Baseball’s Minoso dead at 92
CHICAGO (AP) — Minnie Minoso, who hit a two-run home run in his first at-bat when he became major league baseball’s first black player in Chicago in 1951, has died, the Cook County medical examiner said Sunday.
The medical examiner’s office did not immediately offer further details. There is some question about Minoso’s age but the White Sox say he was 92.
Minoso played 12 of his 17 seasons in Chicago, hitting .304 with 135 homers and 808 RBIs for the White Sox. The White Sox retired his No. 9 in 1983 and there is a statue of Minoso at U.S. Cellular Field.
Minoso made his major league debut with Cleveland in 1949 and was dealt to Chicago in a three-team trade two years later. He made his White Sox debut on May 1, 1951, and homered in his first plate appearance against Yankees right-hander Vic Raschi.
It was the start of a beautiful relationship between the Cuban slugger and the White Sox.
Minoso, regarded as baseball’s first black Latino star, was a Havana native who spent most of his career in left field. He is one of only two players to appear in a major league game in five different decades. He got his final hit in 1976 at age 53 and went 0 for 2 in two games in 1980 for the White Sox, who tried unsuccessfully over the years to get the “Cuban Comet” into baseball’s Hall of Fame.
“When I watched Minnie Minoso play, I always thought I was looking at a Hall of Fame player,” White Sox owner Jerry 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.”
Saturnino Orestes Armas Minoso Arrieta was selected for nine All-Star games and won three Gold Gloves in left. He was hit by a pitch 192 times, ninth on baseball’s career list, and finished in the top four in AL MVP voting four times.
Despite the push by the White Sox and other prominent Latin players, Minoso has never made it to Cooperstown. His highest percentage during his 15 years on the writers’ ballot was 21.1 in 1988. He was considered by the Veterans Committee in 2014 and fell short of the required percentage for induction.