Born in St. Louis, Missouri on September 24th, 1966, Otis Bernard Gilkey, a right handed outfielder went un-drafted but would sign with his hometown Cardinals as an amateur free agent on August 22nd, 1984.
Gilkey would go on to make his Major League debut at 23 years old on September 4th, 1990, against the New York Mets in which he went 0-4. However, he’d have a successful little run that first season, slashing .297/.375/.484/.859 in just 64 at-bats as a September call-up.
The hometown kid would spend six years in his hometown with the Cardinals, hitting .282/.354/.431/.785 with 126 doubles and 52 home runs in 2133 at-bats (593 Games).
On January 22nd, 1996, he’d eventually get traded to the Mets in a deal for Yudith Ozorio, Erik Hiljus, and Eric Ludwick. I’d imagine that this trade was possibly the highlight of these three youngsters professional careers.
Stacked in a lineup that included speedy center fielder Lance Johnson, catcher Todd Hundley, and even a 28 year old Jeff Kent, Gilkey was set up for success and found it.
While Gilkey didn’t stay with the Mets long, that first season with the team was quite impactful. In 153 games, the outfielder hit .317/.393/.562/.955 with 30 home runs and 117 RBI’s, all career-highs.
Production like that will quickly have anyone become a fan favorite and that’s exactly what happened with Bernard.
The Mets’ beloved left fielder would even find himself making his Hollywood debut with a small cameo in the hit film Men In Black with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.
A season highlighted with so much offensive coming from the middle of the lineup, below is a clip of Gilkey taking the Mets home with a walk-off bomb against the Montreal Expos.
He also had 44 doubles while being walked 73 times, and a handsome 155 OPS+, also career highs to wrap up the epitome of a career year.
He would spend only another year and a half in Queens before being traded alongside Nelson Figueroa (Wow!) to the Arizona Diamondbacks during the ‘98 season.
In return the Mets received right handed swingman reliever Willie Blair and backup catcher Jorge Fabregas.
Looking at Gilkey’s career stats after a 12 year career, nothing really jumps off the page except for that 1996 season with the Mets. It was absolutely magical.
After calling it a career after his final season in 2001, Gilkey would be inducted into his home state’s Hall of Fame in 2018.