The Rangers honored the 1996 team today with a pre-game ceremony and dinner event. That team, of course, was the first Rangers team to make the playoffs, and it was led by manager Johnny Oates, who shared AL Manager of the year awards with Joe Torre of the Yankees. Oates passed away in 2004, succumbing to brain cancer.
Current manager Jeff Banister got a chance today to talk with Gloria Oates, Johnny’s widow.
“It was a pleasure,” Banister said “to shake her hand and say hello, bring her in, show off the banner (in his office, which features every manager in Rangers’ history). To express to her and her family just what an honor it is to sit in this seat. I think everyone understands and knows just how much I respect this position, and the men who have held this position; how honored I am to carry it on, and (tell her) how instrumental Johnny was to this organization, and I think still is.”
Banister did meet Oates a few times, both as a player and as a coach in the Pittsburgh organization, as the Pirates and Rangers’ spring training complexes weren’t far from each other in Florida in those days. “I shook his hand a couple times… I’ve watched people of success; why they have success and what their personalities are, and their relationships and how they deal with people. Johnny was a guy that in his time was successful. The honor by which he did his job. You could see it in how the players played for him, interacted with him. At the time, I wanted to be like Johnny. It was special to meet his family, and hopefully we’re making him proud.”