The maze that is life can be very interesting when you look back. At times you can trace your current situation back through a series of decisions you have made over time. This week I learned the passing of a man I met only once, but once was all it took to become a great friend and remember the personality of Wayne “World B” Otto.
Otto was an alumnus of Oral Roberts University where he played tennis, became a big booster, and also ran Game Worn Uniforms. It was a combination of his connection to Oral Roberts as well as Game Worn Uniforms how I met World B.
Oral Roberts competes in the Summit League, which is the same conference as my alma mater, Western Illinois (WIU). I worked in the athletics department at WIU and did play-by-play for the football and men’s basketball program for three seasons (2011-2014).
My first season covering WIU was the last in which Oral Roberts competed in the league until it returned after a two-year stint in the Southland Conference. The Leathernecks men’s basketball team upset the #1 seed Golden Eagles in the 2011-12 Summit League semifinals. It was announced in 2013 that Oral Roberts would return to the Summit League for the 2014-15 season. By the 2014-15 season, I had made a move to my current position in the transportation industry living in Madison, Wisconsin.
During my three-year stint working at WIU I had also created a website covering all of the men’s basketball programs in the Summit League. Doing this I had made the acquaintance of David Brauer, who was an assistant commissioner for the conference in charge of men’s basketball. One day in 2017 or 2018 a LinkedIn notification popped up that David took a position with the Wisconsin State Lottery here in Madison.
I reached out and we planned a lunch or dinner, but he was commuting from northern Illinois (about a 90-minute one-way drive), so it did not work out until spring of 2019. We met up for lunch one day and he told me he was leaving his position and taking a job in Champaign, Illinois. Little did I know, David is also a big collector, and attends many of the card shows in Chicago. He asked if I knew World B. Otto. Unfortunately, I did not, as we missed each other as Oral Roberts had left the Summit League one year after I was at WIU.
David shared story after story about World B. and his love for the hospitality suite at the Summit League championships. He also shared that World B. ran Game Worn Uniforms and is a vendor at the National Sports Card Collectors Convention. The National, as its known, was being held in Chicago (techincally in Rosemont) during the summer of 2019, and David said he was bringing his son and he had to introduce me to World B.
I arrived at The National on Thursday afternoon and walked the room. David told me where World B was set up, so I made my way over to introduce myself. All it took was my mentioning David and the Summit League and we were fast friends. We shared memories of Sioux Falls, South Dakota – site of the Summit League Championships, and each of our times at WIU and Oral Roberts.
The following day, David and his son, arrived at The National and we met up over at World B’s booth and hung out for 30 minutes to an hour. And….I was gifted with a World B. Otto bobblehead. Even though I met World B. just once at the 2019 National, he’s a personality I will never forget, and reading some of the memories from those that knew him he left that mark on so many people. Rest in peace, World B.