Brent Strom is best remembered most today as the pitching coach of the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros. Nearly a half century before that, Strom was one of the best amateur pitchers in the country.
Strom was an All American and two-time NCAA champion under Rod Dedeaux at USC. He was one of the most sought after hurlers in the college game.
The Mets selected Strom with the 3rd overall pick in the first round of the 1970 MLB June Draft. Mets scout Harry Minor who followed Strom was sent with fellow scout Dee Fondy to sign the pitcher.
Just seven days after his young Astros pitching staff propelled Houston to its first Word Championship, Strom recalled the 1970 interaction with the two scouts. “Still remember both he (Minor) and Dee Fondy sitting in my parents small living room offering me 5k with an incentive bonus added. Just coming off a CWS championship and All American announcement I balked at first and threatened to go back to Alaska for another summer…they simply said ‘go ahead’…I blinked and signed for 10K and headed up to Visalia Cal Lg…and here we are today…funny.”
In the collection is this questionnaire filled out by Strom when he was barely old enough to buy a drink. In it he lists Minor and Fondy as the scouts who signed him.
Strom was also the second pitcher to go through the groundbreaking surgical procedure pioneered by Dr. Frank Jobe. The surgery was named after the first – Tommy John. Though injuries derailed Strom’s professional pitching career, he remained in the game for decades.
The Astros’ championship came when Strom was 69 years old. He continued to serve as a big league pitching coach for the Diamondbacks. A career 22-39 win-loss record in the big leagues fails to even scratch the surface of the contributions the man made to his life’s pursuit.