RailCats Mourn Passing Of Longtime Coach Joe Gates
GARY, Ind. - Gary SouthShore RailCats Bench Coach Joe Gates, a Gary native and former Chicago White Sox infielder, has passed away. The longest serving employee of the franchise, Gates had been a part of every RailCats team since the club moved into its home field in 2003. Gates was 55 years old.
"We've lost a very important part of our family today," RailCats President/General Manager Roger Wexelberg said. "Joe was the ultimate ambassador of the RailCats and of baseball in Gary, and he will be missed by everyone who's ever been involved with the team. His infectious personality and energy will be noticeably absent at U. S. Steel Yard this summer."
A 1973 graduate of Gary's Roosevelt High School, Gates enjoyed a 10-year minor league baseball career and spent parts of two seasons in the Major Leagues (1978-79) with the White Sox. Gates won the Southern League (AA) batting title for Knoxville in 1978, batting.332 and stealing 38 bases before being promoted to the big leagues. After his playing career ended, Gates became the Head Baseball Coach at Gary Wirt High School for 28 years before the school closed in 2009.
From the RailCats dugout, Gates watched the team blossom from record lows in the early days of the franchise to an unprecedented five consecutive trips to the Northern League Championship Series. The RailCats first base coach during much of his tenure, Gates helped the RailCats to Northern League Championships in 2005 and 2007.
"This is a sad day for the RailCats and for anyone who had the pleasure of meeting Joe," RailCats Manager Greg Tagert said. "He touched the lives of so many in different ways, and it was my pleasure to work with Joe for the past five years. He meant so much to our organization and loved being a RailCat, and I'm proud to have known him as a friend. Speaking on behalf of myself and every player and coach who's been here, Joe will be greatly missed."
The RailCats will honor Gates during the 2010 season in a to-be-determined fashion. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced by Gates' family. When arrangements are made, details will be available at www.railcatsbaseball.com.
The entire RailCats family mourns the loss of Gates, and extends its condolences all of those whose lives he has touched.
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