Minor’s brief pro basketball career
A two-sport star at Oklahoma, Ryan Minor had two obvious career options during the summer of 1996 — move to Philadelphia and try to make it in the NBA or join the Orioles’ minor league system and pursue the majors.
Eventually, Minor settled on baseball and had a brief major league career. But in ’96, the 2013 Frederick Keys manager actually gave both pro sports a try.
Minor, named the Keys manager in January, was a basketball star at Oklahoma. He started for three years as a Sooner and averaged 14 minutes per game coming off the bench as a freshman. Listed as a 6-7, 220-pound forward, Minor was named an All-American as a junior after he averaged 23 points and eight rebounds. Led by their big man, the ’95 Sooners went 23-9, 15-0 at home and earned a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament, though they were upset in the first round by Manhattan College.
Had Minor, a forward with a soft touch from 3-point land, left for the NBA after his junior year, speculation suggested he’d have been a lottery pick. But Minor chose stay in Norman for his senior year.
Obscured by the basketball hype surrounding Minor was his ability on the baseball field. A member of the OU team that won the 1994 College World Series, the Mets selected Minor in the seventh round of the 1995 MLB draft. Again, he chose to stay in school.
In 1996, Minor became the first player in Oklahoma history to score 1,800 points, grab 700 rebounds and total 150 steals in his career. His draft stock, however, fell and he was taken in the second round by the 76ers. The Orioles, who also drafted Minor as a shortstop out of high school, also drafted him that summer, in the 33rd round.
Minor played 25 games with the O’s rookie league team in Bluefield, W. Va., — missing workouts with Philadelphia to do so — and hit .253. Then, he decided to give basketball a try. He signed a one-year, non-guaranteed contract with the Sixers, played in seven preseason games and was cut.
He averaged 2.4 points in less than eight minutes per game and shot just 18.5 percent from the field in his brief, preseason NBA career.
News of Minor’s release led to speculation that he might return to Oklahoma to play in the Continental Basketball Association, which is exactly what happened. Saying he was “focused completely on basketball,” Minor spent the end of ’96 with the Oklahoma City Cavalry (rocking a fantastic 90s practice jersey) but didn’t stick.
In February of ’97, he re-signed with Baltimore.
*In 45 days, Minor will begin his Keys managerial career (barring rain, of course). He also played for the Keys for two games, both on the road, in 2000.
*You may have read the former Key and current Oriole Manny Machado missed workouts yesterday at spring training. No worries, folks, it was apparently just acid reflux. Thank goodness.
*No. 10 in our countdown of the Keys’ Top 10 Promotions for 2013 will be on the blog this afternoon. Make sure to click over to that.
*For all you longtime O’s (and Keys) fans, you’ll enjoy this column from MASN’s Steve Melewski. Check it out: What defines a great Orioles fan?
Shake your Keys.