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Amos Otis

Amos Otis

Position(s):
3B, CF, LF, OF, RF, DH
Nicknames:
A.O.
Born:
April 26, 1947
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Height:
5' 11"
Weight:
165 lbs
Major League Debut:
9-06-1967 with NYN
Allstar Selections:
1971 GG, 1973 GG, 1974 GG

His manager, Jack McKeon once said of Amos Otis: "He's the best center fielder in baseball. No question about it. Amos is the most complete player in the majors..." Otis combined speed and power in a career spent mostly with the Kansas City Royals, earning three Gold Gloves and five All-Star selections. In 1978 he was a 20-20 (homers and steals) man for the Royals, and he swiped as many as 52 bases in a season. In Kansas City's first World Series, in 1980, the right-handed hitter slugged three homers and drove in seven runs. He ranks near the top in almost every offensive category in Royals franchise history.

Professional baseball career

Otis was initially drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 1965 as a shortstop. However, he put in some time in the outfield, third base, and first base while playing in the minors. In November 1966, the Mets drafted him and jumped him all the way to Class AAA for 1967. He saw some time with the Mets late in the 1967 season, but spent 1968 in AAA again before making the major league roster for 1969. The Mets recognized his potential, so much so that when the Braves asked for Otis when trying to trade Joe Torre, the Mets refused and Torre wound up going to the St. Louis Cardinals instead.

However, Otis immediately clashed with Mets manager Gil Hodges, who tried to make him a third baseman. After only four games, Otis was sent back to the minors for a month. At the end of the season, Royals general manager Cedric Tallis sent seemingly hot third base prospect Joe Foy to the Mets, in exchange for the young Otis.

The deal turned out to be an epoch-making deal for the Royals, as well as one of the worst trades in Mets history. Foy was bogged by drug problems and was out of baseball by 1971. Meanwhile, the Royals immediately moved Otis to center field, and he became the club rock at that position for most of the 1970s. He made the American League all-star team each of his first four years with the team and won three Gold Gloves. His good speed worked well with the Royals' team philosophy of speed and defense. On September 7, 1971, he became the first player since 1927 to steal five bases in one game. He led the American League with 52 stolen bases that year.

On September 18, 1977, Otis helped out 8 youths who were stranded after a Royals game had been rained out when flooding had prevented the boys' parents picking them up. "If it was my kids," Otis said, "I would have wanted someone to do something for them, too."

By the late 1970s and early 1980s, his fielding skills had declined somewhat, and he lost his center field job to Willie Wilson. He was still an important contributor, though, hitting .478 with 3 home runs and 7 runs batted in the 1980 World Series. He spent a short time back in the National League with the Pittsburgh Pirates at the end of his career.

In a 17-season career, Otis posted a .277 batting average, with 193 home runs and 1,007 RBI in 1,998 games while stealing 341 bases.

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