After Johnny Oates was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2001, he made a commitment to live each day to its utmost. Knowing his time was short motivated Oates to climb out of bed...

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RICHMOND, Va. — After Johnny Oates was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2001, he made a commitment to live each day to its utmost.

Knowing his time was short motivated Oates to climb out of bed, even if it was just to see squirrels in the back yard or feel the sun warming his face.

Mr. Oates died yesterday at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center at about 2 a.m., his wife and brother at his side, his son said. He was 58.

“He was very comfortable. He went very peacefully,” Andrew Oates, 28, said.

“I have learned more from him in the last three years than I did in the first 25. I think he’s accomplished more in the last three years and touched more people in the last three years.”

Mr. Oates was best known for managing the Texas Rangers to their first three postseason appearances, in 1996, ’98 and ’99. He resigned early in the 2001 season after the team lost 17 of its first 28 games despite the offseason addition of $252 million free-agent shortstop Alex Rodriguez.

For Mr. Oates, the diagnosis of the aggressive tumor glioblastoma multiforme helped him to focus on the things that mattered most to him, primarily his family.

“When you look at it, it’s a blessing,” he said in a March 2003 interview with The Associated Press at his home near Richmond.

“Really there’s only one day of the week that has any importance, and that’s today,” he said then. “You can’t do anything about yesterday and you can’t do anything about tomorrow. It’s just today.”

Mr. Oates left an indelible mark on the Rangers. When Mr. Oates was inducted into the Rangers Hall of Fame in August 2003, manager Buck Showalter dedicated the manager’s office with a plaque honoring him.

“That will always be Johnny’s office. We’re just renting it and passing through,” said Showalter, who played for Mr. Oates. “The definition of man and manager, Johnny’s picture will be next to it.”

Texas will retire Mr. Oates’ number 26 before a game dedicated to him next season, the team announced. A commemorative patch will adorn the Rangers’ uniforms all season.

Mr. Oates shared the American League Manager of the Year award with New York’s Joe Torre in 1996, and managed the Baltimore Orioles from 1991 to 1994.

He was considering a return to managing in October 2001 when the tumor was diagnosed. Doctors told him he’d likely die within months without surgery, and possibly within 14 months even if he had the procedure.

Mr. Oates had the surgery and survived more than three years, achieving goals such as attending the wedding of his daughter, the birth of a grandchild and simply spending more time with his wife, Gloria.

Varitek named captain


Catcher Jason Varitek, right, is presented a Red Sox jersey designated “C” for captain by general manager Theo Epstein. Varitek signed a four-year, $40 million contract to return to the World Series champs.

BOSTON — Jason Varitek doesn’t expect to hit like Carl Yastrzemski or Jim Rice. When it comes to clubhouse leadership, though, he is every bit their equal.

The Boston Red Sox appointed Varitek their third captain since 1923 after giving their longtime catcher a $40 million, four-year contract. Varitek did not know of the honor until he was presented with home and road jerseys bearing a red “C” yesterday to formalize the leadership role he has grown into since joining the team in 1997 in a trade from the Mariners.

“It’s not every day you’re lucky enough to sign a player who embodies everything you want your franchise to be,” general manager Theo Epstein said. “When you have that player, you don’t let him get away.”

Rice was the last official Red Sox captain, serving from 1985 until he retired in 1989. “Captain Carl” held the role in 1966 and from 1969 to 1983.

They were batting stars who earned the honor by virtue of their stardom; Varitek is a potent offensive player, but what sets him apart is his handling of the pitching staff and his presence in the clubhouse.

“I’m extremely honored right now. I don’t really know what to say,” Varitek said. “If I can do half of what they did statistically, I’ll be all right.”

Varitek originally sought a five-year deal worth $55 million with a no-trade clause that would have guaranteed him the chance to stay in Boston until he was 37. But rather than seek all offers, he told agent Scott Boras to deal with the Red Sox first.

Varitek is expected to be the last of the free agents signed by the Red Sox, who have added Edgar Renteria, David Wells, Matt Clement, Wade Miller, John Halama and Matt Mantei to the team that won the franchise’s first World Series title since 1918.


* Pitcher Javier Vazquez said the New York Yankees would be making a mistake if they trade him. “I’ve had four consistent seasons in the major leagues, and for one bad second half it’s unfair that they want to trade me,” Vazquez was quoted as saying in La Perla del Sur in Puerto Rico. “I still trust in my abilities, and if the Yankees trade me, they will regret it.”

* Three more umpires will be rehired by major-league baseball and six more will split $2.3 million in severance pay as part of a settlement of the nasty dispute that cost 22 umps their jobs in 1999. Bob Davidson, an 18-year major-league veteran, will get the next big-league opening. Tom Hallion and Ed Hickox will get two of the first five vacancies. That would raise the number of rehired umpires to 11, half the total who lost their jobs when a mass resignation strategy backfired.