By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.—Tyler Minney remembers his sophomore year when the legend of ‘The Power of Thooah’ started at South Salem.
Teammate Ricky Alvarado, who’s in the same graduating class as Minney this year, hit an absolute bomb during a waffle ball game over the house the Saxons were staying in for the tournament. The home run shot went over the house, and as if it was staged thunder and lighting appeared in the background.
“Ricky then yelled thoooorr as he was rounding the bases. Ricky was basically saying he was Thor because he hit a homerun which caused lighting to appear,” Minney laughed.
What started as a joke amongst the team, became their slogan during the trip. Which evolved into the season as a sign saying ‘Thoor’ was carried around.
“It was my favorite inside joke of my entire baseball career. It was fun to see that all the parents and fans loved it and that I was part of the team that created it. It was a super fun experience to be a part of. To have a sign with thoorah on it made the experience just that much better.”
Minney’s first Varsity start came during that Varsity trip to Idaho. He was one of three JV guys to make the trip out to the Potato State as South Salem went 4-0 as he pitched a six-inning complete game with the Saxons ten-running the Madison Bobcats 13-3 to close out the trip.
“When my name was called to pitch in the last game, I knew I had to be on my best game to prove to myself and my team that I belonged they’re after watching my team win our first three of four games,” Minney said as he had a no-no going through three innings. “I wanted to give our team a chance at winning all four games, and I’m glad I was able to do that. I felt very good that game, and it helped that my defense was also doing very well.
“I was nervous before the game but as soon as I threw my first pitch, I was locked in and any sense of nervousness went away.”
Swinging up during that year, seeing sparing innings for the Semi-Finalist squad with South Salem that year. Being called up for good come the postseason.
“I ended up swinging for a game to pitch a couple innings. I also was on the varsity team during the playoffs just in case they needed me to pitch,” Minney said.
The Saxons finished 23-6 that season and South was looking to see what they could do with a super young team with a few returners like Minney. But that was before the Coronavirus Pandemic hit around the time of their intrasquad scrimmage in Mid-March, prematurely ending their season before it even started.
And as the restrictions began to lift in May, Minney found himself on a travel ball team. Something he didn’t do the year before, joining the Valley Baseball Club in the Willamette Valley Men’s Baseball League High School league.
“The last year when I didn’t play was really tough because it was going to be my first year on varsity and I was super excited. And then with it getting canceled made me less motivated to play. But the summer and fall definitely brought my motivation back, as well as bringing it higher,” Minney said.
“It was super fun and I got to meet some amazing baseball players. It was also great for my pitching because I feel like I have gotten a lot more consistent at throwing strikes during the summer and fall which gives me confidence in the hopes for my last season at South,” Minney added about the Summer into the Fall.
Minney played against guys from West Salem, Sprague, Central and Dallas as well as the American Legion Single-A affiliate in the Stayton Bandits. The Bandits were playing an Independent schedule with players from Stayton, Cascade and Regis.
The Summer evolved into the squad joining the Salem Baseball Academy Fall League before going to Arizona over the Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend for a tournament.
It was like an extended season for the pitcher, who saw 22 appearances that yielded 40 innings pitched with 65 strikeouts over the Summer, Fall and Winter. Valley went 28-14-1 in 43 games. Minney also drove in 12RBI’s in 83 at-bats.
The time playing, pitching, hitting and fielding had motivated him. Mixed in some Crossfit to improve his strength and speed as an athlete, Minney enters what hopes to be his Senior year ready to roll.
“It was super important because I needed that motivation to improve in baseball which I’m wanting to do for as long as possible,” Minney said. “It helped me understand the game a lot better. It also greatly helped my hitting because I got some good reps on some good pitchers. I play mainly outfield and pitcher but also some second base.
“I can continue to improve by playing catch and continuing to keep my arm in shape. I am doing CrossFit. It has helped me a lot because I am now a lot stronger and can hit farther and harder, throw farther and harder, run faster, etc. it basically made me an overall better athlete.”
It’s hard for Minney to pick a precise moment that sticks out to him, he could just sit in the dugout for hours if he was able to, the Senior points out. Good outing, jokes in the dugout, the little things that just add up to create an overall good feeling of the game with the end of the prep road is nearing.
“It has been a part of my life since I was just a kid and I absolutely love it. If I had the option to even just sit in the dugout for a whole day, it would be the best day of my life,” Minney said. “I don’t necessarily have a favorite memory because almost every time I step on the field, I obtain more and more amazing memories.”
The baseball season is scheduled for Season 3 for the OSAA starting in Mid-April for student-athletes.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald