Baseball has been very, very good to White Sox legend Minnie Minoso.
A career .298 hitter and Cuban born player, ‘The Cuban Comet’ speaks up about the White Sox organization and just how much Cuban baseball players mean to the team 63 years later.
“I think the White Sox organization and owners, they recognize the quality of the person like a professional ballplayer in the field and off the field,” said Minoso.
The White Sox lead Major League Baseball with the most Cuban born players at four after they went out last offseason and acquired Cuban phenomenon, Jose Abreu. The 27-year-old slugger defected from Cuba last year in order to get signed by a major league club but was forced to leave his family behind in the process. Abreu had many teams offering him large amounts of money, but turned them down to come to the Sox.
Minnie Minoso is to Latin ballplayers what Jackie Robinson is to black ballplayers,
Minoso says that it is more than just the big league pay check, it is the opportunity to belong to something bigger and the chance to represent your culture and ethnicity in a country like the United States.
“We represent the team we are and we represent every Latin player no matter where”, Minoso said.
This sort of thinking just goes to show the incredible person that Minoso is and the courage that he had coming to a new country and doing something that no one had done prior to him.
Former St. Louis Cardinals first baseman and member of the Cooperstown Hall of Fame, Orlando Cepeda has said that without a player like Minoso his career would have been much tougher and may not have happened. In many ways Minnie set the stage for Latinos by coming into the country, playing for the Negro leagues and then moving on to the Majors in 1951.
“Minnie Minoso is to Latin ballplayers what Jackie Robinson is to black ballplayers,” Cepeda wrote in his autobiography. “Minnie is the one who made it possible for all us Latins. He was the first Latin player to become a superstar.”
A bold statement that holds up if you look at the type of adversity that Minoso faced coming into the country. At first Minoso was seen as no more than an African-American because of the color of his skin. It was this thought that sent him forward and gave him motivation to be the best he could be. His goal was to make a name for himself as a latino ballplayer in the majors and that is exactly what he did.
May 28, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Former Chicago White Sox player Minnie Minoso throws out the first pitch before the game against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at U.S. Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Since then, the White Sox have had several Cuban players that were monumental roles in the organizations success over the years. Jose Contreras, Orlando “El Duque” Hernández, Alexi Ramirez, Dyan Viciedo, Adrian Nieto and now Jose Abreu. The reason many of these players have come here is because the impact Minoso had on the White Sox as the first recognized Cuban player in the Majors.
The White Sox have given Minoso multiple tributes throughout the years that go back to 1983 when the Sox first retired his number respectively within the organization. The most prominent of tributes would have to be his life-size statue that resides on the outfield concourse next to other notable statues of Frank Thomas, Carlton Fisk, Charles Comiskey and most recently Paul Konerko.
Not yet a member of the Cooperstown Hall of Fame, Minnie reflects on his career and says he has accomplished a lot that not many have. Rookie of the year in 1951, 3-time golden glove winner (57’, 59’, 60’) and Cuban Hall of Fame inductee in 1983. Even with all of these incredible achievements Minoso still has one more thing on his list, Cooperstown,
“I hope I’ll be there before I die”, said Minoso.
Minoso, who turns 89-years-old today, can look forward to this possibly becoming a reality someday very soon as he was just added to the Golden Age HOF Ballot at the end of October.
However, even if the Cuban born ballplayer is never voted in to the Hall of Fame he can rest knowing that he has the White Sox organization right by his side. The most important thing to Minoso now is that a difference has been made in baseball and his home, the White Sox.
“…this organization is my home. It is all about baseball”.
Happy birthday Minnie.