Minnick lived his dream of playing pro baseball

November 21, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail will run "A Life Remembered." The story will take a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Robert Glenton "Bob" Minnick, who died Nov. 9 at the age of 77. His obituary appeared in the Nov. 12 editions of The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail.

While Phyllis Kelly Minnick said she doesn't remember the exact date when she first met her future husband, she knows she never will forget looking up and seeing him at Raney's Coliseum, a popular bowling alley on West Washington Street in Hagerstown in the late 1940s.

"He was so tall and he had blond, curly hair," Phyllis said, admitting that she fell for him immediately. They married in 1951 and spent the next 53 years as man and wife.


Robert Glenton "Bob" Minnick died Nov. 9 at the age of 77.

When Phyllis and Bob first crossed paths, he was just back from service with the U.S. Army at the end of World War II.

"Bob was very young - just 17 or 18 when he joined up, but I didn't know him then," Phyllis said.

Recently, in the living room of the Minnick home, Phyllis and her daughter, Pamela Black, thumbed through an album of old clippings and pictures of Bob's early days, when he aspired to a professional baseball career soon after he got out of the Army.

Prominent was a letter dated March 12, 1948, from Mickey McConnell, director of scouting for the Brooklyn Dodgers, inviting Bob to a spring training camp in Cambridge, Md.

In the letter, Bob was advised to start exercising his legs at home so he would be loosened up when he reported to training camp. He was to bring one good suit along with more casual clothes, the letter said.

Apparently, that opportunity was passed up for the chance to play professional baseball for several years with the Philadelphia Athletics farm team in Welch, W.Va., beginning that same year.

The letter telling Bob that he had been hired to play for the team was prominently displayed in the album. Dated April 5, 1948, the carefully preserved letter bore the letterhead "American Base Ball Club of Philadelphia" at 21st Street and Lehigh Avenue, and was signed by Arthur H. Ehlers, a team official.

Bob was told to report to Red Springs, N.C., immediately to being training for the Welch baseball club. He was advised that the cost of his transportation to Red Springs would be refunded to him, but only after he arrived.

The book also contained pictures of Bob and his teammates on the Funkstown American Legion team, where he played after his professional baseball career ended.

Both Phyllis and Pam said the family often would go to watch him play in Funkstown. He continued to enjoy playing baseball until he was in his 30s, Phyllis said.

Bob's other sporting interest, duckpin bowling, didn't interest Phyllis at all. She said she was happy that he did that with his friends and not her.

"Bob worked for Gunther Beer for a while and then Canteen," Phyllis said. For the next 27 years, Bob was employed at the Maryland Correctional Training Center until he retired.

"I tried not to think about the danger - I knew Bob could take care of himself," Phyllis said of his work in the prisons.

Pam recalled her father being in the middle of the 1990-91 riots at the Maryland Correctional Institution across the road from MCTC.

"What I will remember most about my dad is that he was a very caring person," Pam said. As the couple's only child, Pam also was the mother of their only two grandchildren, Dustin and Nicole.

"He was always doing things for them," she said.

When Pam, her husband James and their children moved to a farm, Bob often would come and help out with the horses or anything else that needed done, Pam said.

Known as "Pap" to his grandchildren, Bob was very special to Dustin Black, who recalled how his grandfather taught him how to swim, and later, how to drive.

"Anything I needed, Pap was there for me," Dustin said. "When he was teaching me to swim, he held me under my stomach until I could do it on my own."

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