Minnie Minoso, one of the best baseball players of the 1950s, was found dead in his car early Saturday morning in Chicago. Although there are disputes about his age, he was believed to be 90 years old.
We love you, our friend. pic.twitter.com/J7fY4pPGxP— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 1, 2015
Minoso was a seven-time All-Star, earning the nickname "The Cuban Comet" for his speed. He led the league in stolen bases from 1951-53, and earned three Gold Gloves for his powerful arm from left field. He hit 135 home runs with the White Sox, a franchise record that would stand for almost 20 years. He routinely hit over .300.
But Minoso's importance wasn't limited to his on-field play: He was a black Hispanic star in a league that had resisted entry by both black and Hispanic players. He was the first black player on the White Sox, and one of the MLB's earliest Latin All-Stars. When he made his major league debut in 1949 with the Indians, he became the first black Cuban in the majors.
Minoso had his number 9 retired by the White Sox in 1983, and the team built a statue of him in 2004. He was up for the Hall of Fame on the Golden Era Committee ballot in 2011 and 2014, but he did not receive enough votes to make the Hall either time.
Minoso famously made several comebacks for publicity long after his career was over. While working as the White Sox's first base coach in 1976, showman owner Bill Veeck convinced him to play a few games at the age of 50, and he did. It wasn't that crazy -- a 46-year-old Minoso had won MVP of the Mexican League a few years earlier -- and Minoso got a hit, going 1-for-8 at his old age. The stunt was repeated in 1980, with Minoso going 0-for-2 at the age of 54. Veeck's son, Mike, got Minoso to appear in a minor league game for the independent St. Paul Saints in 1993 and 2003. Minoso is the only MLB player to appear in five decades, and including his minor league appearances, played in games in seven decades.
It's been a sad few months for Chicago baseball: Ernie Banks, "Mr. Cub," died in January. Now, Minoso who was often referred to as "Mr. White Sox," is gone as well.
Sox fan Barack Obama released a statement, taking a shot at the Hall of Fame for not letting him in:
For South Siders and Sox fans all across the country, including me, Minnie Minoso is and will always be "Mr. White Sox."
Minnie may have been passed over by the Baseball Hall of Fame during his lifetime, but for me and for generations of black and Latino young people, Minnie's quintessentially American story embodies far more than a plaque ever could.
The White Sox shared some of their favorite moments:
The Bulls held a moment of silence before their game today: