Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

In 2006, a special H.O.F. committee was appointed for the task of reviewing the qualifications of ballplayers, managers and owners from the Negro League, in order to determine who might best qualify for admission to the Hall of Fame. After review, 17 individuals, including players, management and owners, all deceased at that time, were admitted. The two living participants — as worthy of admission as anyone on that list — Buck O’Neill and Minnie Minoso, were rejected.

Satorino Orestes Arrieta Armas Minoso, better known as Minnie Minoso, was born in Havana Cuba, either in 1922 or 1925, as there are differing accounts of his actual birth date. Minoso played several years with the New York Cubans in the mid-‘40’s, but unfortunately there are no substantial statistics for this period. Prior to his stint with the Cubans, he played several years in his home country, along with playing in the Mexican League. In 1948, he signed a contract with the Cleveland Indians, and was called up to the Big Leagues in 1949, becoming the first Latino black ball player in the Major Leagues. He was traded to the Chicago White Sox in 1951, becoming the first White Sox player to break the color barrier. He went on to have one of the longest careers in baseball history, despite not starting his career in the Majors until he was close to 28 years old, being one of only two players to play ball in five separate decades (1940’s – 1980’s), although this was the results of one of Bill Veeck’s brainstorms: Veeck had him pinch hit in the 70’s and 80’s, when he was over 50 years old. Unfortunately, these clownish stunts (actually, these appearances allowed Minoso to get his pension, for which he was grateful to Veeck) became the embodiment of the Saturday Night Live skits: “Baseball been beery beery good to me.” The parody swallowed whole the legend.

Minoso was one of the most outstanding players during the fifties. He was a 7 time American League All-Star, and an excellent fielder – he won 3 gold gloves during his career. Four times he finished within the top five vote-getters for MVP. He was a true five-tool player, hitting for average as well as power; however, he was best known for his speed on the bases, and his ability to cause havoc, in a manner similar to Jackie Robinson. He led the American League in stolen bases for the first three years of his career. At one point, Ted Williams thought that Minoso was the one ballplayer who had the capacity to hit .400. Minoso helped usher in the era of the “Go-Go Sox” of the late ‘50’s, although unfortunately, he had been traded before the White Sox won the pennant in 1959. Throughout his career, Minoso was an on-base machine: he finished in the top ten in times on base ten years in a row. He is among the all time leaders in being hit by pitch. For his career, Minoso hit for a .298 BA, with 186 HR, 1023 RBI, 1136 Runs, 205 stolen bases, with a .389 on base and .459 slugging average, combined for a solid .848 OPS. After his playing career ended, he coached for the Sox for 3 years; later he was a White Sox community relations representative, as well as an ambassador for baseball.

As fine a ballplayer as Minoso was, he always seemed to play in the shadows of the other black Chicago star, Ernie Banks. Although his career statistics are impressive in themselves, one can wonder what they might have been if he had been allowed to play in the Major Leagues in his early twenties. Baseball Historian Bill James ranks Minoso as the 8th greatest left fielder in the history of baseball, and the 83rd greatest ballplayer of all time. James also projected that if Minoso’s career had begun at the age of 21, he would rank as one of the top 30 players in the history of the game. James also ranked how ballplayers performed in their 30’s, based on his concept of Win Shares, and Minoso ranked 16th of all time; he is also the only player in the top twenty who isn’t in the Hall of Fame.

It also should be noted that Minoso faced the same brutal racism faced by Jackie Robinson and other black players who were his contemporaries, but in some ways it was even more difficult for him, as he did not speak English, and there weren’t the bevy of interpreters that major league ballplayers from foreign cultures now have in order to make their transition easier. In his rookie season, Gil McDougal, who was white, won the rookie of the year award, despite the fact that Minoso’s numbers warranted his election.

“Believe me when I say that Minnie Miñoso is to Latin ballplayers what Jackie Robinson is to black ballplayers,” Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda wrote in his autobiography. “As much as I loved Roberto Clemente and cherish his memory, Minnie is the one who made it possible for all us Latins. Before Roberto Clemente, before Vic Power, before Orlando Cepeda, there was Minnie Miñoso. Younger players should know this and offer their thanks. He was the first Latin player to become a superstar.”

  1. YoMommaSoUggla says:
    (link)

    Good stuff, as usuall, from Paulie.

    • Paulie Allnuts

      Paulie Allnuts says:
      (link)

      @YoMommaSoUggla: Thanks, YoMomma. Maybe I will write an article YoMommaSoUgglaAsHaarang:)

      • YoMommaSoUggla says:
        (link)

        @Paulie Allnuts: Ha! The Harangutang!

  2. AL KOHOLIC says:
    (link)

    Great job Paulie,awesome post,keepem coming

    • Paulie Allnuts

      Paulie Allnuts says:
      (link)

      @AL KOHOLIC: Thanks, Kelly; doing some articles on players from the Negro League in honor of Jackie

  3. Dawn of the Dread says:
    (link)

    Thanks for this post. I’ve had the pleasure to meet Minnie Minoso on multiple occasions. I am an avid White Sox fan, and it’s hard for our team to get big time market recognition so this is refreshing. Keep up the great work, Razzball.

    • Paulie Allnuts

      Paulie Allnuts says:
      (link)

      @Dawn of the Dread: Wow, meeting Minoso is a blast! Chris H., the Living Fantasy Legend in our League (ECFBL) as well as his brother Matt are avid fans of the Pale Hose, and last year my wife and I had a family reunion and met up with them at the ballpark, and took in a White Sox game.

  4. mike says:
    (link)

    if Cleveland had not traded him instead of Harry Simpson they would have won a couple of World Series instead of the Yankees.

    • Paulie Allnuts

      Paulie Allnuts says:
      (link)

      @mike: Truth

  5. tha rat bastard says:
    (link)

    Great Job Pablo writing has been very good to you!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Paulie Allnuts

      Paulie Allnuts says:
      (link)

      @tha rat bastard: He He! Thanks Rat Bastard

  6. The Guru

    The Guru says:
    (link)

    Good stuff. I think Minosa actually had an AB when he was about 80 years old and drew a walk. Nice work Paulie.

    • Wallpaper Paterson says:
      (link)

      @The Guru: His last walk was in 1964 at the age of 42.

      I do not think he played in the Senior League. That league existed circa 1989. I remember talk of him trying to appear in a major league game during the 1990 season but I believe it was Fay Vincent who had a problem with that.

      If Minoso was playing anywhere (some South American league or Zimbabwe or Greece) at age 80 I am not aware.

      • The Guru

        The Guru says:
        (link)

        Drew a walk in 2003 for the independent St Paul Saints of the Northern League at the age of 77.

        • Wallpaper Paterson says:
          (link)

          @The Guru: Thanks.

          Or 81 if you believe the 1922 birth year. I go with 1922 for what it is worth. That is the year listed in the STATS All-Time Major League Handbook. That book cost me $79.95. I did not know of its existence til I saw it in Borders. I had to buy it. I never again saw another copy. I don’t really need it anymore because of baseball-reference.com but there is still something nice about opening a book. I can turn to a random page and look at stats of Norm Schlueter. Or I might look up Harry Simpson and see that Duke Simpson really sucked (45 IP, 60 H, 25 TBB, 8 HR, 8.00 ERA). This sort of thing doesn’t happen when clicking stuff at b-r.

          No more baseball encyclopedias

        • Paulie Allnuts

          Paulie Allnuts says:
          (link)

          @The Guru: Awesome!

    • Paulie Allnuts

      Paulie Allnuts says:
      (link)

      @The Guru: And likely stole 2nd base:)

  7. jcutiger says:
    (link)

    As a kid, loved reading the back of a Minnie Minosa baseball card.

    • Paulie Allnuts

      Paulie Allnuts says:
      (link)

      @jcutiger: Wow, someone even older then I am on Razzball:)

  8. Peter says:
    (link)

    Love this, did my senior college thesis on the history and impact of the Negro Leagues. Got a chance to briefly meet Buck O’Neil when I was in KC a few years back, he was the ambassador the Negro Leagues and of the Negro League Museum. One of my most awesome memories of baseball. So many players to write about and such an awful shame that we never got to see how these players would have changed the record books. Never thought I would see this on my favorite fantasy baseball website, so keep it up, I will be reading! NIce change of pace.

    • Paulie Allnuts

      Paulie Allnuts says:
      (link)

      @Peter: Thanks! If you haven’t done so already, one of the best baseball books ever is the one by Joe Posnanski on Buck called “The Soul of Baseball; a journey through Buck O’Neill’s America.” I envy your memory of meeting Buck, not only the ambassador of the Negro League, and the keenest observers of baseball, but one of the kindest, gentlest men on the planet. Six or seven years ago, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit the Negro League Hall of Fame in Kansas City (along side the Jazz Hall of Fame). I enjoyed the tour more then that of Cooperstown; the exhibits were more imaginative and poignant. Loved Buck on Ken Burn’s Baseball Series. Buck will be one of my next articles submitted to Grey and staff for possible submission.

  9. Tom Jacks

    Tom Jacks says:
    (link)

    Nice article.

    Kind of random, but my grandma used to babysit for him. He’s a great guy, judging by the little time I’ve been around him.

    • Paulie Allnuts

      Paulie Allnuts says:
      (link)

      @Tom Jacks: Wow, that’s a strange coincidence. I remember him vaguely, towards the end of his career, when I was a young tyke.

  10. MattTruss223 says:
    (link)

    Just got around to reading your latest Paul. Fascinating as always. Minnie isn’t someone I was familiar with at all. Thanks for learning me something today.

    Buck was easily my favorite part of the ken burns baseball doc. I could listen to him read the phone book, nevermind tell awesome stories about the game of baseball. Look forward to your article on him.

Comments are closed.