As you read this, Minnie Miñoso has officially been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. His memory will forever be enshrined in Cooperstown, where fans old and new can learn about his empowering journey to and through Major League Baseball.
I’ve gone in-depth many times about his impact, and why he deserved to be inducted while he was still alive. I can’t imagine anyone reading this would disagree. So often, we pay our respects after it’s too late.
Miñoso played for seven decades while mentoring many Cuban players along the way. The generation directly following him, including Hall-of-Famer Tony Pérez and Luis Tiant, hold him in high esteem as the “Latin Jackie Robinson.” And some of your White Sox favorites viewed him as their dad in many ways, or as his widow, Sharon Rice-Miñoso called these players his “surrogate children.” Without Miñoso, the Cuban pipeline might not be as strong, because he paved the way. Alexei Ramírez, José Abreu, José Contreras, and so many others looked up to Miñoso, as his presence was constant throughout the ballpark.
Miñoso, like Jackie Robinson before him, was met with racism from white players. Early in his career, he was hit on the backside by Hal Newhouser just a few innings after Miñoso hit a home run off the pitcher. Newhouser yelled, “You n—–, you’re not supposed to hit a homer.” Miñoso responded with the iconic line “What can I say? I’m Black.”
Miñoso carried many burdens on his shoulders as he dealt with racism, being intentionally hit, and being unable to stay at team hotels. Yet he walked away with a smile, radiating his light instead of allowing staff, fans, and other players to berate him based on the color of his skin.
Miñoso played parts of 20 seasons in the majors, hitting .299/.387/.461 over 8,223 career plate appearances and receiving 13 total All-Star selections. Miñoso won three Gold Gloves as well. He became only the second player to play Major League Baseball for five different decades after Bill Veeck activated him briefly in 1976 and 1980 — at age 50 and 54, followed by one-game stints in 1993 and 2003 for the St. Paul Saints. (Jerry Reinsdorf’s plan for Miñoso to be activated at the end of the 1993 season for his record-breaking sixth decade was nixed by White Sox players.)
In 1983, his jersey number was retired by the White Sox and in 2004, a statue on the Guaranteed Rate Field concourse was unveiled. He was a Negro League All-Star and Major League Baseball All-Star. He’s a member of the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame and the Mexican Professional Baseball Hall of Fame.
Congratulations to Minnie Miñoso’s family, friends, and all of those that he had an impact on. This honor is well-deserved, and we should all take time to honor him today, and every day.