Earlier this week the Atlanta Braves third base coach Ron Washington was the subject of an L.A. Times piece describing the generational divide in MLB between coaches and players. Washington was perfectly on brand with his unabashed honesty and humor. The next day a video of him working with infielders on their fundamentals quickly took off on twitter. I haven’t seen someone have a run like this since James Houlzer on Jeopardy.
All the praise Washington is receiving is well deserved. After being passed over for Atlanta’s managerial position in 2016, it would have been easy for the former All-Star Manager to be reluctant about accepting a lesser role. Instead he accepted the position as third base coach and has only grown his legacy.
Washington’s body of work speaks for itself. 12 years in the show as a player, and nearly 25 years as either a coach or manager. In 2010 he became only the third African American to manage a team in the World Series as the Texas Rangers won their first of two consecutive American League Pennants. Additionally, Washington is a major character in the book Moneyball and is portrayed wonderfully in the movie adaptation as well.
Since the Atlanta Braves started their rebuild a few years ago, all of their strategic moves have been cogent and clear. From staffing to roster management, the execution of their vision has been precise. I know I’m not alone when I say that picking up a man with the knowledge and work ethic of Ron Washington was a steal.
As sports fans we often wait until a player or coach retires to give them the love they deserve. That’s why we need to give Ron Washington his flowers now. By the time you read this I will be on my way to the Braves/Phillies game where I will cheer a little extra hard when I see their third base coach trot out on to the field.
Pat Benson is a fixture at high school sporting events. He has been a sideline reporter, P.A. announcer, and radio personality. Tweet him @Pat_Benson_Jr.