Ryan Minor diagnosed with colon cancer

I’m going to peel away from the standard baseball talk this morning and share some sad news about former Orioles third baseman Ryan Minor.

Minor, 48, recently was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. His twin brother, Damon, is involved in setting up a GoFundMe page to gather donations on behalf of his wife Allyson.

Why good people keep being hit with this kind of news is forever a source of tremendous frustration. And you can be sure that Minor is one of the really good guys in the industry and outside of it. A high-character individual and as nice as they come.

Minor spent parts of three seasons with the Orioles from 1998-2000 and finished his major league career with the Expos in 2001 after they acquired him in a trade for reliever Jorge Julio.

The Orioles hired Minor as hitting and infield coach with Single-A Delmarva in 2008, after he served as the first hitting coach for the independent York Revolution. He managed the Shorebirds from 2010-12 and high Single-A Frederick in 2013 before returning to Delmarva for the 2014-17 seasons. He managed the Keys again in 2018-19 before the Tigers hired him to manage in the Gulf Coast League in 2020.

The cancellation of the minor league season due to the pandemic put that assignment on hold. Minor managed one of the rookie-level Florida Complex League teams in 2021.

Minor always wanted to stay in the Eastern Shore area, and Delmarva was the ideal location, to be near his family and remain close to daughter Reagan, who suffered brain damage after developing a meningitis infection about a month after her birth in 2006.

I haven’t seen Minor since he left the Orioles, and our last conversation probably came while I sat next to him as a guest speaker at a Shorebirds banquet. We exchanged a few texts in recent years, the last probably in 2020.  

Anything relating to Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.’s record consecutive-games streak inevitably circles around to Minor, who replaced baseball’s Iron Man on the night that it ended.

Ripken walked into manager Ray Miller’s office on Sept. 20, 1998 and had his name removed from the lineup, saying, “It’s time.” An emotional Miller obliged and told Minor that he’d be starting at third base.

Minor’s response remains a classic.

“Does Cal know?”

My assignment at The Baltimore Sun was to write a sidebar on Minor. Filing for the early edition meant running a story without Minor quoted. That would come later.

Damon, a Giants minor leaguer at the time, was sitting in front of the press box and I talked to him instead, just to get something in print while the game was played.

Minor was unique in that he stood 6 foot 7 and played four seasons of Division I basketball at the University of Oklahoma, where he twice was named an All-American. Minor also led the Sooners to the 1994 College World Series title, and the Orioles selected him twice in the draft, getting him in the 33rd round in 1996. The Philadelphia 76ers selected him in the second round of the NBA draft that same year, and he appeared in seven exhibition games before being released.

Minor signed with the Oklahoma City Cavalry of the Continental Basketball Association, averaged 9.5 points in 32 games and left the team to attend spring training with the Orioles.

We joked about him writing an article for MASNsports.com on the day that my own streak ends. Seems like the obvious choice. He agreed to it, though I don’t know whether he was serious.

I pray that he’s able to do it. Or we’re able, many years from now, to talk about our little agreement and how it would have been a cool idea. To talk or just text about anything.

I pray that life will break away from the norm and be fair.

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