When checking Internet on Sunday March 1st and in matters of seconds the news reaches me: Saturnino Orestes Armas Miñoso Arrieta or simply Minnie Minoso, died in Chicago at the age of 92 years.
Immediately, I search and find an interview the ESPN journalist, Christina Karl, made him very recently, in which she addresses the career of the Cuban, his inception in baseball and his chances for the Hall of Fame.
Since the beginning, readers can perceive that Miñoso was a jovial guy, a player who lived by and for the show, who never gave up despite breaking into a hostile environment where racial barriers put up against the wall men like him.
“The most important thing in my life? Fans. The pleasure of give them a smile. Sometimes they may say something bad, and if you do not like it, would you let that to bother you? No, I just smile. It’s what I used to do when I played. I never thought I would do so many things for the team. I only wanted to play and do my best for the fans, my family and the country where I came from, open the door for someone else, “he said right after the opening question.
And rightly fans have lamented the death of the first black baseball player to wear the striped jersey of the Chicago White Sox in 1951, who was also the first Latin American black player to debut in MLB, following in the footsteps of the legendary Jackie Robinson, a pioneer in 1947.
“Wow, I am very sorry the death of MR. Minnie Minoso. We will always love you Minnie! A true legend of the White Sox, “wrote Frank Thomas, another glory of Chicago, in his Twitter account (@ TheBigHurt_35).
Other players with a major weight in the history of the franchise such as Ozzie Guillen and Jermaine Dye also expressed their feelings on social networks.
“A great White Sox died this morning. It is a very sad day for me as a Sox and baseball fan. RIP my friend; I am shocked by this sad news, “Guillen, one of the brightest shortstops who have played in MLB, said.
“Every time I came across Minnie Minoso he always put a smile on my face. A class act for @whitesox and truly a role model, “stated Jermaine Dye, champion and MVP of the 2005 World Series.
The club itself, in which other Cubans as José Dariel Abreu, Alexei Ramirez and Adrian Nieto are currently playing, honored Miñoso early Sunday morning by placing a phrase from his “hero”, the one defining him perfectly: “I’m proud of everything. I am proud to be a baseball player. “
Fans also expressed their sorrow for the loss, including a fervent follower of the White Sox: US President Barack Obama.
” For residents of the South Side of Chicago and White Sox fans across the country, including me, Minnie Minoso is and will always be Mr. White Sox,” the president said in his statement, through which he sent his thoughts and prayers to his family and his fans in Chicago, Cleveland, and around the world.
Obama’s statement also notes that Miñoso was the first black in joining MLB in Chicago. “Minnie arrived from Cuba to the United States, although he could have made more money elsewhere. He came through the Negro Leagues and did not speak much English at first. And as he helped to integrate baseball in the 1950s, was the target of racist abuse from fans and opponents, sometimes he was forced to stay in different motels from those housing his teammates. But his speed, his power-and his persistent optimism- earned him multiple appearances in the All-Star Games and Golden Gloves as left-fielder, and he became one of the most dominant and dynamic players of the 1950s “.
For all his achievements, the White Sox retired his legendary number 9 in 1983 and unveiled a statue in their club house, the US Cellular Field, issues that he always valued a lot and lived with great emotion.
“I was with the White Sox in 1983, when his # 9 was retired; I’ve never seen a player more thrilled with this honor. So humble, so grateful, “Dan Evans, MLB recognized executive and one of the prominent Toronto Blue Jays scouts, said on Sunday .
The eternal debt of Cooperstown
Despite his brilliant history and legacy in Major League Baseball, Minnie Minoso was never inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, although he does has his plate of immortal in the re-founded Cuban National Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Committee of the Golden Age, one of the three branches of the Veterans Committee, had a recent opportunity to recognize him last December, but they obviated Miñoso and nine other candidates (Tony Oliva, Dick Allen, Jim Kaat, Maury Wills, Ken Boyer, Gil Hodges, Bob Howsan, Billy Pierce and Luis Tiant), who failed to reach the 75% required to obtain the plate.
That pleasure was denied to the Cuban Comet, who surely will not appreciate if inducted by the rotating shift of the Committee of the Golden Age in 2017, just as he let us know in his interview with Christina Karl.
“Do not tell me I will be chosen after I die. I do not want that to happen after I die. I wish being alive, I want to enjoy it, “he said.
Anyway, Miñoso will be forever in the memory of the fans, those who saw him in the field and the ones who knew his history by books and historical accounts.
“Minnie may have been obviated by the Hall of Fame during his life, but for me and for the younger generation of African Americans and Latinos, Minnie embodies the quintessential American story much more than what a plate could ever represent,” President Obama said after hearing the sad news .
With his death, Chicago loses its other distinctive face in baseball, after the death in January of Ernie Banks, known in the world of baseball as Mr. Cub, by his dazzling success with the Chicago Cubs, centennial club of the city.
“I saw him just three and a half months ago. We did a lot of jokes to each other. When he died, I thanked the Cubs because they gave him a dignified farewell, and showed great respect for the fans. It was what he deserved, and what the fans deserve, “stated Miñoso, who will surely receive now the same honors.
Rest in peace, Minnie, surely the White Sox and the entire baseball planet; both in Cuba , the United States and any other corner of the world will pay tribute to your name.
Some relevant data in the career of Minnie Minoso:
– He was the first Latin American black to debut in MLB, and the ninth black player in passing through the already broken racial barrier.
– He made his debut in MLB with Cleveland in 1949 and was traded to Chicago on a three-team trade, two years later.
– He made his debut with the Chicago White Sox on May 1, 1951 and homered in his first at-bat against the right-hander of the New York Yankees, Vic Raschi.
– In 1951 he finished second in voting for the Rookie of the Year in the American League, behind Gil McDougald of the New York Yankees.
– He was one of the first two Latinos appearing in an All-Star Game, when he did it in 1951 with the Venezuelan Alfonso “Chico” Carrasquel.
– He played 17 seasons in MLB defending the colors of the White Sox, Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Senators.
– He had an average of .298 in 17 seasons with 1963 hits, 336 doubles, 83 triples, 186 home runs, 1,023 RBIs and 1,136 runs scored.
– Six times he hit more than 15 homers, four times exceeded hundred RBIs and stole more than 20 bases in four different seasons.
– He played 12 of his 17 seasons in Chicago, averaging .304, with 135 homers and 808 RBIs.
– He played in five different decades (1940 ‘, 50’, 60 ‘, 70’ and 80 ‘), a feat only achieved by Nick Altrock (1898, 1900’, 10 ‘, 20’ and 30 ‘). After his retirement in 1964, the time it seemed his career was going to end, he reappeared in 1976 and 1980 to take at bats as designated hitter.
– He played 14 seasons in the Cuban Professional League, where he was Rookie of the Year in 1946 and won the MVP award in 1953 and 1957.