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Amos Otis Autographs, Memorabilia & Collectibles

Born: April 26, 1947 in Mobile, Alabama
Biography | show moreshow less
Amos Otis
This article was written by Bill Lamberty and is presented in part, courtesy of the Society for American Baseball Research

Late in the evening of May 15, 1973, Amos Otis lifted a Nolan Ryan fastball to Royals Stadium’s spacious right-center-field gap that was hauled in by Angels right fielder Ken Berry. Some 35 years later, Otis still remembered the moment, the pitch, and who caught it. “Right there on the warning track,” he told the Kansas City Star, recalling that Berry had come in for defense. “If Bob Oliver had been out there, I’d have had it, I’d have broken it up.”

Instead, with Otis’s help, Ryan took a major step on the path that led him to immortality. The no-hitter was the first of seven fired by the famed Ryan Express, and it resurfaced from the annals of baseball history in 2008 when Kansas City was no-hit for a second time (by Boston’s Jon Lester). Ryan’s career led him to the Hall of Fame, while Otis played for another decade and was one of the most productive and popular players in Royals history.

While no one could have known it in 1973, Otis and Ryan would remain linked for another reason. They came to symbolize the two worst trades the New York Mets have ever made. While the 1973 Mets were a shocking pennant winner in the National League, they soon endured seven straight seasons finishing fifth or sixth and fading to obscurity in the largest media market, where baseball is king. In 1980, Sports Illustrated’s Henry Hecht referred to Otis as New York’s WT 1 (worst trade No. 1), with Ryan checking in as Hecht’s WT 2. Ryan—and three other prospects—brought former All-Star shortstop Jim Fregosi to the Mets, but Otis brought much less in return to New York. The fledgling Royals received Otis and pitcher Bob Johnson for third baseman Joe Foy, who played only 140 more games in the majors, while Johnson was later shipped from Kansas City in a package of players that brought the Royals Freddie Patek. It was Foy’s failure at third base that set the wheels in motion for the eventual trade of Ryan for Fregosi, whom the Mets unsuccessfully attempted to make into a third baseman.

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