Monday, May 3, 2010
#224) WILLIE MONTANEZ
Willie Montanez was traded by the Texas Rangers along with Ken Henderson, and Tom Grieve to the New York Mets in exchange for Jon Matlack and John Milner on December 8, 1977. The trade was actually part of a bigger one that involved a total of 11 players from the Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates. It brought the colorful first baseman to a Mets' club definitely in need of a power hitter.
During his first season in New York he would lead the team with both 17 home runs and 96 RBIs. Willie also established a then team record of 19 intentional walks in 1978. He was known to field his position in a flamboyant style. Often snatching the ball out of the air and then mimicing a "holster" of it to his hip. "If you have a different style and you're a white American, then they call it colorful," Montanez was later quoted in an interview. "But, if you are Latino or black, they say you're a hot dog."
After suffering through a season long slump in 1979, Montanez was traded to the Texas Rangers for two players to be named later. Those turned out to be Ed Lynch and Mike Jorgensen on August 12, 1979.
For many years after retiring from the game he would serve as a scout for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Willie Montanez signed his card in the set for me from an autograph request sent to his home in Puerto Rico on February 21, 2009.