Johnny Oates is an exemplar of a true dedicated baseball man. A player, coach, and manager in Major League Baseball for 30 years, Oates’ tenacity for the game shined on and off the field.
Oates, a hard-hitting catcher primarily used for his defensive skills, began his baseball career at Prince George High School (.523 as a senior). Oates came to Virginia Tech from Prince George and batted .372 in two college seasons. The star catcher is enshrined in the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame and is the first baseball player in school history to have his number retired. From Virginia Tech, Oates then signed with the Baltimore Orioles and spent 11 years as an active major leaguer with five teams: the Orioles, Braves, Phillies, Dodgers, and Yankees. He appeared in two World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers and had a career .250 batting average.
After retiring from active play in 1981, Oates managed three seasons in the minor leagues. He won the 1982 Southern League Championship (AA) in Nashville, and International League (AAA) titles with Columbus (1983) and Rochester (1988). From 1984-1987, Oates coached with the Chicago Cubs before returning to the Orioles organization as first base coach under Frank Robinson in 1989. Oates was promoted to Orioles manager in 1991 where he managed four seasons in the tough American League East Division.
It was with the Texas Rangers that Oates’ hard work and preparation paid off. After his debut season in Texas, the Rangers made it to the playoffs for the first time ever in 1996 after winning the American League West Division Championship. During his seven-season tenure as manager for the Rangers, Oates led the team to capturing two more American League West Division championships. He amassed nearly 800 wins as a manager and was twice named the AL Manager of the Year by “The Sporting News” (1993, 1996). In 1996, the Associated Press named him Co-Manager of the Year with Joe Torre.
Oates has been honored throughout the country for his contributions to the game of baseball. Prince George High School dedicated their baseball stadium to him in 1996. The following year, the city of Dallas honored Oates with the naming of a youth baseball park. Johnny Oates was inducted into the Virginia High School League Hall of Fame (1992), the Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame (1994), the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame (1997), the Rochester Red Wings Hall of Fame (2000), and the Jackson County, NC Sports Hall of Fame (2001).