Top 10 moments of Minnie Miñoso's career

December 8th, 2021

CHICAGO -- Charlie Miñoso was at home with his mom and boyfriend on Sunday night when the important news about his late father arrived via phone.

Minnie Miñoso had been elected to the Hall of Fame.

“When the call came through, I was in tears before the sentence was really uttered, just sort of recognizing what that call meant,” Charlie said. “I just felt very proud of what he had done, I felt proud of my father. And also, I felt proud of his contributions and I felt proud of the sacrifices our family made.

“After we received the call, I was able to speak to my brother and my sisters and told them what this meant. In a way, this is an honor of the sacrifices that they made as well, in terms of needing to share our father with the world, whether he was playing in Cuba, in Mexico, here in the U.S. … At the end of the day, he still was just dad, but it was extremely overwhelming, and I am just so immensely grateful, and I know our entire family feels the same way.”

Making the Hall of Fame was the top honor for Miñoso. But here’s a look at the Top 10 moments from his great career and life.

1. Hall of Fame calls
Dec. 5, 2021

Miñoso was the most deserving eligible White Sox player not to be elected to the Hall of Fame, and a strong case could have been made for Miñoso being the most deserving eligible Major League player without Hall of Fame recognition. That perceived oversight ended via the 16-member Golden Days Era Committee, with Miñoso receiving 14 votes -- two more than needed to be elected.

It was a joyous evening for the White Sox, an organization standing behind Miñoso during and after his career when he was a staple at Guaranteed Rate Field and putting forth numerous morsels of information and expert opinions concerning his accomplishments. It also was a celebratory moment for players who knew Miñoso, and of course, for his family.

“He was so close a number of times. It was kind of like, ‘Well, they must not have thought it was my turn,’ which was very admirable of him,” said Sharon Rice-Miñoso, the wife of the late Miñoso. “He never had bad feelings. He never felt he was shorted.

“It [was] just, 'It wasn't my turn.' But I'm sure he would have been happy this time around.”

Tony Oliva, Jim Kaat and Gil Hodges also were voted in with Miñoso from the Golden Days Era Committee.

2. Trailblazing debut
May 1, 1951

Sam Hairston became the first Black player in the White Sox organization, but it was Miñoso who broke the team’s color barrier as the first Black-Cuban player during a Tuesday afternoon game against the Yankees at Comiskey Park. Miñoso reached this momentous accomplishment in style, launching the first pitch he saw from Vic Raschi for a two-run home run in his first at-bat with one out and Paul Lehner on first in the first. The White Sox lost that game, 8-3, with Miñoso clubbing two hits.

3. Rookie of the Year runner-up
1951

In a three-team trade on April 30, 1951, Miñoso made the move from Cleveland to the White Sox. The move came after 17 plate appearances that season with Cleveland, but Miñoso’s first Major League All-Star effort was really accomplished in Chicago. He also finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting behind Gil McDougald and fourth in the AL Most Valuable Player voting behind Yogi Berra, Ned Garver and Allie Reynolds.

Miñoso slashed .326/.422/.500, with 34 doubles, 10 home runs, 76 RBIs and 112 runs scored. He topped the AL with 14 triples and 31 stolen bases. Miñoso would lead the AL in triples and stolen bases during three seasons each.

4. White Sox immortality
1983, 2004

The Hall of Fame honor was well-deserved and a great moment for the Miñoso family, even though Minnie had passed away on March 1, 2015. But Miñoso already had received great recognition from the White Sox, who retired his No. 9 jersey in 1983 and unveiled a sculpture of Miñoso in 2004.

Twelve jerseys have been retired by the White Sox, including Jackie Robinson’s No. 42, but Miñoso was the third jersey retired in franchise history in 1983. Only Luke Appling ('75) and Nellie Fox ('76) preceded him.

5. New York Cubans success
1946-48

This illustrious career for Miñoso began with the New York Cubans of the Negro Leagues. He hit only .227 in his first year, but Miñoso raised his average to .356 the following season and .344 in Year 3. The Cubans won the title in 1947, with Miñoso posting a .406 on-base percentage that season.

6. Never can say goodbye
1976, 1980

There were five different stints for Miñoso with the White Sox, and the last two brief connections came when the talented outfielder was in his 50s. According to Baseball Reference, Miñoso was 50 when he went 1-for-8 in three games during the 1976 season.

That one hit came on Sept. 12, when Miñoso singled off Angels left-hander Sid Monge with two outs in the second. The designated hitter had three at-bats before Lamar Johnson pinch-hit for him in the ninth. Those at-bats in 1976 came 12 years after Miñoso retired following 30 games in his third White Sox run.

Miñoso pinch-hit on Oct. 4, 1980, and popped out leading off the seventh. He also pinch-hit for Chet Lemon leading off the seventh on Oct. 5 and grounded out to third.

7. Return to Chicago
1960

Cleveland reacquired Miñoso on Dec. 4, 1957, in exchange for Al Smith and Early Wynn, who ended up winning the AL Cy Young with the White Sox in 1959. But Miñoso returned on Dec. 6, 1959, with Norm Cash going to Cleveland as part of the seven-player deal. Miñoso had great production for the White Sox in 1960 and '61, leading the AL with 184 hits in ’60 and finishing with 105 RBIs, marking his fourth season with at least 100 RBIs.

Miñoso won his third Gold Glove Award in 1960 and finished fourth in the AL MVP voting. During the ’61 campaign, Miñoso had 14 homers, 82 RBIs and 91 runs scored.

8. Mentoring the future

On the day after he was voted into the Hall of Fame, social media was full of Miñoso memories from friends and fans alike who got to know him after he retired. Miñoso was a consistent and gregarious presence around the organization, while also serving as a mentor for players as the beginning of the team’s vaunted Cuban connection. Those players and friends included Jose Contreras and Alexei Ramirez, to name a few who also hailed from Cuba.

9. Taking one for the team
1951-61

Miñoso had a propensity for getting hit by pitches during his 20-year career. How would propensity be defined in this situation?

How about 10 seasons during which Miñoso topped the AL in that category, with a career-high 23 in 1956 and 21 in ’57. Miñoso’s 145 hit-by-pitches leave him No. 1 in White Sox franchise history, well ahead of the 125 from Fox and 100 for Paul Konerko and Sherm Lollar.

10. Power burst
1958-60

For his career, Miñoso knocked out 195 home runs with 135 coming during his 12 years with the White Sox. But Miñoso found a power resurgence toward the end of his Major League run with a career-best 24 homers in 1958 and 21 in ’59 with Cleveland. He added 20 home runs in 1960 with the White Sox and hit 21 for Chicago in '56.