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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Minoso for the Hall!
The best credentials of anybody from Chicago?

With all the flap this past week about Ron Santo’s campaign to enter the Hall of Fame this year, it seems as if the Chicago media forgot there was another Sox player who was on the ballot.  His name, as any Sox fan growing up in the ‘50s could tell you is Saturnino Orestes Armas Arrieta Minoso.  We just called him Minnie. 

Minnie Minoso was born on November 29, 1922 in Havana, Cuba. He began playing professional baseball in Cuba in 1945, and was elected to the All-Cuban team at third base in both 1945 and 1946. 

When he came to the United States to play, people who happened to have the same color skin as he had were denied the “privilege” of playing in the major leagues.  So Minnie had to start his career in the Negro Leagues.   

He began his Negro League career in 1946, playing third base for the New York Cubans and batting .309 as their leadoff hitter.  He was a starter in the Negro Leagues’ East-West All-Star Game in both 1947 and 1948. 

In 1949, Bill Veeck, then owner of the Cleveland Indians brought him into that organization, but he only got into nine games before being sent to the Pacific Coast League where he remained through the 1950 season.   

After two years of tearing up the PCL, the Indians brought Minnie back up as a 28-year-old rookie in 1951, but he was soon traded to the White Sox, making him the first black baseball player in Chicago.  It was Minnie who put the “go” in the “Go-Go Sox.”  Beginning in 1951 he led the American League in stolen bases three consecutive years, finishing in the top five every year through 1958 when he was 35 years old. 

Minoso spent all or part of fifteen seasons in the major leagues before playing a year in Indianapolis and then starting a career in the Mexican League.  As he aged, Minoso moved to first base, but he could still swing the bat.  In the Mexican league he hit .265 in the year he retired.  He was fifty years old. 

In seventeen major league seasons (including a couple of brief stints in 1976 at age 53 and 1980 at age 57), Minnie had a batting average of .298, finishing in the top five in that category five times.  He compiled 1963 hits, leading the league in 1960, and finishing in the top five four other times.  He finished in the top five in runs scored eight times, finishing with a total of 1136.  Minoso led the league in total bases in 1954, was in the top five in doubles six times and in triples five times.  And playing in cavernous Comiskey Park for half his games, he managed to finish in the top ten in home runs twice. 

Minoso used any means necessary to get on base, as evidenced by his finishing in the top five being hit by pitches twelve time, leading the league ten of those times.  Converted to left field while he was in the PCL, Minoso became a top defensive left fielder, winning a Major League Gold Glove award in 1957, and American League Gold Gloves in 1959 (with the Indians) and 1960 (back with the Sox). 

Minoso’s overall statistics do not jump out at you when you look at the numbers.  What you need to remember, though, is that those numbers were all compiled beginning when Minnie was 28 years old!  He began playing baseball in Cuba at their highest level at age 22, and probably could have been in the major leagues at that age if it were not for the color of his skin. 

Bill James did some projecting, which is something that I usually frown upon except in cases of discrimination or war service.  Had he been allowed to play in the major leagues, he found that Minoso would have compiled Hall-of-Fame statistics in several offensive categories, including the 3000-hit landmark.  But Minoso was denied that opportunity, and apparently few of the Hall-of-Famers voting this year thought about that either. 

In all of the Hoopla over the election this year, I heard exactly one interview with Minoso.  It was conducted by Dan Jiggets of WSCR.  While Ron Santo received attention from every media outlet, one of the great players in White Sox history went almost completely ignored. 

Minnie is now eighty years old.  He was denied the chance to play in the major leagues, except for a few games, until he was 28.  He was denied playing in a World Series because he was traded to the Indians after the 1957 season.  He was given little attention by the Hall-of-Famers voting in this year’s election. 

But was is truly maddening is that he was even denied attention by the so-called “sports journalists” in his own adopted home town in favor of a person who has been blatantly campaigning for election for several years.  The team this self-promoter played on never one anything yet has three Hall-of-Famers, one more than the Go-Go Sox who actually won a pennant. 

It seems odd.  No, I’ll take that back.  It seems downright lazy on the part of “journalists” who are supposed to dig for stories to go for the story of the self-promotor rather than taking a closer look at a self-effacing player who played hard long after most players hang up their spikes. 

Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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