Minor played when Ripken didn't, like for a month in 1999 when the Iron Man was injured. Minor felt he needed to impress. The opposite happened. He didn't hit.
"I put all this pressure on myself and, with what I was getting from the outside, it really tore me down as far as being a player," he said. "When you do that, you don't produce at all, and I didn't produce at all."
After Minor rode the organizational elevator for three seasons, his star had faded with the Orioles by winter 2000.
He was coming off a season in which he had hit 14 homers and driven in 48 runs at Triple-A Rochester, but he had just one extra-base hit in 84 major league at-bats.
In December 2000, the Orioles traded Minor to the Montreal Expos for Single-A right-hander Jorge Julio, who has become a key reliever for the Orioles. It was probably the best trade made during Syd Thrift's checkered regime as the club's de facto general manager.
On the other end of the deal was then-Expos GM Jim Beattie, now the Orioles' executive vice president. At the time, Minor was worth the gamble.
"When you are looking for a third baseman, you turn over as many leaves as you can to try and find someone," Beattie said. "And you think that maybe he was here under a lot of pressure. The first chance he gets didn't work, so maybe the next chance he gets he might be able to blossom a little bit."
Minor didn't want to leave his friends in Baltimore, but he viewed the trade as a new beginning. He played in just 55 games in 2001, didn't hit and was released.
"I didn't get a chance to play a whole lot, and it seemed to kind of downward spiral after that."
The Seattle Mariners grabbed him off waivers that offseason and sent him to Triple-A. He never made it back to the majors, leaving his career big league stat line at 142 games played, five homers, .177 batting average.
In 2003, the Los Angeles Dodgers grabbed him and tried to turn him into a right-handed reliever. He hadn't pitched since college, but figured it was worth a try. The experiment lasted a couple months. Then he ended up in the Atlantic League for the first time.
A ballpark meeting
Forget about the Ripken night or his first big league homer. Minor's most important moment on a baseball field came April 25, 1997.
Initially, all he saw was the cat's eyes.
Allyson Phillips was a Salisbury elementary school teacher whose mother worked for a radio station known as Cat Country. That night in April, Phillips was part of an on-field promotion in which she had to wear a "big, black furry" cat costume. Minor, the star at Single-A Delmarva, didn't really notice her. After all, she was a mascot.
While Phillips helped out the station, her stepfather, a big baseball fan, asked Minor to sign a baseball for Phillips' birthday.
After the game, she went down to the field to thank Minor.
"I wasn't dressed as the cat then," she said with a laugh.
"We kind of hit it off right there," Minor said. "We have been together ever since."
They married in October 1999. Instead of following her husband around the country, she stayed in Salisbury teaching kindergarten. Now she is the one supporting Minor - financially and emotionally.
"It's not too hard, because it is something he wants to do," she said. "I don't want to be the one to say, `Hang it up.' It's got to be something he decides. Now, if it's 10 [more] years down the line, then, yeah, something is wrong with me."
Minor has promised himself he won't be doing this in his mid-30s if he's not at, or close to, the majors. He almost retired last season, when he was released by the Florida Marlins organization after 48 games in Double-A. But being signed out of the Atlantic League last year gave him hope it could happen again in 2005.
"I don't have any regrets about anything. If I would have played basketball instead of baseball, I wouldn't have been able to meet my wife," Minor said. "Baseball gave me the opportunity to meet somebody I am going to be with the rest of my life."
A comfortable spot
In front of every clubhouse locker at Clipper Magazine Stadium sits a padded "Barnstormers" stool. Except in front of Minor's.
A folding canvas chair with arm rests and drink holders guards the former major leaguer's locker. This isn't the Atlantic League's version of Barry Bonds' Barcalounger, though. There are no special privileges here. Minor found the chair stuffed in the trunk of his car, a remnant from a fishing trip. He figured it was more comfortable than the stool.
There's no substitute for experience.
Like his chair, Minor stands out in the cozy clubhouse, one that hadn't been equipped with a stereo system, television or clock a month into the season.
Only a handful of the Barnstormers have major league experience, so when Minor talks, they listen. When he arrives early to the ballpark, they watch. And they see Minor as any other teammate, not as a former can't-miss prospect.