Jim Riggleman returns to Nationals Park as Reds manager
In June 2011, Jim Riggleman took a gamble on himself when he resigned as the Washington Nationals’ manager.
“It wasn’t very smart,” Riggleman said Thursday.
But seven seasons later, Riggleman, 65, is back at Nationals Park as a big-league skipper this time with the Cincinnati Reds.
Riggleman became the Nationals’ manager in 2009 only to quit two seasons later, just hours after the team reached .500 in June for the first time in six years.
Unhappy that the Nationals wouldn’t extend his contract, Riggleman knew that quitting might mean he would never fill out a big-league lineup card again.
“It was going to be a longshot,” Riggleman said. “Teams are going to younger guys (as managers). I never expected to manage again, really.”
But this past April after the Reds began 3-15 under manager Bryan Price, Riggleman was promoted from bench coach to interim manager.
“I am totally enjoying the moment, not thinking about next year,” said Riggleman, a graduate of Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville.
The Reds have responded to Riggleman, going 45-45 before Thursday night’s game at Nationals Park.
While the Reds are in last place in the National League Central, they actually have a better record than the Nationals since June 1. The Reds were 22-23 before Thursday. The Nationals were 21-30.
“It has been great,” said second baseman Scooter Gennett, who homered in last month’s All-Star Game at Nationals Park. “We obviously knew him and how he was as a guy and a baseball coach before he became the manager. We already knew him and liked him.”
“When he got the job, it was kind of easy on us,” Gennett added. “He has just been the same guy. Obviously, he is the manager now and is in charge. He wants the game to be played hard and the right way and I think that is only way to play the game. It is easy for me like him. It’s a team effort and it comes from the top.”
As Riggleman sat in the manager’s chair in the visiting clubhouse Thursday, he told reporters about how he delivered The Washington Post and was a caddy at Woodmont Country Club in his youth.
“It is home for me,” Riggleman said. “This is where I grew up,” he said. “I will have friends and family here so that is great. I love it here. It is where I grew up playing ball.”
He grew up following the Washington Senators, and, like many, was sad to see them leave for Texas after the 1971 season.
“This is a team I grew up on, the Washington Senators,” Riggleman said about eight years ago. “It’s a dream of a lifetime to grow up watching a ballclub and then end up playing or managing that ballclub.”