If you believe in signs, you might take notice of the rainy stretch in Arizona that coincided with Minnie Miñoso's death.
The White Sox's intrasquad game on Monday was canceled, which allows us one more day to take stock of the Cuban Comet's contributions. Cactus League play opens on Wednesday, which will provide a welcome diversion.
(By the way, I updated the White Sox's 2015 spring training broadcast schedule with MLB Network and MLB.tv dates.)
Historian Adrian Burgos, who participated in the White Sox's Hall of Fame forum for Miñoso in 2011, outlines how every Hall of Fame ballot process managed to marginalize Miñoso's contributions.
Minoso’s eligibility for the Hall of Fame, as much as his candidacy, has always been hampered by arcane rules established by the Hall’s Board of Directors and the Baseball Writers' Association of America’s missteps in considering his case decades ago. The end result is that a player who ranks as one of the definitive stars of baseball’s integration era has repeatedly fallen short of election.
The Hall of Fame has long enforced its rule that individuals could only be considered for the Hall of Fame as either a player in the major leagues or in Negro Leagues, an umpire or team/league executive. This has meant that Miñoso would either be considered as a Negro Leaguer or as a major leaguer, but voters could not take into consideration what he accomplished in the other circuit in casting one’s vote..
Then Burgos goes on to detail Miñoso's exemplary pioneer work, both for Chicago and black Latino players as a group. Here's another excerpt, but read the whole thing:
Miñoso’s path was in fact a bit different than Robinson and Doby. As a black Latino, he encountered what Clemente himself stated were "two strikes" while in the United States: one for being black, another for being Latino. Moreover, as a foreign-born black man, Miñoso lacked a familiarity with US racial mores and practices that Robinson and Doby had as they embarked on their big league careers. None of this deterred the man who would become Minnie in his adopted hometown of Chicago.
Tomas Rios does a beautiful job encapsulating all the emotions Minnie's death stirred.
He left a world that took from him without pause after some 90-odd years yesterday. He would never say such a thing, at least not in public, but to pore over the facts of his life and career is to be struck by his capacity to remain above a fray that so desperately wanted to bring him down. Let it be said that the fray lost, and lost badly, to Minnie Miñoso.
James uses that Hall of Fame forum as a jumping off point for his remembrance.
But Minoso never wore these frustrations. He was not built to. Of the challenges and insults he faced, it was insignificant. He traveled from Cuban sugarcane fields, toiled in the Negro Leagues, sat behind lesser white players until he got his shot, kicked everyone's ass at a Hall of Fame level for a decade, lived out his retirement as a conquering hero counseling dozens of Cuban ballplayers he kicked in the door for, taking in Sox games whenever he felt the notion, and pushed his Cadillac around his city until his heart gave out.
Speaking of Cadillacs, Time's website resurfaced some old Life Magazine photos of Minoso, including the Caddy he drove in 1954.
Elsewhere in the archives, here's an interview with Miñoso from a Michigan radio station in 1969 (h/t Scott Reifert).
You can watch Tom Weinberg's Miñoso documentary in its entirety at WTTW's site. I reviewed it back when it aired in 2012, and this quote is awfully bittersweet now:
"I'm confident Minnie will make it [into the Hall] in 3 years, and I'm confident Minnie will be here to know about it. I mean, he's at least 104 years old now, and he still drives."