In January, Chicago Cub fans were dealt a blow when “Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks passed away. Now, White Sox fans were unfortunately dealt the same blow when Minnie Minoso passed away Sunday at the age of 90.
Chicago’s first black major league baseball player, Minoso, spent 12 of his 17 years in Chicago. He started his career in Cleveland before being traded to the White Sox after two years. He is also one of only two people in major league history to play in five different decades, with his final hit coming in 1976 at the age of 53. In 1980, he played in two games, and went 0-2.
According to ESPN Chicago, Minoso has always been a part of the White Sox family, as he spent time after his playing career as a coach, and over the last several years remained as a mentor to Latin players. A statue of Minoso has been outside US Cellular Field since 2004. White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf said today, “We have lost our dear friend and a great man, many tears are falling.”
Reinsdorf and the White Sox have pushed hard, although unsuccessfully, over the years to get Minoso into Cooperstown. “When I watched Minnie Minoso play, I always thought I was looking at a Hall of Fame player,” Reinsdorf said in an informational package produced by the team for a 2011 Cooperstown push. “I never understood why Minnie wasn’t elected. He did everything. He could run, he could field, he could hit with power, he could bunt and steal bases. He was one of the most exciting players I have ever seen.”
Minoso had a career .298 batting average, 186 home runs, and 1,023 RBI. He was selected to nine All Star games, and won three Gold Gloves while playing left field. Unfortunately, Minoso played in an era that was before the Wild Card, and was dominated by the Yankees, and never made it to the postseason. Despite solid career stats, and being a popular All Star choice during a time when the players played the All Star game like it was Game 7 of the World Series, Minoso only peaked at 21.1 percent on the writers ballot for Cooperstown. In the informational package that the White Sox produced for the Hall of Fame in 2011, Minoso stated “My last dream is to be in Cooperstown, to be with those guys, I want to be there. This is my life’s dream.”
Baseball hasn’t always gotten things right, but hopefully in Minnie Minoso’s case, “Mr. White Sox” will one day be enshrined into Cooperstown, where he rightfully belongs.
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