After another day at the office, The Dock Line publisher Ozzy Osborne gathered the mail from his desk and made his way home. Sitting down to read it in his favorite poolside chair, he glanced over several envelopes until something caught his eye. It was a handwritten note in cursive, addressed directly to Ozzy.
“Upon reading your magazine the other day, I thought my account of surviving a fall in Lake Conroe might just fit in one of your publications. It’s a true event, and I wrote it just after getting out of the hospital, so as not to forget any details.” Signed, Frank D. Minton.
Attached to the note was a four page, detailed and vivid account of a near-death experience by 87-year-old Frank Minton. Intrigued by the story, Ozzy gave the man a call right away, and discovered there was much more to this surprise than he thought. 40 minutes later, he realized he’d found a gem.
Frank D. Minton is an 87-year-old retired Baptist preacher living with his wife in Walden, on lake-front property. But much more than that, Minton’s life is a true legacy—and a fall into Lake Conroe is just one of his many stories. The longer you listen, the more interesting the man becomes.
For starters—Minton was a professional baseball player who pitched for the Brooklyn Dodgers (now known as the LA Dodgers). He and his twin brother Fred, an exceptional batter, were a high school baseball duo who won their team a championship. That’s when the Dodgers found the pair, and both signed onto the team. Frank pitched from 1955 to 1958, winning 39 games and losing 20.
“With that kind of record, I was well on my way,” said Minton. “But I didn’t sign the fourth year contract.”
Why so soon?
“God called me to preach!” Minton says spiritedly.
He recalls giving his life to Jesus at 11 years old when God had called him to preach the gospel. Minton says it felt like an impression that wouldn’t go away, even when he signed onto the Dodgers. Only, he told God, “If you would just let me play a few years first.” Sure enough, after those few years Minton decided to call it quits—despite all resistance.
“Old guys preach, Minton. Young guys play baseball,” remarked the Brooklyn Dodgers coach, in response to Minton’s announcement. Nevertheless, Minton realized that following God’s call to preach the gospel was better than making it to the big leagues. “I never looked back,” he says.
Minton’s wife Joyce is well-loved by all who know her, including baseball fans. “I could have played a couple more years,” she admits. Although she enjoyed being a baseball player’s wife, Joyce soon caught on to the call and followed Minton straight into the fire. The newly wed couple began holding church services in their home in Wichita Kansas, acquiring 17 people at their first service.
Starting a ministry in your own home isn’t for the faint of heart, and the rapid growth left the couple with more than enough responsibilities. Minton recalls the evening he’d been interrupted from his sermon by loud noises coming from upstairs. He went to investigate, and opened the door to find Joyce taking care of seven children by herself. “Can’t you keep it down up here?” He blurted. Joyce stood quietly and motioned for Minton to step outside the room with her. She shut the door slowly and then turned around to slap him across the face.
“She’s always been a very calm and collected woman,” Minton said, “I knew I’d pushed her too far at that point.”
Despite growing pains, that first church in their home is a fond memory for The Mintons. After meeting there for 15 months, the congregation was able to purchase a street lot on Tyler Road, garnering the name Tyler Road Baptist Church. “Baseball is exciting,” Minton said, “but pastoring that church and watching it grow was really worthwhile.” From there, Minton went on to pastor and develop 10 churches in 6 different states.
Minton has several beloved memories from his time as a preacher that outshine his baseball days. While pastoring a church in Missouri, he got a call one night from the police about a street gang that had been vandalizing the church building. He showed up to find 7 teenage boys about to be arrested. Desperate to get out of trouble, they told the police they were members of his church.
Minton played along with their game and told the policemen he would make sure they got home. “They’re all yours, preacher,” said the policemen.
They had just driven off when the 16-year-old gang leader snapped his fingers, and the entire gang scattered into the darkness. The gang leader and preacher were alone. The boy said,
“Aye preach! You say, ‘Come to church,’ and what do you do? You call the cops on us! I’ve had it with you.” He took off running, and 37-year-old Minton sprinted right after him. They went through dark alleyways, traffic and honking cars for a long time. After a while the kid realized Minton was gaining on him and said,
“Aye preach, if you quit I will too!” The two of them slowed down, and putting his hand on the boy’s shoulder, Minton turned him around.
“In that moment I found the biggest surprise,” Minton said.
The boy laid his head on Minton’s shoulder, “I just wish someone would love me…” the boy said, “Just plain love me.”
“Well, let’s go get a Big Mac,” Minton replied.
Minton later went on to baptize the gang leader and several of the possy at his church in Missouri, where they continued to do inner city outreach for several years.
Today, Minton and his wife are retired, living in Montgomery and enjoying their lakefront property. “We wanted to be somewhere near the water,” Minton said. Living there for 17 years, Minton swam the lake several times and enjoyed the water whenever he could. However, this section of Walden has been significantly deepened now that the boats are docked in the same area. If it weren’t for his neighbor who saw him fall in (whom he also calls his guardian angel) Minton thinks he could have drowned.
“After that experience, it makes every day count all the more,” Minton says enthusiastically.
Still burning with the call of God, Minton often walks the lake (not too close to the edge) handing out his baseball cards and sharing what he can about the gospel. He enjoys meeting people of all kinds on the lake, and takes every opportunity to share the love of God. See next page about Minton’s latest story, recalling his fall into Lake Conroe this past November. “I could have gone to meet the Lord that day,” Minton says, “but He took care of me.”