Ron Washington, the only manager to lead the Texas Rangers to the World Series and the franchise’s all-time leader in wins, resigned abruptly Friday afternoon to tend to a personal matter.
Washington delivered the news to his players and coaching staff in a 3 p.m. clubhouse meeting that left everyone in attendance shocked and wondering the cause for their manager’s sudden departure.
Bench coach Tim Bogar was appointed as interim manager and was at the helm Friday night as the Rangers played the Seattle Mariners. A managerial search will begin after the season, which ends Sept. 28.
Foremost, though, was Washington’s exit, which caught everyone by surprise and went largely unexplained.
All that was revealed is that it isn’t related to drug abuse, general manager Jon Daniels said; that it wasn’t a health issue, according to a source in the organization; and that the club’s struggles this season didn’t push Washington over the edge.
Even the players were left without answers after the meeting, and Washington’s only media availability was a statement released by the club.
“Today, I have submitted my resignation from the job I love — managing the Rangers — in order to devote my full attention to addressing an off-the-field personal matter,” Washington said. “As painful as it is, stepping away from the game is what’s best for me and my family.
“This is in no way related to the disappointing performance of the team this season. We were already discussing 2015 and looking forward to getting the Rangers back to postseason contention.
“I deeply regret that I’ve let down the Rangers organization and our great fans. Over the past eight seasons, it’s been a privilege to be part of some of the best years in club history, and I will always be grateful for the opportunities I’ve had here and for the great management, players, and coaches who have made our time here a success.
“Thank you for respecting my privacy.”
Daniels, flanked by principal owners Ray Davis and Bob Simpson at a hastily arranged news conference, dodged all questions that had even a hint of invading Washington’s privacy.
Daniels said that he understands why Washington left, and that he did so on amicable terms with the organization. Daniels also said that it was his sense that the GM-manager relationship wasn’t strained.
Davis said that he was disappointed in Washington’s decision, but also said that personal matters occasionally take priority in a person’s life.
Daniels and ownership had known of Washington’s personal matter for a matter of weeks and that multiple scenarios were explored that could keep Washington with the organization. In the end, though, none was good enough to keep Washington from leaving.
He wasn’t going to get fired, either, despite the Rangers’ woeful season that is fast-tracking to 100 losses. Washington was under contract for next season.
“We looked at a variety of different things and talked to Wash about different things. Ultimately, this is what was right for him, and we respect and agree with his decision,” Daniels said. “The bottom line is he stepped down for personal reasons, so I think well-wishes for himself and his family are appropriate.”
Players and coaches were as lost for answers as anyone else after Washington addressed them and left. There wasn’t any sense of anger at Washington, who was hired Nov. 6, 2006, and was the only manager many of the players ever had.
Included in that group were left-handers Matt Harrison, who debuted in 2008 and is the longest tenured Rangers player, and Derek Holland, who was a rookie along with shortstop Elvis Andrus in 2009.
“It’s tough,” Harrison said. “It was a pretty quick meeting. Looking at everyone’s face, everybody was pretty stunned at what was going on. He was pretty emotional, but really didn’t go into detail about anything. Hopefully it’s nothing serious.”
Said Holland: “I’m crushed, to be honest with you. This was my first manager. After finding out he’s no longer with us, I wanted to let him know what he’s done for me. The guy is like a father to me. Honestly, it felt like I just lost my dad.”
Washington leaves with a record of 664-611 and guided the Rangers through a rebuilding mode, enduring a 2010 admission that he had tested positive for a recreational drug in 2009, and into the World Series in 2010 and 2011.
The Rangers had won 90 games in four consecutive seasons before injuries wrecked the 2014 team and sent the club to the worst record in the major leagues. But he was working every day, including Thursday, when he helped outfield coach Gary Pettis, the only remaining member of Washington’s initial coaching staff, hit grounders to rookie outfielders Michael Choice and Ryan Rua.
“Wash showed up every day to make someone better, make a player better, make a coach better, make himself better,” pitching coach Mike Maddux said. “And we all have learned a lot from Wash, and that’ll go with us for the rest of our careers. He’s a good man, and I love him like a brother.”
Manager Ron Washington told his players and coaching staff in a 3 p.m. clubhouse meeting that he was resigning immediately to tend to a personal matter. He won’t return in 2015, even though he was under contract and was expected to return. He didn’t reveal to his players why he is walking away, but general manager Jon Daniels said that it isn’t related to drug abuse. Washington tested positive for a recreational drug in 2009. A source confirmed that Washington’s health also was not the reason for his exit.
The Rangers will look at internal candidates, including interim manager Tim Bogar and Triple A coach Steve Buechele, and will likely explore external options after the season.
“As painful as it is, stepping away from the game is what’s best for me and my family. ... I deeply regret that I’ve let down the Rangers organization and our great fans. Over the past eight seasons, it’s been a privilege to be part of some of the best years in club history.”