What is Li'l Ron Washington up to these days?

Ron Washington's twin is back

October 22nd, 2021
Design by Tom Forget. Images courtesy Liam Roybal.

Ron Washington went viral once again this week. The former Rangers manager and current Braves third-base and infield coach has always been a player and fan favorite for his gregarious and laid back nature, hilarious quotes -- both in "Moneyball" and in life -- and enthusiasm for the sport. He's also a big reason why the Braves are just one win away from heading to the World Series, thanks to his aggressive decision to send two runners home in Atlanta's 5-4 victory against the Dodgers in Game 2 of the NLCS.

With Washington making headlines this week, that had us wondering: Just what is Li'l Ron Washington up to these days? In case you don't remember -- and how could you possibly forget? -- during the Rangers' run to the World Series under Washington's stewardship in 2010, 7-year-old Liam Roybal shaved his head and dressed up as the skipper for Halloween. He became an internet sensation, eventually getting to meet Washington, hang out with the team and yell "Play Ball!" before one of Texas' World Series games.

Now 18 years old and having recently graduated high school with dreams of becoming a photographer, Roybal wasn't all that surprised when we got him on the phone. Turns out, people still ask him about his costume all the time.

"I opened up Facebook a few months ago, and I got people saying, 'I remember you doing the whole Li'l Ron [costume and] everything,'" Roybal told me in a recent phone call. Friendly and quick to laugh, it's easy to see that Roybal didn't just resemble Washington with his costume, but with his personality, too.

"It's an interesting conversation starter in a way," Roybal added. "But it does get a little bit weird after a while because random people will just message me. It's like, 'I don't know you. But this is awesome. Thank you.'"

(Naturally, I had to apologize for being one of those random people messaging him about it. Fortunately, Roybal doesn't mind the attention.)

What Roybal looks like these days -- without the fake mustache and bald head. Image courtesy Liam Roybal.

A lifelong Rangers fan, Roybal's original plan wasn't even to dress up as Washington. Roybal was simply planning on going as an old man for Halloween that year. But after he shaved the center of his head for that classic "toilet bowl" style of male pattern baldness, his parents realized dressing like a generic geriatric wasn't the best plan.

"Hey, you look like Ron Washington," they told him. "Why don't we just go ahead and do that instead?"

So, with the addition of a fake mustache and one of the many Rangers outfits that Roybal already owned, "it worked out perfectly and we went along with it for Halloween."

Li'l Ron reading the paper and getting his morning coffee. Photo courtesy Liam Roybal.

The costume soon took off. Word spread through his church and the photos were passed around on Facebook. Local news organizations quickly reached out. With the Rangers powering their way through the postseason, Roybal became the talk of the city. He did interviews -- both local and national -- and eventually caught the attention of the team. Roybal was brought to the stadium, given a World Series jacket to match the players and he even got to hang out in the dugout.

Li'l Ron and Big Ron in 2010. Image courtesy Liam Roybal.

It's something Roybal looks back on fondly, but he also remembers it as an overwhelming experience.

"I was just scared of all the attention I was getting, but I was also happy because of all the attention I was getting, right?" Roybal said. "It was mostly the pressure of being asked, 'Do you want to do this interview? Do you want to get reported on by this reporter?' I was just 7 at the time."

Roybal's fondest memories are of hanging out by the field, surrounded by the players and getting to chat with Washington.

"I remember enjoying talking to him, I felt comfortable talking to him." Roybal said. "It was kind of funny, it felt like I was meeting a double self, a double version."

These days, Roybal is mostly focused on his photography and is looking forward to his future. He's still a Rangers fan, though he always checks in to see how Washington is doing. He's happy to see his old friend thriving in the spotlight and is rooting for the Braves this postseason.

As for Washington's aggressive sending of the runners, would Roybal follow in the footsteps of his doppelganger and do the same?

"Personally, yes, I would," Roybal said. "When I was playing baseball, I always liked to make risky moves like that, depending on various players and depending on speed. I watched the video and I think he made a great decision to send them both straight to home."

Finally, with Halloween just around the corner, could we see Roybal reprise his famous costume once again?

"I'm thinking about it," Roybal said with a laugh. "Everyone's saying I should go ahead and do it."