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Johnny Oates -1973 Topps #9

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  Johnny Lane Oates (January 21, 1946 – December 24, 2004) coach, and manager. He played in Major League Baseball as a catcher for the Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees from 1970 to 1981. During his playing career, Oates was a light-hitting player who was valued for his defensive skills and, played most of his career as a reserve player. It was as a major league manager that Oates experienced his greatest success, leading the Texas Rangers to three American League Western Division titles. In an 11 year career, Oates played in 593 games, accumulating 410 hits in 1,820 at bats for a .250 career batting average along with 14 home runs, 126 runs batted in and a .309 on base percentage. A good defensive player, he ended his career with a .987 fielding percentage.
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 was inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 1983 and, in 2003, he was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. Oates succumbed to the tumor at age 58 at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond on Christmas Eve 2004.
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. 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. In 2010, Showalter would honor his friend Oates by choosing the number 26 as he took over management of the Baltimore Orioles. Oates was posthumously inducted into the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame on August 7, 2010.

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