Don Mincher, the Southern League president for the past 12 seasons, died Sunday night at 73 following a long illness.
Mincher stepped down as president in October for health reasons. He first joined the league as general manager of the Huntsville Stars in 1984, and he assembled a group that purchased the Stars in 1994.
"He was good at building consensus, and he was a baseball guy," Chattanooga Lookouts owner Frank Burke said Monday. "He was a kind, thoughtful man who knew a lot about baseball, so overseeing umpires and doing business with the league came very natural for him. He understood what it was like to be on all sides of it."
Mincher played 13 seasons in the major leagues, getting named to the American League All-Star Game twice and culminating his playing career in 1972 as a member of the World Series champion Oakland A's. In 2010, he was named "King of Baseball" at the winter meetings, becoming just the 15th major leaguer to receive the honor since the award's inception in 1951.
Burke said one of his favorite moments with Mincher occurred when a game at AT&T Field was rained out after the national anthem and before the first pitch.
"It's the umpires' call at that point," Burke said. "We obviously couldn't play, and nobody knew whether we should play a nine-inning game and then a seven-inning game or two seven-inning games the next night. The game hadn't really started, but the lineup cards had been exchanged.
"I called Don and told him what happened, and he was like, 'OK. Start again. Go through that one more time.'"
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