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KETR News Director Mark Haslett’s multimedia blog about Northeast Texas and the world.

Former Rangers Slugger Gamble, 68, Dies

Gamble was known for his left-handed slugging ability and distinctive hair.
Texas Rangers
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Gamble was known for his left-handed slugging ability and distinctive hair.

Former Texas Rangers outfielder and designated hitter Oscar Gamble, 68, died today. Gamble’s agent, Andrew Levy, confirmed the death to MLB.com. The cause of death was not released.

Remembered in pop culture for his massive Afro, the slugging lefty played for seven teams in his career, mostly with the New York Yankees. His best seasons were with Cleveland in the mid 70s and with the Chicago White Sox on their memorable "Southside Hitmen" 1977 team. That year, Gamble hit .297, swatted 31 home runs and placed in the American League Most Valuable Player voting results.

After that, Gamble played for the 1978 Padres, whose season was a lot like that of those '77 White Sox - a fun campaign for a long-suffering club, but no postseason.

Texas picked up Gamble in the following off-season. In 1979, Gamble hit a scorching .335 for the Rangers in an OF-DH role before being traded to the Yankees in mid season. Although it was a multiplayer deal, it amounted to a straight-up swap that sent Gamble to New York in exchange for Mickey Rivers.

The trade worked out well enough for both clubs - the Yankees added some pop and Texas picked up some speed in the outfield. Both players were nearing the end of their careers and their production declined before their retirement in the 1980s.

Gamble never got a World Series ring despite playing in two fall classics with New York. He was on the 1976 Yanks (lost to Cincinnati) and the 1981 Yanks (lost to Los Angeles).

Gamble came from a small town outside of Montgomery, Alabama, and might not have made it to the majors if not for the legendary Buck O'Neil, who was scouting in Alabama for the Cubs during the late 1960s and convinced Chicago to draft Gamble.

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