Friday, July 1, 2011
Ron Washington talks fondly of Jack McKeon
By Calvin Watkins
With the Florida Marlins in town for a weekend series, the oldest manager in the big leagues, 80-year old Jack McKeon, brings his slumping team into Arlington.
Rangers manager Ron Washington talks fondly of McKeon, who is managing the Marlins for the second-time in his career.
"Matching wits with Jack? I could never match wits with Jack," Washington said. "All I could do is hope my players out play his players."
When Washington was just 18, he played for the Kansas City Royals Baseball Academy in 1970 and the Triple-A manger for the Royals at that time was McKeon.
Washington, who signed as a catcher, but eventually moved to the infield, backed up Buck Martinez in spring training.
"Jack liked young kids that he thought could play, and he thought I could play," Washington said.
The Rangers manager learned how to be a professional by watching McKeon and he uses some of them the things he learned in his early years in the minor leagues to the big leagues.
"It did help me and it gave me that type of experience that I needed as a young man," Washington said. "Darn right it did."
There was some question as to why McKeon would come out of retirement and manage again given his age. Washington said it's no big deal because the love of the game takes over more than anything.
"Still energized," Washington said of McKeon. "I think I saw him in an interview say he's not 80-years old. Age might say it, but he's not. Jack loves the game of baseball and I don't think he would have come back in the dugout if he didn't feel like he could handle it. It would be nice to see Jack again."