White Sox legend would have celebrated his 93rd birthday. The former player is still beloved by many fans and will be remembered as ‘Mr. White Sox’.
Towards the end of the DVD Sox Pride: The Story of the 2005 World Champion Chicago White Sox, an elderly gentleman is seen riding in the parade along with members of the greatest White Sox team since 1917. Young fans may wonder who he is. Older fans may know without needing a hint. In any case, he’s Orestes “Minnie” Minoso. As he would’ve liked it to be known, you can call him Mr. White Sox.
Minoso, who died in 2015, would’ve celebrated his 93rd birthday on Thursday. Upon hearing of his death, then-President Barack Obama released a statement
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Minoso’s playing accomplishments – good enough to earn him consideration for the Hall of Fame – are too much to mention in a single article.
However, among other accomplishments, Minoso was a nine-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove Award winner, three-time American League Leader in triples, and two-time AL leader in sacrifice flies.
Perhaps most notably – in an era long before it was common to see both a powerful home run hitter and a speedster – Minoso was a three-time AL stolen base leader while hitting consistently for power. From 1956 to 1974, he held the White Sox record for most career home runs.
Minoso spent his first three professional seasons in the soon to die Negro Leagues, where he won a championship in 1947 as a member of the New York Cubans.
He then began playing in Major League Baseball where, after a short initial stint with Cleveland in 1949 and some of 1951, he was a member of the White Sox from 1951-1957, and again from 1960-1961. The AL pennant-winning team of 1959, who lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series four games to two, surely could’ve used his bat against a vaunted Dodgers’ pitching staff.
Minoso was as successful – some may say more importantly – as a public figure away from the game of baseball as he was within the game.
When he joined the team in 1951, he broke barriers not only as the first black player in White Sox history but also as the first Black Cuban in the Major Leagues.
President Obama added that this put Minoso in an uncommon and sometimes difficult position for a major league ballplayer, one which Minoso handled with professionalism:
"“[A]s he helped to integrate baseball in the 1950s, he was a target of racial slurs from fans and opponents, sometimes forced to stay in different motels from his teammates. But his speed, his power – and his resilient optimism – earned him multiple All-Star appearances and Gold Gloves in left field, and he became one of the most dominant and dynamic players of the 1950s.” Barack Obama"
Why should we remember, or even care, about Minoso?
For one thing, Minoso was considered worthy enough to receive both a 1959 AL pennant ring and 2005 World Series ring. Though having played for neither team, owners Bill Veeck and Jerry Reinsdorf each gave Minoso a ring for his importance in helping build a winner and his many years of loyalty to the franchise.
However, Minoso was a trailblazer whose impact continues to be seen today. Players who didn’t have opportunities to play before him have been granted that opportunity as a result of Minoso’s and other players’ sacrifices, and what they were willing to endure in their place.
Minoso was one of a kind, more than deserving to be called Mr. White Sox.