Alexei, White Sox honor Minoso at home opener
Shortstop wears No. 9 jersey in remembrance of late Cuban legend
CHICAGO -- The biggest surprise of the White Sox home-opening 6-0 loss to the Twins on Friday at U.S. Cellular Field was not former manager Ozzie Guillen and executive vice president Ken Williams chatting for quite some time on the field before the game or Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel making an appearance.
It took place when Alexei Ramirez got out of the car that brought him in as part of introductions during the pregame festivities wearing the No. 9 jersey with Minoso on the back. The change from Ramirez's No. 10 jersey was thought up by the White Sox shortstop to honor his legendary Cuban countryman, who passed away on March 1.
"My relation with Minnie was beyond the field," said Ramirez through interpreter and White Sox Spanish language broadcaster Billy Russo. "When I heard the news about his death, I thought that I had to do something to give him my tribute. And I kept in communication with the family and I asked them to wear his number today and they accepted. For me, it's an honor."
"It was really bittersweet because they had such a special relationship," Charlie Minoso, Minnie's son, told MLB.com. "And my dad was a good mentor and a good friend to him. It meant a lot. It was his idea and when the White Sox came to see my mom and I and asked how we would feel, we were so honored he'd even think of doing that. Such an amazing gesture."
This specific tribute was approved by White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager Rick Hahn. The Twins and umpires were notified before the game of Ramirez's jersey change.
There also was a video tribute after the first inning for Minoso, the first black player in White Sox franchise history and a favorite son of the organization, the city of Chicago and baseball in general. Minoso was part of the pregame montage for those connected to the White Sox who had passed in the past year, accompanied by a moment of silence. Cubs legend Ernie Banks also was recognized in that montage, with his picture drawing a loud ovation from the crowd, as did Minoso.
Ramirez said that the Minoso jersey will have a special place in his home.
"Every time that I've seen that No. 9 of Minoso on the field, it was always like my dad or my brother wearing it," said Charlie Minoso. "It threw me off a little, but in a very pleasant, welcomed way."