CHICAGO -- Minnie Miñoso is a Hall of Famer.
That news became official Sunday evening when Miñoso received 14 votes from the 16-member Golden Days Era Committee, joining Jim Kaat (12 votes), Gil Hodges (12) and Tony Oliva (12) as fellow electees. Oliva is a native of Pinar del Rio in Cuba, with Miñoso coming from La Habana.
Oliva had nothing but praise for Miñoso and his election when speaking on MLB Network and during the Zoom call with the media after his election. Miñoso’s family was equally excited by the news.
“This tremendous honor would have meant a great deal to my dad, and it means a great deal to us,” said Charlie Rice-Miñoso, Minnie’s son, in a statement issued Sunday night. “My dad lived the American Dream. He was able to open doors and break barriers all while doing what he loved, fulfilling his lifelong dream of being a Major League Baseball player.
“He devoted his life to baseball, to all the fans, to the community and to Chicago, which he loved. He was so proud to be Black, to be a Cuban, to be an American and to be a professional baseball player for the Chicago White Sox. He also would have been so very proud to be a Hall of Famer.”
Miñoso was a nine-time All-Star and a trailblazer who became the first Black Cuban to suit up for the White Sox when he homered off the Yankees' Vic Raschi on May 1, 1951, at Comiskey Park. He finished second in 1951 American League Rookie of the Year Award voting. A three-time Gold Glove Award winner in left field, Miñoso led the AL in triples and stolen bases three times apiece and finished his career with 2,110 hits and a .299 batting average. He died on March 1, 2015.
“It’s only fitting that he takes his proper place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, because to me, he exemplifies everything a Hall of Famer is supposed to be both on and off the field,” said Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, during a recent Zoom call to discuss Miñoso’s extensive Hall of Fame resume.
“I just imagine all the things that Minnie did without his family being there or here with him, and he never had a problem,” said former White Sox pitcher Jose Contreras through an interpreter during the same call. “He was good on and off the field. He fought through all the obstacles put in front of him. He did great. He was a real hero, because I cannot imagine doing all the things that he did at that time. And to me, he was a hero, and he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.”
Contreras was one of the many White Sox individuals mentored by Miñoso, including players such as Alexei Ramirez and José Abreu, who all shared the White Sox-Cuban heritage connection started by Miñoso. But Miñoso was beloved across the organization during his work with the team coming long after his final plate appearance in 1980.
“Today’s announcement is a terrific, well-deserved and long overdue honor for Minnie Miñoso and the Miñoso family,” said White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf in a statement. “While bittersweet because of his passing in 2015, Hall of Fame induction is the fitting capstone to Minnie’s amazing career in baseball, a career that started in segregation and ultimately led to Cooperstown.
“Trailblazer among Afro-Latinos and Cubans, five-tool dynamo on the baseball diamond, ‘Mr. White Sox,’ ambassador for baseball and the Chicago White Sox, teammate and friend, any description of his career now ends with the words, ‘Hall of Famer.’ How right and how appropriate for someone who loved the game of baseball with every breath he took. While we all wish he could be here to celebrate with us now, as well as next July, I know our friend is smiling broadly tonight.”
Miñoso joins Luis Aparicio (1984), Luke Appling (1964), Harold Baines (2019), Eddie Collins (1939), Charles Comiskey (1939), Red Faber (1964), Carlton Fisk (2000), Nellie Fox (1997), Al Lopez (1977), Ted Lyons (1955), Ray Schalk (1955), Frank Thomas (2014), Bill Veeck (1991), Ed Walsh (1946) and Hoyt Wilhelm (1985) as the 16th person in franchise history elected to the Hall of Fame (with the White Sox serving as each of the aforementioned players’ “primary” team, according to the Baseball Hall of Fame).
Kaat played for the White Sox from 1973-75, winning 20 games in two of those seasons. Dick Allen, who won the AL MVP Award with the White Sox in '72, finished one vote short of election with 11. Bud Fowler and Buck O’Neil were also elected to the Hall by the Early Baseball Era Committee.
The 2022 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place on July 24 in Cooperstown. This year’s ballot was released by the BBWAA on Nov. 22, and voters have until Dec. 31 to submit their ballots. Election results will be announced live on MLB Network on Jan. 25, 2022.