Minnie Minoso Essentials
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 5′-10″ Weight: 175
Born: Sunday, November 29, 1925 in La Habana, La Habana Cuba
Died: March 1, 2015 in Chicago, IL USA
Debut: April 19, 1949
Last Game: October 5, 1980
Full Name: Saturnino Orestes Armas Minoso
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“I know that baseball fans have me in their own Hall of Fame – the one in their hearts. That matters more to me than any official recognition. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be, and I am truly honored to be considered. I’ve given my life to baseball, and the game has given me so much.” — after he failed to earn election to the Hall of Fame by a special Negro leagues ballot in 2006
Probably the most popular player in White Sox history, Havana-native Minnie Minoso came to the team in a huge three-team deal early in the 1951 season. After belting a home run in his first at-bat, Minoso had the fans on his side. A talented hitter with great speed, Minoso led the American League in stolen bases and triples three times, but also had enough pop to lead the loop in total bases and finish among leaders in slugging several times. Having played his first pro ball in the Negro leagues in the 1940s, he parlayed his popularity into two brief appearances at the ages of 53 and 57, several years after his retirement.
Minoso debuted in 1949, but he was still officially a rookie when obtained by the White Sox in a three-team deal involving the Indians and A’s on April 30, 1951. On May 1, in a game against the Yankees in Comiskey Park, the young Cuban speedster became the first black player to don a White Sox uniform.
In the very first inning, Minoso homered off Vic Raschi. (Mickey Mantle hit his first ML home run in the sixth inning of the same game.) Minoso finished his rookie year as the AL leader in stolen bases (31) and triples (14); his .326 batting average was second only to Philadelphia’s Ferris Fain’s .344, and his 112 runs fell one short of Dom DiMaggio’s league-leading 113. Though the Yankees’ Gil McDougald won the baseball writers’ Rookie of the Year honors, Minoso was TSN’s Rookie of the Year.
He led the AL in stolen bases again in 1952 and 1953 and in triples in 1954, and tied for the league lead in steals in 1956 and in doubles in 1957. He would do whatever was necessary to get on base, including getting in the way of fastballs.
In 16 AL seasons, he set the league record by being hit by a pitch 189 times. Traded with Fred Hatfield to Cleveland in December 1957 for Early Wynn and Al Smith, he was not around when the Go-Go White Sox won the 1959 AL pennant; Bill Veeck awarded him an honorary championship ring anyway. With Cleveland, Minoso hit a career-high 24 home runs in 1958, and he batted .302 in both 1958 and 1959 before the White Sox reacquired him. In 1960 he led the AL with 184 hits, was second to Roger Maris with 105 RBI, and batted over .300 for his eighth and final time.
Following stints with the Cardinals and Senators, he retired after spending 1964 as a White Sox pinch hitter. Twelve years later, during the second Veeck ownership, Minoso was brought out of retirement and went hitless as Chicago’s DH against the Angels’ Frank Tanana on September 11, 1976. “It’s been many years since I face pitching like this,” he explained. “I hope they [the fans] forgive me.” The next day, he collected his last ML hit. He was a White Sox coach from 1976 to 1978, and in 1980, when he was again activated, joining Nick Altrock as the only five-decade major leaguers; he went 0-for-2 as a pinch hitter. Ever popular in Chicago, he became a team goodwill ambassador.