NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma Athletics Department is deeply saddened by the loss of former two-sport standout Ryan Minor, who passed away Friday from cancer. He was 49.
Minor, an All-American in basketball and a pitcher and first baseman who helped the OU baseball team to the 1994 national title, was drafted professionally in both sports. He arrived at OU in the fall of 1992 as a member of Billy Tubbs’ men’s basketball team and Larry Cochell’s baseball squad. He played his final two seasons of basketball under former head coach Kelvin Sampson.
Outside of the Sooner State, Minor, who was named last month as a member of the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame 2024 class, is perhaps best known as the player who replaced Baltimore Oriole Cal Ripken Jr. in the lineup Sept. 20, 1998, ending Ripken’s Major League Baseball record of 2,632 consecutive games played.
In basketball, Minor, who hailed from the small western Oklahoma town of Hammon, was named 1994-95 Big Eight Conference Player of the Year as a junior by the Associated Press and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and co-player of the year by the league’s head coaches. The unanimous first-team all-conference performer also earned third-team All-America honors by UPI and Basketball Times, averaging a career-high 23.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game and helping the Sooners to a 23-9 record and a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. He scored in double figures in every game and turned in seven 30-point efforts and 24 performances of at least 20 points.
Minor again earned first-team All-Big Eight honors on the hardwood as a senior, and was named an AP honorable mention All-American. He led OU in points in 21 of 30 games that year, averaging a Big Eight-best 21.3 points as well as 7.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per contest. He set the OU record that season by making 30 consecutive free throws and became the first Sooner to register 1,800 points, 700 rebounds and 150 steals in a career. He finished as the Sooners’ sixth-leading all-time scorer (1,946 points) and ranked in the top 10 of 14 different OU career categories.
Minor played baseball his first three years at OU, joining that squad late each season due to basketball. Playing alongside twin brother Damon Minor, Ryan hit .266 in 203 career at-bats with 11 home runs, 15 doubles, 43 RBIs and 44 runs scored. During OU’s 1994 run to the national title, he was named to the Big Eight Tournament, NCAA Regional and College World Series all-tournament teams.
The 6-foot-6 Minor was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers with the third pick in the second round (32nd overall) of the 1996 NBA Draft. He was picked out of high school by the Orioles in the 15th round of the MLB Draft before choosing to attend OU. He was chosen in the seventh round of the 1995 MLB Draft by the New York Mets but returned to school for his senior year. The Orioles selected him again in 1996 in the 33rd round, and he played four MLB seasons (1998-00 with Baltimore and 2001 with the Montreal Expos). In 142 career games and 317 at-bats, Minor registered 56 hits, five home runs, 27 RBIs and 30 runs.
Minor spent most of his post-playing career coaching baseball on the East Coast. This past summer, the Delmarva Shorebirds, Minor’s former minor league team in Salisbury, Md., retired his No. 44 jersey. It was the first jersey number in the history of the organization to be retired. Minor played for Delmarva after college and later served two stints as its manager (2010-12 and 2014-17).
He is survived by his wife, Allyson, and their two daughters.