Tuesday, September 22, 2009

An Awesome Auto from Paul

Willis Otanez 1998-99

Paul who runs the awesome blog, Paul's Random Stuff, which focuses mainly about his experiences with the Newark Bears and the rest of the Independent Atlantic League, offered to try to get things signed for fellow bloggers earlier this baseball season. So of course, I had to take him up on the offer. He had taken care of Ryan Bukvich for me earlier this season, so I knew I could count on Paul. I sent him a Hector Carrasco card and this Otanez card. Carrasco abruptly got himself suspended and eventually released, so there wasn't any way for Paul to help me get his autograph. Otanez was another story.

Paul got this card signed on the Bears' Meet-the-Team day at the end of the season. I was psyched since Otanez rarely signs through the mail and has bounced around the Independent and Mexican Leagues for years. This was the only card I have of his and it's really hard to replace random Minor League cards from the mid 90's without buying complete sets, if they are even available. Paul reported that Willis and his teammates enjoyed seeing such an old card of his, and that his teammates were making fun of his hair, as he now wears it long and unkempt.

Willis only played for the O's over 32 games, 2 in '98 and the other 30 in '99, but that is about half the time he spent in the Bigs; he also played 42 games for the Blue Jays in '99.

He played RF, 3B, 1B & DH in his brief stint with the Birds and hit .212 with 2 homers, and 11 RBI in 85 ABs. It's cool that he is still playing and, I would assume, trying to make it back to the Big Show.

Thank you Paul, and good luck to the Bears in the Playoffs.


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