Minnie Minoso: Sharp-dressed man.
Continuing our journey through Minnie Minoso's Hall of Fame Library player file, we wrapped up Part 1 by looking at what people said about his style of play. Now it's time to look at ...
His personal style
Between growing up in Cuba and playing in the Negro Leagues, Minoso hadn't come across much money. So when (relatively) big bucks started coming his way, he exercised his newfound buying power quite liberally.
For starters, he literally didn't know how to have that much money. When Frank Lane gave him a $3,000 bonus, he carried it in his wallet. And then he nearly lost his wallet. Hey, he never had much use for a bank before.
Minoso didn't see the point in having money if he didn't use it on the finer things. And we know from Part 1 that he knew one bad fastball could end it for him.
Minnie does everything on a mass production. His wardrobe includes nearly 100 suits of clothes, some 300 shirts and more neckites than he can count. He scarcely ever wears the same hat twice, or so it seems. His color combinations are lush.
Based on the articles, he seemed to love cars more than he loved clothes. One story said, "As a driver, Minnie posses the same reckless zest that he exhibits on the base lines." MarketMaker has attested to this here. But he didn't save it all for himself. With one bonus, he bought a luxury car and had it shipped to Havana for the offseason. And when one of his old friends raved about it, Minoso told him to keep it.
Apparently, Minoso's actual appetite was also legendary.
His eating habits make newspaper copy. During the winter in Havana, he ate two meals a day, both consisting of three or four small steaks with a side dish of black beans, rice and onions.
He funded it by playing well and earning raises he deserved -- although, being the 1950s, he had to campaign for pay increases first.
For instance, in 1956, Minoso hit .316/.425/.525 with 29 doubles, 11 triples (league-leading), 21 homers, 88 RBI and 86 walks to 40 strikeouts. He also led the league with 23 HBPs, which is a White Sox record that he now shares with Carlos Quentin, who tied it in 2011.
When he received his contract from the White Sox, he sent it back to them. A United Press story from Jan. 15, 1957 relays the note sent with it:
I am sending this contract you sent to me, because I guess you was wrong about it. It looks like a contract which belong to me for a year of '53 or '54, not for Minoso after fine 1956 year I have.
I can't think this contract belong to me. It belong to another player of the club. This salary has expired and is no good for me for next season. Contract for me should have more money than one sent by mistake for next season.
His relationship with Chicago
Minoso didn't like being traded from Chicago, and he especially didn't care for it the second time, when he was sent to the St. Louis Cardinals for Joe Cunningham. He briefly considered retiring rather than player for St. Louis, but ultimately decided against it. Still, an article from The Sporting News on Dec. 6, 1961, has Minoso stating his preference: "I love the people of Chicago. They make a gentleman out of Minnie."
Also, this sentence made me laugh:
Immediately after he learned of the trade, Minoso gave up a job selling season tickets for the White Sox.
That seems fair.
Minoso's time in St. Louis didn't go well. He got off to a slow start during his first stint in the National League, and then on May 11, he "crashed into a wall while chasing a line drive recently and came up with a fractured skull and a broken wrist." The injuries sidelined him for more than two months, and he never got back into his groove.
Although he never lost his confidence. Even though he hit .229 in 1962 for the Washington Senators, he came to training camp vowing to win back his job. He was most upset about watching his career average drop to .298. "About this I am sad," he said. "I will put it back above .300 next season."
That didn't happen. He couldn't break camp with the Senators, and so he came back for one more shot with the White Sox. Al Lopez gave him a shot as a pinch hitter, and for a while, it worked. He went 7-for-17 over his first 20 plate appearances...
His reason for coming back
... and 0-for-14 over his final 18 plate appearances. He went 0-for-3 on July 5, which was his final game of his (real) career. But he harbored no grudges, according to a Chicago Daily News story from July 14, 1964.
Me not mad. How can I be mad at them? I come to Chicago in 1951 and they make a home for me. They have a guy who's in love with playing left field for them. When I come, he has to go somewhere else.
But here's the best part -- after he was cut, he went out to catch batting practice, take swings and participate in the infield warm-up.
"That's the way I am," he said. "I'm going to die this way ... wanting to play more baseball."
After I read this, I stopped taking notes about his two Bill Veeck-aided comebacks, as well as the one Fay Vincent thwarted in 1990, because this just about says it all. When Minoso lost his job playing baseball, his response was to start doing it for free, so when Veeck afforded him two more opportunities and Jerry Reinsdorf tried for a third, it makes perfect sense that he would want to suit up once more.