Carl Willis grew up in the sprawling tobacco fields of northeastern North Carolina dreaming of becoming a professional baseball player. He lived that dream in 1991.
Willis, who pitched for the Seahawks from 1980-83, became the first Seahawk player to earn a world championship ring when he played a pivotal role for the Minnesota Twins during their storybook 1991 season. Nicknamed “Big Train” by his teammates for his clutch relief performances, Willis played three seasons for the Twins after seeing action for several minor and major league teams.
He was presented the Distinguished Service Award by the UNCW Alumni Association in 1992, and became the first player in the baseball program’s history to have his jersey retired in 1992.