletics.
In the 2011 film “Moneyball,” about the A’s unlikely 2000s success, Washington was played by actor Brent Jennings, who delivered one of the movie’s most memorable lines when urged by GM Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) to tell a player how easy it is to learn how to play first base: “It’s incredibly hard!”
In real life, Washington is one of the most respected infield coaches in the game’s history — and former A’s third baseman Eric Chavez once gifted Washington one of his Gold Gloves because he played such a vital role. His drills and viewpoints have been used across the majors to improve players’ performance, and he helped the Braves’ infielders throughout his most recent coaching stop — all four Atlanta infielders made the 2023 NL All-Star team, along with former Washington disciples Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson.
Washington passes Bruce Bochy of Texas and Brian Snitker of Atlanta, both 68, as Major League Baseball’s oldest current manager. Dusty Baker was the oldest at 74 before retiring this month as Houston Astros manager, and he was also the only Black manager besides Roberts.
AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley contributed.
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