Longtime scout Minor made major impact

Former evaluator passed away on Wednesday at 89

January 19th, 2017

In the hours leading up to the 1982 MLB Draft, the New York Mets were debating whether to take Dwight Gooden or Richard Monteleon with the fifth pick in the first round.

Finally, veteran scout Harry Minor spoke up.

"Do you realize this other guy is 19 and Dwight is 17?" said Minor, a national cross-checker for the Mets at the time. "When Dwight is 19, he'll be pitching in the Major Leagues. I was being facetious, but sure enough, he was."

The Mets selected Gooden, and he proved Minor right. Gooden broke Spring Training with the big league team at the age of 19 in 1984, claimed the National League Rookie of the Year Award that year and the NL Cy Young Award the next season when as a 20-year-old when he went 24-4 with a 1.563 ERA and completed 16 of his 35 starts.

It was just one of many highlights during Minor's 65-year career in pro baseball, which began with 12 years in the Minor Leagues and ended with 44 years in various areas of player evaluation for the Mets in October 2013.

It's one of many stories that will be told in the coming weeks when his peers reminisce about the career of Minor, who passed away on Wednesday at the age of 89.

Minor passed at his home in Long Beach, Calif., roughly 30 minutes after being brought home from the hospital at his request, according to his son Bob. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Minor spent time as a pitcher, catcher, first baseman and third baseman in his playing career. He managed three years in the Braves' system (1958-60) and a year in the Mets' system ('69), but it was a 51-year stint as a scout in which he made his mark in baseball. The Braves made Minor a scout in 1960, and he moved to the Mets in '67 for what became a 44-year relationship that included his becoming the first scout inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 2013.

How good was Minor? Good enough that he survived the tenure of nine general managers with the Mets. Good enough to understand how to make his point without making himself a nuance.

Minor once joked that, "A lot of scouts have [Frank Sanatra's] 'My Way' played at their funeral. I told my wife Liz, 'Don't you dare play that at mine, because when you last 44 years with one club, you didn't do it your way, you did it their way!'"

But Minor did have his way more often than not, earning that respect with a scouting sense that led to him being involved in the signing of numerous amateur players for the Mets, including Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Lenny Dykstra, Mookie Wilson, Wally Backman, Greg Jefferies, Hubie Brooks, Kevin Mitchel and Kevin Elster.

Wilson was one of his more enjoyable finds.

Minor, a cross-checker for the Mets at the time, showed up a night before a large group of scouts descended upon the University of South Carolina to see pitcher Randy Martz, who wound up drafted by the Cubs with the 12th selection overall in June 1977.

Not one to sit in his hotel room or hang out in a local establishment, Minor decided to go to the Gamecocks game the night before, and Wilson had a big night. Wilson struggled the next night, with a crowd of scouts on hand, but Minor never forgot what he had seen the night before.

It was one of those little edges that helped Minor make a big impact.