Minnie Miñoso

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This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Miñoso and the second or maternal family name is Arrieta.
Minnie Miñoso
Minnie Miñoso 1953 Bowman.jpg
Miñoso in 1953
Left fielder
Born: (1925-11-29) November 29, 1925 (age 89)
Perico, Cuba
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 19, 1949 for the Cleveland Indians
Last MLB appearance
October 5, 1980 for the Chicago White Sox
Career statistics
Batting average .298
Home runs 186
Runs batted in 1,023
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Minnie Miñoso (Saturnino Orestes Armas "Minnie" Miñoso Arrieta, /mɨˈns/; Spanish pronunciation: [miˈɲoso], born November 29, 1925), nicknamed "The Cuban Comet" and "Mr. White Sox", is a Cuban American former professional baseball player. He began his career in the Negro league in 1946, becoming an All-Star third baseman with the New York Cubans in 1947 and 1948. He was signed by the Cleveland Indians after the 1948 season as baseball's color line slowly fell. In 1949, he became the first black Cuban in the major leagues, and went on to become a seven-time All-Star. In 1951, as a rookie left fielder for the Chicago White Sox, he became the first black player in White Sox franchise history, and one of the first Latin Americans to be named to a major league All-Star team.

Miñoso was one of the most popular and dynamic players in the major leagues, leading the "Go-Go White Sox" as they became one of the premier teams of the 1950s and 1960s. He led the American League (AL) in triples and stolen bases each three times, and in hits, doubles and total bases each one time, and in batted over .300 eight times. Willie Mays along with Minoso, have been widely credited with leading the resurgence of speed as an offensive weapon in the 1950s; only Mays, with 179 stolen bases, exceeded Minoso's 167 steals during the decade. Miñoso, a rare power threat on a team known for defense and speed, held the White Sox record for career home runs from 1956 to 1974. Minoso was also particularly adept at reaching first base, leading the AL in times hit by pitch a record ten times, and holding the league mark for career times hit by pitch from 1959 to 1985. Minoso also led the AL left fielders in assists six times and in putouts and double plays each four times, and was presented three Gold Glove Awards when he was in his 30s.[1]

Minoso first retired from the major leagues following the 1964 season. In 1965, he went to play and manage in Mexico through 1973. He returned to the White Sox as a base coach in 1976, and made brief but highly publicized home plate appearances in three games in 1976 and two in 1980, becoming the third player to get a hit after the age of 50 and the second player to appear in the major leagues in five decades. Minoso's White Sox uniform number 9 was retired in 1983, and a statue of him was unveiled at U.S. Cellular Field in 2004. Minoso was elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in Exile in 1983, and to the Mexican Professional Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.

Early life[edit]

Miñoso was born in Perico, Cuba near Havana on November 29, 1925,[2] the son of Carlos Arrieta and Cecilia Armas. His father worked in the fields of the sugarcane plantation on which the family lived. His mother had four other children from a previous marriage who had the surname "Minoso" from her first husband. Her son Orestes became referred to as a "Minoso" too, and eventually this name became his last name for life; he changed his name legally to Orestes Minoso when he became a US citizen. He grew up playing baseball with two of his brothers, and in 1941 moved to Havana to live with his sister and play baseball there.

Baseball career[edit]

Cuba and Negro leagues[edit]

Miñoso was an outstanding third baseman in Cuba and in the Negro leagues. He signed a contract with the team from the borough of Marianao in 1945 for $150 per month, and moved into the Negro leagues with the New York Cubans the next season and doubled his monthly salary.[3] Batting leadoff for the Cubans, he hit .309 in 1946, and followed up with a .294 average in 1947 as they won the Negro World Series over the Cleveland Buckeyes. He was the starting third baseman for the East in the 1947 All-Star Game, and again in 1948. He remained with the Cubans until signing with the Cleveland Indians organization during the 1948 season and starting his minor league career with the Dayton Indians of the Central League, batting .525 in 11 games.[4]

Cleveland Indians[edit]

On April 19, 1949, Miñoso made his major league debut with the Cleveland Indians, becoming the first Black Cuban in the major leagues; he drew a walk as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning of a 5–1 road loss to the St. Louis Browns. He got his first hit in his next game on May 4, a single off Alex Kellner in the sixth inning of a 4–3 win over the Philadelphia Athletics. The next day, he hit his first home run off Jack Kramer in the second inning of a 7–3 win over the Boston Red Sox. Miñoso had little further chance to make an impression, however; the Indians were signing black players more aggressively than any other team in the American League, but coming off their victory in the 1948 World Series, they were the strongest team in baseball. They had little opportunity to get Miñoso into the lineup as a rookie, and he had only 16 at bats through May 13 before being sent to the minor leagues. Miñoso was sent to the San Diego Padres for the rest of the 1949 season and all of 1950, batting .297 the first year and following up with a .339 average and 115 runs batted in. He rejoined the Indians to start the 1951 season, but the team still couldn't find a spot for him in the lineup, and he had only 14 at bats in eight April games.

Move to the White Sox[edit]

On April 30, 1951, the Indians sent Minoso to the White Sox in a three-team trade involving the Athletics, getting relief pitcher Lou Brissie from the Athletics in exchange. On May 1, Miñoso became the first black player on the White Sox, hitting a 415-foot home run in Comiskey Park on the first pitch of his first at bat against the New York Yankees. He was an instant star, maintaining a batting average over .350 through most of the first half of the season, and finished the season hitting .324 – second in the AL behind the .344 mark of the Athletics' Ferris Fain. He was named to the AL All-Star team, the first of seven career All-Star team selections,[5] becoming – along with White Sox teammate Chico Carrasquel and Washington Senators pitcher Connie Marrero – one of the first Latin Americans ever named to the All-Star team. That year he scored 112 runs (one short of Dom DiMaggio's league lead) in 138 games played, topping the league with 15 triples and 31 stolen bases as well as 16 times being hit by pitches, and became known as "Mr. White Sox". Following the 1951 season, he finished second in the AL's Rookie of the Year voting behind the Yankees' Gil McDougald, drawing a protest by the White Sox due to Miñoso having better statistics in nearly every category. Miñoso also finished fourth in the year's MVP voting. Miñoso was regarded as such an outstanding all-around player that Yankees outfielder Mickey Mantle acquired the nickname "The Commerce Comet" because he reminded observers of "The Cuban Comet".

Miñoso followed up with several years of outstanding play for Chicago. He led the AL in steals in both 1952 (22) and 1953 (25), and topped the league with 18 triples and 304 total bases in 1954, appearing in the All-Star Game all three years and starting in 1954. On April 14, 1953, Opening Day, he provided the only hit for the Sox in a 4–0 loss to the Indians' Bob Lemon, and on July 4, 1954, he broke up a combined no-hitter by three Indians pitchers with two out in the ninth inning of a 2–1 loss. He led AL left fielders with 3 double plays in 1953, and the following year led all major league left fielders with 13 assists and 3 double plays. In the first game of a doubleheader on May 16, 1954, he drove in six runs in a 10–5 win over the Senators, and on April 23, 1955 he scored a career-high five runs in the White Sox' record-setting 29–6 road win over the Kansas City Athletics. Miñoso again finished second in the batting race in 1954 with a .320 mark, trailing the .341 average by the Indians' Bobby Avila (Ted Williams, who did not have enough plate appearances to qualify, would have finished second given the needed at bats). On May 18, 1955, Miñoso suffered a skull fracture from being hit in the head by a pitch from the Yankees' Bob Grim in the first inning of an 11–6 loss. He finished the season with a .288 average, his lowest from 1953 through 1960; however, he had the longest hitting streak in the AL that year and the longest of his career, a 23-game string from August 9 to August 30 during which he batted .421. In addition, his 18 assists that season were not only twice as many as any other left fielder in the major leagues, but also matched the highest mark by any AL left fielder from 1945 through 1983. He also led AL left fielders in putouts for the first time with 267.

Miñoso also represented a rare power threat for the Sox; due to the dimensions of Comiskey Park, the White Sox were the only major league team who did not have a player hit 100 home runs for them prior to World War II. On September 2, 1956, he hit his 80th home run with the Sox off Hank Aguirre in a 4–3 win over the Indians, breaking Zeke Bonura's team record. On September 23, 1957, in a 6–5 road loss to the Athletics, he became the first player to hit 100 home runs with the White Sox, connecting in the fourth inning off Alex Kellner. Miñoso topped AL left fielders again with 282 putouts and 10 assists in 1956, and with 2 double plays in 1957. He led the league in triples again in 1956 with 11, and in doubles with 36 in 1957. In the 1957 All-Star Game, he saved a 6–5 victory for the AL with a dramatic catch for the final out, with the tying run on second base. 1957 marked the first year that Gold Glove Awards were awarded, and Miñoso was chosen as the first honoree in left field (separate awards for both leagues were established the following year, and awards for each outfield position were discontinued after 1960 in favor of three awards for outfielders regardless of position).

Later seasons[edit]

Miñoso was traded back to the Indians after the 1957 season in a four-player deal, with the White Sox getting pitcher Early Wynn and outfielder Al Smith in exchange for Miñoso and third baseman Fred Hatfield. With Cleveland, Miñoso hit a career high 24 home runs in 1958, and again led AL left fielders with 13 assists. He batted .302 in both 1958 and 1959, and on April 21, 1959 had a career-high five hits in a 14–1 road win against the Detroit Tigers, also driving in six runs for the second time in his career. He was involved in a notable incident in a road game against the Boston Red Sox on July 17 that year when Indians manager Joe Gordon was ejected after an interference call on the previous batter, but continued his argument instead of leaving the field; Miñoso refused to enter the batter's box while Gordon was still arguing, and became furious when plate umpire Frank Umont called him out on three strikes. Miñoso was then ejected after throwing his bat at Umont, but apologized profusely after the game, saying he was unaware of the rule that any pitch in that situation must be called a strike regardless of its location; he served a brief suspension. That year he led all major league left fielders with a career-high 317 putouts, and also led the AL again with 14 assists, and received his second Gold Glove Award. Also in 1959, he made another All-Star appearance, starting the first of the two games held that year, and broke Kid Elberfeld's AL career record of being hit by 142 pitches.

Miñoso was deeply disappointed over having missed playing for the White Sox during their 1959 pennant-winning season, and was thrilled to be traded back to Chicago in a seven-player deal in December, with Norm Cash being the top player sent in return. White Sox owner Bill Veeck presented Miñoso with an honorary 1959 pennant championship ring at the beginning of the 1960 season, saying that he had done as much as anyone in helping the White Sox reach the top of the league – partially through his influence in building a winning team, and partially because the Sox had acquired 1959 Cy Young Award winner Early Wynn in exchange for Miñoso in the 1957 trade. Miñoso responded by driving in six runs for the third time in his career, hitting a grand slam in the fourth inning on Opening Day against Kansas City, and giving the Sox a 10–9 victory with a walk-off home run leading off the bottom of the ninth. Minoso had his last great season in 1960 – he made his last All-Star appearances (starting both games), led the AL with 184 hits, had 105 RBIs, batted over .300 for the eighth and final time, and finished fourth in the MVP vote for the fourth time. He also had perhaps his best defensive season, leading all major league left fielders in putouts (277), assists (14) and double plays (3) and winning his third and last Gold Glove Award.

After the 1961 season, in which his average dropped to .280, Miñoso was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Joe Cunningham; Miñoso had led the AL in times hit by pitch every year since his rookie season, except 1955. After struggling to adjust to his new league's pitchers and strike zone, he missed two months of the 1962 season due to suffering a fractured skull and broken wrist from crashing into the outfield wall in the sixth inning of an 8–5 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 11, and finished the year hitting .196. His contract was sold to the Washington Senators prior to the 1963 season, and after hitting .229 he was released that October; on October 12, he played in the first and only Hispanic American All-Star Game at New York's Polo Grounds. He signed with the White Sox before the 1964 campaign, but appeared in only thirty games that year, batting .226 – almost exclusively as a pinch hitter – and hit his last home run in the second game of a doubleheader on May 6 off Ted Bowsfield in the seventh inning of an 11–4 win over the Athletics. He retired after the 1964 season.

In 1965, Miñoso played and managed several seasons in Mexico, where he was known as "El Charro Negro" - "The Black Cowboy". Shifting to first base due to his age, he batted .360 and .348 in his first two seasons, and wound up his career with a .265 average in 1973 at age 47.

Coaching and final appearances[edit]

In 1976, Miñoso was called out of retirement, becoming a first and third base coach for three seasons for the White Sox.[6] He also made three game appearances for the Sox that September in games against the California Angels, picking up one single in eight at bats (four coming as a designated hitter) – a pinch hit off Sid Monge on September 12 in the second inning of a 2–1, 10-inning win, becoming – at age 50 – the third oldest player ever to get a base hit in the major leagues. In 1980, Miñoso, age 54, was activated again to coach for the White Sox, and was a pinch hitter in two games, again against the Angels. He became the third-oldest player ever to play in the majors, behind Nick Altrock, who at age 57 pinch hit in 1933, and Satchel Paige, who at age 59 pitched three shutout innings in one game in 1965. Miñoso joined Altrock (1890s–1930s) as just the second player in major league history to play in five decades (1940s–1980s); out of the players who played in the major leagues in the 1940s, Minoso was the last one to appear in a major league game. Bill Melton broke Miñoso's White Sox record of 135 career home runs in the second game of a doubleheader on August 4, 1974, a 13–10 win over the Texas Rangers; he had tied the record in the previous day's 12–5 loss. On August 29, 1985, Don Baylor broke Minoso's AL record of being hit by pitches 189 times. Minoso's five stints with Chicago cemented his image as a local baseball icon for at least three generations of White Sox fans.

In 1990 he was scheduled to make an appearance with the minor league Miami Miracle and become the only professional to play in six decades; however, MLB overruled the Miracle on the idea. When the last game was played at Comiskey Park during the same season, Miñoso was invited to present the White Sox lineup card to the umpires in the pregame ceremonies at home plate. He did so while wearing the new uniform debuted by the White Sox that day, his familiar number 9 on the back. In 1993, a 67-year-old Miñoso made an appearance with the independent St. Paul Saints of the Northern League. He returned to the Saints in 2003 and drew a walk, thus becoming the only player to appear professionally in seven different decades. The earlier extensions to his career with the Sox were publicity stunts orchestrated respectively by one-time Sox owner Bill Veeck and his son Mike, who at the time owned partial or controlling interest in the team.

Later life[edit]

Miñoso in 2010

Miñoso lives in Chicago where he still represents the Chicago White Sox as "Mr. White Sox". He married Sharon Rice in the 1990s and they have one son. Miñoso also has three children from a previous marriage. One of his sons briefly played professional baseball.[7]

He was named to the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame in 1994. On August 11, 2002, he was inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame. On September 19, 2004, Minnie Miñoso Day was celebrated at U.S. Cellular Field and there was a pregame unveiling of a Minnie Minoso statue at the field. In 2002, Miñoso received the 2011 Jerome Holtzman Award from the Chicago Baseball Museum.

Hall of Fame candidacy[edit]

Miñoso became eligible for election to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1970 – a year before the Hall began considering players from the Negro leagues or taking into account the accomplishments of major leaguers in the Negro leagues – and was dropped from the ballot for insufficient support. He was restored to the ballot five years after his final 1980 appearances as a player, and finally began to receive support as a candidate, remaining on the ballot for fourteen years before his eligibility expired; however, most of the writers voting by that point had little memory of him during his prime. In 2001, historian Bill James selected Miñoso as the tenth greatest left fielder of all time; based on the then-general belief that Miñoso was born in 1922 rather than 1925, James wrote, "Had he gotten the chance to play when he was 21 years old, I think he'd probably be rated among the top thirty players of all time."[8]

Author Stuart Miller makes the case for Miñoso's election based on the wins above replacement (WAR) statistic, which calculates the number of additional wins a team would get from a player's production compared to having played a replacement-level minor league player at the position. Miñoso is among the top five AL players in WAR for seven of his MLB seasons, ranking first in WAR for two of those seasons.[9] Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated has written that Miñoso's Hall of Fame candidacy may have been damaged by the publicity stunt game appearances in his later life. He said that the biggest question for Hall of Fame voters would be how much potential major league production was taken away from Miñoso because baseball was not integrated at the outset of his career.[10]

Miñoso was selected to be on the Hall of Fame's Golden Era Committee election ballot in 2011 and 2014.[11] Since 2011, the Baseball Writers' Association of America's (BBWAA) Historical Overview Committee serves as the Hall's screening committee every three years to identify ten long-retired players, managers, umpires, or executives (living or deceased) from the "Golden Era" (1947-1973) for possible induction into the Hall of Fame .[12] In order to be inducted, a candidate on the ballot must receive at least 12 of 16 votes cast by the 16-member Golden Era Committee at the MLB Winter Meeting in December.[13] In 2011 and 2014, Miñoso received 9 and 8 votes; in 2011, Ron Santo with 15 votes was elected to the Hall of Fame (inducted 2012), but in 2014, no candidate was elected by the committee.

MLB stats, awards, and achievements[edit]

Years Games PA AB Runs Hits 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO OBP SLG BA Fld%
17 1,835 7,712 6,579 1,136 1,963 336 83 186 1,023 205 814 584 .389 .459 .298 .971
  • American League All-Star (7 awards): 1951-1954, 1957, 1959 (2 games), 1960 (2 games)
  • Gold Glove (3 awards): 1957 (Outfield), 1959 (AL-Outfield), 1960 (AL-Outfield)
  • American League leader in hits (1960)
  • American League leader in doubles (1957)
  • American League leader in triples (1951, 1954, 1956)
  • American League leader in sacrifice flies (1960, 1961)
  • American League leader in stolen bases (1951–1953)
  • American League leader in times on base and total bases (1954)
  • Chicago White Sox All-Century Team (2000)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rawlings Gold Glove Award. Rawlings. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  2. ^ Official Minoso website [1] [2] Retrieved November 28, 2014
  3. ^ Hintgen, Tom (May 24, 2010). "Minoso a forerunner to Oliva". Fergus Falls Journal. Retrieved November 29, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Minnie Minoso Negro League Statistics & History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved November 29, 2014. 
  5. ^ Sportsdata: Midsummer Classics: Celebrating MLB's All-Star Game, 1959–1962, "all players who were named to the AL or NL roster were credited one appearance per season." Retrieved July 8, 2013 [3]
  6. ^ White Sox All-Time Coaches. MLB.com. Retrieved November 29, 2014
  7. ^ Hageman, William (October 2, 2005). "Minnie the giant". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 29, 2014. 
  8. ^ James, Bill (2001). The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. New York: Free Press. p. 367. ISBN 0-684-80697-5. 
  9. ^ Miller, Stuart (November 8, 2011). "Making the case for Minnie Minoso". The New York Times. Retrieved November 28, 2014. 
  10. ^ Jaffe, Jay. "The Hall of Fame chances for 2014's Golden Era nominees (Part 2)". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved November 28, 2014. 
  11. ^ Baseball Hall of Fame, Golden Era Committee Candidates
  12. ^ Baseball Hall of Fame, Golden Era Ballot [4] Retrieved Nov. 21, 2014
  13. ^ Baseball Hall of Fame, Era Committees

External links[edit]

  • Official Minoso website [5]