Forty years to the day that Amos Otis came to the aid of eight boys stranded by the historic Sept. 12, 1977 “Plaza flood,” the former Royals Gold Glove outfielder will for the first time meet some of those boys again face-to-face.
Those boys, of course, are now men in their 50s and include now 54-year-old Missouri state Rep. Richard Brown. At 1:30 p.m. Tuesday Brown is set to hand Otis a framed proclamation that honors him as a Good Samaritan for an act of kindness that deeply affected Brown.
Prior to becoming a state legislator, Brown had been a teacher in the Kansas City public schools for 24 years. He said that Otis’ assistance on the day that 25 people in the Kansas City area lost their lives set a pattern for him to help children as if they were his own.
Otis, who was was flying in from his home in Las Vegas on Monday, will receive the proclamation at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, 1616 E. 18th St., in an event open to the public.
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“It was an act of kindness, something I never forgot,” Brown said. “It just had a lasting impact on me as a schoolteacher, just being good-hearted toward kids.”
The Kansas City Star recently recounted how the All-Star center fielder came to the boys’ aid that day. Some 16 inches of rain had fallen, swamping thousands of homes and businesses and turning roadways into dangerous rivers.
The Royals’ home game against the Oakland A’s was canceled that evening. Otis recalled sitting in the dugout unable to see the scoreboard through the sheets of rain.
He decided to wait out the storm and grab a drink at the nearby Holiday Inn, where he came upon Brown and seven others teenage boys who had gone to the game as spectators or were working selling concessions.
The hotel didn’t allow him to rent rooms for the boys because he was not their parent, so Otis instead bought them all dinner and brought them back to his home.
He allowed them to play records, watch television, play blackjack and talk until 4 a.m. Otis contacted the boys’ parents and, the next morning, drove each of the teens home or as close to home as he could get through blocked roadways.
“I was doing what any other dad would have done,” Otis said in an interview last week. “I would want someone to do the same for my child.”
Besides Brown, four of the other seven men who were then teens are expected to intend. They are brothers Vincent and Welton Shelby, Joe Harstead and Johnny Strickland.
Royals former second baseman Frank White Jr., who is now the Jackson County executive and remains a close friend with Otis, his teammate, may also attend, Brown said.