Chicago White Sox legend, Minnie Minoso, the team's first black ballplayer and a nine-time MLB All-Star, and three-time Golden Gloves champion, passed away at the age of 90 on March 1.
Chicago White Sox legend Minnie Minoso has passed away.
According to MLB.com's Marty Noble, Minoso died on Sunday, March 1 at the age of 90. White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said,"Our organization and our city have suffered a heart-breaking loss today. We have lost our dear friend and a great man. Many tears are falling."
Renisdorf told MLB.com's Scott Merkin Minoso was a very selfless individual:
"In the 35 years I've known Minnie, he never complained about anything. Even in the two times in recent years when we thought he was going to get into the Hall of Fame, and when he didn't I was tremendously down. Minnie picked me up, rather than me having to pick Minnie up. He just accepted everything."
White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams also mourned Minoso's passing, per Noble:
"I am saddened by the news o f Minnie's passing. But when I think of him, laughter and joy come to mind. He was just that way. I only wish he would have lived long enough to see his plaque go up in Cooperstown. He will be missed."
Noble also obtained a statement from the Minoso family:
"Our entire family appreciates the kind expressions of concern, sympathy and compassion from so many of our friends and fans of the White Sox during this most difficult time. Minnie lived a full life of joy and happiness, surrounded always by friends and family. It is during moments like these that love matters most. Minnie enjoyed nothing more than to be at the ballpark cheering on his White Sox.
"For Minnie, every day was a reason to smile, and he would want us all to remember him that way, smiling at a ballgame. As he so often said,'God bless you, my friends.'
"Thank you for respecting our family and our privacy during this trying time."
Noble cites Baseball-Reference.com in listing Minoso's birthday as Nov. 29, 1925. However, some baseball experts believed he was between 89 and 92 years old. Whatever Minoso's true age was, Noble says he "looked like he was in his 60s, and he had a passion for life and for the game of baseball that was akin to a player who recently retired."
Not only is Minoso regarded as the first black player to play for the White Sox, he is also the first Cuban-born player to play in the major leagues. Minoso earned the former distinction in 1951, the year Chicago acquired him from the Cleveland Indians. Minoso first played for the White Sox four years after Jackie Robinson broke the league's color barrier in 1947 when he suited up for the then-Brooklyn Dodgers, per MLB.com.
Noble describes Minoso as "a right-handed batter who hit mostly to the opposite field" who can also inflict damage when he hits the ball going the other way. In fact, in his first at-bat for the White Sox, he hit a home run estimated to be 400 feet. His 135 homers ranks 12th in franchise history.
Minoso was also a versatile player. He played six positions in 1951, led the American League in stolen bases and led the league in triples. According to MLB.com, he led the majors in stolen bases for three consecutive years from 1951-53.
Ironically, he was the American League Rookie of the Year runner- up behind Gil McDougald of the New York Yankees but placed fourth in the American League MVP voting, ahead of McDougald. Minoso even finished ahead of the Boston Red Sox's Ted Williams for AL MVP honors, per Noble.
That was not the last time Minoso finished fourth in the AL MVP race. Noble says he fared the same way in 1953, 1954 and 1960.
Minoso's versatility can never be questioned. The MLB.com update says he started 1,461 games as a left fielder, 93 as a right fielder, 88 as a third baseman, 80 as a center fielder and two as a first baseman. He was also a career .300 hitter with a .459 slugging percentage, eclipsing the likes of Enos Slaughter, Ryan Sandberg, Paul Molitor, Cal Ripken, Wade Boggs and Gary Carter.
In terms of Minoso's career on-base percentage of .389, it was higher than several big-name players: Tony Gwynn, Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, Mike Schmidt, Harmon Killebrew, Al Kaline, Duke Snider, Carl Yastrzemski, Larry Doby, Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Tim Raines, Pete Rose, Mike Piazza, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Bernie Williams, per Noble.
Minoso, whose real name is Saturino Orestes Armas Minoso Arrieta, came to be known as "Minnie" as a shortened version of his surname when he first went to the United States in 1948, per MLB.com.
President Barack Obama paid tribute to Minoso in a statement obtained by The Chicago Tribune's Patrick O'Connell. He said,"For South Siders and Sox fans all across the country, including me, Minnie Minoso is and will always be 'Mr. White Sox.'"
O'Connell also quotes other officials who saluted Minoso. Illinois governor Bruce Rauner said,"The entire state owes him a debt of gratitude" while Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel dubbed him "a Chicago icon for the ages."
Minoso recorded 1,963 hits, 186 home runs and 1,023 RBIs in 1,835 career regular-season games for the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Senators, per Baseball-Reference.com.
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