White Sox Mourn Minnie Minoso

by Douglas Fox | Posted on Monday, March 2nd, 2015
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ap040919020384_0-fd1b765eb08ccc2057c263554579b01ca79ad172-s800-c85A little over a month ago, the north side of Chicago was mourning the loss of Mr Cub, the legendary Ernie Banks.

This weekend, southsiders were grieving the passing of one of their own, the great Minnie Minoso.

Born in Cuba, Minoso became baseball’s first Black Latin American star. Minoso was brought to the majors by legendary owner Bill Veeck, making his debut for Veeck’s Cleveland Indians in 1949, two years after Jackie Robinson broke the colour barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers.   In addition to racist taunts from some fans, Minoso faced the added barrier of not being able to speak English at the time. He paved the way for a generation of future Latin stars like Roberto ClementeOrlando Cepeda, and Luis Aparicio.

Minoso followed Veeck to Chicago, and finished second to the Yankees’ Gil McDougall in the voting for American League Rookie of the Year in 1951.

The White Sox in the 1950s were known for their pitching, speed, and defence.  Minoso was a great fit for those teams, leading the AL is steals in each of his first three full seasons.  Standing close to the plate, Minoso wasn’t afraid of being hit by a pitch in order to get on base, and his 192 HBP’s stand 9th all time in MLB history.

Minoso was traded back to the Indians before the 1958 season, but even though he missed being a part of the Sox’ 1959 World Series team, his place in White Sox history was secure.  He retired in 1964, after stints with the Cardinals and Senators, with 1 963 hits and 186 Home Runs.

It was in his retirement that Minoso became well known to a whole new generation of fans.  Veeck,  who returned to the White Sox when he bought them in 1975, brought Minoso back as a Designated Hitter for eight at bats, making him the 15th player in MLB history to play in four decades.  Veeck activated Minoso, who was serving as a Sox coach in 1980, for the last two days of that season, making him the only five decades player.  Chicago owner Jerry Reinsdorf tried to make Minoso a six decades player in 1990, but then-Commissioner Fay Vincent put a stop to that.

Despite finishing in the top four for AL MVP four times, being named to nine All Star games, and winning three Gold Gloves, Minoso fell short in qualifying for the Hall of Fame, topping out at 21% of the vote on his last year of eligibility in 1988.  The Veterans Committee considered him for induction last year, but he again fell short of the required number of votes.

Despite not being named to the Hall of Fame, Minoso occupies a special place in the hearts of White Sox fans, including one who grew up in Chicago, then went on to bigger things:

“Minnie came to the United States from Cuba even though he could have made more money elsewhere. He came up through the Negro Leagues, and didn’t speak much English at first. And as he helped to integrate baseball in the 1950s, he was a target of racial slurs from fans and opponents, sometimes forced to stay in different motels from his teammates. But his speed, his power — and his resilient optimism — earned him multiple All-Star appearances and Gold Gloves in left field, and he became one of the most dominant and dynamic players of the 1950s.” President Barack Obama

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Douglas Fox
About the Author

Doug Fox has played, watched, studied, and generally obsessed about baseball for decades, and once played in the Toronto Star Pee-Wee Baseball tournament. He writes about Blue Jays prospects and minor league baseball at clutchlings.blogspot.ca Follow him on Twitter @Clutchlings77.

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