Buck Showalter

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William Nathaniel "Buck" Showalter (born May 23, 1956 in DeFuniak Springs, Florida) is an American former professional baseball player and the current manager of the Texas Rangers.

Buck Showalter played college baseball at Mississippi State University, where he was an All-American who batted .459 in 1977. He was selected by the New York Yankees in the fifth round of the draft, and spent seven seasons in the Yankees' minor league system where he had a career average of .294 with 17 home runs and 36 RBIs. Showalter never played in the majors with the Yankees in part because he played first base, the same position as Yankee great Don Mattingly.

However, while Showalter didn't have an impressive playing career, he had a knack for the mental part of baseball and was hired as manager of the single-A minor league Oneonta Tigers in 1985, leading them to 114 victories in two seasons. In 1987 he became manager of the minor league Fort Lauderdale Yankees, leading the league with an 85-53 record in his first season. By 1989, Showalter was with the double-A Albany-Colonie Yankees of the Eastern League, where he was named Minor League Manager of the Year.

In 1990, Showalter was promoted to the coaching staff of the New York Yankees, and eventually succeeded Stump Merrill as the team's manager for the 1992 season. During his four years as the Yankees' skipper, the team posted a record of 313-268, finishing first during the strike-shortened 1994 season when he was also named the American League's Manager of the Year. The Yankees won the AL wild card in 1995, participating in the playoffs for the first time since 1981; but after the team's elimination, Showalter was forced out by George Steinbrenner because of personal animosity between the two in favor of Joe Torre. The Yankees won the World Series the following year.

In 1996, Showalter was quickly hired by the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks two years before the team was scheduled to begin play in order to take a more active role in developing the eventual roster. In the Diamondbacks' first season (1998), Showalter only managed the team to a 65-97 record; but following numerous off-season player acquisitions which included Randy Johnson, Armando Reynoso, Todd Stottlemyre and Steve Finley, Showalter managed the team to a 100-62 record, the best in the National League's Western Division. However, following a mediocre third season, the Diamondbacks fired Showalter, leaving his 3-year record at 250-236. Just like the Yankees did after replacing Showalter, the Diamondbacks won the World Series the following year (coincidentally by beating the Yankees).

After a few years as an analyst on ESPN, Buck Showalter was hired as manager of the Texas Rangers on October 11, 2002, following an abysmal last-place season under manager Jerry Narron. In his first season with the Rangers, Showalter managed the team to a 71-91 record - again in last place; but following the high-profile, off-season trade which sent Alex Rodriguez to the Yankees, Showalter's Rangers jumped out to a surprising, early-season record of 17-9 by early May of the 2004 season. The Rangers stayed in playoff contention for most of the season, performing far better than anyone had predicted. The Rangers failed to make the playoffs, finishing third in the contentious AL West. However, Showalter was named Manager of the Year.

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