ARLINGTON, Texas – Ron Washington felt he was the right guy for the job when the Texas Rangers hired him as their manager, despite his inexperience in that role and the rebuilding effort that was just getting started.
“I knew that through time things would fall into place,” Washington said Monday after getting another two-year contract extension. “And things have certainly done that.”
Washington’s latest extension through the 2014 season came after he led the Rangers to the World Series for the second consecutive season. They had never in their half-century history won a post-season series before winning the last two American League pennants under Washington, who has a 427-383 record over five seasons in Texas.
He is the first manager in major league history to increase his team’s win total in four consecutive seasons after his initial year with a club.
“He’s become a great manager, and a good personal friend and partner in all that we do,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “And obviously a huge part of our success, in my mind, is his ability to set the tone in that clubhouse to continue to teach the game to guys at the big league level and to demand a lot from our players.”
Texas won 75 games in Washington’s first season, in 2007 after he replaced the fired Buck Showalter. The victory total increased each year after that — to 79, 87, 90 and then a franchise-record 96 last season.
“Jon Daniels took a chance when you look back five years ago on a novice manager,” the 59-year-old Washington said. “We hit it off. He just believed that I could be the guy that could take this organization in the direction that he knew it had the opportunity to go in. We’ve done that, and the most important thing, we’ve done that as a family, we’ve done it as a solid unit.”
Team president Nolan Ryan, Daniels and the Rangers stuck with Washington late in the 2009 season after he admitted to using cocaine once. They didn’t change their stance when that revelation became public during spring training in 2010, the season that ended with the team’s first World Series.
Daniels and Ryan also avoided making a managerial change when the Rangers got off to slow starts in 2008 and 2009, when they recovered both seasons to finish second in the AL West. They hadn’t been that high in the standings since winning their 1999 AL West title.
“I never doubted the fact that I know this game of baseball, and because I’m not afraid to step up to the plate and say maybe I made a mistake, it helps you continue to grow,” Washington said.
“Jon Daniels’ patience and his trust have given us an opportunity to be where we are and become more or less a model organization,” he said. “There’s a lot of people out there that wish they could model themselves after the Texas Rangers. I don’t think you could have said that five years ago.”
Washington was hired after the 2006 season, a year after Daniels had become the youngest GM in major league history. Washington had been a coach for 11 seasons in Oakland, where he had been credited for developing the organization’s top infielders.
“When Wash joined us, it came right as we were starting a rebuilding program and something that he embraced wholeheartedly,” Daniels said. “Some guys might not have wanted to sign up for a long-term program but he dove right in. That kind of fit in with his personality as a teacher and a motivator. He’s been a real key guy the whole way through. … He’s a perfect guy to run our club.”
Washington’s original contract was a two-year deal with club options for 2009 and 2010 that were both exercised.
Only a few days after the 2010 World Series, when the Rangers lost to the San Francisco Giants in five games, Washington got a two-year extension through the upcoming season. The Rangers lost in seven games to St. Louis in last year’s World Series.
Only five active managers have been with their current teams longer than Washington. He trails Mike Scioscia of the Los Angeles Angels, Ron Gardenhire in Minnesota, Charlie Manuel in Philadelphia, Jim Leyland in Detroit and Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay.