I met Johnny Oates just prior to the 1995 season, his first as the manager of the Texas Rangers. He was appearing at a card show and there was no line. I got him to sign a ball, which I still have, and talked to him for about 5 minutes. I wished him luck with the upcoming season and went on my way.
Oates led the Rangers to their first playoff appearance in 1996 and then had the team in the playoffs again in 1998 and 1999. Oates was inducted into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame. He died on Christmas Eve, 2004 after a three year battle with cancer. The Rangers retired his number in 2005, placing it along side the number of Nolan Ryan as one of only two Rangers retired numbers.
I decided last year to try to put together a complete Johnny Oates collection, knowing it wouldn't take many cards to complete. Little did I know how tough one card would be to get.
I finally got someone to accept my offer for his 1973 Topps card. Yesterday I picked up the 1978 Oates in a trade. I have offers out for the 1977 and 1981. I think it will be nice to have a complete Oates (player) collection. I haven't had the opportunity to interact with many professional athletes or managers and he was one of the truly nice people I've ever met in that type of situation.