Ron Washington was hot, but his batting average was cold during his season playing for the Oklahoma City 89ers. Now in his second season as the Texas Rangers' manager, Washington ended his 20-year playing career in 1990 as a Niner.
"I remember it was hot,” Washington said with a chuckle from the Rangers' spring training camp in Surprise, Ariz. "But I didn't actually live up to the Ron Washington billing in Oklahoma. "I certainly enjoyed playing there and I certainly enjoyed the town, but I can't have too many memories of playing good baseball.” Washington will return to Oklahoma City tonight for the first time in 18 years when his Rangers play the Chicago White Sox in an exhibition game at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark. "I haven't returned to Oklahoma City since my last day playing there,” Washington said. "I didn't think anyone there would even remember me.” Washington came to Oklahoma City with impressive credentials. He led Tucson in batting in 1989 with a .320 average, and in the winter of '89 he led the Senior Professional Baseball Association in runs batted in with 73 in 67 games. He was also third in batting at .359. But Washington turned 38 on April 29, 1990, and his batting average dipped to .238 with the 89ers. "After the year was over I realized that it was hard for me to get it going in the minor leagues,” Washington said, "so I decided to retire and go into coaching.” Usually a middle infielder, Washington was the Niners' most versatile player in 1990. He pitched in three games and caught in two others. He played every position. On Aug. 13, 1990, the 89ers had only one healthy catcher, Chad Kreuter, and he was thrown out of the game, along with Iowa's Lloyd McClendon, for fighting. So Washington put on the catcher's gear for the first time in 16 years. "I signed as a catcher.
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Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington played one season in Oklahoma City with the 89ers. Associated Press