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Johnny Oates
Catcher / Manager
Born: January 21, 1946(1946-01-21)
Sylva, North Carolina
Died: December 24, 2004 (aged 58)
Richmond, Virginia
Batted: Left Threw: Right 
MLB debut
September 17, 1970 for the Baltimore Orioles
Last MLB appearance
May 24, 1981 for the New York Yankees
Career statistics
Batting average     .250
Hits     410
Runs batted in     126

As Player

As Manager

Career highlights and awards

Johnny Lane Oates (January 21, 1946–December 24, 2004) was an American catcher and manager in Major League Baseball.

Born in Sylva, North Carolina, Oates graduated from Prince George High School in Prince George, Virginia, before going on to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Oates played baseball as a catcher with the Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees from 1970 to 1981, but never excelled as a hitting threat (batting just .250 with 14 home runs and 126 RBIs over his career) and was hampered by injuries at various points during his career. He began his career as a regular in 1972 and retired partway through the 1981 season. Oates later jokingly admitted that he wasn't a great baseball player; "I still don't know how I got to the big leagues, because I wasn't that good," he said in a 2003 interview. "I was a slap hitter. I kept my mouth shut. I did. I kept my mouth shut. I couldn't throw. I couldn't throw a lick."



Oates began managing in baseball in 1982 when he guided the New York Yankees' Double-A Nashville Sounds to win the Southern League title. He rejoined the Orioles organization at their Rochester AAA affiliate in 1988. The following year, he was promoted to the majors where he worked as first base coach under Frank Robinson, and in 1991, after Robinson started 13–24, Oates was promoted to the manager of the Orioles. In his first full season with the team, Oates led the Orioles to an 89–73 record and then to an 85-77 record in 1993, which helped him to win The Sporting News Manager of the Year Award. However, following the strike-shortened 1994 season, Oates was dismissed by new owner Peter Angelos.

Despite being let go by the Orioles, Oates was quickly hired by the Texas Rangers, who had just fired their previous manager, Kevin Kennedy. Oates proceeded to lead the Rangers to their first playoff appearance in team history during the 1996 season. Despite the team's poor ERA (the team averaged 4.65 collectively), the Rangers' batting lineup was incredibly potent, featuring Iván Rodríguez, Will Clark, Mark McLemore, Dean Palmer, Rusty Greer, Juan González, and Mickey Tettleton; the team finished 90-72. Oates won the American League Manager of the Year Award that year, sharing honors with the Yankees' Joe Torre.

Oates continued to lead the Rangers for several more seasons, leading them to AL West titles in 1998 and 1999. However, following a fourth-place finish in 2000 and beginning the 2001 season with an 11–17 record, Oates resigned as manager and third base coach Jerry Narron replaced him. Many fans, however, blamed Rangers management for the team's woes, saying that team management placed unreasonable expectations on Oates, especially after spending $252 million on free agent shortstop Alex Rodriguez.

Oates was considering returning to managing when he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor, glioblastoma multiforme. Doctors gave Oates only about a year to live, but he survived for over three years—enough time to attend his daughter's wedding, his grandchild's birth, and his induction into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame at The Ballpark in Arlington. During the ceremony at The Ballpark, he was given a standing ovation as Oates, weakened by the cancer and its treatment, required the help of his wife Gloria and a cane to walk. During his address to the crowd, he said he hoped it would be his friend, then-Rangers manager Buck Showalter, who would finally lead the team to a World Series victory. This never happened as Showalter was fired after the 2006 season.

Oates succumbed to the tumor at age 58 at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond on Christmas Eve 2004.


In 2003, was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.

His uniform number 26 was retired by the Rangers on August 5, 2005. It is only the second number retired by the Rangers, following the 34 of Nolan Ryan. During the 2005 season, a commemorative patch was worn on all Ranger uniforms and a sign was hung on the outfield wall in his honor.

Managerial records

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
BAL 1991 54 71 .432 6th in AL East - - - -
BAL 1992 89 73 .549 3rd in AL East - - - -
BAL 1993 85 77 .525 3rd in AL East - - - -
BAL 1994 63 49 .563 2nd in AL East - - - no Postseason due to the 1994 Major League Baseball strike
TEX 1995 74 70 .514 3rd in AL West - - - -
TEX 1996 90 72 .556 1st in AL West 1 3 .250 Lost ALDS to New York
TEX 1997 77 85 .475 3rd in AL West - - - -
TEX 1998 88 74 .543 1st in AL West 0 3 .000 Lost ALDS to New York
TEX 1999 95 67 .586 1st in AL West 0 3 .000 Lost ALDS to New York
TEX 2000 71 91 .438 4th in AL West - - - -
TEX 2001 11 17 .393 4th in AL West - - - -
Total - 797 746 .517 - 1 9 .100 -

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