The New York Mets scout responsible for drafting players like Dwight Gooden and Daryl Strawberry and was a minor league player-coach in Wellsville died on Wednesday at age 89.
Harry Minor coached the Wellsville Braves and was a player on the old PONY minor league team from 1958 to 1960. He coached eventual Baseball Hall of Fame member Phil Neikro in Wellsville and Niekro mentioned Wellsville in his Hall of Fame speech.
In 1958, Minor’s first season as a player-coach, the Wellsville Braves went 70-56 and took first place in the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York League and lost in the championship series.
The next season, Minor skippered Wellsville to an 80-46 record and won the league championship, then did it again in 1960, going 69-60, taking second in the season before winning the league championship. The league was later known as the New York-Penn League.
In 2013, Minor was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame, the first scout to earn the honor. Minor signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates out of high school and his career in baseball spanned 65 years.
After his playing and coaching career in Wellsville, he was a scout for the Braves, then joined the Mets in 1967.
He began scouting with the Braves in 1960 before moving to the Mets in ’67. He eventually rose from area scout to cross-checker. Minor won MLB Scout of the Year in 1996 and has been honored with the George Genovese Lifetime Achievement Award in Scouting from the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation.
Tracy Ringolsby, a columnist for mlb.com wrote on Thursday, “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.”
Mike Guardabascio of the Long Beach Press-Telegram wrote, “Minor did as much for the Mets as any player. (Minor) worked for the Mets for 44 years as one of the team’s top scouts, joining them as an area scout in 1967 that led to several major signings in the early era of the major league draft and then as a national cross-checker. He worked the past few years as a major league scout, shadowing teams on the West Coast. During his Mets career, he was instrumental in getting the Mets to draft and sign Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry and Lenny Dykstra, all stars on the New York Mets 1986 World Series champion team.”
Minor told Guardabascio when he went in the Mets Hall of Fame, “I’m very proud of this. My whole family is going, a group of 21 – grandkids, in-laws, everyone. It’s the first scout the Mets have honored, and only a few teams have inducted other scouts into their Hall of Fames.”
The newspaper said Minor won the Mets’ Scout of the Year Award in 1996 and was also honored with the George Genovese Lifetime Achievement Award in Scouting from the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation in 2007. He managed one more year in the minors in 1969 for the Visalia Mets of the California League, taking second and losing in the league finals.
“Everything I have has come from my association with baseball. I love the game, and this means a lot to me,” Minor added.“At one time, I was the only cross-checker the Mets had,” Minor told the Press-Telegram in 2013. “Someone had to see all of the top players firsthand. It was the only way you could put them in any kind of order. It was always satisfying to go to a town and see someone like Gooden when he was in high school. I felt good when the Mets drafted Strawberry.”
According to baseball-reference.com, Minor played AAA baseball for the Buffalo Bisons, the highest level he reached as a player. In his first year in Wellsville, Minor hit .289 with 17 home runs, good enough for seventh in the league and he had a .468 slugging percentage. In 1959 he hit .318 and in 97 games scored 86 runs, walked 86 times and struck out just 27 times, finishing the 6th best hitter in the league. He was also one of the top fielding first basemen in the league. He hit a total of 124 home runs in the minor leagues.