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Sunday, August 7, 2022

Brian Graham developed players as minors manager, coordinator; Later won an award

Buffalo Bisons manager Brian Graham explained his role as a minor league manager to The Buffalo News to start 1997. 

His role, Graham told The News, focused on development, not necessarily wins.

"It's quite a challenge," Graham told The News. "At the end of the year, I'm going to be judged on how these guys improve. I'm not going to be judged as much on how our team won or lost as I will on if I taught everybody how to win."

By that point, Graham had been a manager in the minors for the better part of a decade. He'd also spent several years before that as a player in the minors. He went on to see time as major league coach and even fill in as a team GM.

Graham's career in baseball began in 1982, taken by the Athletics in the fourth round of the draft out of UCLA.

He started with Oakland at short-season Medford. He made single-A Madison and Modesto in 1983. He then made AA Albany-Colonie in 1984. He hit .246 in 89 games there.

Graham played at AA Huntsville in 1985, then divided 1986, his final season as a player, between the Brewers, Tigers and Indians systems.

He then turned coach, first at single-A Kinston with the Indians in 1987, then at AA Williamsport in 1988. He took his first managerial job at Kinston in 1989.

Graham arrived at AA Canton-Akron in 1992. There in 1993, he watched over young Indians prospect Manny Ramirez

The New York Daily News recounted that July how Graham had to fine Ramirez for multiple team infractions, including for not running out grounders.

"His work habits weren't as good as they needed to be," Graham told The Daily News. "This is the point in his career when the work habits had to improve because talent can take you only so far."

Graham arrived at AAA in 1994, at Charlotte. He then spent three seasons managing Buffalo. In 1999, he moved up to Cleveland as first base coach.

He moved to the Orioles system as an assistant coach in 2000 and then turned Pittsburgh senior director of player development. He later later turned Orioles minor league instructions coordinator. In 2018, he served as team director of player development and then filled in as Orioles GM.

In November 2013, Graham won the Sheldon "Chief" Bender Award, for distinguished service in player development.

"Brian Graham has more than two decades of dedicated service in player development as a director and a coordinator off the field and as a manager on it," Pat O'Conner, president & CEO of Minor League Baseball, said, according to "He has played an integral role in the success of every Major League organization for which he's worked and is a most deserving recipient of the Sheldon 'Chief' Bender Award."

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,992
Made the Majors:1,328-33.3%-X
Never Made Majors:2,664-66.7%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:543
10+ Seasons in the Minors:329

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