Friday, December 24, 2004

Goodbye Johnny Oates

Former Texas rangers and Baltimore Orioles manager Johnny Oates passed away this morning after being diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2001. He was 58. Oates was born on January 21, 1946, in Sylvia, North Carolina.

He resigned his position has Texas Rangers manager on May 2, 2001. He was considering returning to managing when he was diagnoses with "glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive brain tumor."
His death was confirmed by John Blake, a former Rangers spokesman who worked for the organization when Oates coached in the '90s.

"It was a pretty courageous fight," Blake said.

"He accomplished something no other manager had here. The first division title was certainly a big anvil off everybody's back with this franchise."

Oates also managed the Baltimore Orioles (news) from 1991-94.

He spent six seasons with the Rangers, guiding them to the playoffs in 1996, '98 and '99, and shared the American League Manager of the Year award with New York's Joe Torre in 1996.

Oates resigned in 2001 after the Rangers lost 17 of their first 28 games despite the addition of $252 million free agent shortstop Alex Rodriguez. He compiled a regular season record of 797-746 and got his only postseason victory in 10 tries when the Rangers made their playoff debut, winning 6-2 at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 1, 1996.[...]

Oates and his wife began each morning studying the Bible in the sunroom of their home on Lake Chesdin, about 30 miles from Richmond, and were active in their church. Oates also attended local baseball games periodically, but increasingly needed help to get there after the brain surgery slowly caused the left side of his body to become lame.

"I don't miss baseball one single bit. I enjoy talking about it, but I know I can't do it anymore. I like to watch it on TV," he said in an interview with The Associated Press in March 2003. "I miss the people. I don't miss the stress that went with it, all the decision-making. But now I enjoy being here. I enjoy being lazy."

Oates, a left-handed hitting catcher, played for five teams in his major league career, starting with the Orioles in 1970. It was there that he encountered Cal Ripken Sr., and he later credited Ripken with helping turn him into a big league player.

When he was just starting out, Oates recalled days when Ripken stood on the pitcher's mound with a bucket of balls and a fungo bat, hitting one-hoppers at him.

"He said if I could block them, I could block any pitches," Oates said.[...]

Following his retirement from the Yankees in 1981, Oates managed the Yankees' Double-A Southern League team, winning the championship in his first season.

Among his players that year was Buck Showalter, who later managed the Rangers.

"He's the best I ever played for," Showalter said of Oates. "Just the whole package. ... He's the most ethical, moral man I've ever been around."
We've lost quite a few people this year, haven't we? Too many in my opinion. I've been to Camden Yards and The Ballpark in Arlington. Fun times indeed.

Read the obituary here.

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