Johnny Oates
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Johnny Oates

Johnny Oates
1982 Nashville Johnny Oates.jpg
Oates with the Nashville Sounds in 1982
Catcher / Manager
Born: (1946-01-21)January 21, 1946
Sylva, North Carolina
Died: December 24, 2004(2004-12-24) (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
MLB statistics
Batting average.250
Home runs14
Runs batted in126
Managerial record797-746
Winning %.517
As player
As manager
As coach
Career highlights and awards

Johnny Lane Oates (January 21, 1946 - December 24, 2004) was an American professional baseball player, coach, and manager.[1] He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a catcher for the Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers, and New York Yankees from 1970 to 1981.[1] During his playing career, He was a light-hitting player who was valued for his defensive skills and played most of his career as a reserve player.[2] It was as a big league manager that Oates experienced his greatest success, when, under his leadership, the Texas Rangers won three American League Western Division titles.[2]

Baseball playing career

Born in Sylva, North Carolina, Oates graduated from Prince George High School in Prince George, Virginia, before going on to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.[1] He was selected by the Baltimore Orioles as their first round pick in the 1967 Major League Baseball Secondary Draft.[3]

He began his professional baseball career with the Bluefield Orioles and then the Miami Marlins in 1967 at the age of 21.[4] After two seasons with Miami, Oates moved up to the Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs in 1969 where he hit for a .288 batting average in 66 games.[4] He continued his climb up the minor league ladder in 1970, playing for the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings before making his major league debut with the Baltimore Orioles at the age of 24 on September 17, 1970.[1][4] Oates was not on the post-season roster for The Orioles that won the 1970 World Series.[5] Oates returned to the minor leagues in 1971, playing another season with Rochester where he posted a .277 batting average along with a respectable .364 on-base percentage.[4]

Oates was brought back up to the Orioles for the 1972 season, where he caught the majority of the Orioles games.[6] His defensive skills became apparent as he led American League catchers with a .995 fielding percentage.[7] In a transaction primarily driven by the Orioles' need for a power-hitting catcher, he was traded along with Davey Johnson, Pat Dobson and Roric Harrison to the Atlanta Braves for Earl Williams and Taylor Duncan on the last day of the Winter Meetings on December 1, 1972.[8] Oates spent two seasons with the Braves, platooning alongside Paul Casanova and then Vic Correll, before being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in May 1975.[1]

Oates (right) playing catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1978

Oates had been designated to platoon at catcher with Bob Boone for the 1976 season however, in the season-opening game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he cracked his collar bone in a collision at home plate with Dave Parker and missed almost half the season.[9] "That play changed my career", he said afterwards.[9] He returned to help the Phillies win the 1976 National League Eastern Division pennant.[10] Oates had one plate appearance as a pinch hitter in the 1976 National League Championship Series as the Phillies lost to the eventual world champion Cincinnati Reds.[11] After the season, he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on December 20, 1976.[12]

With the Dodgers, Oates worked as a second-string catcher behind Steve Yeager and, would once again reach the post-season as, the Dodgers clinched the 1977 National League West title.[13] The Dodgers went on to defeat the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1977 National League Championship Series before eventually losing to the New York Yankees in the 1977 World Series.[13] In 1978, Oates appeared in only 40 games as the Dodgers repeated as Western Division champions and, once again defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1978 National League Championship Series.[1][14] The 1978 World Series was also a repeat of the previous year as, the Dodgers once again lost to the Yankees in a six-game series.[14] Oates' playing time decreased further in 1979 as he appeared in only 26 games before being released at the end of the season.[1] He became a free agent and signed a contract to play for the New York Yankees on April 4, 1980.[12] Oates served as a back up to Rick Cerone during the 1980 season before playing in his final game on May 24, 1981, at the age of 35.[1]


Oates began managing in baseball in 1982 when he guided the New York Yankees' Double-A Nashville Sounds to win the Southern League title.[15] From 1984 to 1987, he worked as a coach for the Chicago Cubs and was credited with developing Jody Davis into a Gold Glove Award winning catcher.[16] He rejoined the Orioles organization at their Rochester AAA affiliate in 1988.[15] 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.[17] 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.[18][19] However, following the strike-shortened 1994 season, Oates was dismissed by new owner Peter Angelos.[20] He finished his Orioles managerial career with a record of 291 wins and 270 losses.[15]

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.[18] 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 1996 American League Manager of the Year Award that year, sharing honors with the Yankees' Joe Torre.[18][19]

Oates continued to lead the Rangers for several more seasons, leading them to American League West titles in 1998 and 1999.[18] 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.[21] 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. He finished his Rangers managerial career with a record of 506 wins and 476 losses.[15]

Career statistics


In an 11-year major league career, Oates played in 593 games, accumulating 410 hits in 1,637 at bats for a .250 career batting average along with 14 home runs, 126 runs batted in and a .309 on-base percentage.[1] A good defensive player, he ended his career with a .987 fielding percentage.[1]

Managerial record

Team From To Regular season record Post-season record
W L Win % W L Win %
Baltimore Orioles 1991 1994 291 270 .519 --
Texas Rangers 1995 2001 506 476 .515 1 9 .100
Total 797 746 .517 1 9 .100


Johnny Oates's number 26 was retired by the Texas Rangers in 2005.

Oates was named American League Manager of the Year in 1996 when he led the Rangers to their first playoff berth in franchise history, winning the American League West Division.[22] He won the Sporting News American League Manager of the Year Award that year (and also when he was managing the Orioles in 1993).

His uniform number 26 was retired by the Rangers on August 5, 2005.[23] It was 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.[24] Prior to Game 3 of the 2010 American League Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, his eight-year-old grandson, Johnny Oates II, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.[25]

Oates was posthumously inducted into the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame on August 7, 2010.[26] That same year, Buck Showalter had honored his friend Oates by choosing the number '26' as he took over management of the Baltimore Orioles.

Oates was inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 1983. He was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame (the state-wide organization) in 2003.[27][28]

Personal life

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.[29] 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.

Oates succumbed to the tumor at age 58 at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond on Christmas Eve 2004.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Johnny Oates". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Goldstein, Richard (December 25, 2004). "Johnny Oates New York Times Obituary". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010.
  3. ^ "1967 Major League Baseball Secondary Draft". Retrieved 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d "Johnny Oates Minor League Statistics". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved 2010.
  5. ^ "1970 Baltimore Orioles". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved 2010.
  6. ^ "1972 Baltimore Orioles". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved 2010.
  7. ^ "1972 American League Fielding Leaders". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved 2010.
  8. ^ Durso, Joseph. "A's Send Epstein to Rangers; Scheinblum, Nelson to Reds," The New York Times, Saturday, December 2, 1972. Retrieved April 12, 2020
  9. ^ a b Mihoces, Gary (December 1978). Home Plate Collisions Are Part Of The Game!. Baseball Digest. Retrieved 2010.
  10. ^ "1976 Philadelphia Phillies". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved 2010.
  11. ^ "Johnny Oates Post-season Statistics". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved 2010.
  12. ^ a b "Johnny Oates Trades and Transactions". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved 2010.
  13. ^ a b "1977 Los Angeles Dodgers". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved 2010.
  14. ^ a b "1978 Los Angeles Dodgers". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved 2010.
  15. ^ a b c d e "Johnny Oates Minor League Managerial Record". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved 2010.
  16. ^ Mitchell, Fred (June 1987). Jody Davis of the Cubs: Catcher With a Mission. Baseball Digest. Retrieved 2010.
  17. ^ "Orioles Fire Robinson; Oates Is Replacement". The Southeast Missourian. Associated Press. May 24, 1991. p. 1. Retrieved 2010.
  18. ^ a b c d "Johnny Oates Managerial Record". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved 2010.
  19. ^ a b "Johnny Oates Awards". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved 2010.
  20. ^ "Impatient Orioles Give Johnny Oates The Heave-Ho". Gettysburg Times. Associated Press. September 27, 1994. p. 1. Retrieved 2010.
  21. ^ "Oates Resigns His Post As Texas' Manager". The New York Times. Associated Press. May 5, 2001. p. 1. Retrieved 2010.
  22. ^ "Texas Rangers Team History and Encyclopedia". Baseball Reference.
  23. ^ "Retired Numbers in the American League". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved 2010.
  24. ^ "Former Texas Rangers manager Johnny Oates passes away". Retrieved 2010.
  25. ^ "Texas Rangers announce pre-game ceremonies for games 3 and 4 of 2010 American League Championship Series". Retrieved 2010.
  26. ^ "Ray Miller, the late Johnny Oates voted into Orioles Hall of Fame". The Baltimore Sun. Associated Press. May 23, 2010. p. 1. Retrieved 2010.
  27. ^ "Johnny Oates at the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame". Retrieved 2010.
  28. ^ "Johnny Oates at the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on November 30, 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  29. ^ "Four elected into Rangers' HOF". Archived from the original on March 30, 2012. Retrieved 2010.

External links

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