That's one of four videos on whitesox.com's new section for Minnie Minoso, as they begin the push for his last best chance at induction into the Hall of Fame.
We'll throw in whatever clout we have, because Minoso is deserving of enshrinement. As mentioned in my post from this morning, Don Zminda of STATS Inc. does an excellent job of summing up his case. Which is great, because that means I can just link to that, and spend my time surrounding his case with facts, opinion and other perspectives surrounding his career as I can find them.
The best explanation and excavation of Minoso's Hall of Fame case can be found on Baseball Think Factory's Hall of Merit discussion of his career.
(If you're unfamiliar with the Hall of Merit, it basically attempts to redraw the Hall of Fame's inductees at its current size from a sabermetric viewpoint, focusing on pure value while filtering out the cronyism, causes célèbres, high-horsery, debunked mythology, and other factors that have led to an inconsistent Hall of Fame voting process process. So Shoeless Joe Jackson is in, Freddie Lindstrom is out, and so on.)
The Hall of Merit avoids sentiment as much as it can, so you won't see inherent partiality in the discussion. In fact, you'll see people making points both for and against his worthiness as they try to fill in the gap that is Minoso's pre-integration career.
One of the voters specializes in running major-league equivalent stats of Negro League and minor-league statistics, and this is how he filled in Minoso's pre-MLB career based on the available evidence from his Negro League and Pacific Coast League stats:
Obviously, the specific numbers aren't to be taken as gospel, but it provides an idea of what Minoso could have contributed before he was able to break into the big leagues. Given that he hit 326/.422/.500 and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 1951 (he should've finished first, but winner Gil McDougald was white), it probably can be assumed that he had at least a few years of average-or-better performance taken away from him. Minoso was inducted into the Hall of Merit in "1987."
Minoso led the American League 10 times in getting hit by pitches. He's the White Sox's all-time leader with 145 over 5,915 plate appearances, and Nellie Fox is 20 behind him with 3,500 more PA.
(Minoso was no Carlos Quentin, who is sixth on the Sox's all-time list with 78 ... and he's not even to 2,000 PA yet.)
Crowding the plate was the big reason why Minoso took so many for the team, but the opposition wanted to try to intimidate him, too. He didn't give in. Bob Vanderberg relays this story in his book Sox: From Fain to Lane and Zisk to Fisk about one particularly painful plunking.
Another time, in 1956, he was struck on the right big toe with a pitch thrown by a Baltimore lefty named Don Ferrarese, later a teammate of Minoso's on the Indians and White Sox. He wuld be sidelined, the doctor said, indefinitely. Two nights later, he hobbled to the plate in a makeshift shoe and doubled during a game-tying 11th-inning rally in the opener of the miraculous four-game sweep of the Yankees that drew 125,433 pennant-starved fans to Comiskey Park.
"The pitch, it broke the toe, and I have to cut out the shoe," Minnie told me. "They say, 'Can you play?' And I say, 'Well, look, I think I be able to play.' They say, 'No, I don't think you can play.' I say, 'Look, I play, but you gotta buy me two pair new shoes.' It usta cost maybe $25. And they say, 'All right.' So I cut out my shoe, you know, and I play."
Bill James, in his required-reading book The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, called Minoso the 10th-best left fielder of all time. In the brief write-up for Minoso, he passes along this quote:
"Sooner or later, whenever we talk about hitting, someone will ask me if there will ever be another .400 hitter in the major leagues. Of all the so-called "sluggers" in the big time today, the ony one I can think of who really qualifies in all respects is Minnie Minoso. -- Ted Williams, "Who Will Hit .400," Ted Williams as told to Paul Gardner, Baseball Stars of 1955.
Williams' opinion on banned/delayed baseball players would carry weight when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966, as he voiced support for the inclusion of Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson during his speech.
Minnie Minoso Reading Room
Minoso's SABR biography provides a nice overview of his baseball life, filling in some of the gaps before he came to the White Sox.
In another one of those great first-person articles from 2003, Minoso talks about his performance in the 1957 All-Star Game.
I played toward the line a little bit, but Stengel motioned me to go back where I was. Right before the pitch, I moved back to where I wanted to be. (Hodges) hits a line drive over third and I made a running catch for the final out of the game.
Stengel comes over to me and asks, "Hey, Minoso, did you move back after I moved you?" I said yeah and he just laughs, saying, "You made a hell of a play."
While searching for the Minoso Hall of Merit discussion, I found this Joe Posnanski article from 2009 that looks at the players who are in the Hall of Merit, but not in the Hall of Fame. He spends a few paragraphs on Minoso, and here's the conclusion:
But then, when he got three years younger, suddenly he was 25 when he got to the big leagues and his career tailed off badly when he turned 36 (instead of 39). And it all seemed just slightly less impressive. Of course, it shouldn't make any difference. Minoso was a Negro Leagues star who was buried in the minor leagues for a couple of years before becoming the first black player to play in Chicago. He was a huge star for 10 years. And he was an iconic player. I often think that when you take everything into account, Minnie Minoso is the biggest void in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In which we learn Phil Rogers is aware of our friend Rob Neyer.
"Unfortunately, I think he's largely remembered for the stunts,'' said analyst Rob Neyer of SB Nation. "But wasn't he the first black Latino star in the majors? Seems like that should be his legacy.''