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26 days until pitchers and catchers report

26 days until pitchers and catchers report

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

26 days until pitchers and catchers report for spring training for the Texas Rangers.

No player has worn #26 for the Rangers in the majors since George Wright in the mid-80s.  I was preparing to write about how weird that was until I remembered that that was Johnny Oates' number, and it had been retired.

For the longest time, there was no debate as to who the best manager in Ranger history was -- it was Johnny Oates, the only manager to get the team to the postseason.  Hired by new g.m. Doug Melvin to replace Kevin Kennedy when Melvin took over for Tom Grieve after the 1994 season, Oates managed three Ranger playoff teams, ended his Rangers career with a 506-476 record, and was well-regarded by all who dealt with him.

Sadly, Oates left this world too soon, succumbing to brain cancer on Christmas Eve, 2004, at the age of 58.  The Rangers retired his number in 2006, and he remains an indelible part of Rangers history.