White Sox great Minnie Miñoso died early Sunday morning. He was 89 years old (officially).
Miñoso played for the White Sox from 1951-57, '60-61, ’64, and briefly in each of ’76 and ’80. He was the first black Cuban to play in the major leagues and played a total of 17 seasons.
Last December, Miñoso was again denied admission into the Hall of Fame by the Golden Age Committee, falling three votes short. I wrote about Miñoso's Hall of Fame case here. An excerpt:
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.
It's disappointing that he never got to receive the honor he surely deserved.
We'll have more coverage of this story later today.