NEW YORK -- Johnny Oates doesn't claim Buck Showalter as his protege, but, if he did, the Yankees' youngest manager in almost 80 years wouldn't complain.
There is a degree of admiration and respect between the managers of this series between the Yankees and Orioles. It surfaced again before last night's game, after Showalter, 36, became one of baseball's most secure managers as the Yankees gave him a three-year contract extension.
"There was no doubt about it," Oates said when asked whether he thought Showalter displayed managerial capability as a minor-leaguer. "He's one of two or three people I've crossed paths with in my career who you could picture doing exactly what he's doing."
Showalter, the Yankees' youngest manager since 23-year-old Roger Peckinpaugh in 1914, played for Oates on the Yankees' Double-A championship team in Nashville, Tenn., 10 years ago. The next year, Oates found a way to keep Showalter on his Triple-A roster at Columbus for more than 30 days -- just long enough for him to collect a $5,000 incentive bonus.
The financial reward, however, wasn't the biggest favor Oates did for Showalter. He helped lay the groundwork for the career minor-league player to become a major-league manager.
"The word I used about Johnny, and still use, is consistency," Showalter said. "Players look for a manager to be consistent.
"You knew when he [Oates] was mad, but he didn't wear it on his sleeve and he didn't hold grudges," Showalter said. "He's a good man; Baltimore is lucky to have him. He's the best manager I played for."
Oates remembers Showalter as a "gamer" who could play through injuries and was a leader in the clubhouse.
"He'd been in the league for awhile," Oates said of his Nashville experience with Showalter, "and he knew how to play the game better than anyone. At first I thought it was just because of his experience, but it wasn't. It was his knowledge. He played the game better than anyone.
"He wasn't a very popular player to play against," Oates said of Showalter, a first baseman. "He played hard, and he had a certain amount of cockiness that other guys didn't like."