Chicago White Sox legend Minnie Minoso has left a legacy with the organization that has been unparalleled. Minoso was the first Black Latino player in the majors. He still is the statistical leader for some White Sox records.
With MLB’s Winter Meetings approaching on December 5 in Orlando, the Golden Days Era Committee will be looking at players from 1950-1969 for the Hall of Fame. Minoso has an opportunity to be the first White Sox representative to reach the Hall of Fame since Harold Baines (2019). Minoso deserves to be picked.
Negro Leagues (1946-1948)
Minoso began his playing career in Cuba, where he played for a year before heading to the United States. Minoso signed with the New York Cubans of the Negro Leagues and played there from 1946-1948. He had a .309 batting average in 1946 and a .294 average in 1947 while batting leadoff for the Cubans.
His other Negro League accomplishments included a starting third base role for the East team in the 1947 and ’48 All-Star games. In 1947, the New York Cubans defeated the Cleveland Buckeyes to win the Negro League World Series.
Minoso debuted with the Indians from 1949-1951 but wound up in the minors because he couldn’t find any playing time at the big league level. He came to the Sox in a three-team trade that involved the Indians and Athletics. Minoso was the first black player on a White Sox roster.
Notably, on the first pitch of his first plate appearance, he hit a 415-foot home run. Minoso finished the year with a .324 average and was named to the All-Star team, finishing second in AL Rookie of the Year voting and fourth in MVP voting. Due to his speed, “The Cuban Comet” was consistently a leader in steals and triples. He also had a good some pop in his bat that resulted in a 21 home run season in 1956.
Minoso was traded to the Indians from 1958-1959, during which time the White Sox won the 1959 AL pennant. After a two-year stint with Cleveland, Minoso rejoined the Sox for the 1960 season. Minoso led the AL with 184 hits and 105 RBIs, batting over .300 for the eighth time in his career. He was traded again to the Cardinals and Senators for one-year stints in 1962 and 1963, respectively. In yet another go-around on the South Side of Chicago, Minoso started a campaign with the Sox in 1964 before heading to the Mexican League in 1965.
Extension of Career
Minoso came out of retirement in 1976 to be the first and third base coach for the Sox. He also played in three games, picking up a single at age 50.
In 1980, Minoso was activated to pinch-hit in two games. At age 54, Minoso became the fourth oldest player to ever take the field in an MLB game. In doing this, Minoso also became the second player to appear in five decades.
Minnie Minoso’s MLB career accolades included nine All-Star nominations, three Gold Glove Awards, and topping the AL stolen base category three times. He also finished fourth in MVP voting four times. Minoso has had his number 9 retired by the Sox and has a statue on the concourse.
Still Part of the Game
Minoso has always remained close to baseball, appearing at several Sox games and independent league contests. He was also known to be a regular at Sluggers Bar in Wrigleyville, where he talked baseball with the patrons. Minoso has been inducted into the Mexican Professional Baseball Hall of Fame, the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Hall of Fame, and the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame. It is now time for Minnie Minoso to join the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Minoso previously had opportunities to get into the Hall before, but there were reasonable issues. His late-career starting and stopping pushed his vote eligibility later and later. This caused the voters who witnessed his prime to not have the opportunity to vote for him. In 2014, Minoso appeared on the Golden Era Hall of Fame ballot but didn’t make it. That snub could be attributed to his time in the Negro Leagues not counting toward his resume. On this go-around, the voters are allowed to take into account his Negro League career. While Minoso passed away in 2015, his name deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
Hall or No Hall
Many of today’s stars look up to Minoso as an idol. Former White Sox pitcher Jose Contreas elaborated on Minoso’s impact.
“Minnie was our Jackie Robinson…I remember the first time that I got into the White Sox clubhouse, and Minnie was there. It was like: ‘Wow, Minnie’s here.’ To me, he was a legend…He was one of the reasons I started playing baseball when I was a kid…I wanted to be like him. And then when I had the chance to meet him here, it was incredible,’’ Contreras said.
Minoso played a key role in keeping the White Sox’s Cuban connection alive. Players such as Contreras, Orlando Hernandez, and Jose Abreu attributed Minoso’s White Sox legacy as the reason why they felt comfortable coming to Chicago from Cuba.
Based on statistics alone, Minoso should be considered for the Hall. When compared to many Hall of Famers already enshrined, he may lack a bit, but the numbers he had in his era made him great. Several players in the Hall now had the benefit of advanced training and technology to improve their performance, but Minoso predated that era. Taking that into consideration along with what he did for the Latino baseball community and people of color, Minnie Minoso leaves a legacy that needs to be enshrined not only in Chicago but in the hearts of baseball fans everywhere.
The Golden Days Era Committee voting results will air live on MLB Network at 5 PM CST on Sunday, December 5. Tune in then to find out if Minoso will finally make the Hall of Fame.
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