Damon Minor played on two high school basketball state title teams in Hammon with his twin brother, Ryan. The twins also were teammates on Oklahoma's 1994 national championship baseball team.
A first baseman, Minor hit .232 with 13 home runs with the San Francisco Giants, who selected him in the 12th round of the 1996 draft. Minor's most productive season in the majors was 2002 when he hit .237 with 10 homers and 24 RBIs.
After concluding his playing career in 2006, he served one year as a volunteer baseball coach at OU then moved to Edmond. For three years he ran Oklahoma Baseball Academy, coaching high school baseball players.
He and his family now live in Sedan, Kan., his wife's hometown. This is Minor's third season as the hitting coach for the Miami Marlins' Triple-A team, the New Orleans Zephyrs.
My favorite memories started in high school. It was great to be able to play with my brother in high school and college and win a College World Series. Then obviously my dream was to play in the big leagues. I was fortunate enough to play on a World Series team. We didn't win it. The Angels got us that year but it was a huge thrill.
Ryan and I always went at it. We fought a lot but that's what brothers do. But we really got along and really helped each other through school. Going to a big school like OU was a big shock for both of us so it really helped having each other. Ryan really helped me and pushed me along. It was always fun having him around. Now he's on the East Coast, the manager of the Orioles High Class A team (in Frederick, Md.).
Growing up in Hammon, a city of around 500 people, it was so small there wasn't much to do. You can't get in too much trouble. Sports was the thing to do. The baseball field was right next to us. My dad was the baseball coach and assistant basketball coach. We had a great basketball coach in Richard Megli, who is in the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. We had the keys to the gym which allowed us to hone our skills any day we wanted.
My family now lives in a small town (Sedan, Kan.) sort of like Hammon. I'll let my boys grow up there. It's a lot easier since you're on the road a lot. That helps her when I'm gone a lot.
We got on a roll that year we won the College World Series. That was before the Big 12. Winning the regional against Texas was almost as good as winning the national title. We won four games there and beat them twice on their field. That really leaped us forward. We knew if we could win in Austin we had a shot to win it all. We had a great group of guys. We try to stay in touch as much as you can. Those were some great memories.
I was fortunate to play with Barry Bonds, one of the best hitters to ever play no matter what the rumors are. Barry was always very professional. He went out and did his job. He was always in the spotlight. Everyone has their opinion about Barry but he always played hard, was a fun teammate.
Coming up through the Giants organization, Barry's dad, Bobby, a great hitter in his era, was our hitting coordinator for about six years. I learned so much from Bobby, stuff that helps me do what I do now. Listening to Bobby teach the game was extremely beneficial. Looking back I learned so much from Bobby.
One thing growing up that you dream about is hitting a home run in the big leagues. My first in the big leagues was a home run off a guy who had just gotten called up like me. It hit the foul pole at Pac Bell (now AT&T Park). It would have been my first splashdown. But hitting the foul pole was even better because it bounced back on the field and I got to keep the ball.
I never had a splashdown (a homer hit into McCovey Cove on the fly). I had a couple bounce in. It's a long way out there. A long way. The list (of splashdowns) is shorter than people think (41 players total, but Bonds hit 37 splashdowns).
Playing at Pac Bell is more like an event, more than just a baseball game. It's like a social event, especially with the teams they've had. They've won a couple of World Series recently. I can just imagine how crazy it was. The fans are great. To be able to play there, with some of the teammates that I had, is an honor, something I'll never forget.
As a Triple-A hitting coach, at this level there are a lot of veteran guys plus a few prospects. To be able to play a lot in Triple-A, and some in the majors, has helped me with my job. I know what players are going through whether it's a slump or hitting really well. At this level guys know their swings. It's just a matter of maintaining it.