T.R.’s Memoirs: Johnny Oates, the man behind the first great Texas Rangers teams (Part II)
Editor’s note: T.R. Sullivan retired after covering the Rangers for 32 years for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and MLB.com. He is sharing his memories and history of the Rangers for this website. This week: A three-part look at Johnny Oates era of the Rangers.
The 1996 season was the Magnus Opus for Doug Melvin, Johnny Oates and Tom Schieffer. The same could also be said for former general manager Tom Grieve. Melvin was always consistent in acknowledging he was fortunate Grieve had left him a considerable amount of talent after being fired as general manager.
That nucleus of talent included Juan Gonzalez, Dean Palmer and Ivan Rodriguez, a future Hall of Famer who was beginning to develop into an offensive force. Right-hander Roger Pavlik was a 15-game winner and an All-Star in 1996. Will Clark had been signed to a five-year deal in the 1993-94 offseason.
Melvin assembled the rest, acquiring right-handers Ken Hill and Bobby Witt for the rotation, right-handers Mike Henneman and Jeff Russell, and left-handers Ed Vosberg and Dennis Cook for the bullpen. During the 1996 season, Melvin swung trades for right-handed starter John Burkett and left-handed reliever Mike Stanton.
Melvin, prior to the 1995 season, had signed infielder Mark McLemore and designated hitter Mickey Tettleton. Both had played in Baltimore and Oates knew them well. Darryl Hamilton was signed to play center field.
Oates also made several key personnel decisions.