The city of Chicago has lost another sports legend this year. Former MLB left fielder, Minnie Miñoso passed away Sunday at the age of 90. Miñoso played with four different MLB teams but he spent 12 seasons with the Chicago White Sox and earned the nickname, “Mr. White Sox.”
Miñoso was a Cuban-American who became the first black player to play for the White Sox franchise when he was traded from the Cleveland Indians to Chicago in 1951. He emerged as a household name that year earning his first All-Star game selection, finishing as the runner-up for the American League Rookie of the Year award and fourth in the American League MVP race.
When you think of the premier baseball players of the 1950s, Minnie Miñoso a.k.a. “The Cuban Comet” was right up there with the likes of Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Willie Mays. Miñoso was a multitalented player during his glory years in the majors. He was a career .298 hitter, an excellent run producer and was regarded as one of the top base-stealers of his generation. Miñoso’s defense was also a strong part of his game as he won three Gold Glove awards for his great range and throwing arm.
Similar to the late Ernie Banks, Miñoso had an everlasting love for the game of baseball. He played his last full MLB season in 1963, but that didn’t keep him away from the game he loved. He made a few plate appearances for the White Sox as a publicity stunt in 1976 and 1980 when he was in his 50s. He went on to play professionally for the Mexican League in 1965 and in several other independent leagues in 1993 and 2003, making him the only professional baseball player to make a game appearance in seven different decades. I guess age is really nothing but a number.
Although Miñoso was never elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, his accomplishments were recognized by Chi-Town. He was elected to the White Sox Hall of Fame and he got his number nine jersey retired by the team in 1983. In 2004, the Chi-Sox honored him once more by revealing a bronze statue of him at U.S. Cellular Field.
President Barack Obama issued this statement on Sunday in regards to Miñoso, “For South Siders and Sox fans all across the country, including me, Minnie Miñoso is and will always be ‘Mr. White Sox.’”
Minnie was an inspiration for many Cuban and Latino ballplayers that had aspirations of being major leaguers. Hall of Famer, Orlando Cepeda referred to Miñoso as “the Jackie Robinson for all Latinos; the first star who opened doors for all Latin American players. He was everybody’s hero. I wanted to be Miñoso. [Roberto] Clemente wanted to be Miñoso.”
It’s clear to see that Minnie Miñoso was a sports figure that will forever be loved by Chicago natives, Cubans and baseball purists. His legacy in baseball will never be forgotten.