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Minnie Miñoso belongs in the Hall of Fame

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And 2015 needs to be the year it happens

David Banks

The Baseball Hall of Fame released the ten candidates the Golden Age Committee will consider for induction in 2015. The candidates are: Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Gil Hodges, Bob Howsam, Jim Kaat, Minnie Miñoso, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce, Luis Tiant and Maury Wills.

There are obviously a few candidates with White Sox connections. And many of the candidates have good cases that can be made for them. I'm only going to address one: Miñoso.

Miñoso, who will be 89 next month, fell three votes short of the necessary twelve for induction the last time the Golden Age Committee met in 2012.

Around that time there were discussions and debates, both here at SSS and elsewhere, regarding the merits of the Cuban Comet's case. While his MLB numbers are insufficient for the Hall of Fame, a frequently cited argument is that Miñoso should be given credit for the fact that he did not play regularly in the majors until he was 25, at least in part because of the color of his skin. Factoring in two or three more seasons at the start of his career, he would have had a good shot to attain the stat line deemed worthy of a Hall of Famer

Not everyone buys that argument. For example, Rob Neyer wrote about how he changed his mind on Miñoso's merit:

So how many "extra" seasons do you want to give him? Sure, 1950. It might not have been the color of his skin, but he should have been in the majors. But 1949, too? That one's a little tougher. And even if you give him two full seasons and another 350 hits, does that make Minoso an obvious Hall-of-Famer?

Probably not.

Deserving? Maybe. Baseball-Reference.com has him with 49 Wins Above Replacement. From the beginning, Minoso averaged roughly 5 WAR per season. If we're just a little generous, it's not hard to figure him for 60 WAR in his career. But there are a lot of guys with (approximately) 60 WAR who are not in the Hall: Will Clark, Ken Boyer, Sherry Magee, Jim Wynn, Sal Bando, Willie Randolph, Buddy Bell, Keith Hernandez, Graig Nettles, Dwight Evans ... the list actually goes on at some length.

Maybe we should give Minoso more than two extra seasons. Maybe, if not for the color line that kept him out of (so-called) Organized Baseball until he was almost 23, he would have three or four more seasons in the majors, and the correlative statistics.

I just can't quite go that far, though. As much as I used to, and would still like to.

But as I pointed out in response to this almost three years ago, Neyer and others like him miss the point: "Miñoso doesn't get in the Hall for his numbers, or even his "projected" numbers. He gets in because being a trailblazing black Latino puts him over the top. That is what these people are missing."

As Jim replied to me: "I’m guessing a lot of people don’t understand the distinctions between Black, Latino and black Latino, and think Jackie Robinson opened the door for all of them." And today, more than 65 years after Robinson's debut, that's an easy thing to misunderstand. The vast majority of baseball fans and writers do not remember the time when major league baseball was a white-only game. Heck, most probably cannot even remember the time when overt racism was pretty normal.

Miñoso had to deal with not only being black but also Latino. And Robinson obviously was a native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. Robinson's skin color was different but, culturally, there was a lot of similarities between his experiences and other players'. Miñoso did not have that advantage. He was a Cuban whose English was still pretty poor when he did finally debut in the majors.

Jim wrote extensively about him the last time he was on the ballot and the White Sox also did their part to trumpet his case. I imagine that will happen this time, too. The people who have the votes that count are: Hall of Famers Jim Bunning, Rod Carew, Pat Gillick, Ferguson Jenkins, Al Kaline, Joe Morgan, Ozzie Smith and Don Sutton; baseball executives Jim Frey, David Glass, Roland Hemond and Bob Watson; and veteran media members Steve Hirdt, Dick Kaegel, Phil Pepe and Tracy Ringolsby. They vote December 8 at the Winter Meetings.

This time, though, his induction will have even more urgency. At his age, and considering the Golden Age Committee meets triennially. it's probably more likely than not that 2015 would be the last chance to honor Miñoso while he could still enjoy it and participate in induction weekend. Having to wait another three years would certainly be a shame for a man who has done so much for baseball.