The Baseball Hall of Fame Golden Era committee has released its ballot of ten names to be considered for this year’s vote, which will occur in early November. Among the names being considered is former White Sox great Minnie Minoso.
It is the second appearance for Minoso on the Golden Era ballot. He received nine votes his first time around in 2011, falling three votes shy of the 12 needed for induction. Cub great Ron Santo was the lone inductee from the Golden Era ballot the last time around.
Minoso remains one of the names often mentioned in the “best players not in the Hall of Fame” conversation. So let’s make a case for the Cuban Comet to get out of that conversation, and into Cooperstown where he belongs.
Minoso was originally signed by the Cleveland Indians and made his first appearance in the majors with the Indians in 1949 before being sent back down to the minors. After coming north with the Indians in spring of 1951, Minoso was traded to the White Sox and that is when his career took off.
On May 1st, 1951 Minoso took the field for the Sox at Comiskey Park, breaking the White Sox color barrier. In his very first at bat, Minoso hit a mammoth home run off of Yankees pitcher Vic Raschi, and a Sox legend was born.
Minoso would go on to hit .324 for the White Sox in 1951 and led the American League in stolen bases (31) and in triples (14). He also added 10 homers and 34 doubles and drove in 76 runs while scoring 112. Minoso was an All-Star and the runner up for the AL Rookie of the Year award. He also finished fourth in the MVP voting that season.
Minnie would make the All-Star team each of his first four years and finished fourth in the MVP voting three of those four years. In 1957 he would once again finish in the top-10 in MVP voting and was awarded one of the inaugural Gold Glove Awards for the outfield, the first of three for the Cuban outfielder.
For his career Minoso was a seven-time All-Star, received MVP votes in eight seasons (finishing in the top five four times) and won three Gold Gloves (and would have won more had the award existed when he started playing). He led the league in stolen bases and triples three times and once in doubles. It is safe to say that he was considered one of the best players of his time.
From 1951 to 1961, the prime of Minnie’s career, Minoso hit .305/.395/.471 and had an OPS+ of 134. His average season was 16 homers, 29 doubles, seven triples, 89 RBI and 18 stolen bases. Certainly not eye popping numbers, but pretty solid, especially when you look at the slash line and the OPS+, which would be on par with the career numbers of Hall of Famers Al Kaline, Orlando Cepeda, Joe Medwick and Paul Waner.
While Minoso’s numbers are solid, they likely fall just short of Hall of Fame standards on their own. But numbers are only part of Minoso’s Hall of Fame case. The other half of his case is that Minnie Minoso is considered by many to be the “Latin Jackie Robinson.”
Minoso was one of the game’s first black stars in the “integration era” along with Robinson, Larry Doby and Roy Campanella. The difference for Robinson was that he was both black and Latino. That provided an extra challenge for Minoso to gain acceptance by both teammates, fans and anyone else he dealt with in and around the game. Minoso broke the color barrier in Chicago, and that must have presented its own set of challenges as well.
The fact that Minoso, and the others mentioned above, were able to perform so well on the field, with all that they had to deal with off of it, should lend some extra weight to their performances.
So should the fact that, without Minoso, we might not have had Roberto Clemente, Juan Marichal, Rod Carew and David Ortiz. This fact is not lost on Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda, who said, “Believe me when I say that Minnie Minoso is to Latin ballplayers what Jackie Robinson is to black [American] players. … As much as I loved Roberto Clemente and cherish his memory, Minnie is the one who made it possible for all of us Latins.”
That is a pretty large endorsement, especially when you consider all the great Latino players who have played in the big leagues throughout the years and all those that are playing in the majors now. Without Minnie Minoso, who knows what baseball could have missed out on.
Minoso was a pioneer on the field and off of it. His style of play took the American League and Chicago by storm with his speed and hustle. He helped usher in the “Go Go Sox” of the late 50’s that would eventually lead to the Sox getting back to the World Series for the first time in 40 years. And he did it all while integrating the game of baseball in the city of Chicago and opening the door for every black-latin player that followed.
It is for these reasons and more that Minnie Minoso deserves the honor of being immortalized alongside the greats of the game in Cooperstown. He was a one-of-a-kind player, and those deserve to be remembered.
There is a quote on the wall in the third floor of the Baseball Hall of Fame from Minnie that says, “I gave my life to the game. And the game gave me everything.” I think the game owes him one last thing, and I think it’s time he got it.